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Proactive vs Reactive Customer Service

I’m the type of customer who let’s a company know what I think of their service via twitter. Recently I’ve started to notice that there are really two types of companies in terms of how they deal with customer complaints. I think of them as proactive and reactive. Let me give you an example.

Imagine a customer complains on twitter that the queue in your bank branch is too long.

A proactive organisation, might use the location information in that tweet to see which branch the customer is in, then call that branch manager and find out if there is a problem and if so how it can be addressed, maybe some staff can be redirected, maybe the queue can be split into those with quick standard requests and those with more complex requests.

Image the customer surprise when you text them back and say “Thanks for the feedback, we’ve quickly reshuffled some staff, and your queuing time should now be reduced to 5 minutes. Thanks for bringing this to our attention”.

Here is a real life example of customer delight. Recently we’ve started using StreamScience. We got an email saying they would love to hear any ideas we have for new features. We had one, and emailed them back. We got an immediate reply that it was a great idea, and easy to do, so it would be implemented. Imagine my surprise when they mailed me a few days later to let me know the feature was done and I could now use it!

Unfortunately it is a much more common occurrence that I see the more reactive form of customer service.

Recently I observed someone tweeting their frustration about a company’s security questions for authenticating you at the call center. The question was about which of their products you use. Something that most customers, me included, don’t actually know. I don’t know what kind of internet hosting package I have for example, I expect my provider to know that.

It was made worse because the company mentioned then tweeted asking how they could help. To me it was obvious how they could help. They could change the security questions, and then tweet back that they had done that. But instead they chose to ask a question that doesn’t really have any response except ‘fix what I already told you was broken’.

Asking how you can help is not good customer service. Anticipating your customer needs and solving their problems before they even need to ask, now that is proactive customer service.

Think about your own organisations customer service? Where do you stand? How can you anticipate your customer needs better?