Customer Service Automation: Everything you need to know!
It is not uncommon for “customer service automation” to evoke different feelings in different people. If you’re a consumer, then you can have a love/hate relationship with customer service automation: you love it when you get a quick answer without interacting with a human, and you hate it when it’s the opposite.
Many services and CX departments view call center automation as a necessary evil for handling growing contact volumes, whereas Customer service agents may view it as a threat to their job.
No matter what, Customer Service Automation is here to stay.
Let’s Learn more about it.
Table of Contents
What is Customer Service Automation?
Customer service automation is a process for managing customer inquiries that eliminates the need for human interaction. In other words, automated customer service is the process of providing support to your customer using automated technologies.
One such example is the use of chatbots. Customer service can be automated by utilizing self-service resources, proactive messaging, or simulated chats.
The primary goal of implementing automated customer service is to reduce the requirement of human labor in providing customer services in repetitive tasks such as answering common business or service-related queries.
Some common examples of automated customer service are as follows:
- Automated Emails
- Conversational IVR (Interactive Voice Response system)
- FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- Social media monitoring and routing
- Email Automations
- SMS Automations
Traditionally, businesses used to have customer service agents for answering any sort of queries related to their business or services.
However, with the emergence of these tools, businesses have been implementing automated support services to answer and troubleshoot issues that are common and repetitive.
Why Do You Need Customer Service Automation?
Consumer preferences and expectations drive the need to automate customer service processes. Today’s digital age has created a market where customers expect immediate 24/7 support for issues and questions, but they also expect highly customized customer experiences.
In part, this is why live web chat and mobile IM are becoming more and more popular ways to communicate with companies. Twilio’s recent research found that 89% of customers prefer messaging over other channels to communicate with companies, but most do not offer this service.
Also, with the advancement of technology at an incredible pace, businesses have realized the importance of automation tools in a quest to achieve success in a competitive market today.
Also, many businesses these days rely heavily on interconnected digital tools, from apps to management software to communication software, and automating all these processes make it possible for companies to streamline their processes in a way they have never been able to before.
Hence, customer service automation is really essential for business owners to keep their customers happy as well as to properly operate their business activities.
Benefits of Customer Service Automation
1. Reduced cost per interaction
Customer service automation cannot be discussed without considering its price. A live representative costs much more than an automated service.
A self-service solution like chatbots, which can solve issues before they ever reach a live agent, represents a significant cost-saving advantage in part because they eliminate phone calls, thus diverting volume away from costly channels.
In addition, the cost of replying to incoming customer emails may be as low as $1 with an email automation tool, compared to an average of $5-6 when a human agent handles the email (in some cases, the cost has been as high as $12 or $13).
2. Faster response times
According to Forrester Research, 75% of consumers consider speed to be the most important aspect of customer service. Moreover, companies are just not capable of providing the kind of speed consumers expect, at least not at scale.
In most cases, world-class customer response times are 15 minutes for email, Facebook, or Twitter, and consumers expect replies in under a minute on live chat, SMS, or phone calls.
With automation, companies can finally meet and even exceed these expectations. Email automation, for example, can read incoming emails and automatically generate responses for agents who can then review and reply to the queries later.
3. Expanded service hours and channels
The expectations of customers have changed dramatically over the past decade. They now expect companies to be available and responsive on a variety of channels.
Automating new contact channels is the only way to add a significant headcount without adding significant resources.
For instance, a company choosing to offer Facebook Messenger customer service often uses a chatbot to assist the front line and will only escalate to a human agent for issues the chatbot cannot resolve.
4. Encourages support team collaboration
Automated customer service tools can improve team collaboration and eliminate confusion about which support ticket belongs to whom. An automated help desk can help improve customer complaint resolution, minimizing the time and resources wasted on executing repetitive tasks.
For example, using an automated customer service agent can flag a ticket for review if its status hasn’t been changed after a week, for instance, to avoid a ticket getting lost in the cracks.
Some helpdesks include internal wiki functionality to share insights between agents. Such help center software can dynamically suggest articles from its knowledge base. By doing so, it can track and improve resolution rates.
5. Higher agent engagement
Even though the term automated customer support may seem counter-intuitive, it actually benefits the support agents. Using the automated tools enables them to speed through routine tasks, so they get to spend more time connecting with new people (which is probably why they chose this niche).
Low turnover translates to higher engagement, which reduces costs immensely. An IBM study found that to hire a new agent, you have to invest $4,000 per employee, plus an additional $4,800 to train them.
The current contact center turnover rate averages between 30 and 45%, so this can add up to a considerable amount.
6. Centralizes information
Using a CRM platform makes it possible to centralize all your customer information, including contact information, transaction history, self-service interactions, viewed content, and more.
Integrating your CRM with your automated customer service systems provides a more holistic view of customers like a virtual phone system. Support agents can access real-time customer data ahead of incoming calls, emails, or web chats.
In seconds, your customer service team can view this information. They can deliver a top-notch customer experience without navigating a myriad of tools, tabs, or spreadsheets.
