The need to engage customers proactively

To deliver a truly exceptional customer experience, public sector organisations must respond well when customers contact them. However, they also have to take the initiative and contact customers themselves.

This type of proactive communication answers questions before they’re raised and addresses problems before they occur. Organisations that are proactive about customer communications also reduce costs—because they’re often able to pre-empt numerous separate phone calls and e-mails through a single, well-crafted outbound message.

Several aspects of proactive communications are particularly important for optimally enhancing the customer experience. These include:

  • Segmentation. Not all messages should go out to every customer every time. Public sector bodies generally need to be selective—sending customers only information that’s relevant to their particular needs. They do this by using their customer data to segment communications by relevant attributes such as demographics, geography, current and historical activity, or explicitly expressed preferences.
  • Personalisation. Communication with customers should always be as personalised as possible. This personalisation can be as simple as using the recipient’s name in a greeting. However, it can also be extended to other aspects of the customer’s relationship with the organisation: types of services, account balances, upcoming deadlines, and so on. This kind of personalised content can increase the value of proactive communications to customers and enhance their overall experience by giving them the sense that they are more than ‘just a number’.
  • Timing and frequency. Customers do not want to be inundated with communications. Thus, local authorities need to be smart about the frequency and timing of communications with customers. It doesn’t help to tell a customer on the 24th of the month about a program that is available only until the end of the month.
  • The right tools. All public sector organisations need to acquire a variety of capabilities if they are to effectively manage proactive communications with their customers. Obviously, they need customer knowledge to segment and personalise their communications. They also need collaboration tools for developing message content and a delivery management system to ensure that messages reach the intended recipients.

Proactive engagement is especially useful for informing customers about available services. After all, organisations can’t serve customers well if customers aren’t aware of the agency’s services.

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