The Value of Proactive Communication
Proactive communication, while relatively simple in concept, can have a tremendous impact on customer experience (CX) when it comes to your brand.
Proactively communicating with your clients or customers is all about keeping them in the loop. It’s a matter of offering compassionate transparency.
It means you let your customers know information — like the status of their project or when you’re going to be unavailable — before they even think to ask for it OR very quickly after they do.
Again, simple in concept, but something that many brands tend to overlook in their day-to-day operations.
I recently had an experience with a service provider I hired for my business where proactive communication wasn’t as highly prioritized as it could have been in their customer experience.
Without going into too many details, I will say that I had gotten a bit behind on a deadline for a project I hired them for, and when I followed up a little later than expected, I found out that my point of contact was going to be out of town for the next 2 weeks for a vacation.
Obviously, it’s completely fine for business owners and other workers to take well-deserved vacations! In fact, it’s something I highly encourage.
However, had I known ahead of time that their trip was on the horizon, I would have better managed my priorities to get the project completed in a more timely manner — benefiting both my business and theirs. (Because let’s be honest, who likes to come back from vacation to an outstanding project, right?)
To add insult to injury, I found out my point of contact was going to be out for an extended time through a mass email sent just one day before their vacation started.
Again, I will never deny someone their needed downtime, and in the age of COVID, sometimes people need to be out at the last minute for weeks at a time. We all get that, and it’s crucial to show compassion in these circumstances. However, a small amount of proactive communication goes a long way to making sure your customers still feel valued and taken care of, even when life happens.
Here’s an email example you could send to your customer if you find you have to be out of the office at the last minute (feel free to swipe it for your own use!):
I wanted to let you know that I need to be out of the office from _______________ to ___________. I apologize for the short notice and thank you in advance for your understanding.
In my absence, please feel free to reach out to _____________ should you have any questions about ____________.
Thank you again, and I look forward to connecting with you and supporting you when I return.
All the best,
Simple and to the point, but also compassionate and transparent.
If you know you’ll be out for a planned vacation or extended time off for holidays, you can send a similar email even further in advance.
The most important thing with proactive communication is being empathetic, open, and to show your customers and clients that you value them enough to keep them informed on what is going on with the project they’ve entrusted to you.
In today’s market, people want proactive communication, and in a digital market, there’s no reason we can’t give it to them.
Digital communication makes it super easy to put an upcoming out-of-office in the footer of your emails or to schedule an automated email to go out a few weeks before you take a vacation.
Proactive communication isn’t only about communicating being out of the office. You can also improve your customer experience by proactively communicating other impending changes.
For example, I am currently a part of a membership where we were told a price increase was coming. I reached out to learn more, so I could budget and plan accordingly.
They very transparently and compassionately responded quickly to let me know they were still working on solidifying the changes to the program and pricing. And while they couldn’t give me a concrete answer today, I should, for my peace of mind, budget for about a 10% increase and also know that they weren’t taking anything away from the program. If anything, there are going to be more opportunities for me to get the support I need through the program.
This is a fantastic example of proactive and customer-centric communication!
Even if you don’t have all of the details of changes that are coming, being as transparent as possible (with as much notice as possible!) is essential for your customer experience.
Nowadays, life moves so fast, and giving people a bit more lead time with more openness helps them manage their day-to-day priorities, their overwhelm, and their expectations.
Another huge part of proactive communication is recognizing that life happens and you don’t always have lead time, and that’s okay.
Whatever is happening (on whatever timeline), own it, be transparent, and stand up for your business while also acknowledging your customer’s right to feel frustration and disappointment.
Trust me. A little proactive communication will go a long way for your customers and their loyalty to your brand.