Senior Writer: Rohit Rajpal
Customer service has become an integral part of every business. 90% of Americans use customer service as the primary factor in deciding whether to buy products from a company.
However, 12% of Americans say their number one frustration with customer service is “lack of speed.” That’s where customer service automation can help. It reduces the time required to resolve an issue and minimizes human error, thereby enhancing the overall customer experience.
But what exactly is customer service automation? How can it benefit your company? Does it have any drawbacks? We will answer these questions in this article and get the most out of customer service automation. Let’s get started!
What is Customer Service Automation?
Customer service automation is the process of solving customers’ queries without the involvement of human agents. The primary advantage of automating service is that it saves time while ensuring the customer gets the solution they are looking for.
Some of the customer service automation methods include:
- Automated workflows
- Self-service options (knowledge base, FAQs, and online discussion forums)
- Interactive Voice Responses (IVR)
- Email automation
Did you know, 60% of US consumers prefer automated self-service for simple customer service tasks?
Automation makes customer service more efficient and offers a pleasant and streamlined experience to both agents and customers.
Pros of Automated Customer Service
Automation is not a replacement of human agents, but it does have lots of benefits for your business. Let’s look at why you should implement customer service automation.
1- Improves Agent Productivity
Boring and repetitive tasks can significantly bring down your agents’ job satisfaction and morale. Imagine having to pick up the phone 20 times a day to give every customer the same information. This will only build up frustration and affect their productivity.
When you implement automation, your support agents won’t have to deal with basic questions like the refund/cancellation policy or the use case of a product. This allows your agents to focus on more complex issues and solve them efficiently.
2- Reduces Customer Service Costs
Businesses that use technology like automation to revamp the customer experience can save 20-40% in service costs. When you implement automation, you can reduce the need for new hires as your business grows.
3- Allows You to Offer Customer Service Round the Clock
Customers can have an issue at any time or day of the week. And, it could be challenging to offer 24/7 support, especially if you are a growing business. With automation, you can provide continuous customer support without breaks, sick days, or vacations.
Also, automation is more than just serving your customers. It also helps prospects learn more about your services, thereby increasing the chances of conversion.
For example, Drift’s Chatbot highlights how businesses are benefiting by using Drift along with different options (I want to talk to someone, I already use Drift, and Great Question).
Once you choose an answer, you will be provided with more relevant questions and options.
4- Helps Retain Customers
When customers get answers to their queries immediately, they are more likely to stay with your company for longer. In fact, 75% of businesses report losing customers due to wait-related issues.
5- Provides a Holistic View of Customers
Modern customer service systems like a virtual phone system integrate with a CRM platform. When you use it to centralize all your customer information, including their contact information, transaction history, browsing behavior, self-service interactions, and more, your agents get a 360-degree view of your customers.
They can then use the data to personalize the customer experience when talking to them over the phone or sending an email.
6- Enables You to Meet the Expectations of Customers of All Ages
While the phone is the most preferred customer service channel, the trend is likely changing. A report by Northridge Group indicates that the younger generations embrace digital channels for customer service. Besides, they are familiar with knowledge bases, virtual assistants, and social media messaging. With automation, you can meet their expectations and help them help themselves.
Cons of Automated Customer Service
Though customer service automation helps reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction, it does have some downsides. Let’s take a look at the cons of automated customer service.
1- Lacks Emotional Connection
Even though bots can answer customers’ queries, it lacks emotional connection and the required empathy. Besides, less sophisticated systems might even point customers to irrelevant articles or solutions. In some cases, it requires even more human intervention to resolve the issue.
2- Cannot Solve Complex Issues
Automation is great for solving simple issues, like billing information, refunds, etc. However, it cannot solve complex problems, such as technical issues in the product. Also, when customers express frustration, bots won’t understand and respond to them appropriately.
3- Needs Significant Resources to Deploy
To implement customer service automation, businesses need to invest substantial technical resources. While customer automation providers help you implement it, you need to train the tool to meet your business’s unique requirements.
Customer Service Automation Strategies
Now that you know what customer service automation is, its benefits, and drawbacks, let’s look at the strategies to get the most out of it.
1- Create a Knowledge Base
A comprehensive knowledge base that answers a variety of questions in different categories can help your customers find solutions quickly. Here’s how Zerodha, a stock brokerage firm, has created a knowledge base. Apart from articles in different categories, there’s also a search option to make it easy for customers to find the solution.
2- Announce Updates on Your Phone System
When there is a problem with your products or services, most customers try to reach your support team via phone. And, if the issue is affecting a lot of customers, imagine the number of calls you will receive. Therefore, it makes sense to set up a custom message telling customers that you’re aware of the problem and are using every resource at your disposal to resolve it. A great office phone system like CallHippo allows you to set up custom messages.
3- Install Live Chat along With a Chatbot
Chatbots can answer simple issues and can even redirect customers to particular articles on your knowledge base. And, for complex issues, make sure you have a human agent too.
The chatbot can collect basic information like what product the customer is having issues with and their problem. This saves both agent’s and customer’s time while ensuring quick resolution.
4- Automate Common Customer Service Workflows
Common customer service workflow responses, such as ticket assignment, ticket acknowledgment, and ticket prioritization, can be automated. For instance, when a customer raises a ticket, set up automation to instantly let them know that you have received their request and solve their issue via an email. You can then automatically assign the ticket to the right agent based on the category of the request.
Measure the Results and Optimize Your Processes
Once you have automated customer service, it’s necessary to determine if it is working. Here’s how you can do that:
- Check if the ticket volume is decreasing. If you don’t see the numbers going down consistently, you need to optimize your automation strategy.
- Analyze bounce rate and session duration on your customer service portal. Bounce rate helps determine if people are actually clicking (and reading) articles, while session duration shows how long a customer stays on a specific page. These two metrics enable you to understand how helpful your knowledge base is.
- Measure the customer satisfaction rate. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.
Customer service automation allows your customers to become self-sufficient. It also gives your support team the additional time to solve consumers’ complex issues and ensure customer satisfaction.
Have you implemented customer service automation yet? If not, what is stopping you? Let us know your concerns in the comments.