Drive your brand to success with proactive chat support

By Sookie Lioncourt

Published August 26, 2014
Last modified August 26, 2014

Mike Schneider of Conversocial points out that, apart from reacting to customers’ suggestions, queries, and complaints, customer service is about anticipating potential problems and addressing them proactively. A 2010 report from Enkata found that leveraging a proactive or preemptive customer service approach can reduce complaints over telephone by as much as 30%, while increasing customer retention at a rate of 3-5%.

The importance of proactive customer support cannot be underestimated. In fact, part of Zendesk's live chat offering is a proactive Triggers feature for engaging important customers.

In this article, we’ll look at how to implement proactive customer service and offer some tips that will help drive your brand to success.

Listen To Your Customers
In a post from Information Week, Debra Donston-Miller suggests that one method of proactively engaging customers is by actually listening to them. This might sound obvious, but it can sometimes be forgotten or overlooked. Your customers are having conversations about you, so it’s important that you keep an eye on them. Monitor your social media channels and look out for mentions of your company. Customers might be posting on their personal accounts about their experience with one of your products. In fact, the Retail Consumer Report noted that 68% of customers post complaints or comments about their negative experience on their personal social pages. In cases of complaints, a public apology with an action plan coming from a trained customer service advocate is a great way to ensure customers that their concerns are being handled.

Provide answers proactively
Kristen Hicks of Software Advice suggests that customers prefer to find answers to their inquiries/problems themselves, rather than resorting to emails or calling the company. By adding useful content to your website, you can lower the total number of customer complaints and queries.

Relevant content can include how-to’s, tips, product information, and answers to common customer questions. You can also provide them with a complete and easy-to-find FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) section that includes information about your service, product pricing, terms and conditions, and product troubleshooting. To provide more detailed information, you can even create webinars, articles, and blog posts that provide an extensive guide to addressing any question they might have.

This proactive approach can save your company from the numerous phone calls containing follow up questions about your products and services. This should not be taken for granted, as based on the 2010 Forrester Survey, 57% of customers will give up on making an online purchase if finding the right answers on your website is difficult.

If your service is down, let your customers know
Running a website is a challenge and they all have a glitch now and then. It’s totally unavoidable. But, if your website or service does go down, let your customers know about the problem as soon as possible. Importantly, be honest and tell them the truth. If possible, issue a statement about the nature of the problem (both on your website and social media pages), as well as the actions you are taking to solve it..

As an example, take a look at Ryanair’s booking fiasco earlier this year. Let’s Get Wise’s Twitter account shared Brand Republic’s news stating that Ryanair’s website was hit by technical glitches. There were also reports that customers weren’t receiving their travel iteniraries. As a result, Ryanair received several complaints from customers saying that they had been charged twice. The company immediately apologized for the inconvenience and released a statement advising its customers not to make duplicate reservations, as travel itineraries would be delayed.

Proactively chat with customers
In the same Forrester survey mentioned above, it was revealed that 44% of respondents were more than happy to make a purchase if they could get quick answers via chat live chat. Although adding live chat to your website is a no-brainer, executing chat proactively can be a challenge.

There are two ways to proactively chat with customer using live chat:

  • setup proactive Triggers
  • send chat invitations to your customers

Proactive Triggers deserves its own post, but it’s relatively easy to initiate your own chats with customers. Have a look at the Zopim Visitor List and find a customer who you think needs some help. One of them might be stuck on your checkout page. Send them a short message and ask them if they need your help.

These are some of the best strategies you should consider if you want to provide proactive customer service. Always remember that in the end, ensuring that you provide excellent service and quality products are still the main ingredients for your business to succeed.

Learn how to build you business with proactive chat