What is customer service automation?
A great deal of companies sadly overlook their customer service, forgetting that it’s a vital part of the customer journey. Their attitude is rather oriented towards tending to the growth rate and managing the churn rate. Many companies place themselves through the classic loop of thinking that client acquisition is easier than client retention. As such, the customer service teams by which you can easily win or lose a client attrition war get neglected. Sooner rather than later, this starts hurting their business. Bad customer service needs to be avoided, simply because in the growth vs. attrition cycle, it is usually cheaper to retain old customers than to acquire new clients.
For the long-term health of a business, customer service must be able to understand a customer’s needs and has to be able to quickly resolve customer issues. Automated customer service doesn’t fully replace teams trained to understand those needs, but implementing automation will help improve customer service overall. It’s more of a process that reduces or eliminates some of the need for human interactions when it comes down to a customer’s issue.
But even top-level customer service teams can’t keep up with a legion of daily users. As such, customer service automation, especially through email, comes into place, ready to help the ranks of companies who have a considerable number of customers. It’s a cost-efficient method that, with the increasingly better technology, has started to yield fast and efficient results. Customer service through email automation is great for a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform.
Watch the next video to view our customer service automation tool in action.
Examples of automated customer service in action
Some classic examples of automated customer service and their success at solving dilemmas can be found just by looking at the following areas which are directly improved by automation. To be noted, while customer service automation helps a great deal with most situations, it is not a perfect solution on its own and needs human input but helps a lot in reducing the number of employees working in customer service departments. The following examples reveal the areas most benefited from redundancy, clutter and complexity removal, whether through the company's eyes or the customers'.
When your customers have a problem that needs solving, a big factor that can win or lose them is the speed with which that problem is solved. Everybody wants a solution now. Through customer service automation, you can provide, to a certain extent, a self-service online library, a knowledge base. This reduces the support team's workload by default, clearing their time for more complex issues and increases customer happiness. People like solving stuff on their own, from time to time, and this helps directly in that regard. Why not help them help themselves by automating your customer, in a sense?
As your business grows, so does your inbox. It will get harder and harder to keep track of all the started conversations, even harder to sort them mentally by relevancy as the days go by. When you also add the need to keep track of countless social media tabs, things can get complicated. As such, the company’s inboxes are to be considered the heart of your customer’s minds. The easier and more familiar is the method by which customers ask for help, the better their overall response will be – and there is nothing more familiar than a phone call, a chat or customer service through email automation. The problem mediation has to be easily tracked by both the company and especially the customer. Convenience is to be always offered.
3. Automated replies
These email automated customer service replies come in two variants: autoresponders and canned replies. Autoresponders are the most impersonal solution since they are based on a one-size-fits-all email that gives the most basic appearance of human interaction. Most customers tend to ignore these. Autoresponders are better suited for announcements, not for situations that revolve around a need for support.
Canned replies are also pre-written, but they tend to be more personal, thus satisfying the need for communication since they tackle the problem more directly. They are based on FAQs (frequently asked questions) in order to address common, yet more complex, scenarios. Both automation solutions are efficient, but the canned replies feel more personal, which allows increasing the customer satisfaction.
4. Live chatbots
Starting with 2020, more and more companies will get used to relying on the increasingly advanced chatbot technologies now powered by strong AI machine learning algorithms. As an automation tool, chatbots can learn right from scratch through a process called deep learning. These bots can help companies to manage their customer service teams and can also keep costs trimmed. There’s an increasing degree of customer satisfaction when users interact with chatbots, the old, embarrassing bots fast becoming a thing of the past. What the next years will bring along the line remains to be seen, but it will surely enhance the customer service experience.
5. Advanced workflow logic
When a customer needs help, a support ticket/inquiry enters a certain company’s customer service software. It is in those inboxes where the support team’s daily workload gets born. Without automated email customer service, that team will face days of repetitive tasks. With the help of numerous software available these days, you can start automating these tasks and create a new workflow that benefits both employees and customers. Any customer question will be answered faster.
Automated customer service first helps with organizing tickets and automating assignments, which increases overall productivity. Secondly, it removes the clutter from company inboxes and helps to identify the most serious customer support requests in the long term.
