Proactive Customer Service: What is It and How to Do It [+ Examples]
Proactive customer service goes beyond solving problems.
With customer service, we often think about solving problems as they come.
But, its actual purpose is to prevent problems from happening—leaving little friction in the customer experience.
So if you want to learn about how to apply and practice a proactive service without spending too much time, keep diving into this article.
- Proactive customer service is when a company anticipates and successfully prevents common problems before a user needs to reach out for help.
- When a customer needs to take the initiative and ask you for help, your service becomes reactive. As you had to react to their inquiry and find solutions quickly.
- Following the proactive approach enhances the customer experience, increases product engagement, improves customer retention, and leads to more customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- There are eight ways to deliver proactive customer service as a SaaS business:
- Use in-app guidance to introduce core features to new users during their onboarding.
- Create an in-app knowledge base that’s easily accessible from your app, resourceful, and curated for specific user segments.
- Collect feedback with microsurveys to find out what parts of their journey are causing more trouble and fix them.
- Implement built-in passive surveys and place them in such a way that users can notice them without interrupting their workflow.
- Monitor product usage and then look at your analytics to find opportunities to offer proactive help.
- Use funnel analysis to identify what parts of the customer journey are generating more friction and resulting in more drop-offs.
- Segment customers based on their jobs-to-be-done, goals, and problems to trigger relevant in-app guides.
- Send NPS surveys with a follow-up question to identify passives and detractors (a.k.a. unsatisfied Users), then use response tagging to find recurrent problems, fix them, and close the feedback loop.
- There are five examples of companies applying proactive support tactics inside their product:
- Userpilot’s resource center has content in different formats, so users can consume it in a way that fits their learning style.
- Miro’s passive survey, which doesn’t interrupt the user experience: you can always rate your experience as you use each specific feature.
- Slack’s open-ended survey helps to complement micro surveys and get deeper insights.
- Userpilot’s new feature announcement, where users can register for an educational webinar to learn about the new functionalities.
- Kommunicate’s interactive walkthroughs for proactively onboarding customers.
- Userpilot’s platform can help you build onboarding flows, segment users, create an in-app resource center, send in-app surveys, and use advanced product analytics. So why not get an Userpilot demo and try to provide proactive customer service?
What is proactive customer service?
Proactive customer service is when a company anticipates and successfully prevents common problems before a user needs to reach out for help.
Proactive vs. reactive customer service
The difference between proactive and reactive customer service isn’t in the solutions themselves, but when you provide such solutions.
The moment a customer needs to take the initiative and ask you for help, your service becomes reactive. As you had to react to their inquiry and find solutions quickly.
On the other end, any action that prevents a user from having to reach out to you can be considered proactive. As you’re the one who takes the initiative to help and prevent future problems.
Why is proactive customer service important?
Even if every problem can be addressed and solved, letting a user face issues constantly can quickly build up into a churn.
For this reason, making an effort to offer proactive customer service can pay dividends. Just think about all the paid hours that your support reps won’t have to waste on solving common problems.
And that’s not all, there are extra benefits to following the proactive approach, as it also:
- Enhances the customer experience by reducing friction and adjusting the learning curve.
- Increases product engagement as users can easily understand the product and get used to it easily.
- Improves customer retention as users are less likely to drop off due to frustration and facing too many unaddressed problems.
- Leads to more customer satisfaction and loyal customers as users can meet their goals without facing unnecessary obstacles.
How to deliver proactive customer support?
Proactive support is surely a great advantage for your business, but how do you do it?
Let’s go over eight ideas for implementing proactive customer service as a SaaS business:
1. Trigger in-app guidance during the onboarding process
There’s nothing that turns you off more than adopting a new product and feeling lost the second you log in.
With in-app guidance, you can save users the frustration of having to browse a messy support center just to understand the basic features and get the job done.
For example, you can trigger contextual tooltips to introduce core features to new users during their onboarding.
Onboarding tooltips not only ensure users won’t need additional support but also keeps users engaged and makes them stick around with you.
2. Build an in-app knowledge base for proactive support
It doesn’t matter how meticulous your onboarding process is. Users will always need more information than what a few tooltips can offer.
And since 81% of customers say they want more self-service options, an in-app knowledge base can be your competitive advantage when implemented well.
Now, anyone can build a knowledge base. What will make a difference is to create one that’s:
- Easily accessible from your app.
- Resourceful, offering content in multiple formats to cater to different learning preferences.
- Curated for specific user segments.
In short: the easier it is to find the desired information, the less friction you create.
3. Send microsurveys to identify customer issues
We said proactive support is about preventing problems, but how can you prevent customer service issues that you don’t know about?
That’s why you need to collect feedback with microsurveys, so you can find out what parts of their journey are causing more trouble.
For instance, if your onboarding process isn’t thorough enough and your users end up frustrated, you can only learn about it by sending a CSAT survey after the onboarding is completed.
This way, you can see what’s missing in your product, improve it, and prevent users from having to search online or reach out to your customer service team.
4. Create a passive feedback widget to collect customer feedback
Passive feedback is a great way to learn about problems you can prevent through proactive support.
To do this, implement built-in passive surveys and place them in such a way that users can notice them without interrupting their workflow.
For example, integrate a feature request survey in your product UI so active users can easily submit their thoughts and help you build a product that’s easier to use.
5. Analyze product usage to look for improvement opportunities
Another way to be proactive is to tag your features to monitor product usage and then look at your analytics to see if:
- There’s a core feature with low engagement.
- Some users seem to be stuck at one stage.
For the former, you can try to figure out what makes your product harder to use and add more in-app help. Perhaps users are lost and don’t know exactly how to use it.
