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Customer service on the front foot, why proactivity matters

By Delia Pedersoli, COO, MultiPay

Many businesses are bracing themselves for a difficult 2023. Following the disruption of the pandemic, fresh economic uncertainty, the impact of the war in Ukraine and a growing cost-of-living crisis are all presenting new challenges for organisations no matter their shape or size. What’s going to be vital in weathering the year ahead for many businesses is the strength of their relationships with other likeminded companies and how they can support one another during these turbulent times. One area of significant importance is the quality of the customer service they receive. In particular, how proactive their partners are in being able to predict and anticipate change, so they can devise appropriate responses and programmes that ultimately keep businesses on a path towards growth.

Why proactive customer service matters most

There’s no denying that reactive customer service is important – well-prepared teams able to address unforeseen and unexpected issues are a vital element of any service provision. However, it’s often the proactive decisions service providers make, anticipating needs and demands before they occur, that endear trust and solidify relationships, moving into the realm of a partnership. 

According to Gartner, taking a proactive customer service approach delivers a full point increase in NPS. With so much uncertainty in the world, a proactive, tailored, approach to customer service is even more important, as businesses look to operate with ever-increasing agility. A survey by Salesforce that sampled both consumers and businesses, found that two-thirds of respondents expect the companies they buy from to understand their needs and expectations, yet a similar number say they are generally treated like numbers. Having a focus on proactivity helps reduce churn, boost NPS and increase customer satisfaction and lifetime value. 

Key steps for building a proactive customer approach

At MultiPay we have made proactivity a core part of our customer service, which has allowed us to identify several important factors that businesses wanting to build and develop long-term relationships with their customers should consider. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with The Travel Corporation (TTC) to provide a payments solution that would successfully support their return to growth across Europe as tourism rebounded. Our bespoke approach to delivering flexible customer service that meets TTC’s unique needs relied on several key components:

  • Full immersion: Being truly proactive starts with understanding a customers’ unique challenges and goals. Once an understanding of your customer’s world is established, you can begin to devise an appropriate customer service solution. At the very start of our engagement with TTC, we met with key stakeholders to understand its business needs and create bespoke products and services to match. With a dedicated account management team at MultiPay, our setup was tailored to fit the specific requirements of TTC with a unique approach for 24/7 customer support. Importantly, investing time in talking to clients from across the business to understand the individual pressures they were under helped to identify small yet significant changes in operational processes. By speaking with as many people as possible, and especially tour directors working on the frontline, we were able to identify and address key concerns, which when added up became hugely beneficial.
  • Rigorous planning for the unforeseen: No doubt 2023 will see continued uncertainty in the world. Therefore, it is harder than ever for businesses to accurately plan. But this doesn’t mean we should shy away from preparing for the road ahead. If a known event is likely to happen or would require significant resource or time to remedy, we must look at what can be done in advance. Being aware that there was a high likelihood TTC would require more payment terminals as its operations scaled, and that due to the global chip shortages there are delays with getting devices, we regularly pre-order additional handsets to have on standby. This means when it’s confirmed that more terminals are needed, we already have devices in stock that can be immediately sent out. 
  • Getting creative: No two companies are the same, so why should they have the same approach to customer service? Being creative and taking the extra time to adapt proactive approaches is hugely valuable. For instance, with TTC knowing that its tour directors would be out in the field and often lacking a good internet connection, we developed a bespoke handbook to provide a step-by-step guide to setting up payment devices and solving common issues. This was further supported by a dedicated hotline which travel directors could use to contact a member of our team to resolve any other issues. By understanding the specific challenges tour directors could have, we were able to develop a service specifically for them which in turn removed pressures from TTC’s internal team. 

Make building better experiences a priority

Providing unrivalled customer service should be at the top of every organisation’s priority list no matter their sector or market, whether they are B2B-focused or directly consumer facing. 

Being proactive by adopting an agile mindset, taking a creative approach to problem-solving potential issues before they occur and immersing yourself in your customers’ world are all vital to ensuring you have the flexibility to anticipate customers’ needs. With many organisations still recovering from the hit of the pandemic and looking to regrow whilst facing recession, all service providers must demonstrate the willingness to go above and beyond to build stronger relationships with their clients and ensure any changes to their customers’ needs are met.