Anticipatory service is a proactive approach to customer service. Instead of waiting for problems to happen, it means you can avoid a problem happening in the first place.
There’s a technical explanation of how it works but it is simple. Anticipating problems and stopping them happening may look like time spent not selling. The time and effort you put into this is repaid many times over though. You will get repeat business that you don’t even have to look for.
Sometimes it’s about changing a process, but usually it’s about communication. It is important to communicate with customers to show you know what they need. You also need to respect their communication preferences. The more often a customer has valuable information from you, the “stickier” they become. This stickiness creates a long-term loyal relationship between a customer and the business.
Here are 2 examples of anticipatory service:
- A major airline texts customers to warn them of flight delays.
- A corporate billing department alerts customers when an invoice is due in a few days.
In both of these examples, the company is taking a proactive approach to what could become a problem. With the airline, no-one likes to arrive at the airport to find the plane delayed for 50 minutes. With the corporate billing department, you don’t want reminders or penalties.
Look at ways you can stop problems from happening by being proactive. Don’t wait for a customer to tell you about a problem. Keep in regular touch with them to make sure everything is as they want it.
You sold a system 4 months ago and checked that the customer was happy and knew how to use it. You haven’t heard from them since. Rather than wait for the first query, contact them to check everything is going well. Remember to double check that the processes you set up earlier are all still in place.
By being proactive you can save yourself a lot of time fixing problems. You show you are the type of company that cares and offers ‘anticipatory service’. It isn’t wasted time. It saves time in the long run and generates further business both from the customer and via referrals.