For any business to be successful, a delightful customer experience is essential. Happier the customer, the healthier the business.
Customer service is the key metric towards happier customers. It can make or break the chance to turn a potential customer into a loyal one and boost retention.
However, managing your customer service effectively can often be challenging. One common challenge is enabling your employees to perform at their best potential. A report says that 90% of employees are saddled with repetitive and boring tasks.
Leveraging customer service automation is one of the best ways to address the challenge of tedious, repetitive tasks and create an efficient high, performing service-oriented organization. Your business grows only when you have a perfect blend of human touch and automation.
Modern-day customer service demands the right amount of Automation of customer service. It puts your support team in a better position to handle more queries, offers speed resolutions, minimizes human errors, and keeps your customer captivated.
So let us dive deep into automation in customer service.
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation is a set of technologies that help customers solve their problems quickly and effectively without any human intervention.
Each day, many customers have queries related to your product and service or have problems regarding the same. A significant part of these requests is repetitive.
Customer service automation cuts out the need for a human support center to deal with such monotonous tasks. It streamlines your operation and engages with your customer in natural language through messaging apps or over the phone.
Why is automating customer support important for business?
Right from putting an end to a manual process and dodging human errors to enhancing team potential, there’s a lot that automation brings to the table. Here are some of the improvements that customer service automation can bring.t.
1. Reduce manpower cost
Most customer interactions are repetitive. These queries might not take too long to answer, but the number of such interactions is high. As volume increases, you’ll need to hire more staff for a better customer experience.
At the same time, recruiting staff, onboarding, and providing them with training can be quite expensive.
In this scenario, automated customer service can be a great solution. With the right customer support automation tools, you can scale your organization to handle a much higher magnitude of support interactions and answer the same questions again and again without being annoyed.
With automated customer service, the cost per call of the virtual agent as compared to a human is significantly low. You’ll save thousands of dollars on the recruitment and onboarding process in call centers.
2. 24/7 support
When interacting with a business that has an online presence, customers expect to be able to reach out at the time of their convenience, which might be outside regular business hours. Similarly, a global business has customers from around the world. Due to the above, it is important to have 24/7 support that allows customers to get their questions answered at any time of the day.
However, human support teams have inherent limitations when it comes to being available around the clock. Eventually, you’ll have to recruit more staff for different shifts or hire in other geographical regions, leading to added costs.
This is where customer support automation tools like chatbots or email automation can help. By leveraging AI to understand customer problems, and automation to fetch the right answer, customer support automation can provide 24/7 support without any interruption.
Customer satisfaction is paramount to retaining customers and having them vouch for your brand. To ensure that customers are well pleased, providing solutions right away becomes crucial. And keeping the customer on hold is a leading cause of customer dissatisfaction.
As per the research, 12% of customers are frustrated due to slow speed. Delays in responding to customers are likely to motivate them to switch to competitors that promise better service.
Therefore, an automated customer service system is a must. Automation collects your customer’s feedback fast and solves their issues quickly, giving your customers a memorable experience.
4. Improve efficiency and service interaction.
When less and straightforward queries are dealt with by AI chatbot customer service, severe and complex problems are taken to human agents.
When agents are free from repeated mundane tasks, they can focus on the more complicated problems and in building an empathetic human connection with your customers
This guarantees that every question is addressed without delay at the appropriate level of complexity, maintaining efficiency.
5. Team productivity booster
When customers demand accuracy, it puts the support team under a lot of pressure. With too much workload, performance declines.
Automating the service desk will remove blockers for employees, reduce burnout and maintain talent retention.
Customer support automation streamlines the management of your team’s daily tasks. It allows you to delegate tasks more accurately. Team members will no longer have to spend extra time moving data from one software application to another.
How to automate customer service?
To automate customer service, you’ll need to deploy different customer service software according to the requirement.
Let us discuss some of the ways to automate customer service.
1. By using NLP/NLU
NLP (Natural language processing) is a set of algorithms and techniques that can be used to understand the sentiment of a sentence or to place a sentence into a particular category.
