Customer Service Automation 101

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customer service automation

Your customers expect–and demand–prompt, personalized service. The Salesforce State of the Connected Consumer report states that 66% of customers expect businesses to understand their unique needs and expectations, and 68% expect companies to demonstrate empathy. Also, 62% of survey respondents say experience with one industry influences their expectations in others.

As companies strive to make the customer experience more personal and empathetic, could the answer be customer service automation?

With the right technology and tools, the answer is yes.

Customer service automation can help you overcome other customer support challenges. One pervasive problem is staffing. A growing Software as a Service (SaaS) business where employees divide time between customer service tasks and other responsibilities, for example, may suddenly find there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Or, businesses providing customer support services may find themselves struggling to fill seats during the labor shortage and the Great Resignation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in April 2022, 809,000 people quit their jobs in professional and business services, and some may have been from your help desk. Customer service automation can fill some of those gaps.

Even if you have a full complement of staff, there are times when you still need more resources. Most customer service requests ebb and flow. After you introduce new services or features, or seasonal events like Black Friday Cyber Monday a higher volume of support tickets. Customer service automation can help you navigate peak volumes by handling simple questions or gathering basic information for your reps to streamline interactions and prioritize calls for greater efficiency.

Customer service automation with multi-language capabilities can also provide the solution when your business expands into new global regions but can’t find bilingual resources.

Even though technology can help you overcome many customer support challenges, your strategy doesn’t have to be tech-first and customers second. Customer service automation can be a valuable facet of your strategy aimed at providing the personalized, empathetic responses that your customers expect. Here’s what you need to know to incorporate automation into your processes in a way that delights customers.

What is Automated Customer Service?

Because you might have some inaccurate ideas about what automating customer service would look like, let’s start with a definition. Automating customer service is creating processes that reduce the work that humans do to provide answers, advice, or assistance to your customers. Automated customer service can be a part of help desk processes, new client onboarding, customer success strategies–any one-to-one interactions between your business and your customers. Furthermore, it can take different forms. For example:

Customer Self-Service

Studies show most people would like to resolve problems themselves. In fact, Gartner research shows that 62% of millennials and 75% of Gen Z customers will resort to third-party sources such as Reddit or a YouTube video to find information rather than calling customer support. Offering self-service support, such as a knowledge base or video tutorials, on your website or within your app will give customers who learn through videos the tools to self-serve.

Chatbots and Live Chat

Chatbots, which appear as a pop-up on a web page or on the phone, allow customers to ask a question, access information in your Knowledge Base), or connect with a customer service rep. A powerful chatbot gives customers the ability to self-serve, and they’ll appreciate not having to call a toll-free number and wait on hold. Chatbots can also save time for your team by handling the “easy” questions, so they can focus on issues that require more of their time and expertise to solve.

Similarly, chatbots can help resolve tickets faster by quickly pointing people in the right direction, providing information or links that answer their questions, and prioritizing requests that need human intervention. Tools like Solvvy provide handoffs to agents with all the information the agent needs to understand the context of the question from the customer.

Automated Workflows

Often, complex customer service workflows can be streamlined with automation tools and assisted support in an if-this-then-that fashion guiding conversations between your reps and customers. When the best next steps are predetermined, support teams save time, provide quicker service, and achieve higher customer satisfaction.

Automated workflows also make interactions easier for your customers. You can arrange for them to choose from product images so your team immediately knows which model to reference. Or, you can give your business clients the ability to connect self-service workflow automation with their backend systems to find answers or make requests without contacting your support team.

Pros and Cons of Customer Service Automation

Any business process has potential pros and cons, and automated customer service is no exception. As you build a strategy to optimize your customer service processes, double down on the benefits and cautiously avoid the pitfalls.

