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A Customer Centric Approach Needs Proactive Customer Engagement

30th May 2016
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proactive customer engagement

 

A Definition of Proactive Customer Engagement

Proactive customer engagement is the process of using social media and other channels to engage with existing and prospective customers. The goal of this approach is to head off potential problems that contribute to customer churn, solve challenges, and meet needs with relevant content and interactions that increase customer loyalty and drive business results.

Organizations may rely on social media monitoring tools that provide alerts when their brand is mentioned, giving companies an edge for addressing customer service requests, complaints, and even commendations through timely and appropriate responses.

A proactive customer engagement strategy is the plan, process, and methodology a company employs to facilitate timely, relevant interactions, often including both online and offline tactics to serve customers across all channels and touchpoints to exceed customer expectations.

Benefits of Proactive Customer Engagement Strategy

Forrester identified proactive customer engagement as a top customer service trend, noting that it anticipates “the what, when, where, and how for customers” and allows organizations to “prioritize information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion.” Benefits include answering customer questions at the right time, improving operational performance, and predicting future customer behavior.

Taking on a proactive engagement strategy can decrease support call volume, raise customer satisfaction, increase customer loyalty and thereby increase retention rates. It can also enable businesses to gain the upper hand in communication to put organizations in the most favorable light in conversations on social media and in person.

Companies that are proactive about customer engagement are seeing results: 87% of adults surveyed are happy when brands initiate conversations regarding customer service issues. This contributes to a company’s ability to acquire new customers, retain current customers, create brand advocates, and protect the organization against escalation.

Challenges of Proactive Customer Engagement Strategy

One of the most pressing challenges is pinpointing the most appropriate time to engage with consumers. It’s unproductive to wait for customers to reach out to the company. Often by the time the customer takes this initiative, they’re dissatisfied and possibly angered by the lack of support they’ve received, making it more difficult to achieve a positive outcome.

That being said, companies that engage customers too frequently or in ways that are unwelcome do more harm than good, because customers view the interactions as being too invasive. Finding the right balance is key, and learning as much as possible about customers can help businesses to find their equilibrium between intrusive and helpful.

Proactive Customer Engagement Strategy Best Practices

Effective proactive customer engagement strategies involve taking advantage of predictable events to initiate relevant interactions. Such opportunities include offering proactive engagement in order to complement self-service, using speech analytics to proactively maintain professional levels of customer service, anticipating customer needs, and striving to keep customers informed at all times.

  • Complementing self-service – Organizations that offer personalized guidance for consumers when they need it most are more successful when they predict reasons for customer contact and then respond appropriately. A self-service knowledge base enables organizations to monitor customer activity through analytics, mapping the customer’s journey through the knowledge base, FAQ, and other resources, dispatching critical escalation activities to the right customer service agent, arming agents with the information and insights to offer timely, highly targeted resolutions to mitigate customer concerns. It’s important to note that this type of proactive customer engagement must also be omni-channel in nature.
     
  • Using speech analytics for professional customer service – When customers do contact organizations by phone, it is a good idea to employ speech analytics technologies to ensure contact centers perform at high levels and mine intelligence from the customer interactions. This best practice helps organizations to rapidly determine and solve issues that result in inefficient calls, to identify the reasons for customers’ unhappiness, and to better target offers and resolutions to customers.
     
  • Anticipating customers’ needs – Anticipating customer needs is proactive by nature. Some of the most effective ways to anticipate customer needs include providing multiple methods for consumers to contact the organization through several channels. Companies that look for problems to solve, rather than products to sell, are more successful in anticipating customer needs.

    It’s also in the best interests of the organization to allow customers time to explore self-service options and to develop relationships with the organization rather than trying to engage with them at all times. Keep in mind that every interaction at every touch point offers deeper insights on the customer, which informs future marketing and service activities and allows for more targeted communication. Finally, organizations better anticipate needs by employing analytics to gain deeper customer insights and predict future demands.

  • Keeping customers informed – Organizations often overlook delivering customer information as a proactive customer engagement strategy. Organizations that undergo improvements, updates, and changes should make it a priority to keep customers informed. Providing information to customers in a timely fashion helps to reduce the number of contacts that are made, reduces unnecessary traffic to the organization, and saves money while increasing customer satisfaction. Organizations that epitomize proactive customer engagement strategy also keep customers informed of future events, such as appointments, renewals, and updates.

As with all things, engaging customers in moderation is often the best policy. Using customer analytics and experience solutions that complement self-service, anticipate customer needs, and keep customers informed are vital components of a successful and proactive customer engagement strategy. Organizations doing business in this customer centric era cannot afford to miss the growth opportunities created by adopting a proactive and balanced approach towards customer engagement.

This article was written by Yariv Mendelson, VP Global Sales at nanorep.

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