It is a discipline of artificial intelligence that concentrates on the interaction between humans and computers while they communicate.
NLP is capable of detecting various human emotions, identifying their gender, or detecting if they are intoxicated.
Therefore, It can be useful for various tasks like speech recognition, information extraction, answering questions, artificial translations, etc.
2. Can automate customer service interaction by providing chatbots
Deploying a customer service chatbot will enhance customer experience and satisfaction to a great extent. It can Converse simultaneously with thousands of customers, eliminating wait time.
Besides that, the support chatbot will interact with customers and gain various information and analyze the kinds of products they most likely prefer.
Then the organization can use these insights to market their products and services better and tackle the obstacles customers face during the buying process.
3. Ticket routing
Automated ticket routing assigns tickets to relevant agents, respective of their skills, knowledge, and experience. It makes it easier to track all your support tickets under one roof.
The support agents will no longer have to scan the ticket queues to regularly assign cases.
Now, they can simply log in to their dashboard and check the tickets assigned to them by the system, and work on those tickets.
The feature fits perfectly for businesses that have a continuous flow of customer queries and requests in large volumes.
4. Email auto-response
Auto-response emails are pre-designed replies for different types of incoming messages. It confirms to the users that their message has been received.
The email responses are required to be set up only once by the user and are set off when a corresponding criteria-defined email is received.
It simplifies the process of sending generic email responses. It saves substantial time and effort without compromising accuracy and efficiency.
5. Extensive and interactive knowledgebase
Let us talk about the time before the internet. The manufacturers used to ship products with giant manuals that resembled a book with hundreds of pages. It used to have all the instructions about how to use the product. Doubt anyone would even bother reading them.
Today those bulky manuals are replaced by knowledgebase systems. It is an innovative way of providing answers to questions and guides related to products all in one place. The users just need to type a few words that they want to find answers to.
What are the channels that can be automated in customer service?
1. Automation in website
Since customer interaction is increasing online, websites and web applications are playing a major role in generating revenue. So, it is required for every business to establish its brand presence through a website to smoothen the interaction with different customers.
Automating the website will help you recognize the unique needs of each visitor and optimizes content for them. This way the software will help nurture the contact smoothly. It helps nourish the relationship with the customer with highly personalized content. It helps convert prospects to customers.
Also, automating the website allows for performing pre-defined actions, tasks, and processes on a website. It amalgamates with every marketing channel and flexibly adapts to changing needs of customers.
It works with a large database of contacts that consists of email, workflows, and social tools to nurture them down the funnel.
Integrated automated websites with a top-of-a-funnel strategy will feed your database by helping you construct a subscriber base for your funnel by feeding them with helpful content.
2. Social media platforms
The growing number shows the opportunities of social media channels for marketers. How important it is to be present on different social media platforms. Yet it’s difficult to catch up with every trend and be consistent with the updates. Also, It’s difficult for marketers to post regularly when they have to juggle multiple responsibilities.
Automating social media platforms does the job for you. It reduces the hours spent on maintaining and growing brand awareness. It optimizes social interactions like scheduling social posts on time or republishing popular articles and curating trending content.
Social media automation enables you to upload your content calendar while you can concentrate on other important tasks. The automation also gives you a wholesome report about the engagement level, impressions, reach, etc.
3. Phone support
The phone support option comes under an internet-related support service.
Good phone conversation is still popular. Though many channels are available, people still love to answer calls. It brings feelings of empathy to a discussion. Besides this, the agent finds it easier to study the mood of a client and use a suitable tone of voice.
Since automation makes it possible to have a real-time call the caller can receive help right away. Also, the call provides a sense of understanding to the customers that there’s a need for time to resolve an issue.
Best practices in implementing automation for customer support.
To set up a successful customer service automation software, consider the following practices.
1. Assess your needs
Who doesn’t like automation? Especially when you know that it’s a great way to help optimize your business process and help you provide a great customer experience. You want to automate every channel possible to the maximum benefit. On top of that Fear of missing out is always there. You don’t want to be left behind in the competition. Right?
But does that mean automating everything possible will keep you ahead in the race? Well, NO.
