Hilee Avrahami at KMS Lighthouse looks at customer service automation.
People often equate customer service automation with words like impersonal and detached. Nothing could be further from the truth. Done right, an automated customer service system creates better experiences for customers and call centre agents alike.
The crucial qualifier here is, of course, “done right.” It takes investing in the proper customer service automation software and knowing which tasks should be included in automatic customer service to ensure customers get the personalized service they expect.
What is Customer Service Automation?
Automation of customer service involves any technique, method, or procedure that streamlines the customer support process as a whole. Typical customer service automation solutions include:
- Self-service portals and knowledge bases
- Live chat, chatbots, and virtual assistants
- Standardized email replies
Customer support automation isn’t a new phenomenon, but advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have made it a far more valuable tool in helping businesses provide the highest level of service and convenience to their customers.
Why Customer Service Automation is Important to Your Business
Everyone’s been there. You’re on the phone with your bank or credit card company trying to straighten out a charge. During the call, you’re passed from one department to the next as call agents try to find you a solution.
And each time, you’re put on hold. If you’re like most people, you likely grew frustrated and hung up the phone.
It’s universal: customers don’t like to wait. In a high-speed digital world, the time they’re willing to wait has gotten exceedingly shorter. Customer service automation software helps your business deliver better support by:
- Centralizing information in a knowledge base.
- Making that information available through whatever channel a customer prefers.
- Using tools like virtual assistants and chatbots to give customers the fast service they want without sacrificing the personal touch.
Annette Franz, founder and CEO of CX Journey Inc., believes one of the best ways to make your customers feel valued is to tell them, “We heard you, and we’re doing something about it.”
Automated solutions that provide real-time solutions let customers know you’re listening to their feedback and are committed to providing them with consistently satisfying experiences.
Benefits of Customer Service Automation
There’s no shortage of advantages of automatic customer service:
- Faster Response Times and improved first-call resolution. Improving these metrics yields countless benefits, including lower costs, improved agent productivity, and a better customer experience.
- Reduced Customer Friction as people aren’t left on hold or passed from agent to agent. Even if the average wait time is a minute or less, it feels much longer to customers, and that eventually leads them to believe you don’t value their time or care about their loyalty.
- Reduced Average Handling Time, often by half. Automation lets you match precise answers with customer needs. Chats and emails are routed to the right agent at the right time with the right context.
- Expanded Service hours and channels. Support is deployed across the customer’s favorite communication channel, meeting them wherever they are at whatever time of day they prefer.
- Reduced Cost per Interaction. Virtual assistants and chatbots can save a business by up to a third. When you automate tasks like frequently asked questions, appointment setting, canceling, or rescheduling, and service updates, you lower costs without affecting customer service quality.
- Higher Agent Engagement as they spend less time on mundane tasks. And since agents who are more engaged are happier, they tap into that positive mindset when dealing with customers, leaving a positive impression of your organization as a whole.
How to Set Up Automated Customer Service
Ready to put customer support automation to work for your organization? These best practices ensure a successful transition:
- Treat Automation as a Collaboration. Automated customer service works best when it plays to the strengths of technology and humans.
- Create a Solid Knowledge Base. A knowledge base is the heart of every successful automated solution. You want to make it easy for customers to navigate to your online “library” easily and quickly.
- Integrate Automated or Canned Responses into your support system to save time, deliver rapid responses, and prevent agents from being swamped with repetitive tasks.
- Give Customers an “escape Hatch” so they can easily switch to a live agent within the same channel if they want.
- Remember to Gather Feedback for continuous improvement. Use customer surveys and online ratings and reviews to collect and act on feedback. Advanced technologies allow you to automate that process, too.
Are there any negatives to customer service automation? As long as the system is properly implemented and maintained, the answer is not really. Automation in customer support opens up unlimited opportunities—as long as you get it right from the start.
There’s no easier or surer path to retaining happy customers and increasing revenue.