Traditionally, customer service has often been viewed as a reactive means of handling customer concerns. While contact centers play a pivotal role in managing this critical aspect of business, taking the extra step toward pleasing customers before an issue arises-or just for the sake of pleasing them-can be key to winning them over.Here are five ways to deliver excellent customer service proactively that are sure to delight your customers while enhancing your brand’s reputation.Keep your customers informed-ahead of time. If your company makes deliveries to your customers, it’s vital to let them know about every step in the delivery process. Details such as tracking numbers and phone numbers to call if there is a concern are all important, but also be sure to provide critical real-time information such as dates and times of expected delivery. If there’s a delay, customers should be notified ahead of time, not after the delay has occurred. The same is true for all other aspects of customer service interactions. Should there be issues with billing, an anticipated delay when the customer is waiting in a queue, or even scheduled website maintenance that will make the site inaccessible, let your customers know.Offer live chat for visitors to your website. Customers frequently consult company websites to look for answers, and it can often be a long and tedious process that many abandon without success. Why not make it easier for your customers by providing live agent assistance? Offer a live chat popup that’s personalized-the agent, for example, should introduce himself or herself, thank the customer for visiting the website, and ask how they may be of service. If the customer wishes, the conversation may eventually be moved to another channel when necessary (to further discuss the problem or make a purchase, for example). The idea is to be there for your customers right at the start of their web search-make sure to offer the chat as quickly as possible.Collect customer feedback. It’s always a good idea to send follow-up surveys to customers after a customer service interaction, or even when a purchase was made without the help of an agent, to determine satisfaction levels. However, it’s also useful to ask for feedback at unexpected intervals, in a way that doesn’t bother the customer but shows your company values his or her opinions. For example, sending quarterly online surveys by mail or via social media are noninvasive ways of asking for feedback just to see how the customer feels in general. For retail companies, these surveys may be timed to align with critical holiday season sales-either as a pre- or post-season marketing strategy to help a company better define goals and know where customer service improvements can be made ahead of time.Offer loyalty rewards and discounts. Take a good look at your customers’ transactional history to determine where promotional offers could be of interest to them. Your company could offer rewards that are determined in advance, such as giving vouchers to customers after a certain amount has been spent or offering a discount on a subsequent purchase. Another strategy is to inform customers of new packages or deals that the company is now offering, which means targeting customers who have similar products or services but could benefit from the features of the new ones.Just say thanks. It’s fairly obvious that customer concerns communicated on social media should be addressed quickly and efficiently. But what about compliments for your brand? Happy customers also like to share their satisfaction on social media, so be ready to thank them and possibly offer something as a gesture. Thanking customers for their kind comments are always welcome gestures which could result in Facebook shares or re-tweets-all vital to your brand’s image.Listening to your customers and handling their concerns will always be necessary for providing excellent customer service. However, taking a proactive approach gives your customers extra attention they will appreciate–bringing greater loyalty, retention, and an enhanced reputation to your brand.
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