Proactive Customer Service: It’s Like Washing Your Dishes

Close your eyes for a minute with me. Okay, maybe open them. It’s hard to read with your eyes closed.


Buckle up for some dish drama.

Imagine stepping back into your college years. Specifically, imagine the first apartment you shared with a friend. Christmas lights hung from the ceiling year-round, hand-me-down futons, a card table in the dining room, and what’s that smell? Surprise! It’s the dirty dishes spilling out of the sink.

For most of you, the days of roommate living have come to an end, but for me, I still live with a group of friends from college in a house we rent in downtown Indianapolis. One of the most important lessons that we’ve learned in our years of living together is that we have to take a proactive approach to cleaning dishes. If we sit back and work reactively in this situation, we end up standing around the kitchen at the end of the night, pointing to random dirty items, and arguing about whose dishes are whose. 

Though winning an argument over dirty spoons is initially satisfying, the long term effects are negative. We can’t use our kitchen as efficiently. It smells. Guests find the house off-putting, and sometimes, we end up with low house morale. On the flip side, when we individually wash our dishes right after we use them and keep the sink clean from the beginning, we all coexist happily and efficiently, and morale skyrockets. Okay, stay with me—I promise this is going somewhere.


So, how do smelly dishes relate to customer service?

I’ve found that being proactive instead of reactive is a complete game changer in the customer service world. The concept of proactive customer service versus the more traditional reactive approach involves a pretty big shift in mindset. I’ve worked in customer service roles in the SaaS and retail industries for the past five years, and I’ve watched this new approach work. 


The idea of proactive customer service sounds great, but what does this really mean? Proactive customer service examples include…

  • a rep reaching out to happy customers just to check-in.
  • a team member refunding an account without being prompted because they caught a problem before the customer did.
  • independently finding solutions to problems that customers didn’t even know they had.


From great customer service statistics 2018, we find that 79% of customers want to interact with companies that actually care about them. There’s no better way for reps to show they care than by adopting a proactive customer service approach.

Conversely, we learn from poor customer service statistics 2018 that 33% of customers will stop doing business with a company after just one negative interaction. These statistics matter because they show us that company loyalty is no joke. My proactive customer service definition is this—going the extra mile in both predicting customer needs and showing customer appreciation. This is quite a difference from a more traditional idea of simply fielding incoming questions from existing customers.


It doesn’t stop with customer service.

I believe that this same approach to proactive customer service also applies to marketing, sales, finance, and other business segments. Proactive marketing examples could include asking for feedback from existing customer related to recent campaigns, or offering customers the ability to learn more about the company brand through a Lunch and Learn event.

Proactive sales examples could include rewarding a prospect’s loyalty in a longer sales cycle by sending out some new swag even before the deal closes, or by including the customer in a product training seminar even before signing. These types of proactive actions can positively infest (sorry, had to stick with the dirty kitchen theme) your whole team!

When companies have a solid idea of their customer’s worlds and motivations, they can use this knowledge to fully leverage the proactive customer service approach and begin to do better work as a team. I love being a part of this positive shift in customer facing teams. I can’t wait to see how we all continue to become more efficient and successful together. In the meantime though, don’t forget to wash the dishes in your sink. 


We can’t clean your dishes, but we can help you train.

Elevate your training with powerfully simple software. Lessonly makes it easy to continuously train customer service reps by developing teams that are proactive rather than reactive. Interested? Get a demo to see how your team can Do Better Work today. 

The Essential Customer Service Skills List
3 Training Improvements to Make Today

Better customer service
starts here

Watch a Demo