Customers Want Companies To Be Proactive When It Comes To Customer Service

If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree.

Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting to Mariann McDonagh, the Chief Marketing Officer, of inContact about the results of their July 2013 customer service survey. What I found interesting about this survey was that they were examining how customers react when contacted ‘proactively’ by companies.

The research was conducted, on their behalf by Harris Interactive, and asked 2,034 U.S. adults aged 18 years or older how they felt about being contacted proactively by companies. You can find out more about the research here. Whilst, the survey was only amongst U.S. adults I think there are lessons here for firms of all sizes and countries.

Here’s a summary of the main findings:

  • 87% said they want to be contacted proactively by a company;
  • However, one of the major hinderances to being more proactive in customer service is the initial pause or delay that can often occur when traditional legacy predictive dialers are used in call centres;
  • The most popular reasons for wanting to be contacted included: fraudulent activity on their account (65%); setting appointments or reminders (53%); and questions about an order they placed (51%);
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call report they had a positive change in their perception of the business calling them; and
  • 62% of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call have taken an action as a result of that positive experience.

Now, when chatting to Mariann she talked about how she thought that, for many companies, the results may be counter-intuitive?

That got me to thinking………Why is that?

I think that, as customers, we do want to be helped. I also think that we don’t want to be sold to.

Right?

It seems to me that many companies don’t currently do proactive customer service, in part, because of their previous experience with outbound calls, many of which have just been trying to sell something else to their customers.

However, there is a danger there in that they may be confusing their experience of trying to sell more with what these results are saying.

Therefore, I believe that, if companies want to grasp the reality and opportunity of these results then they need to change their mindsets.

If you’re a company that’s never done proactive customer service or helping before (ie. calling a customer to see if everything is OK or to see if they are having any problems) but have only ever tried to call your customers to sell something……..Then, you’ve probably got some ground to make up and some perceptions to alter.

But, that’s a great thing about being human, right? We can change and we can change the way people think about us by what we do and how we do it.

That can take time and effort. But, that shouldn’t stop you from doing it.

These results point to one sure way to surprise and delight your customers and that is to not wait for them to ask for help.Be proactive. Show up and help. And, keep showing up.

One of the wonderful things that you may just find is that if you help more, your customers will like you more, trust you more, buy from you more and, maybe even, talk about you more. How’s that for selling?

Photo Credit: symphony of love via Compfight cc

Comments

  1. Adrian,

    I think you’re onto something. We are so conditioned that if a company calls us when we don’t need anything or didn’t call them first that we think they are trying to sell us something. It would certainly be a shift and a delighter if companies actually did care, actually did want to help. But that requires time and resources. That requires building relationships.

    And then we get to the $64,000 question… do customers want relationships with companies?

    Annette :-)

    • Hi Annette,
      That’s a great question. I’m not sure that we do want relationships with companies in the personal and human sense. But, do we want to be helped? Do we want someone to solve problems even before they may occur? I would suggest that most people would say ‘yes’ to those two questions.

      What do you think?

      Adrian

  2. Adrian,

    As my 15 year old nephew would say

    “What is not to like?”

    James

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  2. […] this week I wrote Customers Want Companies To Be Proactive When It Comes To Customer Service on the back of a chat I recently had with Mariann McDonagh, the Chief Marketing Officer, of […]

  3. […] this week I wrote Customers Want Companies To Be Proactive When It Comes To Customer Service on the back of a chat I recently had with Mariann McDonagh, the Chief Marketing Officer, […]

  4. […] that customers value this type of service as proven by the research conducted inContact last year. Their research examined how customers reacted when contacted ‘proactively’ by companies and they found […]

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