Being Proactive in Reactive Situations

Tracy Borreson on March 25, 2020

No matter how much any of us do to be proactive in our businesses, situations like a catastrophic event - or a global pandemic - help us realize that we'll never be 100% ready for everything. 

I was thinking about the concept of being proactive vs. reactive today, and it dawned on me that, just because a situation calls for us to be reactive, doesn't mean we lose our ability to be proactive coming out of it. 

So, how can we be more proactive when we're feeling overwhelmingly reactive? 

The greatest risk in being reactive is that we aren't sure whether we're going to be able to meet our current clients expectations. Over the entire life cycle of our customer relationships, we've created a standard "service level" that they've come to expect. And when we're thrown into reactive scenarios, it's usually those service levels that take the first hit.

There's one SUPER simple way to address this:

Communicate Your Current Service Levels...

Your customer experience breaks when the expected service levels don't meet the actual service levels. It's not always possible to do something about the actual service levels. And it is ALWAYS possible to communicate the new expectations, to minimize the chance that customer expectations aren't met. 

Here are 3 important things to take into account:

  1. Communicate what you know right now: in reactive scenarios, what we know RIGHT NOW is often changing. That's OK. Everyone is experiencing the same thing and your customers are likely more understanding than you think. 
  2. Communicate whenever the expectation needs to be reset: you may think one communication is fine. Keep in mind that in a crisis, things are changing rapidly, and your customers will measure their experience off the last expectation you set. 
  3. Confirm once normal service levels are back in practice: this shows that you have been working to get your service levels back to the pre-crisis expectations, and creates trust with your customers that you aren't just willing to settle on a new normal if it's not necessary.  

...Where Your Customers Are.

It's no good "communicating" your service levels if it's in a channel that people don't see. A notice on your website is no good if your customers never visit it. An email notice is no good if only 40% of your customers have given you their email address. 

For some ideas on which channels to use, check out our last blog

Quick secret: it's very rarely ONE channel that's going to get 100% customer reach. Plan to use ALL your available channels to send a streamlined message to ALL customers as quickly as possible. 

In Summary

When you're in the midst of a crisis, being reactive can become the norm. Even if historically, you've been highly invested in being proactive, that focus can be lost. But, it's never too late to flip the focus back to how you can be proactive, specifically in your client communication.