Customer service doesn’t start when the customer has an issue; customer service begins the minute a potential customer finds your e-commerce business and is browsing on your site.
The standard business model when it comes to customer service has been reactive – the customer has an issue, contacts customer service, and the issue is taken care of. While this is far from ideal, it has been consistent for how businesses handle issues. Far from ideal, right? Proactive customer service, focused mainly on proactive communication, shows the commitment to making customer satisfaction your business’s top priority.
Which sounds better to you: taking action before a problem occurs, or after? Anticipating problems before they occur (often times based on past customer experiences) will reduce the amount of inquiries you receive, allow you to resolve problems before they become an issue and increase customer loyalty. Customer service representatives work to provide each customer with the highest quality service before, during, and after a purchase. In fact, if more attention is given to the “before,” the proactive support, fewer problems will arise during and after.
Statistically, according to a study by InContact, 87% of customers want to be contacted proactively by a business, rather than having to reach out themselves. Almost ¾ of customers say that a proactive customer service experience resulted in a positive change in their perception of the business calling them (as often times being contacted by a business means automated spam calls). Proactive customer service works and customers prefer it!
Remember, it is about five times more expensive to generate a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. Turn your customer service team into a proactive unit rather than a reactive one by following these simple tips:
- Inform customers of mistakes as soon as possible.
Mistakes will happen regardless of how proactive your customer service team is. The best way to handle such mishaps is to recognize them, announce them, and fix them. Let customers know about shipping delays, website malfunctions or other technical issues before you get an influx of emails or calls. By keeping your customers in the loop with complete honesty and transparency, you can build trust and avoid causing a bigger problem by trying to hide the issue.
- Provide customers with an extensive self-help option.
For every person who asks a question, assume at least a handful more are wondering the same thing. Where reactive customer service wastes time answering the same questions over and over, proactive customer service saves both the customers and the support team the hassle. According to a survey conducted by eConsultancy, 51% of customers prefer to find answers to their problems on their own – so give the customer what they want by having an up-to-date, comprehensive support knowledge base on your website with answers to common questions. This can include information and usage advice about your products, troubleshooting advice, shipping information, and other frequently asked questions.
- Monitor customer conversations wherever you can.
Many customers take their complaints online, whether it be via social media or through an on-site review. Keep an eye on what customers are saying; thank them for compliments, and apologize or offer a plan of action to address complaints. Knowing what your customers are saying about your business also gives you insight into areas that need improvement (and help you avoid the same issues in the future).
- Include a Live Chat option.
Live Chat customer support is one of the best, most convenient ways to interact and assist customers as they are in the middle of shopping. Not only can customers get immediate answers to their questions without the wait-time of email or phone, customers who chat are substantially more likely to convert that those who don’t. Additionally, Live Chat adds a touch of human presence and real person-to-person communication that is so often lacking via online stores.
- Contact customers post-sale.
Proactive customer service should extend after a purchase has been made. Something as simple as an email asking if everything is okay with the product can do wonders for building a long-lasting customer relationship. It also gives the customer the chance to voice any concerns right away and get a speedy resolution.
- Keep track of customer actions on your site.
By keeping track of how your customers use your site or products, it is easier to determine the best way to assist them. For example, if you notice a large number of customers have an account but haven’t made a purchase, you can tailor an email response to them asking if they need help to complete a purchase. On the other hand, you can send emails to loyal customers thanking them for their business. Take a proactive stance and reach out to your customers instead of making them do all the work!
- Monitor your support tickets for trends.
The most efficient way to see common issues is to take a look at your customer support tickets. Which issues keep coming up? Identify and resolve minor common issues before they turn into bigger issues, reduce the number of support tickets, and improve customer satisfaction overall.
By analyzing previous customer issues and understanding their needs, you will be able to predict the behaviors of customers in the future and anticipate issues before they occur. Put your e-commerce business ahead of your competitors by offering exceptional, proactive customer service in place of the reactive norm. Your customers will appreciate it, and your business will benefit.
If you can develop and maintain a personal relationship with your customers, you will build a strong, loyal customer base that trusts your business. Not only will this create an important customer/business bond, it will also increase your referrals, reduce operating costs, and contribute to the overall long-term success of your e-commerce business. Proactive customer service will give your business the opportunity to exceed customer expectations by resolving their problems before they know they have them – what more could a customer ask for?
And with proactive support, you absolutely need to start thinking about adding live chat to your e-commerce business. So why not look into a solution like HappyFox Chat? It’s one of the most nimble, user-friendly live chat platforms available! Start with your 14-day free trial.
How has proactive customer service affected your online shopping experience? Share your comments with us!