Business VoIP Featured Article

Getting to Them First: How Proactive Customer Service Benefits Everyone

January 21, 2015

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

I never much liked the word “proactive.” It’s not in my 13-year-old dictionary, and it seems like one of those words marketing folks create to suit their purposes. In any case, we all now understand the word proactive, which in recent years has crept into the popular lexicon (or should I just say lexicon), and we understand the value of what it aims to express. That is not just to move on something, but to anticipate it, and to be ready to act on it when the time is right.

This kind of behavior is becoming particularly relevant when it comes to customer care. That’s because most customers today have high expectations when it comes to the performance of products and services, and when it comes to getting their problems addressed. That said, if there’s anything an organization can do to get a jump on potential problems, and possibly even nip them in the bud before customers become aware of them, it’s not a bad idea to add those procedures to the organization’s process.

Even when a problem can’t be immediately fixed, however, proactively sharing the issue with customers and letting them know what’s being done to address it and when they can expect the situation to improve can alleviate customer frustration and avoid social media criticisms and overloaded contact centers. It can even build customer loyalty, which can result in more sales.

Business cloud communication provider Nextiva calls this proactive stance “getting to them first.” And it says, applied properly, this is a powerful way to let customers know an organization has their needs in mind so they can relax, with the understanding that the situation is under control.

As Claes Fornell, the creator of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, told CUSTOMER magazine, letting customers know what to expect can play a big role in improving customer satisfaction.

“Some of the things [airlines] should be doing should be relatively easy,” Fornell noted in the July/August 2013 issue of TMC’s CUSTOMER magazine. “They should communicate what they know; information here is critical. They are very bad at this. When bad things happen, delays and the like, the airlines are getting a little better, but they’re not really on top of things. They should let people know what to expect to the extent that they know it.”

One way to do all this, as Nextiva recently pointed out, is by anticipating customer questions and reaching out to customers first – through VoIP and other IP-based means. That may involve notifying passengers that their flight has been delayed and potentially offering them options to rebook if there’s a cancellation, letting customers know if their package will not reach its intended destination at the originally promised time (this is particularly important during the holidays), or reminding customers of appointments or other things about which they need to keep track.

Edited by Alisen Downey


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