How To Be Proactive in Your Customer Service

Proactive Customer Service

Proactive Customer Service (photo by: Phil Dowsing)

“Customer service is a necessary evil”.

As I listened to my (now former) boss utter these words, I couldn’t help but think of the opportunities we had just lost.

The C-level executives (CEO, COO, CIO) I’ve been privileged enough to spend some time with in my years as an employed grunt have proven to be valuable.  It wasn’t that they taught me much about how to run a company.  They were much too busy for that.  No, these executives explained to me how people who are working in the company that don’t make them direct profits are expendable and usually take up breathing space which would be much better reserved for their Hummers and Mercedes.

But, don’t let that get you down.  Not all companies are like this.  Not all executives can’t see beyond their interviews with the press and perfect haircuts.  Some get it.

In fact, some executives can even turn “necessary evil[s]” into indirect profit and good will.

We all know about customer service hell.  And, most executives do care about reducing the amount of time their customer service departments have work.  It’s a measure of the quality of their product or service.  But think about it.  By the time we’ve called the customer service line we’re usually already fed up with them.  During the time that big companies thought outsourcing their customer service was a good idea, calling customer service only hurt their image – exactly the opposite of what was supposed to happen.

But, some companies get customer service right.  One, finally, understands it entirely.  Comcast.

What is Proactive Customer Service?

We’ve finally come to the age of proactive customer service.  Why wait until your customer is so fed up that they’ve already told all their friends they hate your products and services?  Next thing you know, they’re on the phone being worked through a manual-like, unhelpful process by someone who doesn’t speak the language you do.

Proactive customer service is when a company finds out, through means other than you contacting them for help, that there’s a problem.  Then, they don’t just fix the problem and issue a new update to their site.  They actually contact you to tell you they’ve fixed your exact problem.

Comcast has taken the lead.  Many companies are on Twitter, but few Fortune 100 companies are ahead of the curve.  Comcast doesn’t just post updates on their status.  They actually fix the problems that individuals are experiencing, personally.

How to Be Proactive

Don’t just twiddle your thumbs, setup a call center, and wait for people to call.  Hire more peole than you need and make them scour the web for complaints on blogs, twitter and other social networking sites.  Be on the front lines.

Case in point:  Comcast is an internet service provider.  Who are the front runners on the internet?  What tools do they use?  Go there.

This actually makes me believe the corporate world cares.  Well, maybe.  Or maybe they know that this kind of work can lead to more subscribers.  Perhaps they’ve finally connected the dots between proactive customer service and revenue.  Let’s hope so, for our sake as consumers.

Nate Ritter lives in the Pacific Northwest (U.S.), popularized the #hashtag and creates web applications for a living. He also does miles and point hacking to enable cheap travel for his family. More here →

5 Comments on "How To Be Proactive in Your Customer Service"

  1. Nate, glad to see you are still blogging. This blog is a good reminder for me. It is something that I think is very important since I too have been the customer service / sales grunt for 10+ years. Its hard to do when you are a small business but something that I always keep in mind need to be reminded of so as we grow we keep that as part of our plan.

    Just opened my language school and classes are starting soon. http://www.letutor.com – check out my blog I just put up a video tour of our location. Going to put up another soon. Its almost finished.

  2. Nate thank you for this great post on Comcast’s leadership in twitter and customer service. I just wrote a book about The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Comapny entitiled The New Gold Standard, and I believe they are a leader in legendary service as well

  3. nate says:

    Thanks for the comments guys. I think the Ritz-Carlton is an amazing company as well. We studied their service in school a little. It’s amazing and should be studied by companies each year as a refresher.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Great post! I just set up a “Google Alert” to send a comprehensive report daily to a few of our websites… for example the search term “icarkits.com” and sent the report to [email protected] with hopes that they will be able to be a bit more proactive.

    Anyone had any experience with Google Alerts? Does it catch people speaking fairly early or only weeks afterwards?

  5. nate says:

    Yea, I use Google Alerts to let me know what’s being said and I get daily digests. They’re pretty true to form. The day I get them is usually the day they are published.

 
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