The best time to solve a problem is before you even have one. Preemptively addressing potential concerns of your customers, as well as offering help before help is ever needed, can keep customers coming back and reduce the rates of returns or refunds. Be more helpful than necessary – people will remember you for it, and your business only stands to benefit from it.
Passive Versus Proactive Approaches to Customer Service
With reactive customer service, each customer is treated like a unique scenario and occupies the time and attention of one or more members of your service staff. This usually involves some redundancy, as many complaints are common. It also throttles the productivity of customer service staff who could be focusing their undivided attention on a sole customer with a specific and unique support request instead of providing quick service to a customer who has a garden-variety gripe.
Proactive approaches may seem like more work, but in the long run, they turn out to be less work. If you provide as much service as you possibly can up front, people are going to be less likely to turn to you for common service issues and questions later on down the road. They’ll be making more informed purchasing decisions, and they’ll understand what to do. Most proactive approaches involve providing tools or resources to your customers – you only need to create them once if they’re evergreen.
Provide Useful Content and Guides
If your business offers a lot of options, especially in the way of sizes and styles or customizations, create comprehensive buying guides. Teach people how to take the measurements necessary to assure they’re getting things right the first time. Provide excellent visual examples that showcase real-life size and shape comparisons. Giving them all of this info ahead of time can reduce purchasing mistakes and relieve some of the burden on your support staff, who may have otherwise needed to provide lengthy consultations, troubleshooting, or refunds.
Providing this information can also help turn curious observers into buyers. If uncertainty about which style or size would be best is preventing people from shopping with you, they’ll have access to all the information they need to make a purchasing decision. They won’t fear that they’ll make a mistake and wind up returning or not using what they’ve bought from you.
Explainer Videos and Tutorials
Giving your customers a total breakdown of your products or services will leave them with fewer questions. One of the best ways to do that is through the medium of video. The blend of moving pictures, audio, and text will give your customers a three dimensional understanding of your products and services that suits every learning style. If you aren’t already using video, hire a video creator and editor to work for your team.
It’s also worthwhile to offer up complementary products and services to influencers who will be able to create videos based on your products. People will see tutorials and reviews from their peers and the people they trust – making this the perfect blend of service and marketing. These videos will answer the “how does this work?” and “how do I use it?” and “how does it look?” questions that people may have.
Automate Your Service Tools
Almost every grocery store now has a self-checkout. This is because people would rather do things themselves. It makes them feel more in control of their time and their outcome. Sometimes, people simply don’t want to navigate the phone or email chain that comes with customer service or support. They’ll file something away as a negative experience, they won’t shop with you again, and they’ll move on to the competitor. Automated tools might persuade them to give you another chance if things didn’t turn out the way they planned.
Offer easy returns or exchanges. Allow them to print shipping labels and a form including their reason for returns directly from your website. They won’t need to try to contact you during business hours or wait for a response, because everything they need to serve themselves has already been provided for them. They’ll skip the process and head straight for the results.
Follow Up Immediately After a Purchase
Someone has just received what they bought from you. They might not have had an opportunity to use it yet. That’s okay – reach out to them first. This is a great strategy for obtaining customer reviews and feedback, and it also immediately opens the door for compliments and complaints alike. If you get their feedback immediately, you can start putting it to good use. Making improvements or expanding readily available information to cover things that your customers mention (including building a better FAQ) will keep you growing and improving without space to pause.
Proactive approaches and automation don’t reduce the quality of service – they drastically enhance it by making help immediately available, even if it’s preemptive. If you aren’t yet utilizing proactive approaches, it isn’t too late to start. You know what your customers want. All you need to do is give it to them all at once in great detail, and you can send the service staff on vacation for a few days.
Guest Author: Evie Cooper is an experienced Project Manager and Team Leader at UKAreaCode, an online data library. Working with numerous people everyday, both clients and co-workers, has given Evie a lot of experience in customer relations, team management, and leadership – experience which she often shares online with other experts. Feel free to reach out to Evie on @CooperEviee.