Why Relying Only On Reactive Customer Service Is No Longer Good Enough

Business Plan

Or Transform Your Customer Experience By Making Your Customer Service Proactive – Part 1

Over the course of the last year, I’ve written a few times about the opportunity that proactive customer service offers.

However, on review, the articles have only offered a partial view of the opportunity, the business case, the impact on customer experience and the path that a firm can take to transforming their customer service from being purely reactive to one that is more proactive.

Therefore, over the next three posts, I thought I’d pull the strands together to address all of these issues.

The first post in the series will concentrate on articulating the business case for proactive customer service as a worthwhile strategy. The second post will identify where the opportunities lie and will go on to share some examples of companies that are experiencing some great results via their strategies in these areas. Finally, the third post, will suggest a process that firms can go through that will help them identify, develop and implement ideas for proactive customer service initiatives and improvements.

Part 1: The Business Case And Why Reactive Customer Service Is No Longer Good Enough

Whilst proactive customer service is not a new concept, it surprises me that the majority of companies are still only organised to deliver customer service reactively.

Why is that?

My experience and research suggests that one of the primary reasons is that most businesses are organised, run and measured in a way that works against the sort of collaboration and cross-functional working that a proactive customer service strategy would require.

However, with that in mind and as a way of generating interest in this type of approach, firms need look at what reactive customer service is actually costing them in terms of extra resources and costs and what they are, potentially, losing out on.

Reactive customer service is both expensive and un-engaging. Meanwhile, proactive customer service offers cost saving and customer engagement opportunities.

Here’s a few reasons that explain the potential opportunity (the business case):

1. There is a clear opportunity to reduce costs. Research by Sabio and the Customer Contact Association found that between 25% and 40% of all calls to UK contact centres are either unnecessary or avoidable. According to the research, the most common causes of these calls included: customers chasing information about deliveries or updates on what was due to happen next in the purchase cycle; customers calling to clarify issues regarding pricing or terms and conditions; and customers having to re-call the contact centre again as the contact centre had failed to address their problem first time around. This research is supported by work conducted by the Corporate Executive Board who found that that 57% of all inbound calls to a contact centre could largely be attributed to a customer not being able to find what they were looking for on a company’s website.

2. Customers want to be contacted proactively. A survey by inContact found that 87% of customers surveyed said they wanted to be contacted proactively by a company, when it came to customer service issues. Also, nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had been contacted proactively and had a positive experience said that it led to a positive change in their perception of the business that contacted them.

3. A proactive customer service strategy delivers cost savings and boosts retention. Further research by Enkata put all of this together and showed that an effective proactive customer service strategy can: 1. Reduce inbound customer service call volumes by between 20-30% over a 12 month period; 2. Lower call centre operating costs by as much as 25%; and 3. Has a positive effect on customer retention, boosting it by 3–5%.

These data points help outline the opportunity that is in front of many companies.

However, leading, innovative and creative companies already understand these insights and they are using them to steal a march on their competitors, deliver cost savings, higher revenues, better customer metrics and an overall better customer experience.

In the second part of this series, we bring these insights to life and will explore where the opportunities actually lie and provide some insight into what some leading are doing to capitalise on the opportunity and the sort of results they are generating.



This post originally appeared on my Forbes.com column here.
Photo Credit: IvanWalsh.com via Compfight cc

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