Are you happy now? Or simply, happy overall? As a company, you don’t just want your customer happy in this moment in time. You want them happy all of the time.
According to McKinsey & Company, evaluating a customer’s satisfaction throughout his or her entire journey with a company is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness based on individual interactions.
What does this mean?
Delightful customer service can’t simply be limited to solving problems, such as reacting to customers who are calling to complain their online order was never delivered or that the software they downloaded no longer works on their computer.
Creating happy and loyal customers must be the mission at each and every touch point with the brand. It’s not just reactive. It’s proactive, too.
Proactive customer service, as opposed to reactive, means delivering an efficient and helpful experience from the customer’s first interaction with the brand, whether that’s in a brick-and-mortar store, on a website or otherwise. If a customer has a positive experience from the get-go, they are more likely to be a repeat customer. In fact, engaged consumers buy 90% more often and spend 60% more per transaction (source).
So, how can your brand stop waiting and get proactive with customer service? There are a few strategies to keep in mind:
1. Make answers easy to find
According to a report from Aspect’s Cloud Solutions, one-third of customers say they’d ‘rather clean a toilet’ than speak with customer service. That’s unfortunate (and kind of gross), but it says a lot about how customers are changing. They want to find answers to their questions on their own, more and more frequently using their mobile device and by browsing a brand’s website or social channels.
Therefore, develop a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on the website for straightforward questions, create how-to videos to teach customers best practices for using the product, create e-books providing more information on the company’s services, and, overall, make sure all content about your products and services proactively address the customers’ most common questions and concerns.
The easier (and faster!) it is to find solutions on their own, the happier the customers will be.
2. Provide accurate information
Though you might make answers easy to find on your website or your customer service representatives are always available on the phone, proactive customer service requires that your information always is up-to-date and exact.
It’s incredibly frustrating for customers to receive a response from one customer service representative, only to get a different response from another employee. Make sure that the information they’re receiving is accurate and consistent so that they don’t have to contact you again should the issue resurface (see the statistic above in #1).
3. Be honest and forthcoming
While real-time responses might be the expectation from customers, don’t sacrifice accuracy or honesty just to get an answer to them as soon as possible. Instead, let them know when they can expect a phone call or email response and that the team is working on getting a resolution for them. People can be understanding when they know they have been heard and that someone is working to find a solution. Being upfront with information and setting expectations will go a long way in making a customer feel valued and engaged.
4. Welcome customers and keep in touch
The point of proactive customer service is to build a relationship with consumers outside of when they have a problem or question. To accomplish this, brands should welcome customers and stay in touch with them via social media, email or snail mail.
To make customers feel like a part of the brand’s community, keep them up to date on new products or service offerings, as well as events being hosted by the company. Additionally, like and respond to customers’ own updates. For example, FitBit and Nike cheer on their customers via social media when they’ve accomplished a goal. Pampers, the go-to diaper supplier for millions of moms, makes relevant comments on parents’ photos. These seemingly small interactions go a long way in building a relationship with customers.
5. Keep improving
Making customers a part of a brand’s community is a two-way street. Their input and feedback must be heard, in addition to them receiving updates and news from the company. There is some great insight available by taking relevant suggestions and listening to customer chatter online.
Take, for example, a beauty company that was considering updating its formula for a best-selling face cream to change the cream’s color from blue to white. After researching online and realizing that its primary customer base called the cream “the blue stuff,” the brand ended the endeavor and instead embraced this nickname in its communication with customers.
While many people might think of customer service as only relevant when there is an issue with a product or service, proactive customer service works to go beyond those touch points. This approach can help build better relations with customers, increase communication with them should there ever be a problem, and make them feel like a valued part of a brand’s community.
Ian Landsman is the founder of HelpSpot HelpDesk, help desk software for customer service professionals. He writes a regular blog about the fundamentals of excellent customer service, titled The Delightenment Blog. Follow Ian via Twitter and LinkedIn.