proactive customer service in contact centers

How to Implement Proactive Customer Service in Your Contact Center

6 min to read · By Mindful

What’s the difference between proactive and reactive customer service? If a friend calls you because they don’t know how to set up their new computer, and you help them set it up over the phone, that’s reactive. If you call a friend because you know they recently got a computer or aren’t super tech savvy, and then ask them if they need help setting up their new computer, that’s proactive.

Consumers prefer interacting with brands that are proactive. They want brands to predict their needs. Sixty-eight percent of customers look favorably on businesses that act proactively.

And proactive customer support has benefits for your company as well—according to Gartner, proactive service results in a full point increase in NPS, CSAT, CES, and VES scores. It can also decrease the volume of repeat support calls and support tickets, giving your customer service team more time to resolve issues that require special attention.

Implement proactive customer service in your contact center to save time, money, and resources—but, most importantly, to enhance the customer experience. Here are a few suggestions on how to shift your support team from a reactive to a proactive customer service approach.

1. Connect your support channels to delight your customers.

As well intentioned as they might be, self-serve options are generally designed to deflect customers away from contact centers—often leaving a cluttered, disconnected experience in their wake. However, the last thing customers want is to hit a dead-end in a self-service channel and have to restart in another channel with a customer service agent. The result? Contact centers with increasingly frustrated callers, lost revenue, burned out agents, and decreasing CSAT, NPS, and CES scores.

On the other hand, proactive customer service teams implement connected support solutions to remove hurdles before customers even know they’re there.

For example, a customer might be considering a product, but has questions on whether it’s a good fit. Rather than bury the support phone number on the website, a proactive customer service team could provide an option on each product page for the customer to get a call from the next available agent to help them with purchasing confidence. Or, rather than allow customers to get stuck in unhelpful chatbot feedback loops, they instead program the bot to offer a callback so the customer can seamlessly escalate to the voice channel from within the chat itself.

In cases like these, connected support channels provide customers with smooth, seamless transitions as they interact with a support team—letting them get the help they need without jarring dead-ends. And with a solution like Mindful Scheduler you can easily position callback buttons throughout all of your digital channels, route them to different service departments, and collect customer intents so agents can quickly serve the customer without asking them to repeat the problem.

Related: Offering customer callback can make your contact center and customer service agents more efficient.

2. Help customers find their answers with a comprehensive self-serve database.

Don’t let the above section fool you—Mindful is built on providing customers with empowering service options—both in the contact centers and in self-serve channels. And the best way to do that is to make absolutely sure your self-serve channels give your customers everything they need to solve their issue. In fact, eighty-one percent of customers will seek out your self-service channels before contacting live help.

Developing a comprehensive self-service database may seem daunting, but there are a few simple steps you can take to create one—or enhance the one you may already have in place.

  1. Audit your knowledge base, and review all the information for accuracy and usefulness. Remove any pages or information that isn’t relevant.
  2. Assign an owner to maintain and manage your self-service database, and make sure it is updated regularly.
  3. Adopt a user-friendly interface, one that makes it easy for users to find information without jumping through hoops. Apple is a good example of a simple, effortless design.
  4. If you have limited time or resources, at a minimum, provide answers to your customers’ most-asked questions (FAQs). You can find the most-asked questions by conducting surveys or monitoring social media.

 

Apple's self-serve knowledge base UISource: Get Support at Apple

 

For a real VIP customer experience, consider integrating callback options within your self-serve database. This way, if a customer is unable to find the answer they’re looking for, they don’t have to leave the knowledge base to search for another support channel. Mindful Handoff works hand-in-hand with Mindful Scheduler to collect a customer’s information and intent—why they’re requesting a callback—so an agent can quickly provide the support they need. Plus, knowing that expert help is on the way while they continue browsing can provide a psychological boost to a customer’s satisfaction and sentiment toward your business.

3. Listen to your customers by collecting customer feedback (VoC) and sentiment.

While collecting customer feedback and monitoring sentiment—how they feel about your business—is technically a reactionary tactic, it holds tremendous benefit for helping teams predict and prevent future pain points in the customer journey. Voice of Customer (VoC) data provides a north star for understanding customers wants, needs, and expectations of an organization, and lets agents see how they can offer additional direction and support for customers—both now and in the future.

Customer feedback doesn’t have to be limited to rating agent experience, either. You can use surveys to gauge ease of use for your website, purchase process and product satisfaction, and emotional connection with your business. You can then aggregate those responses to understand feedback trends, then loop in operation leaders, CX designers, and product managers to improve these experiences and prevent friction points from happening with future customers.

The most common method for monitoring customer feedback is through CSAT, NPS, and CES survey data. Each survey differs in what it can tell you:

  • CSAT surveys tell you about a customer’s immediate feelings after an interaction.
  • NPS surveys gauge your company’s reputation with a customer.
  • CES surveys tell you the amount of effort a customer went through when interacting with your business

You can also extract customer sentiment from the same datasets that your call center agents are analyzing, like live chat, chatbots, social media, and IVR logs.

But VoC data is only truly valuable when it’s quickly collected, analyzed, and implemented in customer service decisions. The amount of time that passes between their engagement and your feedback survey can distort a customer’s perception of their experience with your brand. Surveys need to be quick and direct in order to be helpful for your team.

An enterprise VoC solution (like Mindful Feedback) gives customer service teams the option of sending dynamic customer surveys immediately after an interaction. If you want to gather VoC data after their experience with your customer service department, you can program Mindful Feedback to send a survey right after a voice call. You can even send surveys post-email or post-chat—giving you maximum flexibility in directly hearing from your customers while their experience with your brand is still fresh in their mind.

And with AI-powered keyword flagging, you can easily monitor what is being said in all your customer surveys without having to listen to or read transcripts for to each one. As fresh VoC data comes in, you can instantly turn it around to influence agent staffing, queuing logic, process enhancements, and anything else to proactively improve the experience for the next customer.

This data is also helpful in closing the loop when an NPS detractor leaves your brand or business. Agents will know exactly what caused them to leave, letting them effectively reach out to fix the problem and prevent it from snowballing.

Summing up: Proactive customer support should be the shared responsibility of all channels.

Happy customers are invaluable assets that will drive loyalty and revenue to your business or brand. Finding out about customer service issues before they become larger problems definitely shows you’re invested in their journey.

But a proactive customer service strategy should be a shared venture across all channels in your omnichannel strategy, so that all departments are aligned and proactively seeking solutions for your customers. Besides helping with customer retention, it can serve to reduce time and cost for agents, remove informational silos from all departments, and foster a more collaborative customer support effort across all channels.

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