Your Customer Service: Is it Proactive or Reactive?

Providing the best customer service possible is an integral part of every successful small business. However, if your company’s mode of customer service comes primarily in the form of reactive vs. proactive, you might want to step it up.

Reacting to problems and solving issues as they occur – or what’s called “reactive customer service” – is not enough to earn you loyalty from your customers. Instead, experts and researchers say, go with “proactive customer service.”

It will give your customers a positive experience, help you attract new customers and keep the current ones.

“Proactive customer service presents the opportunity to meet and exceed customer expectations, strengthen customer relationships and boost the value of your customers through both their business and their advocacy,” writes Steven MacDonald in a post for the CRM software company SuperOffice.

Here are three ways your small business can start delivering proactive customer service: 

Understand The Meaning

Proactive customer service means doing something for your customers before they even know they need it. Or put another way, you know how to anticipate customer issues and address them proactively.

For example, in one of its most recognizable form, proactive customer service is when a server notices your water or coffee needs a refill before you ask.

As a business, you can be proactive if you catch a mistake on an order or job and you contact the customer before it becomes an issue. Or it could be as simple as an update on a product, service or pricing, and you go to the effort of informing the customer. 

“When you practice proactive customer service, you’re letting the customer know in advance about a problem and sharing what you’re doing about it,” writes Shap Hyken of Shepard Presentations in a post for Forbes. “And providing updates along the way is important as well.”

Proactive customer service means you are communicating information directly to a customer or customers.

“It’s always better for customers to hear about a problem from you instead of realizing it when your product or service doesn’t do what they need it to, when they need it,” says MacDonald on the SuperOffice blog. 

Know your customers.

In order to stay on top of your customers’ needs – and provide proactive service – you need to know them. Find out what they want from you by knowing them better.

“And there’s no better way than to ask them,” writes Craig Borowski in a blog post for Software Advice, which provides research, advisory services and user reviews on software applications for businesses.

“Businesses that regularly check in with customers can easily identify areas of weakness and correct them before customers become unhappy.”

You can find out more about your customers by adding a feedback form to your company’s website or send out a survey (using an online tool). 

Keep information easy to find.

Don’t make it hard for customers or potential customers to find the information they need about your products and services. 

Many customers prefer finding answers on their own vs. having to call or hunt around – and you risk them leaving your website if it takes too long. A study by Forrester Research indicated 57 percent of those surveyed said they would most likely abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to questions.

“Which means if you make helpful information difficult or impossible to find, you’re cheating yourself out of a valuable opportunity to satisfy customers,” adds Borowski in his Software Advice blog. 

To ensure proactive customer service, you’ll need to have answers to the most common questions posted on your website, and be sure they’re easy for customers to find – in a FAQ section – and to understand. Also, keep the area updated – you don’t want information there that no longer apply.