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May 5, 2021

Written by Zach Hansen

Up until now, customer service has almost always been approached reactively. This means that customer service representatives respond to complaints, questions, or concerns as they arise. With the rise of improving technology, people not only have better access to a larger number of products and services, making for a more competitive marketplace, but they also are more able to leave complaints. One of the best ways to deal with this situation is to resolve problems before they arise. As the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense.

What Is Proactive Customer Service?

Proactive customer service essentially just involves taking more preventative measures to address questions and concerns that consumers might have. This means that your team can spend less time dealing with consumers with inquiries that could be avoidable. It also gives you an upper hand in marketing because it allows you to pre-empt the needs of your consumers so you can stay ahead of the game.

Additionally, from a psychological perspective, consumers are much more likely to forgive an issue if it’s fixed upfront and rapidly rather than having to wait until they’re angry for it to be dealt with. Taking a proactive approach to your customer service will help you to provide better products and services, as well as gain valuable insight from your consumers.

Proactive customer service also allows you to catch minor issues before they turn into big problems. It’s even been shown to improve customer retention, reduce the number of support requests, and increase engagement levels.

What Is Reactive Customer Service?

Reactive customer service is the opposite of taking a proactive approach. This is when a consumer has to seek an inquiry and an agent responds, usually via phone, email, or messenger. The biggest difference between reactive customer service and proactive customer service is that it requires the consumer to go to the extra lengths of reaching out if they need help. 

Of course, this can be irritating for a customer but moreover, it takes up a lot of time and money for a business. A large number of inquiries are avoidable if a proactive approach is taken. All in all, reactive customer service is far less engaging, requires the customer to put in extra effort, costs your business more money in operating costs, and has a negative correlation with customer retention.

Examples of Proactive and Reactive Customer Service

So, you understand the key differences between proactive and reactive customer service, but what does it look like in action? Here are some examples of proactive customer service.

  • Live chat: You’ve probably seen live chat everywhere on websites these days, and that’s because it’s a beneficial and proactive approach to customer service. Live chat enables consumers to ask questions quickly and is a convenient and quick alternative to hotlines.
  • FAQs and Tutorials: These should be a component of any business website, particularly if you’re selling a product or service that requires some knowledge or know-how. FAQs and tutorials can answer a large majority of customer questions that they may otherwise call into a customer service representative to ask about. Additionally, it’s also a really great strategy for getting better search engine rankings. Win-win.
  • How-to Videos and Webinars: Just like tutorials, how-to videos and webinars are great ways to help customers before they have to call you for assistance. YouTube videos also help to rank you higher in search engine rankings, and they’re a proven way of teaching customers how to use your product or service. In fact, most people learn visually, so videos or webinars are an excellent alternative to large chunks of text on your website.

The primary example of reactive customer service would be hotlines or emails where the customer can call in but typically will have to wait a long time for a response. If a consumer has to wait two to three business days to get an answer, they’re probably going to be quite irritated, particularly if there’s a problem with the product or service that you’re selling.

In our contemporary world, in order to remain competitive in a business setting, you need to have great customer service and retention. One of the best ways to improve this is to make sure that you use a proactive customer service approach rather than a reactive one. Reactive customer service is old-fashioned and usually leads to dissatisfied consumers. What’s more, it’s really just costing your business money when you have to pay people to answer customer questions that can be solved with a proactive approach.


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