Sarah Hunt-Stevenson of Infobip explores the key advantages of customer service automation, with use cases and tips on how to get started.
What is Automated Customer Service?
Automated customer service refers to any type of customer service that uses tools to automate workflows or tasks.
Virtual assistants – such as keyword chatbots and AI chatbots – are a popular form of customer service automation and use pre-defined rules or artificial intelligence (AI) to help customers achieve tasks and resolve problems quickly – whether that’s locating store opening hours, changing an order, or locating account information.
These tools tap into people’s growing preference for text- and voice-driven systems – and the ease with which people now talk to “digital voices” through the likes of voice-activated devices, smart speakers, and more.
Crucially, you can deploy them across your customers’ preferred communication channels, meeting your users where they’re already spending time.
The State of Customer Service Automation
Customer service automation is helping businesses achieve outcomes such as a 30% reduction in customer service costs, a 39% rise in customer satisfaction, and 14 times higher sales.
With these kinds of results, it’s little surprise that automated tools like chatbots are set to represent a massive 70% of customer interactions as soon as 2022.
Despite this progress, most customer service operations are stuck in the past, based on a traditional call centre model.
The result is long call queues, poor visibility of conversation histories, and *those* endless security questions.
This is costing companies dearly – in high operational costs and low customer satisfaction, which harms brand reputation and fuels customer churn.
This post will help you better understand why automation is essential to your customer support strategy – and how to get started.
The Advantages of Automated Customer Service
A key benefit of automation is that you’re able to provide customer service around the clock – regardless of your customers’ location, circumstances, or time zones.
Unlike live agents, automation tools aren’t constrained by contact centre opening hours, and allow customers to rapidly “self service” simple issues, often without any need to involve contact centre agents.
This is why automation is particularly useful for handling frequently asked questions (FAQs), freeing up human agents to tackle more complex aspects of customer service.
Lower Operational Costs
Automation dramatically improves operational efficiency and cuts customer service costs.
Voice, for example, is a comparatively expensive channel, so using a chatbot helps you to save on channel costs while freeing up agents to handle a higher volume of requests.
Time and Efficiency
Automation allows you to handle more queries and rapidly execute tasks that would be difficult and time-consuming to do manually, such as coordinating Uber rides in a matter of seconds. This frees up human agents to handle more strategic tasks and complex user queries.
At the same time, automation allows customers to quickly get the answers they need, with less effort required on their end.
This is important when we consider that respect for people’s time is considered one of the most important factors in providing a positive customer experience.
Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty
Faster response times, shorter resolution times, consistent support across multiple touchpoints – these automation outcomes are key to providing a positive customer service experience and keeping your customers satisfied.
Tools like chatbots alleviate pressure on overloaded agents by automating customer interactions over their preferred channels.
They can take care of high-volume, low-value queries, leaving the more fulfilling and meaningful tasks for your agents.
And when integrated with a cloud contact centre, they give agents a unified view of customer data and conversation history, so that your customer service staff have all the information they need to resolve queries quickly.
Automated customer service tools such as bots allow you to provide omnichannel, personalized customer service at scale. AI automation makes it easy to test, measure, and learn, so that you can continually optimize the customer service experience.
Automated Customer Service Examples
Not all aspects of automation relate to AI. Rule-based keyword chatbots, for example, automate common customer queries and simply point customers to information sources, in many cases.
AI automation, on the other hand, allows companies to automate more complex queries through the likes of conversational AI chatbots, using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to better understand and process user inputs and intent, retrieve relevant information, perform required tasks, and provide rapid responses.
Crucially, AI automation provides invaluable insight into the nature of customer behaviors and pain points, so that companies can pre-empt problems, providing proactive, rather than reactive, customer support.
Customer Service Automation use Cases
Let’s now look at a few of the many use cases for customer service automation.
Provide Account Status
Situation: your customers want to access their account information instantly and painlessly. Your contact centre agents are spending too much time on account information queries, rather than resolving more complex issues that require their expertise.
Solution: build and deploy a chatbot that can engage your customers and provide them with relevant information about their account status. Security is a crucial consideration here, so use the likes of biometrics to help your chatbot authenticate customers.
Situation: handling appointment reservation is difficult, because customers often contact you via different channels, and you might use multiple platforms to handle all these queries.
Solution: integrate your cloud contact centre with an AI chatbot and customer data segmentation to simplify the appointment reservation process and boost agent productivity. Agents are able to handle multiple appointment conversations at once, users can communicate via their favourite chat apps, and customer satisfaction increases.
Connect People With Lost Property
Situation: your airline passengers occasionally misplace their personal belongings, which can cause them a lot of stress and inconvenience.
Solution: passengers can use your customer service chatbot to report their situation and seek help. Using named entity recognition (NER) AI capabilities, your chatbot is able to recognize their intent (report and find “lost luggage”) and their location. With this information, the chatbot can then direct the customer to the right place to receive help.
How to Start Automating Your Customer Service
So where’s the best place to start automating your customer service workflow and tasks?
Like any digital investment, you need to start with a clearly defined customer service strategy, based on measurable business goals.
Depending on your goals, a useful place to start might be using a simple self-help keyword chatbot, deployed across your customers’ favourite channels, to help provide faster customer support at a lower cost.
And thanks to chatbot building platforms like Answers, you won’t even need any coding experience to do this.
It’s important to remember that automated tools can’t help with everything. Your automated systems need to be able to seamlessly hand over complex tasks to live agents, automatically serving agents with the relevant customer data and conversation history for faster resolution and seamless customer service.
For this reason, it’s hugely beneficial to integrate your chatbot with an automated, cloud-based contact centre solution that enables seamless agent takeover and helps you solve multiple customer pain points.
Learn More About Customer Service Automation
Customer service automation empowers your customers to get the answers they’re looking for – when and how they want those answers.
It improves the customer service experience and automates response to straightforward queries, freeing up your customer service team to handle more complex issues.
Check out our related reading below to learn more about how you can get started on your automation journey.