“Automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
Automation is becoming a bigger part of our system and processes, and this is nowhere more apparent than in customer service. But as the above quote suggests, implementing automated systems should be about improving efficiency rather than simply finding ways of cutting corners or making things go quicker.
If you view customer service automation as a way of cutting corners, any flaws or inefficiencies will likely become more obvious and more subject to scrutiny. Automation should be seen as a tool that augments your existing processes, increases efficiency, and, most importantly, helps to improve the customer experience and journey. Even your developers can play a role in improving customer service.
Technology is an integral part of modern business, whether we use it to send a faxor utilize the best inventory management software to streamline our workflow. And customer service provision is not just about your agents who deal with inquiries. Every area of your business should have some input.
Below, we look at 10 of the best examples of how customer service automation can make you a better business and improve your customers’ perception of you.
Many of the calls customer service teams receive are questions that have been asked
before. While these are often easy to answer, they take up time that could be focused on more complex inquiries. Implementing customer service automation for FAQs can be a great way of freeing up resources while still providing great customer service.
With the advances in AI and machine learning, your automated system can deal with more than simple queries. It can provide educational information on products or services, take customers through the steps to apply for a loan or mortgage, or help them compare different services. If your business receives lots of FAQ calls, then definitely consider automation.
📚Recommended reading: Automating customer service: a short guide
If you experience high volumes of calls and have several very different departments, you know it can be frustrating getting an inquiry to the agent best equipped to deal with it. And if that frustrates businesses, imagine how much it frustrates your customers. This is an area where an AI/automated service can offer massive benefits.
Through the use of basic questions, or based on previous interactions, if integrated with your CRM, your automated system can ensure calls are routed to the correct team or agent. It can also gauge whether a call needs to be prioritized or should go into a general queue. It can take into consideration how many active tickets your agents are dealing with too.
Payments should be a fairly routine process. That applies whether making a payment for a specific product or a regular payment such as a utility bill or similar. Automating this process offers the customer an efficient self-service process while leaving agents free to deal with other issues. There’s no need for lengthy conversations; basic details and figures are all that’s required.
AI chatbots are fantastic for this area of automation. Paying for any product or service should be streamlined and as quick as possible. This applies at all levels of payment-related customer service, from bill paying to online checkouts. Implementing an efficient automated patent process is something that will benefit both customers and your business.
When a business operates internationally or is smaller in size, a 24/7 customer service option isn’t always feasible. By moving to implement an automated option, you remove the hurdles of international time zones and non-business hours while ensuring customers can have many, if not all, of their queries immediately resolved.
AI does not recognize time zones. It offers instant responses to your customers no matter where they are on the planet, thus improving the overall customer experience. 24/7 chatbots do not need breaks or holidays and can be influential when it comes to initial perceptions of your brand and service.
We already know that AI/chatbots can deal with routine questions that come to your contact center. That same degree of service applies to any routine action where the customer needs to interact with your business. These routine actions include a variety of things that encompass the entire e-commerce industry as well as other sectors.
AI is now being used in multiple ways in this area. From checking your bank balance to checking in for a flight, checking the shipping status of an order to tracking its journey to your door. With the many advances in AI and associated customer service software, there is no real limit to the type of actions that automation can assist with.
📚Recommended reading: 7 sales tasks you can automate with amoCRM
If every product or service was problem-free, our customer service departments would be a lot quieter. It’s not always about things going wrong either; it can simply be that a customer has issues setting up a TV or installing a new bit of software. It’s often the case that ‘fixes’ for these issues are relatively straightforward.
AI can help with troubleshooting. It can guide a customer to a ‘how to’ video or a step-by-step guide in the knowledge base. Offering troubleshooting tips doesn’t have to stem from an inbound inquiry; they can be offered on different channels as a natural part of the conversation with a chatbot.
We’ve seen major advances in the complexity of AI automation, but it’s not at the stage of being able to solve every problem or deal with every inquiry - not yet, at least! So if you want to use your automated systems to your best advantage, you need them to collaborate with your human agents.
Your automated system can act as a gatekeeper. It can gather crucial information from the customer, such as their customer or account number, then direct them to self-service resources or a human agent if needed. Having your two ‘systems’ working in tandem and complementing each other helps resolve customer issues quicker and ensures the best use of your agents’ time.
If you run a larger call center, you know that you may get thousands of calls daily and that the reasons for calling can be diverse. You will already have implemented the best inbound or outbound call center software, so adding an automated aspect is just another step forward.
Gauging a customer’s intent might be the primary focus of your automated system, particularly in the initial stages. Do they want to vent about something or do they need urgent assistance?
Discovering intent can be the first stage in the customer’s journey with you. Knowing what they want and need can help an AI system decide what steps are needed next. Can this entire customer journey be handled by your AI? Or does the system have to hand off to a human counterpart to deal with a more complex issue?
How many times has any one of us gotten frustrated at having to input our details more than once when visiting a website? You get transferred to a different section or web form and it asks for the same info you’ve already given. You want a system where you give those details once and they are there for the company to access no matter how many stages you go through.
This is where automation, and particularly chatbots, come into their own. They can ask for and record any required information, or use information to link to an existing account, then ensure this is available at any future steps in the customer's journey, whether those are automated or involve a human agent.
If your AI hands a customer over to a human agent, its input doesn’t necessarily have to end there. Your AI can also support the agent in resolving the ticket. With the information it has stored already, including the customer’s profile and previous interactions, it can offer suggestions to the agent as to what may be the best solution in this case.
While recognizing that your human agents are likely knowledgeable when it comes to your customers’ needs, we also need to accept that AI doesn’t forget things and has instant access to everything in its memory or your knowledge base. This means automating customer service is now an essential development for most companies.
📚Recommended reading: How to boost your sales by automating communications
We are constantly looking at how technology can improve how we do business, as well as how it can improve the customer experience and drive sales. And with major moves to remote working, we’re looking at how to serve our workforce using solutions like Workplace too.
Today, it is no longer about accepting automation but embracing it. It’s also very much about recognizing new customer expectations and meeting them. Customer service automation is no longer the future - it is the here and now.
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