Customer service can make or break a business. It plays a pivotal role in customer retention, company reputation, and ultimately the bottom line. Reactive customer service is no longer sufficient; companies must shift to proactive customer service to guarantee continued success.

Proactive customer service means anticipating customer service problems and requests before they happen. The idea is to lessen the number of customer service inquiries and complaints through predictive service.

Here are six tips for shifting from a reactive customer service model to a proactive model.

Audit Your Pain Points

Before you make any notable changes within your business, it’s essential to audit and understand what’s currently causing friction. Start by auditing your customer service pain points and identifying what key areas need work. You’ll be able to find this information by reviewing inquiries, reviews, and complaints.

It’s important to understand that not all customer pain points are definitively negative. When we think of pain points, we tend to consider scathing one-star reviews. However, every time a customer has to reach out to find shipping information or ask clarifying questions about a product, it indicates a deeper communication issue that you could correct through proactive customer service.

Use the Right CRM Tools

The next step in shifting to a proactive customer service model is ensuring you have the right CRM tools in place. Using a centralized CRM tool will help you keep information organized, increase your scalability, and ultimately create better customer experiences.

It’s important to find a CRM tool that integrates with other business tools you use within your organization. Furthermore, you should consider any specialized requirements based on your unique business or industry — for example, looking for an ISO CRM or ensuring compliance in highly regulated trades.

Take Ownership of Problems

Authenticity and transparency are everything in proactive customer service. Your business must take ownership of problems. Better yet, you should highlight and take ownership of problems before the customer even becomes aware of them.

This approach may seem counterintuitive. Businesses often subscribe to the archaic idea of sweeping problems under the rug and trying to fix them before anyone notices. However, highlighting issues and taking a corrective stance before customers notice is an excellent reminder of the human side of the business. Use challenges as an opportunity to surprise and delight your customers, strengthening trust and promoting long-standing relationships.

Invest in Your Customer Touch Points

Businesses must invest in their customer touchpoints to successfully shift to a proactive customer service model. This strategy means investing in anything the customer might interact with as they seek assistance: the website, phone lines, chatbots, and yes, the people.

Keeping your employees happy and investing in customer service management training is the best thing you can do to improve your customer service. Your people speak for your business. If they seem unhappy to be working for you, your customers will notice.

Make Resources Readily Available

Empower your customers to take ownership of their experience by making resources readily available. Have an easy-to-find FAQ section on your website, give them a shipment tracking field to punch in their number, and make it easy for them to help themselves first.

Consider improving your proactivity by offering product training or tutorials. You can work this into your follow-up email flow. This strategy ties into solving problems before they start, as you’ll diminish the learning curve and improve early customer adoption. Consider creating a resources database on your website to direct customers and create an option for a follow-up call as part of the overall sales experience.

Set Success Metrics

Finally, the only way to truly measure your success is to identify success metrics. Implement targets and measurement tools to determine the effectiveness of your efforts. These metrics could include everything from the Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) to Average Resolution Time (AST).

If you invest in a high-quality CRM tool, you’ll be able to improve your metrics tracking in a streamlined, centralized database. These metrics are essential for honing your approach and maintaining your momentum.

Improving your company’s customer service and becoming more proactive will be a constant work in progress. However, this is an opportunity to learn and grow. By taking a proactive approach, you’ll improve your customer relationships and your profits.

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