Two-thirds of customers contact customer service after receiving proactive outreach from a brand, often using costly assisted channels because they needed additional information or confirmation, according to Gartner, Inc. This flawed approach to proactive customer service can create customer confusion and unanswered questions that erode the benefits of a proactive strategy.
Gartner surveyed more than 4,800 customers from November through December 2021, to understand their evolving relationships with customer service channels. The findings show that proactive service creates a better customer experience for B2C and B2B customers. Respondents who received proactive service reported better customer effort scores compared to those who did not. However, the survey findings also revealed that rather than resolving the issue on their own, or taking no action, 66% of B2C and 82% of B2B customers contact the company after receiving proactive outreach.
“Receiving proactive service leads to a 9% increase in a customer’s value enhancement score,” said Eric Keller, senior research director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “However, proactive outreach that raises unanswered questions erodes the benefits for customers, and leads to additional costs for the company. To avoid this, customer service and support leaders must center their proactive approach around building customers’ confidence in the company’s ability to serve them effectively.”
To get better results from their proactive strategy, customer service and support leaders should consider the following:
Use proactive outreach to build confidence in the company’s ability to resolve service issues. Among different elements of proactive outreach tested, instilling confidence and providing clear directions had the most impact on reducing customer effort. Confidence in the authenticity of the message is important - 10% of BC2 customers and 24% of B2B customers followed up with the company simply to confirm the outreach wasn’t a scam.
Prioritize proactive outreach for urgent issues. Customers value proactive outreach when it alerts them to urgent issues that need their attention. Customers who received outreach about issues they saw as urgent (for example, a credit fraud notification) reported better customer effort scores compared to customers who discovered the issue on their own.
Prepare for additional contacts after proactive outreach by considering timing and dynamically adjusting the interactive voice response (IVR). If an uptick in customer phone calls after proactive outreach is likely and intended, time messages to coincide with low call volume periods. Additionally, consider dynamically adjusting the IVR to identify callers who received proactive outreach, prompt them with a few options if their call is related to that outreach, and attempt to resolve their issue without sending them to an agent.
Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders can learn more in the report “Flawed Proactive Outreach Does More Harm Than Good.”
About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders
The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent. Members of the media can find additional information and insights in the Gartner Customer Service & Support Newsroom.