If you’re like me, before you go on vacation, you make a checklist of all the items you need. If you’re really like me, you even include things you probably don’t need and will take up valuable space but will pack anyway.
Believe it or not, that got me thinking about customer service. Successful companies know that they need to make customer service a priority. So, they plaster their phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, and fax numbers all over their marketing to make sure their clients know how to reach them. They periodically follow-up with members and clients and donors to see if they’re satisfied with what the company is doing and to make sure the clients aren’t having any problems. And they promptly and courteously return phone calls and inquiries, going out of their way to make sure their customers feel appreciated and to smooth out bumps and correct problems.
What more could they possibly do?
The answer: take on a more proactive approach. Whereas most customer service departments perform reactively, proactive departments are in motion even before the customers are.
Shep Hyken, contributing writer for Forbes magazine, describes proactive marketing as “doing something for your customers before they know they need it.”
What does that entail?
Notifying customers of an issue with a product or service before they discover it, and providing a solution or the promise of a solution.
Providing customers with helpful guides and how-tos for known or common problem areas.
Making sure everyone—from leadership to the customer service reps themselves—understands the importance of customer service and actively works in that mindset.
Actively looking for things that could potentially go wrong, developing solutions, and reaching out to customers before they run into problems.
Proactive customer service doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a mindset and a culture that spans all across an organization and requires time and training, commitment and compassion. But the rewards of all that effort—customer confidence—make it well worth the effort.