It only takes one dissatisfied customer to leave a negative review to damage a company’s reputation and drive away future customers. That makes it imperative that customer service teams resolve any customer complaints immediately before they can snowball and become bigger problems for a company.
To find out the best ways to keep customers happy, a panel of Council for Young Entrepreneurs members give their best advice on how leaders can improve customer service by being proactive rather than reactive.
What’s an important way companies can proactively approach customer service rather than just responding to customer complaints? Why is this necessary?
1. Anticipate your customers’ needs
It is essential to thoroughly understand the customer’s business and think ahead of time about their immediate needs. One needs to build a culture focused on adding value and finding solutions to problems that are not obvious. It would be best if you always walked the walk and kept your promises with conviction. Those are elements of winning customer service that build trust, key to building true partnerships. —Bogdan Gecic, Gecical law
2. Start check-ins
We have always done customer contact. We have check-ins with existing customers to see how things are going and how we can serve them better, and we ask for feedback. This proactive approach keeps things from escalating and allows us to get feedback in real time. —Ryann Dowdy, Uncensored Advice, LLC
3. Ask for specific feedback
Companies should contact their customers and ask for their feedback on a particular product or service. Email is one of the best ways to do this. Instead of waiting for your customers to complain, proactively inquire about their experience. This gives a positive impression to your customers and helps you build lasting relationships. —Jared Atchison, WPForms
4. Analyze complaints for patterns
It’s important for businesses to study data and look for patterns when it comes to customer complaints, compliments, questions, and other feedback. Most complaints or negative reviews don’t arise in a vacuum; they provide valuable clues that can help you identify areas where you need to improve. Addressing these issues can help reduce future complaints. —Kalin Kassabov, ProText
5. Use your product or service as a customer would
Anticipate problems and customer needs before they are brought to your attention. Don’t wait for a complaint to come your way. Navigate your systems yourself and identify any issues you are facing. Then fix them preemptively. The smoother you can make the customer experience, the less stress you’ll have down the line. —Nick Venditti, StitchGolf
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6. Create a follow-up system
Companies can take a proactive approach to customer service by anticipating needs and issues and then addressing them before the customer has a chance to complain. Fortunately, mind reading is not necessary. All it takes is a solid post-sale tracking system to ensure satisfaction. This builds trust between the customer and the company, which is essential for any long-term relationship. —Richard Fong, Assistance with a disability
7. Understand your customers
Taking the time to understand your customers is a great way to proactively approach your customer service. If you know important things like who your customers are, how they prefer to communicate, how they use your product, etc., you can take steps to fill any gaps in those areas before a customer asks. —Diana Goodwin, MarketBox
8. Send out periodic surveys
An important way companies can proactively approach their customer service is by conducting periodic surveys. This helps measure customer satisfaction and identify new ideas or feedback that might be helpful. By doing this, companies can stay ahead of potential problems and provide the best possible service to their customers. —Pratik Chaskar, spectra
9. Have regular points of communication
Maintain regular communication channels with your customers. The occasional marketing email is fine if it generates significant revenue for your business, but the majority of your touchpoints should be non-promotional. Think newsletters, product updates, company news bulletins, or even anonymous summaries of recent customer service issues and what you did to resolve them. —Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers personal finance
About the author
Council for Young Entrepreneurs (YEC) is an invite-only organization made up of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs.