Great customer support doesn’t always have to be about fixing things when they go wrong.
In fact, by adopting a proactive approach to customer support, you can help prevent and resolve customer issues before they turn into actual problems.
The goal of proactive support is to get so good at anticipating customer needs and questions that they don’t even have to ask you for help. Done well, proactive support reduces the number of support requests you receive and creates an effortless customer experience.
Traditionally, what most businesses do is wait for a customer to ask a question before attempting to answer it. This approach is called ‘reactive support’ because help is only offered once a customer reaches out for support.
The typical reactive support experience begins with a customer finding your contact page on your website, getting in touch with a support agent, asking their question, and then waiting for a solution. This might take the form of support agents who answer customer questions when they call in, send any email, chat, or message your business on social media.
One of the drawbacks to this approach is that your customers are responsible for seeking out solutions to issues resulting from their experience with your product or solution. The responsibility falls on the customer to take action, which they can find frustrating and time-consuming. And reactive support leaves customers dependent on your customer service agents for answers, there are always a high number of inquiries for your agents to handle.
On the other hand, proactive support empowers your customers to find solutions on their own – and can even prevent certain problems from arising.
Proactive support efforts can involve creating FAQ pages, hosting forums, publishing how-to videos, and providing other self-service resources that don’t require interaction with a customer support agent. However, proactive support is more about the approach you take to serving customers, rather than the channels you choose to offer.
Traditional customer support places the onus on customers to tell you when they need solutions. So, before you can implement a proactive support strategy of your own, you need to reflect on how, when, and where your customers are currently seeking out answers.Ask yourself (and your team) the following questions:
Whenever you’re thinking about making changes to how you handle support, remember that your customer support agents are a valuable resource. Talk to your agents, review customer interactions, and looks for patterns that suggest what your customers struggle with most. You can also use software to track how often your agents receive certain questions or complaints.
For example, if over half of new customers call in or email you with the same series of questions, it could be a sign that your onboarding needs work.
Once you have a list of frequently asked questions that you want to answer, how can you proactively convey that information to your customers? There are a few options you can consider.
If you already have a detailed FAQ page on your website but none of your customers seem to read it, you need to optimize where that information is placed on your site. Another option would be to create a series of welcome emails with tips relevant to new users or customers.
If you’re going to offer self-service resources like an FAQ page, you may as well take the extra step to make sure your customers understand what they’re reading. Adding tooltips to your online resources can reduce support requests from customers who need something clarified, especially when dealing with complicated, technical, or new concepts. This allows your customers to get more context or view a definition without clicking away from the original resource.
Another way to answer common questions before they get asked is to add relevant information to your phone greeting. For example, including your location and hours in a recorded greeting will reduce the volume of callers that actually stick around to speak with an agent. You could also include popular extensions in your greeting to save your customer service agents the trouble of forwarding calls to other departments.
You can use chat software to track customer behavior on your website, which means you can identify customers who might need a hand and message them via live chat – before they ever have a chance to call or message you.
For example, if a customer leaves the checkout page several times to browse your product page, it could mean they need help making a decision, have questions about your shipping policy, or can’t quite find what they’re looking for. Whatever the case, this behavior signals that some proactive customer support could be of service.
You don’t have to be a fortune teller to address your customers’ future needs; you just need to practice proactive support.
Adopting a proactive approach to customer support can reduce much of the friction found in traditional, reactive customer service interactions. It saves your customers time, allows your support agents to focus on resolving more serious customer issues, and contributes to a pleasant customer experience.
Proactive support can increase customer loyalty, improve customer retention, and inspire your customers to become brand advocates. So, not only will your customers thank you, but your business will benefit as well.