Moving From Reactive To Proactive Customer Experience


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A reactive customer experience is the kind that manages customer reactions instead of customer expectations and needs. It’s an outdated approach that aims to mostly put out fires.

Businesses creating a reactive customer experience are usually businesses that believe that investing in experience is an extra cost they can do without. The problem is that when customers complain, it costs more. Here are some numbers that demonstrate why:

  • 78% of customers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.
  • On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
  • It takes up to 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.
  • 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.
  • Customer experience that is not up to par with customer expectations costs a lot of money; you can’t fool your customers, they’ve been around, shopped at your competitor’s stores and they can feel when you’re not making an effort to meet their needs.

If you’re reacting to events in your customer’s lifecycle instead of leading customers through a well-orchestrated funnel, you’re not giving your customers the experience they deserve.

While a reactive customer experience responds to customer concerns and complaints, a proactive customer experience interacts with the customer before, during, and after problems occur, anticipates customer needs and nurtures their connection to the brand in several ways.

Here’s how you can be more proactive with the customer experience you provide.

Proactive engagement with associates

In the ”Cost of Poor Customer Service” survey conducted by Genesys, 40% of customers expressed that if they could improve one thing in the stores they visit, they would improve the human element of the service.

Your associates are the face of the brand in your stores; they can identify a problem before it happens and aid customers to make their way around your store. By training your associates to engage customers who are looking for help, you’re proactively engaging even the ones who are not satisfied and so prevent complaints.

Customers who get the attention they need before they become frustrated are satisfied customers. By making even the smallest change, like training associates to ask the customer’s name, you stand to gain a lot. People love the sound of their name and react favorably to those who use it.

Unfortunately, employees only ask for the customer’s name 21% of the time. Training can fix that!

Conducting customer surveys

You don’t really know what kind of customer experience you provide at your stores until you ask your customers. While 80% of brands believe they deliver a superior customer experience, only 8% of customers believe they’ve received an outstanding service.

Talking to your customers while they’re browsing your store’s aisles is an excellent way to engage them on several touch points.

Make sure that your surveys are short and sweet (no more than 3 minutes) and try to make them more customer-centric; the customer needs to understand what they can gain from completing the survey and they’ll only do so if you train your associates to explain how this benefits them. More on best practices in inviting customers to participate can be found here.

Mystery Shopping

96% of your customers don’t voice their compliments; you’ll never hear from them, they’ll just leave. Sending trained reviewers to your stores gives you feedback that you can’t get from your customers.

That’s why you have to proactively identify problems at your stores; mystery shopping helps you with that by sending in a professional shopper who will give you an unbiased review of the customer experience you provide based specifically on your expectations.

Customer Journey Mapping

Nothing is more proactive than visualizing the road the customer takes at your stores. By creating a detailed customer journey map, you’re predicting issues and can potentially handle them before your customers realize them.

Calling customers and talking about their experience

Managing the post-purchase customer experience expectations should be on every retailer’s agenda. After your customer arrives home, they unpack the products they bought, interact with your brand and the customer experience it provides again.

By contacting them at that critical point and asking them a few short questions about their experience you’ll get answers from customers who are not heading for the store’s exits that might provide more honest feedback.

Engage on social media and your site

There are two ways in which you can proactively interact with customers online and extend your customer experience:

1. Certain tools can give you the ability to track keyword combinations that are relevant to your brand. These keywords can include product names, brand mentions, and much more. When you find a brand mention online and react to it, you’re proactively engaging customers.

Also, customers love to be celebrated; interacting with customers by approaching them and featuring them in your social outlets shows that you’re a brand that is proud of its customers.

The best thing about featuring customers is that usually they reciprocate; featured customers are more likely to become brand evangelists, supporting their appearance on your social outlets with their brand-supportive commentary.

2. By installing an online chat option on your site, you’re giving customers the tools to contact you with questions and get live answers, like they can in-store.

Also, these tools allow you to approach customers with messages, questions, and even offer them deals on the products they’re browsing for.

By proactively commenting and interacting with your customers (and potential customers) online, you’re showing customers that you’re there for them all the time.

Customize offers and experiences

Customization makes customers feel that you thought about them and their needs.

It’s ok to cross-sell proactively and upsell tailored offers when customers provide you with their purchasing history, their interests, and feedback. When customers give you access to this information, they want these offers and you should use this.

Educating customers

If you’re selling makeup, educate your customers about how they can use it, if you’re selling clothes, educate your customers how to wear it. If you’re selling home appliances, show your customers how to use it.

You can do it in store, show them how to do it live, you can hand them brochures, and you can do it online via social media, emails or blogs. Nothing nurtures a connection to a brand more than educating customers about purchases they made and the things they’re interested it.

Can you suggest additional ways to provide a more proactive customer experience?

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This article was originally posted to our blog where you can find more posts like this at ICC/Decision Services Blog.

Kevin Leifer
Kevin and his team at StellaService help their clients build solutions that optimize front-line team performance and improve customer experiences across contact centers and stores.


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