Customer Experience News & Trends

5 new rules for proactive customer service pros

You have to reach out to customers from time to time for the right reasons – or they won’t come back to you for any reason.

Very few companies rest on their laurels when it comes to staying in touch with customers. In fact, 86% have proactive communications strategies in place, whether it’s for promotions, status updates or emergencies, a recent KANA and Customer Contact Association study found.

The most popular contact channel is email (it’s used about 95% of the time), followed closely by the phone. Social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are used about half the time, the study found.

The problem is, just because the majority of businesses take some proactive customer service initiatives doesn’t mean they do it right. More often than not, their messages miss the mark or even annoy customers.

Still customers want to hear from you at certain times, particularly in the event of an emergency.

The right message at the right time

To provide customers with valuable proactive customer service, follow these rules:

  1. Deliver it the way customers want it delivered. Ask customers early in relationships how they’d like to be notified of promotions, recalls, emergencies, service news and issues. Plus, ask them what the best time is to contact them.  Have them update their preference at least yearly, and only send the information in the format they prefer.
  2. Customize information. Some customers may prefer very little information sent to them. Others may want it all. Ask customers what they want — billing, appointment or maintenance reminders, promotions, deadlines for applications, status updates, partner promotions, etc. Again, have them update the list yearly.
  3. Keep it simple. Customers aren’t going to scroll down an email much more than one screen length. They probably aren’t going to turn over a sheet of paper to get the whole message either. They also won’t listen to long phone messages. Shorten the wind-up and get to the point. Simplify your info with bullet points and highlighted text.
  4. Send a consistent message. Because some customers will want proactive information in more than one format, check that it’s consistent across all channels before it goes out.
  5. Assign a point person. Ideally someone should be in charge of proactive service messages, coordinating when they go out, who gets them and how often they’re sent. In a smaller environment, where reps handle specific groups of customers, a point person might give personal updates.

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