Automation has a huge advantage and impact on your business growth. But only when you understand how much you need. Yes, you heard that right. You need to assess your needs before taking the action blindly.
Because automation is also easy to misuse. When you end up automating the wrong things you’ll waste time and resources. It will do more harm than good. You’ll end up wasting time and a lot of cash in the process that is not needed or that is better handled by humans.
On top of that, you might lose the human touch and friendly face of your brand while trying to automate everything. Automation is good for common, constant, and systematic tasks that incorporate a standard pattern.
But taking it too far is a huge mistake. The customers will be frustrated and confused.
2. Select the right platform
No doubt the presence of social media platforms is more common these days. The number of users is only increasing day by day. So it’s a huge opportunity for every business to market and serve their client on the platform.
But the confusion arises when you see that there are thousands of platforms available with the potential market. And, it’s not an effective idea to be available everywhere.
Something as seemingly simple as choosing the right platform for automation can be more complex than you’d think. It can be daunting but not impossible to figure out which is the right platform for your business. The first step you should do is to prioritize your needs.
What’s more important to you? Is it the reach you want to expand? Do you want to increase your brand awareness? Or maybe you want to generate more leads.
Once you figure out what is important for your business. You should determine which platform will offer you the right exposure to the audience.
For instance, if a brand is visual, platforms like Instagram and TikTok can be great places to grow. If your business is focused on real-time events it would work great on Twitter. Or your diverse audience can be served best on youtube and Linkedin.
3. Use feedback for improvement
Conduct a survey or collect rating reviews, customer interaction in terms of feedback plays a critical role in your business.
Either it’s positive feedback in the form of a compliment, or negative feedback with a lot of complaints. Both are equally and extremely important for your growth.
Honest feedback gives you a clear picture of where you stand, what is the scope of improvement, or where you need to stop.
Customer Service automation examples
Now let us see some of the examples of customer service automation.
1. Order management, status
Automation has a huge role in order management. It speeds up delivery time and reduces human error significantly making the entire process more efficient.
A fully automated order processing system is integrated with online stores or various sales channels and then processes automatically. It verifies the order. it updates the order status in real-time and then notifies the customer that their order is being processed.
Customer service Automation helps send regular updates on orders being prepared and shipped. Providing order status keeps your customer in the loop. It makes them aware of the progress of the product at every stage starting from processing to shipping.
2. Product Troubleshooting
Customer service automation has changed the way we solve problems. It doesn’t matter how sophisticated and refined your problem-solving skills are. You can’t solve the problem when you have no idea that the problem even exists.
Automation on the other hand is capable of making you alert immediately when something goes wrong. Also, it has become easier due to automation to trace down the root cause of a problem and formulate an appropriate response plan accordingly.
Along with that, customer service automation enables companies to assess the impact of a problem on their operation and take steps toward impact containment.
3. Account management
The outdated manual process of account management leads to more work and increases the possibility of error. Automation fixes the problem in one click.
For instance, if a new employee had to create an account, the manager would have to contact IT and have an account set up for the application the employee needs.
But with customer service automation, things are otherwise. The hiring manager can directly enter all the employee information into a web form and check which application the employee needs to access and then the account is automatically created after being approved electronically.
The employee can share the information and details over platforms like conversational AI.
4. Purchase assistance
Juniper research claims that the use of chatbots could save around 2.5 billion hours for both customers and business organizations by 2023.
AI-enabled chatbots simplify and facilitate purchasing experience in noteworthy ways. Chatbots are capable of offering one-one conversations with customers and providing them with personalized suggestions and solutions according to their shopping preferences.
According to a survey conducted by Epsilon, 80 % of customers are inclined to purchase from brands that extend personalized assistance to them.
The shopping assistant chatbots can be stationed on several platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, email, etc for immediate communication with the consumers. The conversational AI attends to the customer queries and resolves them without any delay.
The shoppers highly appreciate the such low effort -swift service. The AI assists them to know about the current offers or discounts offered by the stores, gift vouchers, and coupons that are offered during festive seasons. The AI ensures that the chart is not empty. They suggest a wide variety of products and services that buyers may love. Quality and brighter features are highlighted. This persuades customers to shift their wishlist items to the cart and take the final move.
