Making a real difference in customer service can seem a daunting task: on the one hand consumers are getting savvier, and on the other they are never more than a tap of the smartphone away from leaving what could be a damning review on your record forever.  So how can you equip your customer service team to provide added-value and ensure you attain the lofty heights of pro-active customer service?

With everyone connected to their devices at all times of the day the expectation for timely, useful information to be freely available has greatly increased: just think of how we are now able to check traffic live on our specific route, track a parcel from preparation to our front door or find an outfit suggestion to match the shoes we’ve just bought. To really make a difference customer service needs to be providing this type of added-value information and communications and this is where technology plays a critical role. Studies show that taking the initiative in customer care could increase retention rates by 3-5%,  and it is clear that reaching out to customers at specific points of their journey can have particularly positive results.

Technology can help businesses get the proactivity balance right and avoid seeming obtrusive or irrelevant. With the right tools, businesses can inform all their approaches on a solid 365 degree understanding of the customer across contact channels to create a truly omni-channel customer experience. A recent Forrester report into customer service reveals 66% of organisations think creating a single view of the customer across all channels is a priority (Forrester Research, The Untapped Benefits Of Proactive Customer Communication: An Omnichannel Engagement Focus Is Critical To Success).

All customer data  gathered and contact made also needs to be strictly omni-channel and compliant; ensuring that customers are contacted via the channel they prefer reveals to the customer whether your brand has been paying attention to customer preferences and values them enough to reach out via the channel they prefer.

Interactions via telephone, web and other digital media need to be tracked and visible to live contact centre advisors so they are enabled to make intelligent suggestions or even pre-empt questions. Yonder Digital Group research confirms that 87% of consumers claim that they will buy again from a company that is able to provide live advisor interactions at the right time, but it is critical to provide advisors with the right technology to ensure that every interaction is meaningful and positive.

Predictive technologies are beneficial tools that will help businesses understand what the customer may need to query- such as how to build flat-pack furniture, why a parcel hasn’t arrived to will a new model add-on be compatible with the previous version. Being able to provide an answer to all these queries before they have been asked shows the customer the company is efficient, professional and really cares about them encouraging repeat custom. To do this, a clear, updated repository of customer data needs to be maintained and easily available to contact centre advisors as they pick up calls or reach out to customers is therefore an important part of enabling proactive customer service.

To then ensure data is made ‘usable’ it must be structured and stored correctly at capture in order to ensure that it can be analysed. To do this a ‘tagging’ system is preferable. This will enable your system to link up relevant data at the right time effectively drawing up from a pool of otherwise disconnected information. Linking customer data that the company already collects such as information from billing, purchase behaviours, marketing or customer service, with external data sources can empower customer care to deliver an added-value service and make the brand really stand out from the crowd.

Automation can therefore supercharge your customer service by helping advisors make customers feel more engaged and loyal and are less likely to turn to your competitors.  In addition to this, a more joined up and intelligent approach can help improve sales and reduce operational inefficiencies so sales or marketing effort is more targeted and timely. This approach means that customer service is able to piggy-back sales messages, but also provides customers with the opportunity to ask questions and resolve issues before they start to feel disgruntled.  In a fast-paced market customer service can play an critical role in growing loyalty and customer value, but only if advisors are provided with the right tools and information to make relevant and useful approaches via the right channel.

Graham Ede

Graham Ede


Graham Ede, Yonder Digital Group.