When you think of customer service, you likely imagine a team of agents responding to incoming customer complaints and questions. This type of customer support, called reactive customer service, is an important way to help customers, but it’s only one dimension of a larger customer service experience.
You can upgrade your customer experience with a proactive customer service strategy that includes:
- Creating self-service resources like FAQ pages or help centers
- Live chatting with potential customers on your website to provide real-time help
- Offering tutorials, discount codes, and recommendations to help customers make a more confident purchase
With proactive customer service, you can set customer expectations, create more opportunities for positive customer interactions, and increase your brand’s conversion rate. All without requiring your shoppers to put forth the effort of reaching out to you.
Below, we’ll share a few strategies for proactive customer service that will support a happier customer base and, in turn, long-term sales.
What is proactive customer service?
Proactive customer service means that you make the first move, proactively providing customers with support resources, rather than waiting on them to contact your brand first. Proactive customer support can be provided directly via an agent messaging customers, or indirectly via self-service resources such as an FAQ page or knowledge base. Examples of proactive customer service include:
- Contacting a customer pre-purchase via a live chat widget to walk them through the purchase process (and boost sales)
- Providing automated product recommendation pop-ups that are triggered based on specific customer actions
- Offering customers a knowledge base where they can find answers to common questions
- Responding to social media posts that mention your brand.
What is reactive customer service?
Reactive customer service is the type of customer service that most people are much more familiar with. Despite the growing popularity of a proactive customer service approach, reactive customer service remains a vital form of customer support as well.
As the name suggests, reactive customer service involves reacting to customer issues when they are brought to your attention by the customer. Examples of reactive customer service include:
- Answering phone calls on your brand's customer support line
- Responding to SMS and email messages
- Engaging with customers via live chat support when the customer was the one to open up the live chat window
While examples of reactive customer service can be found in virtually any customer-facing business, Zappos executes especially effective reactive customer service. Part of their strategy is sending a personalized response to every single email that they receive. This level of personalization ensures that the customer feels seen and acknowledged, lending itself to more positive customer experiences.
Why more online stores are turning to proactive customer service
There are two main categories that customer service can fall into: reactive customer service and proactive customer service. If you would like to create a customer service strategy that is as efficient and effective as possible, it's important to balance both of these approaches.
The numerous benefits of proactive customer service have led more and more online stores to adopt a more proactive approach to meeting customers' needs. According to data from MyCustomer, 73% of customers who are contacted proactively report a positive experience that changes their perception of the brand for the better.
Here are three additional benefits of proactive customer support:
It gives you more opportunities to drive sales
Proactive customer service can be the difference between an abandoned cart and a placed order. Why? Customers need information — such as sizing guides, product details, and refund policies — before placing an order. However, a customer might opt to shop elsewhere before reaching out to customer service.
You can keep customers on your site by reaching out proactively via live chat to ask if they need any help in those key moments. With Gorgias live chat campaigns, you can even automate this process and trigger a live chat that offers support (or even a discount code) when customers reach certain cart values, linger on a purchase page, return to your site multiple times before making a purchase, or a number of other situations.
It reduces tickets and shrinks your customer support team's workload
Adopting proactive customer service means that you will be able to resolve common issues without the need for customers to contact your customer service team. In many cases, providing proactive customer service does not require the assistance of a customer support agent at all. Self-service resources, for example, allow customers to find the answers to common questions on their own.
Self-service chatbots alone are estimated to save companies across the globe a projected total of $11 billion by 2023, according to data from Kindly. Not only can reducing the size of their customer support staff help save your company money, but shrinking your support team's workload via proactive customer support solutions can also provide your team with more time to focus on high-priority customer conversations. This can help you further increase customer satisfaction as your team can focus its efforts where they are needed the most.
Take a look at Rio de Janeiro’s help center, powered by Gorgias. Customers have access to a number of support articles about the product, the company’s shipping and returns policies, and more. Plus, they can even track and manage their orders without ever having to contact an agent.
It improves customer experience and can boost customer loyalty
The entire goal of proactive customer support is to provide value to customers without waiting for them to make the first move. This isn’t always easy: you have to study the customer journey, from first exposure to repeat customer, in order to anticipate and proactively address customer issues and pain points.
Providing proactive customer support lets a customer know that your company truly cares about their needs. Today, offering great products alone isn't enough to ensure high customer retention rates. Customers choose, share, and stick with companies that offer a customer-centric experience in addition to excellent products and services — it’s the secret to Amazon’s success.
Want to learn more about live chat for proactive customer service? Check out these resources:
- The best live chat apps (general)
- The best live chat apps for ecommerce
- The best live chat apps for Shopify stores
- 22 live chat statistics
- How to add a live chat to your Shopify store
5 ways to implement proactive customer service and drive revenue
The benefits of proactive customer service are undeniable, but implementing an effective proactive customer support strategy requires a carefully developed plan. If you would like to start leveraging a proactive approach to customer support to create more happy customers, here are five strategies to consider.
1) Proactively chat shoppers with best-selling items in their cart to reduce cart abandonment
One of the most effective forms of proactive customer support is to reach out to customers while they’re shopping. It’s like a sales associate asking in a physical store asking a shopper whether they need anything — but easier to ignore if they’re happy shopping solo.
