2017 Priorities: Upgrading Your Proactive Service Strategy

A proactive service strategy is based on anticipating your customers’ needs. It’s about getting there before customers consciously recognise the need to make contact.

The secret is to look for patterns of repeated behaviour in your customer journeys. Front line feedback is good enough to trigger awareness. Interaction analytics and a peppering of machine learning are even better. The outcome is a win-win. Reduced cost to serve and a happier customer who might even let others know you were on the ball.

The only trouble with the whole strategy is that most brands still lack the right mindset.

What’s Wrong With My Mindset?

The strategic status of most contact centres remains a work in progress to be kind. Budgets have not flowed in this direction as fast as some other routes to improving the customer experience. There are both historic and leadership reasons that have resulted in a habitual tendency towards efficiency as the overriding operational goal.

An efficiency-orientated mindset goes looking for better answers in the form of their workforce optimisation capability. An outside-in mindset wonders why customers need to make contact at all.

If I had to define today’s drive towards digital customer service, I’d say it was the opposite of:

  • Fragmented
  • Manual
  • Offline when unmanned
  • Effortful and non-real time

If that’s the expectation we are setting, then reacting to a service need is increasingly too late from the customer’s point of view.

In other words, we need to move our efforts from downstream to upstream engagement using what we know about customer situations.

The level of proactive service opportunity that exists for you is something you should regularly examine. It’s part of your omni-channel gameplan. Just how far can you move the dial?

How To Get Organised For Proactive Service

How do you organise your resources to spot observable customer behaviour that is consistently repeated over time?

For a start you need to allocate dedicated resource. Coping with everyday service issues requires a certain energy and focus. Analysing, designing and rolling out new proactive interventions cannot be piggy backed onto these duties. A dedicated resource is needed if you want to make rapid headway.

Their world will centre on a single obsession.

Discovering commonly repeated needs that can identified at a certain stage in a customer journey for an identifiable group of customers.

There are tons of them once they start to engage with that objective.

1. Missed appointments are expensive disappointments for both consumers and brands when either party fails to deliver. The UK’s National Health Service wastes £912m a year in missed appointments
2. What about automated, instant confirmations triggered at each stage of a claims workflow instead of progress chasing via an insurer’s contact centre?
3. Pre-emptive top up warnings for pre-pay mobile or energy customer
4. Mobile providers could analyse usage patterns and recommend more appropriate calling plans then lock in customers before they have a chance to churn

The same logic can be applied to sales opportunities.

1. Based on your interest in these products/services, are you interested in…?
2. Based on how you are using this product/service, are you interested in…?
3. Since you asked about these features, you might also want to know…
4. Based on your previous interest, this item is now in our summer sales
5. It’s all about anticipating my need at the point at which it matters to the customer.

The Future Of Proactive Service

We are beginning to see a whole new class of proactive intervention coming with the launch of intelligent assistants and bots. For instance, Cleo helps you manage your finances based on machine learning. UK customers of Barclays, Lloyds Bank, RBS, First Direct, Metro Bank, Natwest, Santander Bank, TSB are already able to do this.

Dutch Oxxio consumers can use a chatbot called ‘O’ for energy consumption and proactive advice on savings. This is something which might rekindle interest in the UK smart meter market which is currently suffering from consumer indifference.

Those of us into Fitbit culture already expect personalised advice based on real-time collection of our personal data.

As we move further into a world of digital workflow and real-time data capture, we have more and more opportunity to remove customer effort and increase engagement when we manage to provide them with the right information at just the right point of need.

A 2017 Priority

If boosting your proactive service agenda is something you are ready to look at, you might be interested in this master class that I’m running on the 16th of May in London.

Published On: 18th Jan 2017 - Last modified: 6th Feb 2019
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