Proactive customer support and Reactive customer support: What’s the big difference?

To be reactive and figure things out as you go or to be proactive and plan in advance, seems to be a question most often thought about but hardly ever addressed. Of course, some might think that it is better to be prepared and ahead of the game while others might contradict that by believing that it is the duty of customers to reach out and the duty of the brand to follow up or act in accordance with customers’ grievances. But is it possible to anticipate customer issues and is it best to simply rely on moments only when customers need the brand to complain or report an issue that needs resolution when it comes to customer support

There isn’t a utility in existence that does not make an error or two from time to time that impacts a business’ clientele. The more rightly phrased question would be, are brands properly reactive in solving issues or responding to queries and are they proactive in their service so that customers always feel like they are properly prioritised and treated well. Besides the fact that each customer service strategy works differently on different business modules, it is also important to know how one is separate from the other. 

Keeping customers at the forefront of your business mission and being customer-centric while making important decisions can play a crucial role in providing inherently good customer service. But how can you be sure that as a business you are offering optimal customer service each and every time? The primary step that needs to be taken in order to ensure that you are providing consistent and exceptional customer service experiences is by learning the differences between reactive and proactive customer support. 

Source: Proprofs chat

What does Proactive Customer Support entail
Proactive customer support is a company’s way of taking matters into its own hands. It refers to the preventive strategies taken by organizations to avoid customer service issues. Freshdesk defined proactive customer support as a process that involves creating resources to solve or prevent customer issues needing reactive support only as a last resort. Therefore, proactive customer support is internally driven and involves prior planning of how an organization should respond to an issue that could arise in the future. 

According to a study conducted by inContact, customers had a positive view of proactive service. 87% of the respondents said that they were satisfied to be proactively contacted by companies regarding customer service issues and 75% of the respondents said that they had a pleasant experience with an incoming call that changed their perception of the company calling them. When companies take preventive measures to address common issues and frequently asked questions, your customer support team spends less time dealing with preventable inquiries. 

What’s more, is that businesses learn what customers’ priorities are so they can preempt their requirements and needs and continually focus on delighting and exceeding their expectations. Customers are known to be more forgiving when it comes to issues that can be fixed easily as opposed to big issues that can quickly snowball into a damaging situation for the business. That is where being proactive wins customer hearts as you are giving customers what they want without them asking for it at that moment making your company look professional, customer-oriented and better than your competitors. 

Pros of Proactive customer support:

Source: Zendesk

  • Reduces the number of support requests.
  • Empower customers to find solutions to their problems through the medium of self-service. 
  • Improves customer engagement. 
  • Helps in humanizing your brand or business. 
  • Positively affects customer retention. 

Cons of Proactive customer support:

  • Agents may tend to bother customers at the wrong time.
  • It takes a lot of time and effort to build a proactive support model which requires to be constantly kept updated. 

The Process: 

Source: Temkin Group 

As mentioned above, proactive customer support is all about anticipating a customers’ current and future needs by taking practical steps to improve the customer experience and outcome. 

  • Starts before the customer walks in the door
    Proactive customer support means that a brand’s utility is already prepared to answer customer inquiries and ultimately satisfy and retain the customer. This includes making sure that your proactive support model stays updated and examining how well your agent or CX talent is performing at making your customers happy on a proactive basis going well beyond just handling complaints and issues. 
  • Means going out of your way for your clients
    Going proactive means doing everything possible to meet not only the needs of your customers but also their expectations. Sometimes that could even mean making decisions that delight or benefit your customers at the expense of the company. 

Examples of Proactive service: 

Source: Boomtown 

Proactive customer support allows brands and businesses to create a deeper relationship with customers which helps in building strong customer relations that are essential for customer loyalty. On an emotional level, if a customer trusts and connects with your brand, it elevates and enhances the entire perception of your business. Here are some examples of proactive customer support that forward-looking business owners can adopt to improve customer experience.

  • Live chat provides an efficiently convenient alternative to calls that allows agents to approach customers navigating your application or website to guide them through or answer their questions. 
  • Blogs and website FAQs and blogs allow customers to help themselves while looking for answers to questions that they may have and allows companies to address various issues while also improving their search rankings. 
  • Canned responses for email and text messaging are a great way to improve operational efficiency while also engaging the customer proactively in a non-intrusive manner. 