With the right helpdesk, you can automatically reach out to customers with best-selling items in their cart offering to answer questions, recommend accessories, or provide a discount code to incentivize a purchase. Customers may respond by asking for your opinion about sizing or other product details, or just feel delighted to save a few extra dollars. This kind of proactive conversation, which we call a chat campaign, can reduce cart abandonment or even lead to upsells.
Here’s an example of a customer adding a best-selling product to their cart:
Customers with best-selling items in their cart are only one segment you can target. With chat campaigns, you can automatically start a chat with customers who:
- Add a certain amount of merchandise to their
- Linger on a product, help, or checkout page
- Visit your website multiple times without making a purchase
By the way, this tip is part of our CX Growth Playbook, which offers 18 tactics to boost ecommerce revenue by 44% through exceptional customer service.
2) Proactively welcome new followers on social media with a DM
Most brands already use social media for customer service. But in addition to managing incoming DMs and comments on your various social media accounts, you can nurture customer relationships by sending a welcome DM to new followers on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform.
You can say hello, thank them for the follow, direct them to some helpful new-shopper information, or even offer a unique code for their first purchase. Also, let them know they can chat with you right within your DMs should any issues come up now or in the future.
This kind of proactive, relationship-building activity reinforces the notion that your customer support team isn’t just there to respond to tickets (like the 21st-century version of a call center). Instead, they should find new ways to nurture long-lasting customer relationships and proactively provide the information and discounts customers need to make their first, second, or tenth purchase.
Here’s a template for welcome DMs you can use:
“Welcome to [brand] 🙌. [Personalized message related to your brand.] Here’s a 10% discount code for being a new member: [coupon]. Please explore our Insta and our products and reply here if you have any questions!”
3) Celebrate key customer moments
Proactive customer support isn’t just helpful for new customers. You can delight your most loyal customers by proactively reaching out to celebrate key milestones like their birthday or the anniversary of their first purchase.
If you want to automate this process, you can use a tool like Zapier to trigger a workflow whenever a customer creates their first order and, if the customer spends more than a certain amount once those 11 months are up, create a support ticket in your helpdesk reminding your support team to send them a gift for their first purchase anniversary.
Plus, a customer may opt to share this special occasion on their own social media accounts, broadening your brand’s exposure in a very positive light.
4) Solicit customer feedback at every opportunity
Offering customers proactive customer support that is actually helpful first requires your brand to develop a thorough understanding of its customers' needs, pain points, and common issues. With that in mind, there's no better way to determine what your customers need from proactive customer support than asking them directly.
For this purpose, surveys and customer feedback tools can prove incredibly valuable, helping you gather direct feedback that you can use to fine-tune your proactive customer service approach — as well as other aspects of your product and customer experience.
If you don’t, we recommend at least measuring customer satisfaction (CSAT) with a field for open-ended responses where customers can tell you what they like and what they’d change about your business.
Your CSAT score will give you a gauge of the quality of your offering, making it one of the most important customer service metrics out there. Plus, the qualitative feedback you receive can help you identify areas of the product and customer journey to improve, which helps you proactively avoid issues for future customers.
As you send your CSAT survey to more customers, you may get overwhelmed with responses. A customer service platform like Gorgias can give you a big-picture view of your CSAT across all tickets, as well as let you zoom in on low-scoring tickets to understand what went wrong.
5) Implement self-service resources that proactively solve common issues
According to customer retention statistics from Microsoft, 66% of customers try self-service options before they decide to contact a brand's customer service team (see our full customer service statistics guide for more stats on consumer behavior). With this being the case, one of the best ways to provide proactive service to your customers is to offer them helpful self-service resources — such as FAQ pages, knowledge base pages, forums, and automated chatbots.
In addition to improving the customer experience by enabling customers to quickly resolve common issues on their own, self-service resources can also dramatically reduce a company's customer support ticket volume. This way, your agents spend less time answering repetitive questions and more time on high-impact tickets that require a human touch.
For example, childcare product brand JOONE gets notified when a customer's package runs late. JOONE passes on that information to customers rather than waiting for them to reach out and ask why their order hasn’t arrived yet.
"If we're more proactive,” says Clara Zaoui, JOONE’s Head of CRM and Customer Care, “the customer can be only happy to be informed and to know that customer service is following their package. It's a more personalized experience."
Take your proactive customer service to the next level with Gorgias
Proactive customer service offers a wide range of benefits — from improving customer satisfaction, to building empathy, to reducing the workload of your customer service team. However, implementing a proactive approach to customer service is also something that requires a very specific set of customer service tools.
As a comprehensive customer service solution, Gorgias provides everything that ecommerce store owners need to start offering effective proactive customer support, including social listening tools, live chat widgets, an automated customer service workflow builder, and self-service solutions such as FAQ pages and knowledge bases.
If you would like to start taking a proactive approach to customer service, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce the size of your customer support staff, then Gorgias is an excellent solution to consider. To learn more about the benefits that Gorgias can have for your online store, be sure to check out our comprehensive overview of Gorgias's many features and uses.