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Proactive and reactive customer service in e-commerce

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Proactive and reactive customer service in e-commerce

How to stand out in the e-commerce industry today? What forms of action turn out to be the most effective? The strategies can be varied, but you can easily notice one thing – currently the focus is on the client, his expectations, needs, comfort etc. In order to be competitive, this aspect cannot be overlooked. There are two approaches we see in e-business based on: proactive or reactive online customer service. How do they differ in practice?

Reactive online customer service, meaning be where you are needed 

Reactivity is an approach in which we respond to possible problems, react, provide information, etc., but we do not take the initiative, it is the customer who takes the first step – e.g. by sending a specific inquiry, reporting a defect or asking for a more precise offer. In online reactive customer service, the buyer only gets support when he needs it. This may sound attractive to more introverted people who struggle to cope with frequent interactions, but for e-business, this can have serious consequences in some cases. Handing over control to customer service is often waiting for an escalation, for the moment when a minor irregularity turns into a serious complication. If we operate only on an ad hoc basis, we rely primarily on e-mail and telephone contact, it may seem that the company saves due to the use of fewer resources, but it is completely apparent. What is the alternative then? 

Proactive and reactive customer service in e-commerce

Proactive customer service via the Internet, i.e. take the first step 

The second approach is characterized by meeting expectations and focusing on initiative. Proactive customer service via the Internet , which is what we are talking about, is increasingly present in the e-commerce industry. It is distinguished by commitment that leads to the improvement of the user experience, i.e. the overall user experience in contact with the company. What exactly does such a customer service system include? Among others: 

  • reducing the distance between the customer and the company – a great example here is the recently popular live chat, thanks to which the e-shop user, after entering the website, immediately receives support and possible help, he can immediately communicate comfortably at any time;
  • transparent sales system – that is, one that does not leave the customer in the uncertainty or ignorance, but communicates specific messages about each subsequent stage of order fulfillment;
  • informing, encouraging and rewarding – we can wait until a given recipient is interested in the offer and possibly use the services, and we can also decide on the first step, i.e. developing an interesting and attractive newsletter, making it available for the most frequently asked questions, offering discounts, discounts, informing about promotions, rewarding the most prospective customers, etc., thanks to which we will reduce the number of unnecessary inquiries and increase interest in the brand;
  • collecting opinions – through surveys, forms, which allows you to obtain valuable data that can be used in a further stage for various improvements within the e-store and thus increase customer satisfaction;
  • monitoring, testing and control – key factors in proactive customer service via the Internet , as response time is of particular importance here. Tracking opinions and reviews, e.g. in social media, checking the functionality and effectiveness of the e-store, quality control, etc. – all this allows you to detect potential errors and shortcomings before they affect the company’s image. 
  • focus on developing customer loyalty – e.g. through a properly developed loyalty program, activities within social media, personalization, etc.

The scope of proactive activities can be very wide, so it is worth using helpful tools, such as, for example, Brand24 (to monitor mentions of an online store on the web), Zendesk (to coordinate and optimize customer service) or Typeform (to create forms and surveys online).

Proactive and reactive customer service in e-commerce

Conclusions, or how to build a service strategy 

Reactive vs proactive customer service over the Internet– what to choose? One thing is certain – in today’s reality a reactive approach is not enough both in terms of brand image and customer satisfaction. Today’s network users focus on comfort, convenience and intuitiveness, and most of them want to be noticed. What’s more, the e-commerce industry is developing dynamically, we are constantly observing new trends, and the competition is huge, so the attitude in which we are available to customers, but we do not initiate contact, do not focus on creativity and initiative may turn out to be a source of failure. An individual strategy should be based on analytics, in-depth understanding of your target audience, recognizing the potential of a given e-business and following a direction that is open, usable and committed. 


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