If you really want to get to know your customers – their deepest desires, their pain points, what they like about your product, what they don’t — spend ten minutes speaking to a customer-service agent. There’s a good chance it will be the most productive ten minutes of your day.
While to many of us, the customer is an abstract – a marketing persona or a set of data points – that’s certainly not the case for customer service agents. They spend hours every day talking to consumers on the phone, over email, using online chat and across a host of other channels. No one knows your customer better.
And here’s the thing. All that knowledge and data they are amassing everyday can be used to spot, and fix, potential customer problems too – sometimes before they even know they have them. By understanding more about the topics your customers talk about most, you can identify patterns, unlock trends and insights, and then begin solving potential problems proactively, boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty in the process.
Proactive support is changing the game
Being able to solve a problem before it becomes a problem sounds great, but what does it actually mean? In practice, it means that you can use the data from your customer-support interactions to spot developing or common customer challenges, such as delivery delays or check out issues, early. You can then take steps to prevent these problems affecting other customers.
That means fewer support tickets. For example, when you start to see an issue filling up agent inboxes, you could send a proactive message to customers, telling them how to fix or avoid the problem, thereby taking the pressure off your support teams.
As well as resolving an issue in the moment, this kind of data-driven and real-time customer engagement can also help product teams. By enabling them to gather data on how customers interact with products and services, they can not only improve existing ones but develop new ones that meet needs newly identified from the data.
How does it work?
To make this kind of proactive support happen, you first need joined-up customer-service channels. In this way, no matter how customers contact you — the channel used or the team they end up talking to — the fact of that contact, the details of their query and its outcome, are all logged on a centralised system. That information is then made available across the business to those who need it, as well as to your company’s data analytics and other systems.
Those systems then mine the data for insights you can use to improve your customer service, which can then be pushed to a single-view dashboard. The dashboard provides managers and support staff with information, such as which issues are causing the most tickets, how fast agents are resolving particular issues, and which features of your products or services are causing repeated problems, and so on.
It’s this combination of continuous data gathering and analysis, along with the ability to present the insights in an instantly useable form, that helps turn your customer-service platform into an engine for optimisation and growth.
Proactive chat can support CX and sales
One of the most useful tools in predictive and proactive support is proactive chat. A proactive chat system sets a threshold value for important customer interactions. Once a customer hits that threshold, a chat window opens and they are connected to an agent, who can see if they have a problem and, if they do, resolve it.
For instance, a customer might be spending longer than average on the checkout page. After they hit the threshold dwell time for that page, a chat automatically opens, connecting them to an agent. The agent knows why the chat has been initiated, can check to see if the customer is having a problem and has all the information needed to resolve the most common customer issues for that page.
When and what agents and customers chat about – be it navigation issues, shipping concerns, or product details – highlights the information your customers crave. The more live chat interactions your team initiates, the more customers you’ve touched, and the more information you can mine about what your customers are thinking and experiencing.
You might also avoid consumers abandoning their carts in the final stages of a sale. Proactive chat is just one tool among several in an omnichannel customer service system, but it’s a particularly powerful one that can take all your data and insights, use them to spot potential leaks in the sales pipeline or CX problems, and then fix them promptly.
French food company Feed used predictive customer support and proactive chat to add €180,000 to its bottom line. By implementing data-based proactive triggers, the company now hosts ten times the number of live chats each day. Its agents are able to engage with customers in real time and point them towards products that suit their specific needs and tastes. As a result, live chats enjoy a conversion rate of 6% and CSAT scores have jumped nearly 20%.
Let data be your crystal ball
Successful customer service is all about making it easier for the customer to use what you’re selling by anticipating their needs. A proactive engagement strategy gives businesses the insights to make informed decisions on how to engage their customers most effectively. This means anticipating the context of common support issues and always staying a step ahead, guiding users towards a better customer experience.