As for the latter, you can reach out to the unengaged users to offer personal help. Maybe they’re unaware of a problem, and all it takes is a little push to re-engage them.
6. Perform funnel analysis and remove friction
Sometimes, you need to see the bigger picture to find problems.
With funnel analysis, you can identify what parts of the customer journey are generating more friction and resulting in more drop-offs. Allowing you to provide more proactive help in those areas and prevent churn.
First, you need to map every touchpoint in the journey, then track user actions with a customer data platform (like Userpilot), which will allow you to organize the data and visualize the funnel like this:
7. Use segmentation to send targeted in-app help
There’s no one-size-fits-all onboarding process that will work for everyone.
Great proactive customer service is meant to be personal and effective, so the best way to scale it inside your product is through segmentation.
When you segment customers based on their jobs-to-be-done, goals, and problems, you can then trigger in-app guides that aren’t generic and are helpful to satisfy their needs.
For example, you can target a re-engagement campaign to disengaged users who haven’t been very active. And offer relevant content, updates, and even discounts.
8. Measure and analyze NPS results to increase customer loyalty
A big part of your customer’s value is in their word-of-mouth potential, which can be measured through NPS surveys.
But that’s not all it can do for you, sending NPS surveys with a follow-up question can help you identify passives and detractors (a.k.a. unsatisfied users), plus give you insights on what’s going wrong, fix it, and close the feedback loop with proactive help.
What’s better, if your survey tool allows you to tag NPS responses, you can find common keywords coming from detractors and spot issues easily:
Examples of proactive customer service
Want to put these best practices into practice? Let’s see how different companies apply the proactive support tactics we just covered inside their product:
Userpilot builds a resource center with multiple help modules
Anyone can create a resource center, but not everyone puts in the effort to make it accessible and effective to provide proactive customer support.
Userpilot’s resource center is not only accessible right from the app, but it also provides content in different formats and modules so users can consume it in a way that fits their learning style.
Miro has passive feedback widgets for in-app experiences
The best way to get passive feedback is by placing surveys where users are more likely to respond.
For example, if Miro wants to know how users feel about the learning center, the intuitive place to trigger a passive survey is when a user has browsed the learning center for a while (like in the screenshot below).
But that’s not all, Miro’s survey is effective because it’s placed in a way that doesn’t interrupt the users. Plus, it’s so easy to answer that users might rather click on a response before clicking the X icon to close it.
Slack sends microsurveys with an open-ended question
Although very useful, one-click surveys like Miro’s won’t provide insights as deep as an open-ended survey.
So, just like Slack, it’s possible to complement microsurveys with an optional question without making it any harder to reply.
This way, Slack can keep it simple while also allowing users to share additional information if they want (from which their support team can provide exceptional customer service.)
Userpilot’s new feature announcement features a webinar invitation
Most proactive help is delivered through education.
For example, Userpilot hosts educational webinars so users can learn about important topics such as user onboarding, customer success, and product-led growth—teaching the audience how to use the platform to solve a problem before they happen (a.k.a. proactive help).
But webinars also go very well with upcoming features.
You see, launching a new feature is a great opportunity to trigger a new feature announcement where users can register for a webinar (like in the screenshot below). Allowing you to teach users how to use it before they get stuck with it.
Kommunicate uses an interactive walkthrough for user onboarding
Another way to provide proactive help is to present your product features in an engaging way.
For example, instead of showing a generic product tour that users are likely to skip, Kommunicate implemented interactive walkthroughs to:
- Hand-hold users across their app with progressive onboarding.
- Avoid overwhelming users with information they won’t retain.
- Enhance their learning experience.
Interactive walkthroughs work because they respond to in-app behavior in real time, and they’re triggered when the user is more likely to need them.
This way, Kommunicate can boost its product adoption by proactively onboarding customers.
How to provide proactive customer service using Userpilot?
Although you can get creative by offering proactive customer service without any software, a dedicated, proactive customer support tool like Userpilot can be very convenient for your time and effort.
Here’s what you can do with it:
Build onboarding flows with different UI elements
Userpilot can create onboarding flows with different UI patterns (such as tooltips, slideouts, and modals), and trigger in-app messages based on specific events, in-app behaviors, and the user’s stage in the journey.
- Can create onboarding checklists to make it easier for users to reach the activation stage.
- Segment your users based on a wide range of attributes such as ID, roles, content engagement, feature usage, NPS response, and more.
Send surveys and analyze results to enhance customer experience
Userpilot has a tool that’s exclusively designed to create in-app surveys, which you can either build using available templates or from scratch with a side-by-side preview feature (no coding needed).
Additionally, these surveys can be configured to follow pretty advanced commands, such as:
- Target a specific audience created with segmentation.
- Trigger surveys with specific actions and events.
- Adjust the survey language with localization.
And after running surveys for a while, you can analyze your surveys with analytics tools that allow you to:
- Track metrics such as completion rate, average completion time, response rates, and so on.
- Compare survey performance between different segments and see how they respond to it.
- Analyze responses at a granular level, allowing you to check the results of each question (and even each user).
- Tag NPS survey responses to find common keywords used among detractors and promoters.
Use product analytics for providing proactive customer service
It includes plenty of functionalities, such as the ability to create custom events and visualize how users progress across different touchpoints throughout the customer journey.
There’s no doubt. If you want to scale your SaaS, you need to go the extra mile with proactive customer service.
By now, you know what proactive customer service strategy will work in today’s market. And even in the future, finding ways to solve problems before they happen will always make a difference.
But unless you want to code it yourself, why not get an Userpilot demo and try to create your own in-app knowledge hub?