proactiveLike many people in the era of pervasive mobile technology, I maintain a love/hate relationship with my wireless Internet service provider. In fact, it is fair to say that our relationship is complicated: complicated by the provider’s billing statements that would puzzle a Talmudic scholar, complicated by the provider’s insistence on attempting to upsell me on new services when I have open trouble tickets on my existing service, and complicated by the carrier’s byzantine and overlapping pricing plans.

But this relationship could be so much easier for both parties, if only my Internet service provider took a few small steps to proactively communicate with me about things that matter to me as an individual. Recently, this fact was brought home very clearly to me when I decided to log-in to my account online to see how much data my household used in the previous month with a mind towards potentially switching to a less expensive data plan.

I quickly found our data usage—so far, so easy—and wanted to see if there was a cheaper wireless plan to accommodate our current level of usage. When I navigated to the “Change your plan” section of the website, I found that due to the increasing competition in the wireless space, my provider—along with all of its competitors—has been rejiggering its pricing structure and its plans. In fact, I found that there was a new plan, identical in every way I could see to my current plan, that cost $30 less per month than I was paying. There was also a plan that was the same price as my current plan that had double the data limit of my plan.

To be fair to the provider, the website let me very easily switch from my plan to the seemingly identical but cheaper plan. But imagine how different my customer experience would have been if the provider had proactively notified me of the new plans with a message that said something like, “We’ve lowered your bill by $30 per month. To stay with your current data limits, do nothing and save money. If you’d like to double your data limit, you can do that for the same price you pay today.” This could have come via text or email or an outbound IVR call with all channels providing a simple way for me to opt in to the new plan.

For me, this proactive notification would have been both easier and a superior experience because I would feel that the provider was being transparent in its dealings with me and offering me a simple way to choose what plan best served my needs—and my wallet.

For the provider, this would have been a much better approach because it would have saved two inbound phone calls from me. That’s right before I switched to the cheaper plan, I called the provider. First, I called to check that the two plans were actually the same. Once I verified that they were I switched to the lower cost plan. Then, it occurred to me that I had been paying extra money for the same service and I decided to call the provider again to see if I could get a credit for that time I was paying a higher tariff than necessary. That issue is still unresolved.

A proactive approach would have potentially cost my service provider a month or two of extra revenue from the plan, but my two inbound calls to the contact center likely eroded much of the profit margin on that extra revenue. More importantly, proactively offering me the lower rate would have engendered goodwill by providing me a friction-free experience and by showing that the carrier was actually working in my interests and not just its own. I may even recommend them to family and friends if this were the case. Although I hate to use this business cliché, that looks like the very definition of a win-win scenario.

For more information on how proactive communications can drive better customer experiences and make your customers’ lives easier, check out the Yankee Group white paper titled, Drive More Valuable Customer Experience with Proactive Engagement Across the Life Cycle.

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