“Improving customer loyalty” has been the call center charter since its inception. But as economic and regulatory pressures continue to squeeze the marketing enterprise, the need to ensure customer satisfaction has made the art of customer communications a tenuous proposition.

Too often, customer service professionals are consumed with efforts to put out fires, spending the majority of their time resolving customer complaints and problems. Few call centers have embraced the idea of proactive customer care—the ability to reach out to customers before they have a chance to become a frustrated and dissatisfied caller.

As call centers become more ingrained in strategic initiatives, they require models that leverage proactive customer outreach programs that are cost effective and efficient and can mitigate customer service issues before they arise.

By proactively making contact at each step in the customer relationship lifecycle, businesses can ensure customer loyalty while diffusing potentially frustrating situations and more effectively allocating agent time and resource.

The Interaction Begins

Good businesses recognize that the potential for profitability lies in how they maintain and strengthen the customer relationship that begins with the initial purchase. Results are generated when the enterprise makes it easy for a customer to do business with it. Because customers generally place significant value on the quality and speed of interactions, the quicker and easier the enterprise can make it for the customer, the more likely it is that the customer will remain loyal.

At almost every phase of the customer lifecycle, the enterprise has the opportunity to distinguish itself from the competition with customer care that anticipates needs and streamlines the delivery of that information, making each interaction quick and resourceful. Although many companies understand the need to personalize and streamline interactions, there is still a lag between knowledge of the situation and actual implementation of the practice.

One of the main hurdles in streamlining the process is that most customer-to-business communication is initiated by the customer. Inbound calls to a call center immediately generate a reactionary feeling, as the customer initiates the dialog. Often, these calls are routine, focusing on items such as account balances or shipping times.

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Ben Levitan is CEO of EnvoyWorldWide (envoyworldwide.com).