Pro-active: it means that I start doing something before somebody asks me. I do not react, I precede the other party. I would play the usual plot that shop assistants are so good at: "Hello sir, how can I help you? Would you like me to assist you?". This is acting before your customer (potential or acquired) falls into the pit of indecision.
Proactive customer support is going to be the future for online marketing, internet firms must be aware that they cannot lose more visitors on their websites. The definitive year 2008 resolution for online shops is: increase conversion.
OK, we are ready to give customer support, so we have equipped our e-commerce site with everything needed, our weapons loaded and shields up but...(ahem, too much Star Wars during the holidays!)
...but what happens then?Your customer starts a dialog with your "operator". Operator of what? Would she be just nice and well-prepared by reading the whole documentation about your products?
Does she know about all the possible technical questions?
Let's suppose you sell homebrewing products. Does Laura, your wery well prepared "online operator", have a passion for homebrewing? Is she the right person to talk to, when it comes to passionate technical questions? Would she advice adding hot acid water to the mash-out phase, to ease up the sparging phase and stop enzymes? There is somebody who takes it very seriously
Normally, she does not. But then, is she instructed to pass the call over an expert? What if experts were customer champions?
What if Dan, a passionate homebrewer and satisfied customer, agrees to offer expert advice (paid, of course) about your products for selected people? This behavior is overhyped, it would be called Web2.0, User Generated Content, WikiSupport. Fact is, human beings tend to cooperate. It's our nature.
Getting back to Dan... what if Dan does this expert advice job on his phone, without the hassles of installing CRM software or operator clients?