Drawbacks of Customer Service Automation
1. Lacks human touch
One of the major drawbacks of AI systems is that they lack personality and emotions and, as a result, tend to feel robotic, regardless of how well we train them.
A chatbot, for example, lacks the empathy required for de-escalating frustrated customers. Customers can be directed to specific solutions by automated systems, but if the automation is less sophisticated, then it might redirect the customers to irrelevant articles and give customers a confusing experience. Ultimately, this can lead to the erosion of trust in a brand.
2. Unable to solve complex issues
We are not far away from a time when AI systems solve each and every issue occurring in a business. But, we are not there yet and hence can’t rely completely on AI-based automated systems.
Often, AI-based customer service systems can answer simple customer questions such as how-do-I questions and billing dates. In terms of more complex situations requiring human intuition, bots cannot meet this demand at present.
How will an automated customer service platform handle sarcasm or frustration expressed by customers?
3. Threatens customer service jobs
Automated customer service systems might be viewed as a threat by customer service agents and supervisors. There is a likelihood that companies will begin to spend less on direct contact. Agents will have to rely less on scripts and offer more personalized assistance.
Customer service agents can utilize this opportunity to elevate their business value. Customer service across multiple channels can be handled by these people in a personable manner. Proactive customer care is possible with customer service automation.
4. Increased reliance on technology
As automated tools for customer service rise, they can detract from the focus on customers. Businesses create a bot to emulate human interaction rather than delighting their customers.
The tendency to rely on artificial intelligence may weaken the bonds with customers. What customer service practices have you implemented with your team that endure regardless of the tools you use?
Being clear about your intentions is a tactful way to approach this. Customer service skills can be improved with the information you gain from chatbots.
Common Mistakes to avoid with Customer Service Automation
Customer service automation is not a one-shot wonder. Often brands misunderstand this fundamental aspect of automation. Customer service automation or automation is a constant, repeating process.
The main benefit of customer service automation is that it provides data and insights that can be utilized to improve customer service. A failure to make use of a literal font of knowledge to improve your products or services is foolish.
In addition, you can use the data to refine and optimize your customer service pipeline.
Making a partial commitment to the process is another mistake. In order to provide the best customer experience, a variety of factors must be considered and treated with equal attention. It may be tempting to automate the simplest pipeline stages first.
Despite this temptation, one must resist it at all costs. There is only one sure-fire formula for success: a holistic approach to improvement.
Another mistake to avoid with customer service automation is appearing fake, automated, or robotic. It will help establish genuine trust amongst the customers if the customer service looks real provided by trained professionals.
So while running or setting up customer service automation campaigns, it’s crucial to maintain a natural tone. Therefore, it would be wise to avoid generic emails like firstname.lastname@example.org and masking companies’ business phone numbers with unallocated phone numbers.
Common Customer Service Automation tools
Brands that are interested in customer service automation can find a variety of tools available. Some of these might be familiar to you already – after all, the customer service sphere is particularly interconnected.
Because of this, many software solutions offer many features so that they can meet as many needs as possible. Due to this, rather than describe specific tools, this article will describe their broad categories.
A chatbot is just what it sounds like – a bot the user chats with. Chatbots have been explored in customer service and marketing since 1966, and more recently, with the internet boom of the 1990s.
With recent advances in natural language processing, chatbots quickly and accurately detect user intent, making them an ideal tool for performing a wide range of tasks.
The majority of common questions can be answered by customer-facing bots, which can perform various tasks, such as showing the location of the nearest store or checking an account’s balance.
It is generally understood that these tools examine large data sets in order to find statistically significant patterns. Analytics data is the lifeblood of modern marketing.
Analytics is used in customer service automation to identify patterns and gain insights about products, services, or apps. These findings can be used to improve some aspects of the user experience and reduce the number of inquiries.
3. Social media management tools
In recent years, tools have been developed to assist brands in managing their online presence since the modern internet is dominated by a number of high-profile social media platforms.
Besides, who wants to switch between six different applications to answer every message? All of your social media platforms can be managed logically through social media tools.
Are you ready for automation?
Given the wealth of technology and tools readily available today, what excuse is there not to provide better service and support for your customers?
The basic milestone that determines whether or not your business needs automated customer service is completely dependent on the scale and scope of your business.
Yes, you need automated customer service:
When a large volume of requests comes in every week and your agents’ capacity to handle them is not sufficient. Customer service can be automated to answer questions and free up agents’ time. Also, you might need it if you have a remote workforce that is operating in different time zones.
No, you don’t need automated customer service:
When your customer service interactions are few and far between, customer relationships may be harmed if automated interactions are used.
Nevertheless, professional chatbots give your firm the appearance of a greater organization. In addition, it captures contact details after hours.
In order to provide excellent customer service, you should consider using customer service automation. The first step in adding a website chat can be quite daunting for some.
If you handle a large number of customer contacts, a chatbot populated with responses from the top call drivers is a good solution.
You can use these platforms to deflect basic inquiries. As a result, your sales team is better able to handle complex customer interactions.