High-speed internet service is provided in most of the United States by only a few big providers. Where those providers serve, there also tends to be a monopoly on that service. Granted, there are competitors but the speed they offer tends to pale in comparison, and when you work at home, have social media-hungry children, and every now and then want to stream a movie, the more bandwidth the better. With their monopoly, some might say the internet service providers take some liberties with the customer service they provide.
Indeed, my internet service provider has a bit of a, shall we say, reputation when it comes to customer service. And by that, I don’t mean one for outstanding service. But they have been making moves to change that image. A prior example I wrote about over a year ago involved warning customers of a potential service outage due to a storm–at the time, a surprising proactive gesture on their part. Since that time, there have been some stories in the news regarding their desire to improve their service and overall company perception. This past week, I received another proactive email from them.
The theme, as you can see from the illustration, was around spring cleaning and ensuring the best possible performance from their products and services. I applaud them for their continued efforts in this area, and they did a great job of illustrating a few key considerations when providing proactive service.
Make It Timely
The example I wrote about over a year ago was warning of a potential service outage as a result of the weather. This most recent email was using the notion of annual spring cleaning as a means of engaging their customers. Both had a certain occasion associated with them: the first, a specific and random event and the second, a time of year.
Let’s only consider the recent email. Whether their customers were actually performing spring cleaning or not isn’t necessarily relevant. In this case, they used a typical activity during this time of year to get my attention. It worked. Proactive service must be tied to some kind of event to be useful and interesting.
Make It Relevant
Speaking of being useful, there were two proactive tips offered in this email. The first was ensuring moving equipment in the process of cleaning doesn’t loosen connections (and even if not moving things around to clean, adding the tightening of connections to the spring cleaning to-do list), and the second was the ideal placement of a wireless router to ensure the best possible coverage.
People have come to rely on their internet service: for email, casual browsing, social media, paying bills, and entertainment. Slow, intermittent, or zero internet does not make for a happy household. They recognize this. In fact, much of their customer service volume probably relates to problems with slow or wavering speeds, issues that would be solved by these tips.
Also in terms of keeping it relevant, this email only discussed internet service. I do not subscribe to their television service. Had the content included tips for that, this email would not be well-targeted and personalized; as a result, I might have seen irrelevant information first and then been less likely to have followed the links and reviewed the content.
Make It Easy
The first two steps I’ve outlined–delivering proactive service that is the meaningful and at the right time–can be challenging enough. Nail those, and it’s a win, right? Not exactly. This can still all fall apart if the instructions or advice offered are difficult or impossible for the customer to follow. This was not the case at all with the email I received.
It contained links to a variety of helpful content. One was an easy-to-follow knowledgebase article for tightening connections. Another was a video for troubleshooting problematic connections. The third was a short guide for where best to locate a wireless router. They all used simple language and even humor to get the point across.
Plan It to Win It
In closing, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves why proactive service is so important:
- It helps customers avoid issues they are likely to occur, leading to greater satisfaction.
- Providing customers with some instructions to follow or advice to sidestep an issue reduces or even prevents the need for customers to contact customer service, savings costs and allowing agents to focus on other issues.
Proactive service is not impossible to deliver. With careful consideration of the appropriate timing, by targeting likely-affected customers with relevant information, and delivering solutions that are simple to follow, you can delight customers even more.