Initiative is doing the right thing without being told. –Victor Hugo In the world of business, doing the right thing often entails taking the necessary steps to create a positive customer experience. A major aspect of creating a positive customer experience is ensuring that customers’ needs are met without the customer having to elicit an action from a business. There is a term for businesses that are able to take initiative and create the sort of experiences that create loyal customers. The term I’m referring to is proactive, and being proactive has increasingly become one of the most important characteristics of a successful business.  

Why must businesses be proactive?

If you are a parent, think about how amazing the feeling is when your kids do their homework or clean their room without being prompted to do so. Now, consider the equally loathsome feeling that you experience when you have to constantly ask your children to do something. Just as parents dislike having to constantly remind their children to do their homework or clean their room, customers dislike having to reach out to businesses for support and customer service. In fact, a recent study found that as many as 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t issue complaints, instead, they simply take their business elsewhere. This statistic should be disconcerting for businesses that operate under a reactive customer service model. When businesses take initiative and are in front of customer issues, customer satisfaction increases, customer retention improves and customers are more likely to be loyal to the brand.  

How to be Proactive

Businesses generally engage customers proactively for three reasons:
  1. To notify customers of product or service issues
  2. To provide resources that answer questions that customers have
  3. To go beyond what the customer expects and provide a unique experience
Today, businesses have the ability to reach out to customers in a seemingly infinite number of ways. For example, businesses can interact with customers through traditional means like outbound calls and email, or non-traditional means like SMS text messaging and social media. Here are some real-world examples of businesses that take initiative and reach out to customers proactively: Hootsuite Hootsuite Helpers is a support platform for the social media management application, Hootsuite. By using Twitter, Hootsuite Helpers engages customers by prompting users to interact with support to resolve issues they may have: Proactive-1 Facebook Besides being the most widely used social networking site in the world, Facebook is also renowned for being one of the most assistive. Today, the majority of customers prefer to find answers themselves as opposed to speaking with someone directly to solve their problems. Facebook is a great example of how to provide customers with the information they need through content, which allows them to resolve problems on their own. Among other features, Facebook has a dynamic help section that includes documentation for an array of topics, site overviews for new users, and tours for new features. Facebook Zopim Zopim is a live chat software that businesses use to interact with visitors on their website. This software can be used for several purposes including providing real-time assistance and support as well as gathering analytics that help businesses improve messaging and communication strategies for current and potential customers. Zopim

An Ongoing Trend

Last year, Forrester Research released its Top Trends For Customer Service . Among the 12 trends listed, three (one-fourth of the list) involved the emergence of businesses proactively engaging customers. More than ever, it is essential for businesses to be in front of customer issues and provide useful assistance without being urged to do so. Businesses that become adept at creating solutions for customers in a proactive manner are more likely to experience success in the future.