Proactive Customer Service: Definition & Benefits

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  • 0:03 What Is Proactive…
  • 0:29 Communication
  • 1:05 Process Inclusion
  • 2:01 Proactive vs Reactive
  • 3:02 Proactive Customer…
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Colleen Brisport

Colleen has educated employees and employers on employment law. She has a JD.

There are two key components of proactive customer service. The first is communication. The second is process inclusion. Implementing each component of proactive customer service benefits businesses and customers.

What Is Proactive Customer Service?

Proactive customer service is the ability of the business to predict customer complaints and concerns before they occur instead of simply reacting to the problem after it's occurred. This differs from reactive customer service where the business responds to customer complaints after they occur. Proactive customer service consists of two main components: communication and process inclusion.


Imagine that it is a barista's first time making a latte. The customer comes to the counter and asks the barista for soy milk. However, the barista is focused on pushing the right button on the cash register and not the customer's order, so he uses whole milk instead.

In this scenario, the barista was not communicating effectively with the customer. Here, the barista needed to be self-aware and understand that his attention was diverted from the customer. If the barista was self-aware, he would have politely asked the customer to repeat the order. Then, the barista would have realized that the customer requested soy milk instead of whole milk.

Process Inclusion

The second component of proactive customer service is using the communication methods discussed previously to include the customer in the process of delivering the product or service. This is called process inclusion. Lets, look at an example.

As a barista attempted to run hot water through the espresso machine, the lever began to stick. He decided to steam the milk while he waited for the manager to fix the espresso machine.

This was an opportunity for the barista to explain to the customer that the machine was broken or explain to her why the process for making the latte was taking so long. Instead, the customer waited and became increasingly anxious about being late. At this point, the barista had an opportunity to offer her a free coffee instead of the latte. Still, the customer would be disappointed, but at least she would have understood why the latte was taking so long and may have opted for that large coffee instead.

Proactive vs. Reactive

You probably have the most experience with reactive customer service. Reactive customer service is when a business responds to problems after they occur. The business tries to fix the problem internally instead of consulting the costumer on what the customer would like the outcome to be.

Here is an illustration: After staying up all night, a customer heads to the coffee shop across from their morning class. Thirty minutes pass before the customer receives the latte. In order to make up for this poor service, the barista offers the customer a coupon for a free latte.

In this example, the barista didn't anticipate that the customer would be dissatisfied with having to wait 30 minutes. The free cup of coffee coupon is nice, but it doesn't address the need the customer had in the moment for a latte. It's unlikely that the customer will return for the free cup of coffee, and if they do, it will likely be their last visit to that coffee shop. This is why it's important to implement proactive customer service practices and not reactive customer service.

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