• May 4, 2022
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Consumers Do Contact Customer Service After Proactive Outreach

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Two-thirds of consumers contact customer service after receiving proactive outreach from companies, often using costly assisted channels because they need additional information or confirmation, Gartner found in a new report.

This flawed approach to proactive customer service can create customer confusion and unanswered questions that erode the benefits of a proactive strategy, the firm found in a survey of consumers that sought to understand their evolving relationships with customer service channels. The findings show that proactive service creates a better customer experience for both B2C and B2B customers. Respondents who received proactive service reported better customer effort scores compared to those who did not. However, the survey findings also revealed that rather than resolving issues on their own or taking no action, 66 percent of B2C and 82 percent of B2B customers contact the company after receiving proactive outreach.

“Receiving proactive service leads to a 9 percent increase in a customer’s value enhancement score,” says Eric Keller, senior research director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.

Gartner’s value enhancement score (VES) focuses on the value customers place on products or services and helps customer service and support leaders understand the quality of the overall service experience. But more importantly, it is the best predictor of all dimensions of customer loyalty, including customer retention, increased wallet share, and positive word of mouth, outdoing other commonly used metrics like customer satisfaction and Net Promoter Score, according to Gartner. VES, the firm says, is far more of a leading indicator, enabling service leaders to more accurately predict customers’ future loyalty.

“However, proactive outreach that raises unanswered questions erodes the benefits for customers and leads to additional costs for the company,” Keller maintains. “To avoid this, customer service and support leaders must center their proactive approach around building customers’ confidence in the company’s ability to serve them effectively.”

To get better results from their proactive strategy, Gartner recommends that customer service and support leaders consider the following:

  • Use proactive outreach to build confidence in the company’s ability to resolve service issues.Among elements of proactive outreach tested, instilling confidence and providing clear directions had the most impact on reducing customer effort. Confidence in the authenticity of the message is also important, as 10 percent of BC2 customers and 24 percent of B2B customers followed up with the company simply to confirm the outreach wasn’t a scam.
  • Prioritize proactive outreach for urgent issues.Customers value proactive outreach when it alerts them to urgent issues that need attention. Customers who received outreach about issues they saw as urgent (for example, a credit fraud notification) reported better customer effort scores compared to customers who discovered issues on their own.
  • Prepare for additional contacts after proactive outreach by considering timing and dynamically adjusting the interactive voice response (IVR). If an uptick in customer phone calls after proactive outreach is likely and intended, time messages to coincide with low call volume periods. Additionally, consider dynamically adjusting the IVR to identify callers who received proactive outreach, prompt them with a few options if their call is related to that outreach, and attempt to resolve their issue without sending them to an agent. Agent staffing should also be adjusted to handle additional volume that might come as a result of the outreach. 

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