In a recent conversation, I was asked for something that anyone can do to improve their customer service. I think I was being challenged to come up with a magic bullet. Well, this isn’t a magic bullet to solve all customer service problems, but it is simple and can improve things immensely.
This simple action is something that I call proactive helpfulness. This is when things are done for you without you having to ask. For me, it makes me feel taken care of and pampered. I feel like I don’t have to lift a finger … which is what great service should be as far as I am concerned. Anyway, I believe that any service provider can, by simply be more observant and mindful, make their customers’ experiences even better by demonstrating this one behavior.
These days, more and more customer problems are managed on phone calls that can and should be resolved in one interaction as much as possible. Getting a quick answer is exactly what customers want and it can be made even better with some proactive helpfulness. By providing suggestions for solving possible next challenges or by making their next step easier, you clearly communicate to the customer that you want to proactively save them time and set them up for success without them even asking for it. Imagine how refreshing it is to make a call to get a problem solved and not only get it solved but also get some proactive suggestions for ways to solve issues that might happen after you hang up the phone. Imagine getting a suggestion that would make something related to your current problem easier or make the next logical step you need to take less complicated. It’s customer nirvana.
An easy way to get team members to start doing this is to have them continually ask themselves, “How can I ensure this person does not have to call me again? How can I make their next step easier?” The point is, team members shouldn’t just solve the problem the person called about, they should give customers suggestions for solving an issue they might encounter when they get off the phone or share an idea for making their next logical step easier.
In other customer experiences that aren’t phone calls, where the customer is present, like hotel work or retail for example, team members should always be looking for opportunities to serve. If the customer looks curious or like they are searching for something, team members should ask how they can help. If the customer is standing in front of an information kiosk, team members should approach them and offer their assistance and provide the information directly. Being proactively helpful in the live, onsite environment is all about being observant and finding ways to help before the customer has to search for it.
Proactive helpfulness is an uncomplicated, cost-effective way to make the customer experience easy and comfortable. By asking before customers have to make a request, it shows a commitment to them and their needs as your priority, and, it’s something anyone providing service can do.