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27, April 2017

Zen And The Art Of Proactive Customer Support

“Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meet.”

As a reputable brand, all you want from your customers is for them to be happy. It even sounds endearing when you say it aloud. You want a big smile on the face of customers whenever they interact with your brand at any stage of their journeys. And you do everything you can to earn their trust. But we have all been privy to the water-cooler talk about the evolution of customer experience. All the industry reports. The multiple blog entries. Each one rightfully talks about how the world is shrinking as service expectations continue to soar.

While the advent of future-proof interaction channels has made it easier for you to connect with your customers, it has been the “cat amongst the pigeons” as far as proactive customer support is concerned. Your contact centers are probably under a lot of pressure to be seamlessly responsive to support demands. So much that they tend to forget the being reactive is only half the battle. You need to adopt a Zen-like approach to delivering intuitive and proactive customer experience. Make the first move instead of waiting for your customer to do that. Do not hesitate to invest in the right technologies to ensure proactive support either. Even Gartner says that soon “50% of product investment projects will be redirected to customer experience innovations”.

Because today’s digitally-savvy netizens cannot be tricked into being loyal to brands. There are too many competitors out there, looking to take your customers away to their own promised lands. Hence, being proactive about the way you reach out should be a matter of utmost urgency. There is simply no escaping it. So, you may be charming your customers over the phone while affirmatively processing their requests. Or you may be enchanting them by answering their email requests more charmingly than the Bard.  Maybe, you are a rock star when it comes to tackling feedback on social media.

The moment of enlightenment

But you should reach the moment of enlightenment and take the initiative to offer help before your customers ask for it. Else, you may as well hand-hold them past the front door of a competitor. Because it’s a lot more purposeful to connect with them to solve potential problems. It can help you detect and react to their needs in a manner that keeps them coming back to you. Also, you can create revenue opportunities by up-selling and cross-selling based on their interaction histories and behavioral patterns. A 2016 Global Customer Service Report indicated that “56% of global consumers say they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had just one year ago”. Now, you have to ask yourself – do you?

Here are some four Zen-like tips for you to be proactive about how customer experience can be delivered.

1) Keep calm and monitor customer conversations

If you are unaware of what your customers think, feel and say about your brand across social media, you are missing out on valuable information. For instance, if they express negative emotions about your products or services, you can connect with them and proactively solve their problems. In case they are paying you a compliment about what a great brand you are, you can increase their loyalty by offering relevant reward programs. Social media platforms are the new water coolers to discuss the brand experience. When customers speak out, others listen and act on it. So should you.

2) Go in peace to your customers before they come to wage a war

Bad experiences are bound to happen. Sometimes, there is nothing that you can do about it. But don’t panic. Your customers are not exactly keen on finding a new service provider if you are proactive about how you communicate with them. Especially, when they have a bone to pick with you regarding a service problem they are facing. You should take this opportunity to talk to them about it. Be open about any mistake you may have made. We live in the era of Return of Relationships, not Investments. After all, industry studies claim that “76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them”. So, remember to keep your customers updated no matter what.

Go in peace with customer

3) Be prepared for the history of support queries to repeat itself

Keep a close watch for any commonalities and trends in your support tickets. Because many of your customers will be facing similar issues. Problems such as crashing payment gateways, website loading time or dysfunctional chat engines can be addressed at one go instead of dealing with them on an individual case basis. Spotting and eliminating them will not just drastically reduce the number of support tickets but also make your customers happier about their brand experience.

4) Help customers help themselves

It has already been reported that “by the year 2020, customers will manage 85% of the relationships they have with an enterprise without ever interacting with a human service representative”. Self-help is no long an option. It is something that customers expect. By implementing a comprehensive support knowledge base that includes troubleshooting/shipping details/price information, you can direct your customers to find the answers they need. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to know that your support tickets are drastically reducing too! A live chat option can also go a long way to ensure superior support without any disruption.

Assimilating a Zen-like approach and being proactive about customer experience does not mean that you should keep crystal balls and Feng Shui plants on the desks of your support staff. Well, unless they really want them. It requires you to be holistically intuitive about how customers feel about your brand. And always proactive about what you can do to seize the narrative and guide them to long-lasting and superior customer experience.

“No one knows the future, but the present offers clues and hints on its direction.”


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