What Is Proactive Communication for Contact Centers?

By Nogol Tardugno

It’s a crazy world for today’s consumers. Not only are they pulled in different directions by all the responsibilities of their personal and professional lives, but they are also constantly distracted by all the digital alerts that arise from carrying a powerful personal computer in the shape of a phone connected to pretty much everyone and everything they want to know.  

No wonder they find it hard to get to some of the more mundane tasks in life such as paying bills and remembering appointments.

What if your contact center could put the power of that smartphone—or any of their other communication devices—to work for both them and you? Not just in basic ways, but more creatively?

That thought process is how we get to the latest focus on proactive communication for contact centers. Such notifications would benefit your business by maximizing available resources such as income and staff.

But your customers also would find value in your business’s efforts to help them meet their own needs—even sending these notifications in the channels they prefer, such as voice, SMS (short message service), and MMS (multimedia messaging service). In fact, Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report found that 70 percent of global consumers have a favorable view of brands that contact them with proactive customer service notifications. 

Let’s look at what proactive communication is and how you can customize it to provide the most benefit to everyone involved. 

What Does Proactive Communication Do?

It seems fair to assume that people don’t purposely set out to let things slip. Therefore, your business can only benefit by helping your customers remember, prioritize, and even complete common but important functions such as:

  • Paying bills before they become delinquent (increased revenue for less effort)
  • Setting and confirming appointments for their medical and financial needs
  • Renewing services and contracts
  • Receiving notifications of product upgrades and even deliveries

Providing this sort of communication gives your customers more control over the details of their own lives, establishes greater levels of transparency between them and your business, and helps eliminate bottlenecks and dead ends that can discourage customers from continuing their relationship with your brand.

However, proactive communication also helps meet your organizational goals by performing these functions:

  • Surveying customers immediately after their interactions with your agents as part of your voice of the customer (VoC) initiatives
  • Gathering similar information from agents as part of your contact center’s staff retention efforts
  • Increasing engagement (and revenue) by providing customers with personalized offers, scannable coupons, loyalty programs, or cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
  • Sending fraud or emergency alerts
  • Providing service outage information in affected areas

Any process that a large percentage of your customers benefit from is a candidate for proactive notification. Even better, if it’s a simple process you could automate through a phone IVR, your business benefits even further by:

  • Not having to use agents’ time and effort to handle repetitive processes; self-service IVR often costs only pennies compared to agent-assisted costs
  • Making operational options available to your customers any time they want to do business, not just when your contact center is open
  • Limiting repeat calls to your center while increasing the value of inbound calls and raising first-contact resolution rates
  • Offering efficient self-service that increases customer satisfaction rates by anticipating needs 

Customizable Solutions

These are the basics, but we’ve barely addressed what customizing your proactive communication can do. For example, once you’ve determined the message, you can set automated rules that control all aspects of the transaction, including:

  • Which customers receive which messages: from single recipients to thousands
  • Through what channel they will receive the message 
  • Any restrictions such as the times to deliver the message 
  • Any additions such as how to handle obstructions like busy signals

You can, for instance, use proactive communications to level out call volumes within your center. Sending notifications during times of low activity can include the option for recipients to speak with an agent immediately. This means that these customers will not be calling later during peak traffic times, and you will not have to adjust your staffing accordingly. 

How Does It Work? 

If you have any involvement with contact center scripts, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of all the programmable options you would have to account for to make proactive notifications work. But here’s what makes the whole idea operationally reasonable: you don’t have to do all that programming yourself, and neither does your IT support team.

The same processes that makes cloud computing work also builds the suites of applications that make proactive communication work. Web-delivered APIs ride on the top of your legacy systems, integrating with your CRM and telephony. These APIs come in packages that automate reminders, collect survey information, take payments, and more. 

You just decide which applications your contact center needs. Most apps come with pre-built templates that will get you up and running within days, but when it’s time to customize, you can program your own options using drag-and-drop functions.

The best practice is to start with the easy applications in your contact center. Do you most need actionable VoC feedback? More timely payments? A boost for your sales and marketing efforts? 

Select an application or suite of applications that will address that specific need. Then run trials around your proactive efforts, analyzing your key metrics at each step, including customer satisfaction. Apply what you’ve learned to the next need on the list and expand your automated processes. 

Even after the initial build and testing phase is over, analysis and refinement should never stop as you pursue the goals of high customer satisfaction, highly involved and motivated employees, and an expanded bottom line for your business. 

Nogol Tardugno is the director of customer success at Plum Voice. With eighteen years of experience, she is passionate about delivering the best customer journey through technology. She has a background in computer information systems and has worked in financial, digital marketing, and CPaaS industries.

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