Most of us only think of customer service as dealing with problems after the fact. Something is broken or needs to be changed so we contact the company or organization to help resolve the problem. True customer service, that is, customer service that is focused on the customer, anticipates problems. If there is going to be a foreseeable problem (production delays, personnel problems, etc), proactive customer service notifies affected parties before the fact. By anticipating a problem and informing customers, companies can stem the tide of discontent that will inevitably arise from the problem. Plus, it allows the customer to make decisions prior to the event, giving them a sense of control.

Southwest Airlines understands the importance of anticipating problems. The airline has implemented an automated system to inform customers in the event their flights may be cancelled or delayed due to bad weather or other causes, as reported in CIO.  As the article points, Southwest has a manager whose title is “senior manager of proactive customer communications.”

It seems obvious that being proactive and anticipating problems can really help a company to remain in good standing with its customers. Yet, many companies are slow to respond even after problems arise.  Proactive, anticipatory customer service needs to be part of the company culture if it is to succeed.

Have you had an experience with a company contacting you to resolve a problem?


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