Challenges faced in automating customer service
Today, more and more businesses prefer customer service chatbots for communication due to the tremendous growth and development of machine learning.
It can provide excellent customer service without increasing the number of employees. However, automating customer service is not as easy as it seems. There are various challenges throughout the process, some of which are mentioned below.
1. Lack of Education/Awareness
As soon as the company starts to scale, the team that lacks automation is the one who is left behind.
And many teams lack automation not because they lack any skills, but because they lack education about its benefits. Due to which they fear automation instead. Unfortunately, many employees are afraid of automation because they fear being replaced.
As per the research, 37% of workers fear that automation will leave them jobless.
They are unaware of the range of benefits that it brings to the table. They don’t see that automated solutions are designed to work alongside employees and make their jobs simpler.
As fancy as it sounds, Automation of customer service isn’t just about deployment. You can’t just deploy the automation and leave it to do its job. And expect a perfect outcome.
It involves lots of training and updates throughout. And the employees need to learn how to adopt automation the right way.
The process takes a sufficient amount of time. Even so, you can’t guarantee success 100%. There’s a high chance that it may work out when you’ve invested in continuous training and updates.
Just because you don’t want to be left behind by your competitors, including the automation in your business without proper planning and system will cost you even more.
1. Higher setup time/cost
Conversational AI for customer support does not immediately fit into your workflow after the deployment. It takes a decent time to set up. As it has to go through a series of trials and tests before it fits perfectly. As well as employees have to be trained to adapt to automation.
The main objective of including Chatbot customer care is to save labor and ensure availability at all times and serve several customers at once. However, unlike humans, each chatbot needs to be programmed differently for each business. As a result, the initial installation cost increases.
Therefore, it would be wrong to expect the result immediately. It’s a long process for AI customer support to adapt your brand voice.
Besides, Automation is increasing at a faster rate in different parts of our economy. But Since demand for automation is increasing so rapidly, the cost of Automation is skyrocketing as well. Due to this, it is becoming difficult for companies to include one in their business.
2. The higher ongoing cost of managing chatbot performance
Since Artificial intelligence and machine learning are doing more and more of what humans are capable of doing, the craze for automation is only rising.
One thing to keep in mind is that conversational AI is evolving and becoming more sophisticated each passing day. And with sophistication comes a high price tag.
And the cost keeps on increasing along with your project demand and requirement. Depending on your goals and use of chatbots, you’ll need chatbot features that add to the complexity and development scope of the chatbot.
Whatever the use cases, be it for lead generation, marketing, appointment booking, customer support, and whatnot. You can enjoy the benefits from any of these, only when you pay a certain price.
Also, let’s not forget the Continuous training it requires to bring the best out of it.
3. Limited integration capabilities prevent end-to-end automation.
Multiple channels maximizes the sales and exposure to customers. And one of the best ways to increase your chatbot engagement is integration with different communication channels. You can reply to your customers through emails, SMS, social media, etc.
But limited integration makes the process impossible. Your customer communication remains completely isolated in a single platform, making the growth slow and impossible.
Will automating customer service help all types of industries?
Yes, opportunities are different across industries – B2C companies typically have more ticket volume and will find the self-service opportunities of CSA more beneficial. B2B companies on the other hand have less volume, but higher ticket costs and tighter SLAs – hence ticket analysis, automated routing, and more interactive knowledge articles are more relevant here.
Do I need to prioritize automating customer service?
Yes, it is essential for companies to opt for automation.
What is service automation in CRM?
Most CRMs have a basic set of automation capabilities built-in – usually limited to rules around managing tickets, escalations, and workforce management. For the full set of automation capabilities, one would need to bring in a dedicated automation platform that works in conjunction with the CRM.
Do we need to test the CSA platform after implementation?
Absolutely, you can opt for a manual or automated approach for testing the implementation part.
Can I rely on tools for automation?
You need not worry, as AI ensures that all workflows are streamlined.