How about I tell you a story about productivity in the digital age? A tale of humans and AI joining forces to solve issues that cannot be ignored in today’s world - mental health at work. Discover how customer service automation saved my team from burnout.
Wearing a customer support manager hat isn’t a cakewalk. I have to ensure the team and I are brand ambassadors, and that customers’ needs are met straight on.
But with high growth comes extra customer service automation responsibility. With more customers and further issues to tackle, the team’s stress levels started boiling up. Instead of cracking jokes, we were cracking our knuckles. Customer service emails were piling in, while customers had one foot out the door.
A tale of customer service automation
Like kids on a slide, customer service emails come and we address them individually based on priority. Some are quick fixes and a pat on the back, others require more support.
To aid customers virtually, we sometimes have to jump on calls or share print screens. But the email back and forth to establish a time slot and the right solution can take up days. Time is of the essence when it comes to customer service management. And time is what we were lacking.
Change management challenges
When others were building metaverse, our department was becoming an ‘80 newsroom. People were shouting over each other’s heads, two remote sessions were booked at the same time, and the inbox support staff members were morphing into octopuses with the pressure to answer customer service emails faster.
The customers were acting like toddlers, while my people were playing the part of burnout parents. And while “keeping up with emails” makes a good reality show, it’s not a great career story. The customer service automation truck was coming.
Change management challenges begin with a lack of support and communication. A functional team needs these to align responsibilities. They call for both human and technological resources joined by a culture focused on optimization.
So, I asked myself how to build a great customer experience through innovation?
In a world where customer experience is everything, how do you create a great one?
The answer is simple: we have to be innovative.
But what does that mean? How do we become innovative? Well, it's not as hard as it seems.
Innovation is just about understanding your customer and figuring out how to meet their needs better than anyone else can. It's about doing something new or different for them every time they interact with your brand or product.
Change management in customer service
This is when I suggested to the change management team that our customer support issues could be done with a sprinkle of magic from artificial intelligence (AI). It is high time to look at our in-house issues and turn them into customer service automation opportunities. So, we brainstormed what would we automate to regain control over our time.
- “We don’t want to triage customer service emails.”
- “We don’t want to write individual messages.”
- Would it be possible to automate end-to-end processes for our TOP3 use cases
- “Can we also batch-answer?”
- “I am overbooked by the night support team.”
- “We don’t know all the background information to help the customer.”
It was clear as a morning sky in June. Repetitive tasks were killing our vibe and taking too much of our time. We also looked into what was missing in our customer’s life and they wanted to book meetings faster.
We were so wrapped up in our daily workflows that the secret to change management challenges was to take a step back and ask ourselves: “how can we make our lives easier?”. This is what we did…and it didn’t take a director of innovation to guide us, we followed our guts.
- Automate our personal touch
Our optimization journey began with automatic email triage by EmailTree to boost performance. When each email came in, it was then redirected to different folders automatically: to be answered instantly, to set up a remote call, to send screenshots to deliver invoices, to name a few.
In order to implement the cornerstone of our strategy, namely automated responses, we built and added a knowledge base into EmailTree.
As a result, when an email arrives in our Outlook inbox, all it takes is one click to obtain the answer.
The best part of it is that each reply automatically includes the customer's name, along with all the information and documents needed to send the reply..
Since everything is now synchronized instantly, the days of hunting down documents in multiple CRMs are officially gone.
By reducing the time it takes to process customer requests, we have been able to provide better service to customers, and have more time to put a personal touch on our responses.
- Limit the back and forth
After frontline agents were able to focus on resolution instead of triage, we moved to limit the back and forth. Seeing that people had to go through a dozen emails to book a meeting, we set up a calendar so that customers could pick their slots.
Adopting customer service automation ensures that team members have their calendars synchronized. The night team won’t overbook the day one, and the day one will be pinged when a new booking has been made.
- Sync-up the async team
And we took the sync-up further by also setting up a shared Google Calendar. The step is essential with an asynchronous team when team members work in different time slots remotely.
It is especially useful for booking remote calls. But also appreciated when you have to check if a colleague is on holiday or when you require an answer from a particular person.
At that moment, we clinked imaginary champagne glasses. Taking a step back wasn’t a waste of time, but a gift to regain control of our knuckles. Customers’ effort was diminished, and the team’s schedule was organized so they didn’t answer only emails.
Human-centered automation keeps customers happy, frontline agents engaged, and the company’s model scalable. What’s more, delegating thorough tasks to AI helps my team stay creative and hungry to try out new methods that will keep innovating. It’s a route that you cannot cut in today’s fast-forward world towards unicorn status.