Proactive Customer Support

Filed in by Kirk Averett | February 21, 2005 4:32 am

I mentioned the other day[1] that
proactive customer support would be one of the things we.d be looking to
implement here at I thought
it might be useful to explain what I meant.

Reactive Support

This is your normal, everyday technical and customer
support. You realize you have a
problem. You get frustrated. When you get frustrated enough, you send
someone an email or pick up a phone and call.

Providing this kind of support is a necessity for many
businesses. Phone-based support has
earned a bad reputation.deservingly low according to many[2]. That.s why we all wait until our frustration
with a problem is greater than the frustration we think we will experience when
we call the technical support line. I think that our phone-based support at could be stronger, but
that.s not what I.m writing about today.

Proactive Support

Often a company is in a position to either predict or notice
a problem in behalf of a customer. When
that happens, the company can move to resolve the issue in the customer.s
behalf and notify the customer about what was done. Or perhaps the company makes contact with the customer to explain
what the customer might need to do to prevent or resolve their problem.

For us, this means watching our email log data. If we see a lot of sending errors from a
certain IP address it might tell us that
hasn.t set up his email program to use SMTP authentication properly.required on
our system. There are a dozen other
customer problems that we might detect with the right automated tools. Once we know about a problem we can contact
our customer.s email administrator and give them a head.s up. working now on the back-end tools that
will help us be proactive. Give us a
few weeks and months and you.ll hear some great stories.

Who Else Should Be Doing This?

Any company that has a product .wired. to the customer. On-Star(R)[3] should tie in to a modern
car.s computer system (using ODB-II[4]) and call me when I.m starting to
get bad gas mileage and need to get a tune-up. ISP.s should notice when their customers are infected with a virus or
are acting as spam zombies[5] and help them disinfect.

The Future

I don.t think will be alone in this effort. I just think we.ll be one of the very
first. Someday, this type of service
may be so commonplace that it will be expected in the same way we now expect a
fast-food restaurant to upsell us to a large size drink.


  1. other day:
  2. according to many:
  3. On-Star(R):
  4. ODB-II:
  5. spam zombies:

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