Drizzle, cool wind and dark clouds, it was the height of another British summer. I turned to Twitter for digital solace, moaning about the low temperatures and the persistent damp. It was a throwaway message, I wasn’t expect anything more than a favorite, maybe an acknowledgement from a fellow suffering Londoner. Instead I received a sympathetic tweet from unlikely source –  a major high street coffee chain. I was neither following them nor had any previous Twitter engagement with their handle in the past, but the response welcomed and brightened my mood. They offered a voucher for a warm beverage of my choice, which I heartily accepted. The gesture endeared me to the brand while subconsciously making me more likely to buy from them in the future. I didn’t realise it at the time but my tweet had been scooped up a proactive search and recognized by that brand as an opportunity for customer engagement.

As social customer service operations grow and mature, many organizations are looking beyond delivering reactive customer services. Proactive customer care is increasingly important as companies look to further enhance customer experiences. The importance of proactive searching can be outlined in three basic strategies that can be applied to just about any industry.

1) Follow related social convos and join the conversation

Capturing all indirect mentions of your brand and your products is one of the most fundamental aspects of proactive Twitter searching. Users frequently talk about brands but, for a variety of reasons, fail to directly @mention them. The brand and the customer both miss out on an opportunity for meaningful engagement.

2) Reputation repair

Proactive searching allows the brand to reach out to customers who’ve had bad in-store experiences, suffered from malfunctioned products or are just venting about your brand. Make sure their voices are heard immediately before their complaints spiral out of control into crises. Customers will be delighted to hear from you and your brand’s reputation will be persevered. Proactive searching also allows for monitoring of competitors’ handles. View all @mentions of their handles and step in if they fail to respond to service issues and offer services from your brand.

3) Be your customers’ solution . . . for everything

Users frequently turn to social to voice their everyday problems. That provides an excellent opportunity to surprise and delight your customers with products or services to help solve their problems. This becomes especially valuable when those users were not even aware of your brand or products and you are able to effectively provide them with a meaningful resolution to their woes.

Proactive searching is a powerful way of increasing the scope and scale of your social customer service reach. It can be used in wide variety of ways and all just depends on the strategy and goal of your searches. Making sure you have the right searches in place is just as important has having the resources to engage.

Want to learn more about how you can proactively engage with your audience?