A Story About The Benefits Of Proactive Customer Service


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PROACTIVE - My Word in Your Hand

This post originally appeared on my Forbes.com column.

Earlier this week I wrote Customers Want Companies To Be Proactive When It Comes To Customer Service on the back of a chat I recently had with Mariann McDonagh, the Chief Marketing Officer, of inContact. We were chatting about the results of their July 2013 customer service survey.

What I found I interesting about the research that they had done was the fact that they were examining how customers react when contacted ‘proactively’ by companies.

You can find out more about the research here but, suffice it to say, that:

  • 87% of the customers they surveyed said they want to be contacted proactively by a company; and
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of those who had a pleasant surprise or positive experience with a proactive customer service call said that they had a positive change in their perception of the business calling them.

Now, most firms don’t do seem to be proactive with their customer service. This could be for a number of reasons, including:

  • They are set up to be reactive not proactive;
  • It’s not in their mindset;
  • They see service as a cost;
  • Etc etc

I don’t want to dwell on the reasons here but rather would like to share a personal story of proactive customer service in action and the results that it can produce.

A Proactive Customer Service Story

A little while ago, my Mum and Dad flew to New York to go visit my brother and family when they were based there.

When they were planning their trip, my Mum and Dad looked into booking ‘cheap’ flights (possibly something to with being Scottish!). However, my brother and his wife recommended that they did not just book a cheap flight but that they book a ‘good’ flight.

My brother went on to recommend that they check out, Virgin Atlantic, as he has flown with them a lot and really likes them as an airline.

Eventually, my Mum and Dad took his advice and booked a couple of economy tickets flying out of London Gatwick.

What happened next is a great example of proactive customer service and shows how a small personal touch can have a huge impact on customer experience.

A few days before they were due to fly, my Mum received a call at home from a young man by the name of Kevin at Virgin Atlantic.

He asked for my Dad, who had booked the flights, but my Mum explained that he was out but that he could speak to her.

Kevin explained that he was calling just to let them know, if they didn’t know already, that they could check in online but also to ask if everything was OK, if all of their passports, ESTA forms etc etc were in order and if they had any dietary requirements.

According to my Mum, this was not a scripted call and was done with real sincerity, with Kevin keen to make sure that everything was OK with them with regards to their impending trip.

Kevin even asked my Mum if they needed anymore legroom as that was something that he could arrange too. My Mum laughed and then explained that this was not an issue as they are both only 5 foot 4 inches tall.

Finally, Kevin enquired as to the purpose or occasion of the trip, showed real interest in my parents plans and even offered a couple of suggestions of things that they should visit whilst in New York.

Now, I don’t know if this is a routine part of Virgin Atlantic’s customer service or if my Mum and Dad were picked to be called for any particular reason. But, what I do know, is that by calling them Virgin Atlantic has created two new advocates for their business for the cost of a short phonecall.

I think that proactive customer service presents a real and future opportunity for many firms and I hope that this story shows how a small, proactive, personal touch can have a huge impact on customer experience and a companies ability to create brand advocates, customer retention and customer loyalty.

Thanks to Melissa P for the image.

This post originally appeared on my Forbes.com column.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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