The best defense is a good offense, six things you can do right now to stop customer complaints before they occur.

Even the most seasoned customer service professionals among us don’t particularly enjoy dealing with negativity, they’ve just learned better systems for processing it and generating solutions to help minimize the blowback of the wrath of an angry customer.

Most companies have a system or policy in place for responding to customer issues as they arise, but how many have a system in place to prevent issues from arising in the first place? Instead of getting used to negativity, what would happen if we dedicated the same amount of time and energy we currently spend diffusing anger on developing systems to help prevent issues from arising in the first place?

It’s likely we’d not only have happier customers, but happier customer service reps, too.

Let’s take a look at a few proactive steps every customer service manager can take to prevent customer issues before they occur:

1. Don’t make it complicated.

Being overly complicated or otherwise difficult to do business with will not earn you any fans. Do customers have to run around in circles to find the information they’re looking for? Are your customer service channels easy to find? Having a streamlined system for the customer experience from the first time they land on your website (or first interact with your brand) until they’ve completed a purchase and beyond will go far in ensuring customer satisfaction.

2. Empower your frontline customer service representatives.

This is a big one. For a customer, being passed from rep to rep is frustrating. Hire people you trust and empower those frontline reps to offer the best solution for the customer without having to “run it by a manager.” You’ll save the customer time and make a huge difference in their impression of your customer service practices. This is how brand ambassadors are made.

3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.

Everyone wants to tout that they’re the absolute, hands-down best at what they do, but many brands do more harm to customer perception by over-promising and under delivering.

4. Implement better systems.

For some brands, simply being overwhelmed can cause poor customer interactions. Putting strong systems in place through software or other reliable logging methods empowers brands with data and takes the time-wasting element of manual practices out of the equation, freeing up more time to analyze customer issues and make larger-scale systemic changes to prevent repeat issues from continuing to be a problem.

5. Always follow up.

Asking how you did via a follow-up email or customer survey can provide a lot of insight and allow brands to take a more proactive and objective look at how their current systems or processes are stacking up against customer expectations.

6. Hire the right people.

There is no substitute for having the right people on your team. Consider personality types, culture, and who you want representing your brand to your customers. Having the right people in place is the number one thing you can do to prevent your next customer service disaster.