Digital customer care trends - part seven: One step ahead, consumers are impressed by proactive customer service

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I've had two very good experiences with customer service recently. And to my surprise, they’ve both come from the financial services industry. What really impressed me most is that they were proactive. The banks contacted me about the problem.

I now understand why customers say they really like it when organisations take the initiative. It is pretty impressive. So impressive that 75 per cent of people are willing to reward proactive behaviour with greater brand loyalty. My two experiences will illustrate why.

The first was totally self-inflicted. One Saturday afternoon I stopped by a petrol station to fill up and  decided to use the ATM. I got distracted and walked away without the €20 note I’d just asked for. I was back in the car when I realised and by the time I returned to the ATM, the note was nowhere to be seen.

It was a busy weekend and I didn’t have time to do much about it so I wrote the €20 off and chalked it down to experience. Come Monday morning I was pleasantly surprised to get a text from my bank acknowledging that I hadn’t taken the money from the ATM and they’d refunded my account. Brilliant. I hadn’t even told them about it.

The second experience is with my mortgage provider. I was applying to switch my mortgage (staying with the same bank), to benefit from better mortgage rates. I managed to save 6% on my mortgage repayments, which I was very pleased about.

While my application was being processed, my bank announced they’d reduced their mortgage rates even further. I wasn’t aware of this but the lady submitting my application was. She called me to explain about the new rates and the further savings I could make if I waited just another month before applying. Even more brilliant. I’m now saving 10% on my mortgage repayments.

These two examples of great customer service showcase the new with the old. The first example comes from implementing big data, artificial intelligence and all the great new-world technologies where you can interpret system information into customer scenarios and automate customer communications. The second is just simply using your head - understanding what’s right for your customers and acting on it.

Consumers are very open to personalised activity, despite what people might think about personal data. Customers want organisations to notice when they’re having problems online and get in touch to help. Or remember when their car needs a service. They’d like webpages tailored to their preferences, behaviours, location and device.  

As in my first example, notifications (particularly helpful ones) are very popular – by email, phone, social media and chat – across a whole range of activities, such as when an account balance is below minimum, pricing are changing or a contract period is coming to an end. They even welcome remote monitoring of devices, so they get an alert when a household appliance is about to breakdown. 

We’ve been running an extensive global research programme since 2010. We want to know what digital channels and devices customers are using to communicate with companies and if their expectations are being met. Our latest output from this research programme is ‘Chat, Tap, Talk. Eight key trends in Digital Customer Care’. Download your complimentary copy here.



Joseph Walsh