What does Reactive Customer Support entail? 

Source: Call Centre Helper 

Reactive customer support is what traditionally happens when a customer reaches out to a brand and support agents react to that request in accordance with what the customer wants. Unlike proactive support which takes preventative measures, a reactive approach depends on the customer to reach out first. It involves having agents respond to inquiries, queries, grievances etc via email, phone, text messaging etc. Reactive customer support is often viewed as a complaint handling system if managed well, can increase sales and profits, generate happier customers and employees, and induce less stressful work environments.

Pros of Reactive Customer Support

  • One of the only ways to detect new problems. 
  • Enhances customer experience as support is available whenever and wherever they need it. 
  • Lesser allocation of resources when compared to proactive customer support. 
  • Improved quality of conversations at customers’ preferred time choice. 
  • Helps companies gather direct feedback from customers through problems and resolution. 

Cons of Reactive Customer Support

  • Gives room for consumers to get frustrated or disappointed with a brand’s products or services. 
  • The onus is added on to the customer to solve problems of your products or services. 
  • Additional operating costs for handling minor issues. 

The Process: 
A reactive type of customer service is in reaction to a customer’s demand or request which most likely tends to affect the emotional states of both parties. 

  • Active listening is the primary duty of the job which requires support agents to set aside their emotions and pay attention to the customer. 
  • The need for speed is critical in this form of support approach as customers want to be presented with a resolution in the shortest possible amount of time. This is an integral part of converting a disgruntled customer into a happy one and also critical when it comes to second chances as it then also becomes a loyalty-building effort and trust developing activity.
  • Impact made through actions as even the smallest gesture can diffuse a frustrated customer. Creative thinking and situational awareness are key in making gestures that can positively impact a customer’s CX. 

 As per research conducted by Measure-X, 54% to 70% of complainers are most likely to do business again with a brand that resolves their issue. Up to 95% of these customers will refer new customers. Providing customers with the option to call the support team of a brand or business if providing them with a power tool to have their concerns addressed and resolved. Doing this right can mean helping customers eliminate their frustrations with your support team’s excellent efforts at resolution. 

What do customers prefer? 
Here are some statistics published by Freshdesk on what customers prefer.

  • In 2016, 60% of customers preferred phone support for handling payment and billing issues and preferred it for resolving problems. Presently, 43% of consumers preferred phone support to contact businesses for all their customer service needs. 
  • 15% of customers prefer live chat when it comes to getting their questions answered and problems resolved. 
  • 45% of customers are not concerned if they are interacting with a live agent or not as long as the customer service is effective. 
  • 59% of customers would prefer to use other channels of communication than phone/voice to resolve issues.

Proactive vs. Reactive? 

Source: Gartner 

Proactive customer support entails support agents taking precautions and necessary measures to prepare for certain issues in advance for the purpose of relieving the frustration of customers. On the other hand, reactive customer support lacks any preventive measures and simply requires agents to take necessary action based on what the customers are saying. Having gone into detail about the difference between proactive and reactive customer support, it is clear that a proactive approach is the future. A proactive approach in the field of customer service is critical for those looking to be customer-centric and is an excellent way to exceed customer expectations in a highly competitive marketplace. 

Source: Nice inContact
You will find that agents and customers are less agitated or frustrated, allowing for a better flow of communication while also cementing a promising after-call relationship. The main challenge for organization heads will be to change their company orientation to a customer first. Once this is established, it will be easy to incorporate proactive strategies into your organization’s support system. Customers who prefer a reactive approach tend to quickly react to what they like or dislike in a product or service. These types of customers will follow or allow themselves to be affected by whatever happens around them. The opposite is true for proactive customers as they tend to take some time to make a decision. To attract both types of customers to a successful transaction, companies will require special and capable agents that VOIZ can help with. Whether you are a start-up looking to outsource support services that can grow with you as your business expands or an established enterprise that is looking to increase your support services, we have the agents or the CX talent that can support your requirements. Contact us today to know how we can help in creating an effective customer service experience for your business.

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