The importance of proactive support in an age of distrust
Trust in institutions is at an all-time low. With spam galore, data privacy in question, and common misuses of data, customers come expecting the worst. That’s why to build better customer trust, it’s crucial that companies be proactive—not just reactive—with their customer care.
Proactive support and engagement can help build customer trust and long-term relationships, but what exactly do they mean? Proactive support means getting in front of a customer issue before it escalates or even happens. Proactive engagement means identifying ways in which a customer experience can be enhanced without the customer asking for it or even knowing that it’s possible. For example, a text letting a customer know that her flight has been delayed, an email informing a customer that a new design from their favorite sneaker line is available, or a phone call checking to ensure that the shipping address on file is correct.
Proactive support and engagement go above and beyond standard reactive support. Reactive support means waiting for a customer to reach out with an issue—but by that time, a customer is likely already frustrated with your brand. Waiting for a customer to reach out with a problem is like waiting for your houseplants to start wilting before you water them.
The benefits of proactive support and engagement
Increased customer loyalty
When you engage customers, you have a better chance of retaining them. In a brick-and-mortar store, a salesperson makes a sale by connecting with customers individually—they use everything they know, including information about the customer, the types of products they're interested in, and their own sales experience. In the age of e-commerce, proactive engagement lets salespeople build a personal connection with customers, creating loyalty online.
92% of chats receive a positive CSAT score. We like attention—it’s human nature. That’s why reaching out to customers, for example via live-chat, is generally well-received. And when customers are happy, they’re more likely to make a purchase with your brand.
With research indicating that 55% of online shoppers will abandon a purchase if they can’t quickly find an answer to a question, proactive support and engagement have become necessary. If a customer is hesitating on your checkout page, a simple check-in could solve a problem they might have, or a question they might need answered. According to Forrester, reaching out in real-time and offering proactive support can increase sales by up to 29%.
The proof of proactive magic is in the numbers: After adding proactive support via live chat to their online store, Spartan Race saw a 27% increase in retail sales and a 97% customer satisfaction rating over chat.
Here is what proactive customer service and engagement can help your business accomplish:
6 ways to proactively engage customers
Onboarding customers into your product is crucial, but there’s always that initial hurdle to help customers discover what your product can do for them. Delivering tips and recommendations that keep customers excited and educated is just one way to engage your customers and build a better customer experience. For example, Scoot requires new riders to take a short online class and test before their first rental. They send reminders about the class, plus tips and advice to get new riders over the anxiety of riding a Scooter for the first time. Another example of killer customer service and onboarding? Slack created Slackbot to proactively engage and onboard their customers.
The most obvious and crucial way to reach out to customers is to offer them proactive support, like sending a relevant message to a customer in an identified tricky situation or guiding them through the issue. Sometimes SaaS products (or any type of product) can be tricky for new users. A good way to provide proactive support and improve your customer service? Send customers an in-product message with instructions and best practices on how to use it correctly. This makes for an exponentially smoother customer service experience—and it can save your support team time by answering customer questions before they have to be asked.
It’s important to keep customers informed about ongoing issues or service updates as they arise. Let’s say your company just implemented a software update. In an ideal world, everything would go smoothly, but it’s more realistic and beneficial to prepare for any mishaps that might come up. Keeping your customers in the loop during software updates can save your support team time in the aftermath of a service issue while also building trust with your customers.
Another way to engage? Send updates about new products, features, next steps, or new styles. For example, when Cinemark has a new movie coming out in theaters, they send a proactive message notifying a segmented group of users that might be interested in that type of movie. At Zendesk, if we’re trying to drive webinar attendance, we use Connect to send proactive, in-product messages to relevant customer segments that might be interested.
The customer experience is vast and many different factors play into how customers experience your brand. Proactive engagement is one key part of the customer journey. By engaging customers with suggestions, interesting info, or best practices on products or trends in the industry, you’re more likely to nurture a relationship and build trust with them. It’s also an excellent way to gain feedback through surveys.
Once you have built a strong relationship with your customers, you can proactively extend your customers’ journey by providing gentle nudges with new but relevant offers that relate to past interests. Based on the customer’s previous touchpoints with your company, it’s better if you offer an upsell that is a solution to a problem, and hopefully, you’ll retain customers longer as a result.
Proactive customer support and engagement can help you get in front of a customer’s problem, can ensure that information is easily available, and can even help customers self-serve by simply pointing them in the right direction. Instead of leaving your customers to fend for themselves, proactive support and engagement can help nurture lasting relationships.
In the world of customer support, there are more ways than ever to reach customers instantly: the web, mobile, messaging, in-product messaging, live-chat, etc. Knowledge of proactive customer support is changing as the industry and products evolve—it's time to reconsider your customer service strategy and methods of communication to be more diverse and proactive.