Today, most customers expect to receive exceptional levels of customer support from their suppliers. The technology developments in the digital workplace are responsible for enabling much of this.  Business must therefore recognise that they need to continue to invest in their IT systems, to not only drive operational efficiency, but to drive high levels of customer service.

There are many costs associated with delivering high levels of customer support including time, money and energy spent on hiring, training and employing personnel. Forward-looking, service-led organisations are already looking at IT solutions that will provide proactive and first line support as part of their service model.  

The right technology solution will allow a business to anticipate and plan for customer needs, filter enquiries as well as answer and manage repeat client queries more effectively.  This means that more expensive people resources can be used to focus on more complex queries or challenges and respond to customers complaints in a timely manner, with minimal impact on margins.  

Proactive support is particularly effective as part of a good customer support strategy if you are able to pre-emptively offer personalised support via tools and channels that your customers choose.  For instance by proactively using tools like outbound messaging, banners and product tours, you can inform and educate customers before they call your team with questions or for help.   This proactive approach not only improves the customer experience for clients, but will reduce the volume of inbound conversations your support team have to handle.

 

Switching from a reactive to proactive strategy can be tricky, but it will be simpler if  you are clear on what you want to achieve at the outset.  Work out if and how the company support strategy is aligned to the expectations of customers.  The output from this discussion will provide the necessary direction to key management decisions, plans and resources to ensure that your goals, products and service strategy are achieved.

What is proactive support?

Providing proactive support is a strategic way to help customers help themselves or self-serve, before they get through to a customer service/support desk or realise they even have a question or problem.

Proactive support is not just about one tool or programme feature, but an overall approach that blends your support and customer service strategy, mindset and technology.  Together, this combination will enable you to anticipate customer needs and deliver the right support at the right time, via the right channel in their chosen environment.  

To accomplish this, you might send targeted messages with relevant content or help articles, use banners on your site to inform your users upfront of important information (like delivery delays or service announcements) or increase new users’ understanding of products via product tours. 

 

Supporting proactive initiatives has numerous benefits

The benefits of proactive support include setting your customers up for success and protecting your employees time. Both your customers and employees should have a positive experience.  Here are some of the other benefits to be had :

  • Customers get answers when they need them, not just when you are open

As more and more of us use technology, the ability to get an answer to a query late at night or in the early morning has become increasingly important.  Providing useful FAQs, online chat services, articles or efficient enquiry systems make this happen and help improve the customer experience.  Customers are no longer prepared to wait on long telephone queues.

 

  • Better resources to allow customers to self-serve

Proactive support is not just about using technology to reduce conversation volumes at any cost, but about using the right tools, at the right time to enhance the customer experience. Consider what queries you are commonly asked and how you might answer them without the need to answer the phone.  For example a FAQ on your website, ‘help guides’ on your social media, filtering of questions and answers via your online chat and even on your IVR (interactive voice response) system.  All these tools can be used to help direct customers to self-serve for the most common queries 

You can’t predict every question and there will always be those questions that need human interaction. But, by addressing, publishing and making customers aware that there are other places they can visit to get information on common questions and issues, gives your team more time to handle queries where human interaction is needed.

  • Increase customer retention and satisfaction metrics 

Giving customers the ability to get help before they need it or to find answers to queries easily, sets the tone for a successful, long-term partnership. Proactive support not only shows customers that you understand their journey and what bothers them, but that you are committed to supporting them and improving their experience every step of the way.

  • Reduction in inbound queries

Many businesses find the majority of calls and service tickets they handle relate to repeat enquiries and problems.  Getting answers to your clients, before they ask them will reduces the volume of questions/queries your team have to handle. Again, giving your team more time to resolve complex issues.

Why be proactive with support?

Irrespective of how well you operate, sell or deliver your products and services, customers will eventually have a question or problem they need to resolve.

Research consistently shows that clients don’t rate service poorly until they feel they aren’t being listened to or that they are not being taken seriously. The current business processes of creating tickets and giving responses within 3-5 business days makes the whole process very impersonal and can be frustrating for clients.

A poor front line service desk that offers sluggish response times and a poor understanding of issues will ultimately will lead to customers looking elsewhere for the services and products they want.   Proactive support minimises the likelihood of this type of unhappy outcome. The customer experience is positive from the start by offering personalised, fast and useful support that anticipates and addresses customer needs.

Let’s not overlook the fact that proactive support is great for your business and support teams too. It allows you to protect your team from being overwhelmed, overworked and burnt out! 

 

How to implement a proactive customer support strategy

 

Building an effective proactive support strategy begins with gaining a deep understanding of your customers’ journey, what works for them and their pain points. Explore this through a review with existing and new customers. 

Review

Identify  the major contact points, key questions, main resolutions.  Establish what is acceptable to client satisfaction, what channel customers want to communicate with you through, patterns in the time of day/night of contact, seasonality in service and more.

This intelligence will enable you to build a strategy that works well for your customers and ultimately reduces the number of inbound conversations you receive.

Resource

To deliver proactive customer support you need to make sure you have the right processes, people (Operational Directors, Project Managers, Customer Service Managers) and technology in place.   Business owners shouldn’t assume they can rely on their existing IT resource, connectivity or infrastructure to deliver a new, proactive service strategy.  It may require an upgrade or a planned replacement of equipment and re-training for employees?

Consult

Taking on a project of this type is a considered investment and if you are a SME, it is unlikely you will have the internal IT resource or expertise to manage a project of this size or type.  It is not simply about choosing the right software, channels to work through or reviewing your CRM system.  

Find an experienced IT solutions partner to work with, who will take the time to understand your business and build the IT capability you need to implement a first class proactive customer support strategy.

 

If you would like to speak to an Excalibur IT solutions expert please call 01793 438881 or e-mail sales.enquiries@excaliburcomms.co.uk.

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