Preempting Services

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Traditionally, we wait for our customers to reach out to us for services. Customers go to our self service websites, contact us on social networks, call our call centres or even walk into our service centres to get their queries answered. This is as I term it “Reactive” services. We wait for the customers to come to us. While this works great in a lot of cases, organisations need differentiators.

Over the past few years we have seen the regular use of FAQs on support portals and regular interactions through various online and offline mediums (such as social networks, personal visits, outbound service calls to name just a few). This fosters the relationship between the customer and the organisation. It specially works well when the customer is able to get the information on demand without waiting for responses to be “constructed”. This I like to call as “Proactive” services.

This all has been working well, but is the customer these days asking for something more? I, as a customer, recently did demand for something more. A few weeks ago, I was faced with the problem of continuous call drops on my iPhone and also complete unavailability of the telecom network. It took me two days to figure out that it was my phone settings which I had to change as I was not about to get the telecom provider to roll back their infrastructure upgrade. Well, it took me these days without calling the customer care centre. In a chance discussion with my telecom provider customer care centre, a week or so later, I found that the reason for my phone getting network disruptions was due to the fact that there had been some infrastructural changes done for upgrading the telecom providers network. Essentially they were activating the 3G services. In the rather traditional customer behaviour, I shared my unhappiness regarding the lack of notification of the change and the fact that I was quite inconvenienced during those days. The person on the other side was quite understanding and regretful, but that did not fix the situation… it seldom does with demanding customers.

So what is the fix for this? What should we do as organisations to understand the plight of the customer and try to support them? While looking back at the situation, I see that if I had picked up the phone and called the customer care centre during the days I was experiencing the outages, then I may have gotten the problem fixed without the extent of inconvenience.

What started me thinking was, could the telecom provider do something to make the customer experience better? Well, I think yes. Knowing the customer is also being able to forecast the customer’s needs. With our expensive CRM systems, we often miss out on using the vast amount of customer data available to us. Further using my experience, I would have been very satisfied if I received a notification saying something simple like “We are changing the network for improving our services to you. You may experience some network difficulties. Please call Customer Care for assistance.” Though that is a generic message, it does notify me of the possibility of an issue.

In my humble opinion, this type of “Preemptive” service is what the customer will be demanding in the future. In fact, we have started demanding it already, as I did a week ago. Have you ever seen the need for Preemptive services? More interestingly, have you experienced such services?

Originally Posted here.

Bhupesh Malhotra
GrapeCity Inc.
Bhupesh is an experience software professional with many CRM implementations under his belt. He is an avid customer advocate. He delves in the realms of CRM Strategy and Thought with the perspective of the customer, highlighting solutions for their everyday challenges.

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