Proactive Customer Contact: Deploying Without Annoying, by Kenneth Janous

Almost all TV/Cable/Internet, or Communication Service Providers (CSPs) are searching for ways to reduce the time and cost required to manage their customer call center connects. Typically, customer interactions are all too often related to undesirable scenarios of service disruptions, billing disputes or shutting down service. Are there practical strategies that can help reduce unhappy customer service calls, while enhance their overall experience?

What do customers really need?

One way to reduce inbound contacts is to be more proactive in telling your customers what they need to know before they have to ask. Executing a proactive communication strategy involves answering the following questions:

  • When do my customers want to hear from me and would consider it helpful?
  • In what scenarios would my customers rather not hear from me or consider it annoying?
  • How do my customers’ proactive communications preferences vary by demographic?

Knowing your customers’ preferences helps you determine which proactive messages would be helpful and should be deployed and which proactive messages are annoying and should be avoided.

Helpful communications that can make a difference

In a recent Cognizant CSP Survey, 1,995 US consumers [who had at least one CSP Pay TV, High Speed Internet (HSI), or Mobile service], were asked, “what types of communications are helpful?” The top responses desired time-sensitive communications and more proactive messages with an inherent sense of urgency. The lower ranked scenarios were more informational or promotional without the time-sensitive element.

Time sensitive communication frequency via email

The top scenario for receiving proactive communication was to acknowledge a network outage or service disruption and update customers on progress toward resolution. Proactively acknowledging the issue and providing periodic resolution updates to the impacted customer base is welcomed and reduces frustration for customers.

Other time-sensitive scenarios where proactive communication is highly desirable were to provide diagnostic and/or self-service resolution instructions on a customer-issue, to notify them that their equipment has a high failure rate and can be replaced or exchanged, and to warn them that their usage is approaching the monthly threshold for “overage” charges. Proactive communication about potential for “overage” charges was particularly appealing to both female and millennial respondents. Also, it is interesting to note that 59% of respondents prefer to receive such proactive communication via email.

When lacking in urgency– personalize and restrict

All of the lowest ranked scenarios were lacking a sense of urgency. When the message is simply informational or promotional in nature, proactive communication runs the risk of being unwelcome, and customers feel annoyed or bombarded. A strategy targeting specific customers based on recent service interaction and navigation would reduce this risk. The recommendation is to restrict the audience, customize messages, and avoid sending widespread “blasts” for informational and promotional purposes.

Find Your Optimal Proactive Contact Strategy

Viable proactive communication scenarios will vary by CSP. For example, the ‘approaching of usage threshold’ with potential for overage charges is likely more relevant for providers of wireless communication services and less relevant for deliverers of video content.

To develop the most effective proactive communication strategy:

  • Know your customers : Collect and analyze customer data.
  • Why are they initiating calls, chats, email messages to you?
  • What are they viewing and seeking on your Website and/or Mobile app?
  • What is their demographic makeup?
  • What communication channels do they prefer to utilize?
  • Align your organization: Ensure that your organization acts as “one voice” to customers.
  • Resolve customer contact disparities across organizations.
  • Avoid duplicate or conflicting messages.
  • Refine and implement your detailed strategy with clearly defined “who, what , when, and how “ for creating proactive contact.

In a nutshell, CSPs should reduce inbound contacts and enhance customer experience through an effective proactive communication program. How do you communicate with your customers?

Let me know.

Opinions expressed in this blog are of the author and may not represent Cognizant’s point of view.

Kenneth Janous

Kenneth has nearly 20 year’s experience as a consultant and specializes in advising and delivering Customer Contact Center solutions for Cognizant’s Global…

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Originally published at on August 26, 2016.