Ahhhh….that often cited desire and rarely experienced joy that is proactive customer service.
I believe delivering a great proactive service is a goal of all genuinely customer focused organisations, yet so few seem to actually achieve it. Why is it so difficult to achieve and what could it look like for both organisations and customers?
Most organisations delivering service focus on getting their operation working really well on a reactive basis before thinking about their future service and flipping towards a more proactive service model. This is completely understandable - those of us who have worked in service environments know only too well the amount of reactive work there is to do, which can leave little room for much else.
But - as part of your service strategy, knowing when you plan to start delivering proactive service is essential as you need the building blocks in place - good old people, process and technology - in order to achieve your strategy.
You need to make sure your people have the required skills, knowledge and attitudes for the change and you need the technology, and technology teams, with the capabilities to deliver against your future plans; or be comfortable to swap out technology, which is always an option and something I’ve done more than once as part of my strategy to enhance the service experience.
Having the strategy is obviously essential, but why do so many organisations not achieve their plans? All too often the exciting service shift, which everyone nods and agrees to, gets deprioritised. This could be because of new product and service launches, fixing bugs, and/or improvements to help manage inbound demand - all admirable things to focus on - but not getting around to flipping to proactive just means all that inbound ‘stuff’ will keep on coming and your service teams will be clogged up with lower value and lower challenge work.
Being really clear on your proactive strategy and the route to achieving it and sharing it with those whose support you’ll need to deliver it is essential. I think people across organisations get excited about how they can help service move to proactive - it’s much more interesting work than always firefighting, and the ‘what if’ scenarios make the brain ache in all the good ways! True collaboration.
As well as building collaboration across teams it can also provide more interesting work for your service teams - great for engagement and retention. One of the proactive approaches I’ve always liked is the concept of having account health scores for my customers and using those scores to drive focus - pushing the lowest scoring accounts to the team to investigate and resolve any issues - ideally without having to contact the customer.
Account health scores are a great internal metric to use to prioritise the work and there is always talk from software suppliers about ‘next best action’. I’m interested that ‘next best action’ is too often, if not always, internally facing - I’d much prefer to have the next best action customer facing so they can feel in control, feel that the organisation is looking out for them as well as helping the organisation by driving self-service behaviour. A win:win.
And proactive service doesn’t have to be grand - it could be offering dynamic self-serve content based on your customers' journey stage in their lifecycle with you. A good place to start might be, for example, if they’re onboarding to you as a customer, show them the FAQs for that part of a typical customer's lifecycle.
At this current time when we’re all concerned about the cost of living, offering simple and effective proactive service could help drive customer retention and ensure you’re paying attention to your most vulnerable customers - whether that be a financial vulnerability or something else.
Through driving the desired focus, behaviours and actions in both your people and your customers it could help to mitigate business risk, help to reduce your cost to serve as well as drive up customer and employee loyalty.
If you want help with your service strategy or moving to a proactive service model get in touch and we’ll have a chat.