Automation Pros

Automated customer support can provide your business with a range of benefits, including:

  • Speed: Many customers equate excellent customer service with fast customer service. When you transition to an automated customer service system, your team will be able to address your customers’ issues more quickly, enhancing their experiences and impression of your brand.
  • Efficiency: Support teams that automate some part of their customer service stack work more efficiently, decrease employee stress, and decrease employee turnover.
  • Cost savings: One of the biggest questions businesses have is whether implementing an automated customer service platform makes financial sense. If you can shave a minute from each of 500 calls per week, you can nearly save the equivalent of one full-time employee each month. And by improving the happiness of your support team members, you’ll decrease the costs surrounding hiring and onboarding. Plus, a more empowered support team will deliver a better experience to your customers, which of course increases the bottom line.
  • Broader use of the knowledge base: If you’ve invested in creating a knowledge base, video tutorials, or other self-service resources, automated customer service software can boost the ROI you see from them by using the content you’ve already created to answer customers’ questions.

Automation Cons

Many companies are concerned that using automated customer service tools will eliminate person-to-person contact. That’s understandable, but when you correctly build automation into your customer service strategy, automation acts like a teammate that helps the rest of your human team. People aren’t replaced but assisted to do their best work.

A contributor to the downside of using customer service automation is choosing a platform that doesn’t have the features you need. Before you begin searching for a solution, you need to evaluate your customer service strategy and the types of experience you want to provide to your customers.

For example, if you plan to engage customers on multiple channels, make sure the platforms you consider enable outreach and support by voice, chatbots, message, email, or through other touchpoints. For greatest efficiency, also make sure that the system gives you visibility into all interactions. Additionally, compare offerings’ self-service portals, ticketing system integration, customer feedback options, and the user experiences for your team. Consider and evaluate your options and choose wisely.

Furthermore, automating customer service processes should take a customer-first perspective, enabling self-service when appropriate, but also paving the way for meaningful interactions with humans when that’s the best tack for solving problems.

Having an entirely automated system is not the right move in a world where customers expect personalized service and empathy. Instead, choose tools that help your customer support team do more to provide excellent service via streamlined workflows.

Implementing Customer Service Automation

Once you’ve set a goal of automating some element of your customer service, the next step is to develop a roadmap to get there. These tips can help you transition to successfully automated customer service processes.

  • Put customers first: Each process should be customer-centric, ensuring their interactions with your business are fast, efficient, and result in high levels of customer happiness.
  • Create easy access: Make it easy for customers to interact with your brand. Put the live chat pop-up on the home page or enable in-app access to your knowledge base. Don’t lengthen the process of making a request by requiring customers to spend time trying to figure out how to initiate it.
  • Allow customers to use natural language: The best interactions enable natural conversation, rather than choosing from limited options within a chatbot or repeatedly typing queries in a search bar until getting a relevant response. Choose a solution such as a conversational AI platform that will make interactions more productive and pleasant for your customers.
  • Make your knowledge base usable: Having a knowledge base isn’t enough. Make sure it’s arranged logically, pages link to related information, and answers to FAQs are front and center for easy access.
  • Monitor activity and performance: Once you put your customer support automation strategy into motion, monitor how well it works–and be prepared to tweak it. Data from your automation platform and CRM can show time to issue resolution, results of customer feedback, and stats on individual team members so you can continually improve customer service overall.

Understanding Customer Service Automation

With a clearer picture of the benefits that customer service automation can provide your business and customer experience, you can begin to plan an effective strategy for automating your business’s customer support processes.

Planning will include defining the features of the software tools you need to execute your strategy successfully.

If you’re considering an AI-powered chatbot, Solvvy offers a powerful conversational AI platform for intelligent customer service and support. Solvvy’s natural language platform intuitively detects what customers need and responds with personalized answers 24-7 across every channel. In addition, Solvvy has the ability to pass smart handoffs to agents to help them deliver faster, smoother assistance for delightful customer experiences.

Request a demo and find out how Solvvy can help your customer support team with intuitive, automated support designed with your customer in mind.