In terms of customer service, most companies tend to be reactive. This tendency stems from fear. Many executives I’ve met have demonstrated fear when it comes to proactively contacting customers. They are afraid that if they poke the bear, they will encourage the customer to re-think the entire relationship and ultimately leave.
This fear can permeate throughout the entire organisation. Slowly but surely a brand that is unwilling to face its fears and become proactive with its customer service, will fail to compete and risk its very survival.
Research demonstrates that for every customer who complains, there are 26 other unhappy customers who have remained silent, and 91% of those unhappy customers will never come back. By being reactive you miss the opportunity to connect with those customers and resolve the issues that have led them to churn.
Why are executives afraid
There are a number of reasons why senior executives may encourage a reactive approach to customer service:
1. They lack confidence in their service teams. They fear that the service teams can’t handle an issue or series of issues without upsetting the customer further.
2. They fear their products or service offerings don’t live up to the marketing promise. Executives fear that contacting customers about issues will reinforce their negative attitudes to the brand’s products and services.
3. Senior executives have no experience in proactive customer services. They are blinkered to the benefits of being proactive and don’t believe that customers will be delighted if the organisation takes the time to understand who they are and contact them about their experience.
4. The very siloed structure of a business may prevent service teams being proactive. According to a recent article by Adrian Swinscoe in Forbes Magazine, “… most businesses are organised, run and measured in a way that works against the sort of collaboration and cross-functional working that a proactive customer service strategy would require.”
Why they need to be proactive
Executives need to be made aware of the costs associated with reactive customer services vs the benefits and cost savings of proactive service. A report by Enkata found that proactive customer service increased retention rates between 3-5%. While that may seem small, another report from Bain & Company found that increasing customer retention rates by 5% leads to a significant increase in profits — 25% to 95%!
Proactive customer services can Improve productivity and reduce costs.Research found that over 25% of support requests are either unnecessary or avoidable. Identifying the issues that create these phone calls and support requests and resolving them before they become problems, can save a business significant amounts of time and resources.
Proactive customer service and support will improve the brand’s reputation leading to increased sales and referral business. Proactive communication and customer service concerning possible issues, will help you establish a reputation for transparency and honesty. This engenders trust with your customers. If your customers trust you, then they will continually reward you with their business and refer others.
Most leading and innovative brands understand the benefits of proactive customer service. They are structured and managed to empower their services teams to take the initiative and resolve issues with customers before those issues become problems. It requires a leadership team that is not afraid to shift the focus of their organisation from being reactive to being proactive.