Reasons to automate your customer service
Of course, even with proven examples of automated customer service efficiency, you will still hear some people state that any kind of growing business should rather stay human than automate. Call centers with human interactions versus chatbots powered by machine learning. These opinions generally follow an outdated business etiquette guideline proposed by Paul Graham in 2013. However, as stated before, customer service automation is not to be avoided, on the contrary. It just doesn’t have to replace direct customer relationships, only to make them easier to uphold.
An automated customer service system has the important ability to self-regulate. The more automated systems you implement in your business processes, the more time and energy will be conserved for other company concerns that require a more direct touch.
Judging by the success alone of the examples from the previous section, it’s clear why there are plenty of reasons to implement customer service automation. Shifting your customer support towards such an automated model is especially important for SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms that have a sheer number of customers.
Companies tend to implement automated customer service in two major sectors: channels and departments. Thus, some processes and dilemmas tend to be solved more easily, for example having multiple email addresses, the management of onsite support requests and live chat, eCommerce help requests, bugs or technical issues and many more. Automating customer service allows you to offload some interhuman that are inefficient or downright unnecessary.
Maintaining a balance between human and automated services is still one of your main purposes; you can't automate everything. On the other hand, plenty of successful businesses and their happy customers suggest that things such as self-service knowledge bases, automated email replies, efficient chatbots and advanced workflow logic are all achievable and useful.
Implementing a more personal automated customer service
Just implementing a solution doesn’t make it work wonders until you involve yourself in placing the extra touch of customization. If you had a team of customer service employees, you would spend time and money to properly train them to feel how to interact with your customers. That each customer base has different needs, quirks and perks should be common knowledge by now – and this is the exact reason why you should also spend resources to implement an automated customer service that also feels... more personal.
Most customer service automation systems simply rely on algorithms to process the customer’s feedback. Each step of the algorithm has other smaller steps that you need to take to provide the solution sought by the customer. Most of the time, this involves asking direct questions in a descending generality order. An automated customer service system would start by asking if the reported issue is product related. If the answer is Yes, a question about the specific product line would follow. After selecting the product line, one about that model, in particular, will ensue.
This doesn’t feel very efficient for your customers, but rather time-consuming and/or annoying. Currently, deep learning can’t be more efficient than the most basic of a trained customer service employee’s mental shortcuts.
To avoid situations like these, automated customer support has to be allowed to constantly update their database to access the most relevant customer issues. Solutions to these issues could start being offered as soon as the customer types a strong keyword that describes them foregoing the question list.
Following this keyword-based approach, a textual, canned-reply should ensue. Avoid autoresponders as much as possible, they feel impersonal. This reply should offer a confirmation or reference number for future use.
When implementing automated customer service, remember that customer support isn’t a down-to-earth affair, most of the time. There’s something that matters as much as the issue itself being addressed, and that is that customers are offered a sympathetic ear to voice their troubles to. Automated systems aren’t able to provide this kind of ear at the moment, but better and more specific canned replies should exist. Even simply asking your customers how they feel lacking the product while the product issue is being resolved can make these systems feel more personal. Even if customers are aware that emotion is not to be found in automated systems, it goes a long way to try to mimic some portion of it.
Is automation the future of customer service?
The implementation automation when it comes to customer service has already proven its efficiency on lots of business levels. It wouldn't hurt to underline how, in the end.
Customer service automation will not solve the problems of all of your customers, customer experiences always vary, but it can help create knowledge bases and take some work off of your customer service teams. In a way, you automate your customer when it comes to easier fixes so your teams can better focus on the more complex customer issues your company has to solve. Even your chatbots should be trained by providing answers from your support team. Customer service automating will help you reach more and more customers and keep them satisfied, preventing customers from churning and maintaining customer growth.
New businesses that already have customer service automation systems start with a considerable advantage over those that don’t. Faster and more efficient customer service with human interactions only when strictly needed will lead to better customer experiences and a greater customer satisfaction overall. Let’s not forget that implementing automation is starting to be easier due to machine learning, which will enhance the automated customer service software greatly in the following years.
Human agents will also benefit from these automated systems and their response time will increase. The assignment of repetitive and simple tasks to computer-based algorithms will allow your call center teams more breathing space. Chatbots, automated email responses, self-service knowledge bases, all these are long-lasting benefits of implementing customer service automation.