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How Proactive Customer Service Can Win Big This Season

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at October 29, 2021

Customer service organizations, get ready for a bumpy holiday season! As global supply chain and shipping constraints are expected to intensify, customer service teams will need to navigate more challenges this holiday shopping season. This requires doubling down on proactive customer service practices, and not a moment too soon.

It used to be that customers contacted customer service teams when they needed support and companies delivered the assistance requested. But in today’s competitive climate, this is no longer sufficient. Instead, today’s consumers need more hand holding throughout the buying process. They also expect businesses to anticipate issues and reach out proactively. That means businesses today must be available to assist when and where buyers need help and they must be able to identify and resolve issues before they become problems. By adopting this customer-centric approach, brands will be in a much better position to build long-term customer relationships and brand loyalty. 

A study by inContact found that an overwhelming majority (87%) of adults surveyed are happy to be contacted proactively by companies regarding customer service issues and 51% are open to being contacted for questions about an order they placed. Furthermore, 75% of respondents who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with an incoming call reported a positive change in their perception of the company calling them. Contrast this with (weave in our research about buyers who will abandon a brand based on bad support)

So how can brands make the shift to proactive customer service and stay ahead of the expected tumult this holiday season?

Keep customers informed

Proactive customer service starts with keeping customers well-informed. Make it easy for customers to find the information they need, whether it’s detailed delivery and tracking information, customer hours, direct contact information or FAQs. The more seamless you can make the information-gathering experience for the customer and your agents, the more likely customers will continue relying on you to meet (and hopefully exceed) their needs.  This is a fundamental practice for building trust.

Own up to your mistakes

Another important aspect of building trust is accountability. Keep in mind that it’s always better for customers to hear about an issue directly from your brand before they find out for themselves. According to Kustomer research, 82% of customers expect retailers to proactively reach out to them if there is a problem with their order. With expected upcoming inventory and shipping delays, make sure that your customer service technology is able to power proactive communication, not only informing your customers of the problem, but being crystal clear about what you’re doing to address it. Don’t be afraid to offer an apology if it’s warranted, or a discount or a refund if your proposed solution doesn’t satisfy your customers’ needs. Remember that transparency is your friend; without it, you could jeopardize your reputation.

Have an omnichannel strategy in place

It’s critical to be wherever your customers are, as nearly 90% of customers are frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. By allowing customers to choose whether they connect via phone, email, website or social media, you can serve them more effectively and minimize frustrations. To deliver on this front, make sure that your customer service technology will allow customers and agents to move freely between channels, so that each conversation starts where the last ended. 

Lean on AI and automation to speed resolutions

There is a need for speed in delivering exceptional customer experiences. Today’s consumers have no patience for long hold times or delays in issue resolution. In fact, our research shows that 71% of consumers expect their problem to be solved immediately upon contacting customer service. To bring efficiencies to the customer experience, brands need to rely more on self service tools, especially because 67% of consumers prefer these over talking to a company representative. AI can play an integral role in automating the most tedious and manual tasks on an agent’s plate to free them for higher value conversations. In addition, chatbots can be used to resolve routine, frequently asked inquiries instantly. They can also help customers gather key information before engaging with an agent, which saves valuable time for both the customer and agent alike. 

If brands are to keep customers happy during what could be one of the most frustrating holiday shopping seasons in modern history, they must make sure that their customer service teams are as proactive as possible. Now more than ever, a proactive customer service strategy has the power to surprise and delight your customers, ultimately winning their confidence and loyalty for the long-term. And this couldn’t come at a more critical time for brands of all shapes and sizes.

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