With more services shifting to the digital world, customers’ patience and attention span have been shrinking more than ever. Customers today anticipate a top-notch service around an average product. There is an increasing demand for assistance with a click of a button. It has pushed businesses to opt for automating customer service and offer the best of services.
Now, brands don’t compete over just the products but how they choose to sell them. An automated system can play a crucial role in selling the experience of buying a product from a particular brand. And, it is not a luxury that industry giants prefer. Even the small businesses are automating as much as they can to offer excellent customer support. The companies familiar with automation upsides have the upper hand over the ones still skeptical about it. You don’t have to transform your entire service plan. You can selectively choose customer support automation to fit into your strategies.
Why Should You Prioritize Automating Customer Service?
The customer demands are ever-increasing, and chances are, you are often short on human resources to handle them all. Additionally, over half of the customer queries are repetitive, and automation will save both the time and energy spent by human resources. Let’s consider the advantages of automating customer support one at a time.
Automate Simple and Repetitive Tasks
A complete team of customer support agents has to deal with the same tasks repeatedly daily. These tasks range from manual tagging to routing different issues to different agents. Furthermore, there is sorting, answering the standard set of questions, and more.
A simple bot could take over for a standard set of questions instead of an agent typing the same content all day long. In addition to responding to customer queries, a bot can also collect feedback at the end of the interaction. Since it is a part of the conversation, the customer is more likely to respond to the survey. This allows the human agents to save their time and energy on more complex queries.
Additionally, a simple text classification API could classify incoming conversations. The tool can prioritize customer issues and help save time. Furthermore, a text extractor can be employed to analyze data and dig up information like customer contact details and other relevant keywords.
Offer Proactive Response
Time is a “make or break” factor for your customer support strategies. The quicker you respond, the better. However, humans have limits, and it is not possible to be quick on the uptakes. Automating this task goes a long way to creating satisfaction. You can make a chatbot that responds immediately and even offer a list of suggestions for customers to pick. Usually, standard queries get resolved then and there. In the case of complex issues, the bot can connect a human agent for interaction.
Take Mastercard, for example. Their Facebook Messenger bot makes it easier for customers to check recent transactions. It allows you to review account information and generate a list of purchase history.
Additionally, the merchant bot also enables Masterpass within chats that allow direct merchant-customer chats. The customers can make the payment without leaving the conversation.
Employing efficient customer support requires time and many resources. An AI-Powered system, on the other hand, requires a one-time configuration and setup. At the same time, everyday use trains the model to improve efficiency on the ever-increasing sampling size. Moreover, the cost of maintaining the machine is a lot cheaper than maintaining an entire team.
You can spend your money on scaling the team and deploy them for more challenging situations. One can attribute a massive chunk of the queries to FAQs. If there is a bot present for them, your savings will increase considerably.
As per an IBM study, businesses spend over $1.3 trillion on 265 Billion customer service calls. As per Chatbots Magazine, chatbots can reduce service costs by 30%.
Improve Efficiency for Both Agents and System
With automation, there is less room for human error. If the chatbot fails to answer a customer query, it can transfer the problem to a human agent. Since the routing is automated, it lands with the right person to tackle the situation.
Furthermore, the system gets better with the upcoming queries. You know where the chatbot has failed – you can feed the data back in the stem to make it failproof. If you have an automated system, the machine learning algorithms in place enable pattern recognition, improving the system’s performance.
Contrary to the belief that it doesn’t get more personal than a human to human interaction, automation can offer a lot when it comes to personalization. A human agent cannot possibly remember customer details let alone previous interactions with them. A chatbot, on the other hand, is capable of doing both. Automation has, indeed, improved customer experience by exploiting caveats left by human inefficiencies.
If the customer has already logged into the system, the chatbot can use the historical data and come with resources to assist. Additionally, if the customer is stuck on an issue from the last time, a chatbot can easily pull up the records and help efficiently.
According to Nextiva, nearly 33% of the customers abandon the website over subpar personalization.
Best Practices for Automating Customer Service
With current technology, there is an option to automate pretty much everything on the customer service front. However, it is good to create a strategy to get the maximum out of that technology. You can be selective on the topic. It is advised that you pick your battles wisely and deploy the technology to win the customers.
When it comes to customer support, your primary objective is to avoid alienating the customers. To cover all the bases, you have to be selective about the automation. For instance, you can look at automating customer service aspects such as repetitive queries, knowledge bases, login, check out, thank you pages. These tasks combined take a lot of time and energy that you can utilize on something more substantial.
Furthermore, even your customers would like to be involved in self-service rather than waiting for a human agent to respond. So, automation here saves efforts on both sides. Also, you can letup the automated tasks that are not working out with your customers anytime. After careful analysis, you can pick something else instead and see how that goes.
Not just the tasks, you can select automation based on the kind of customer as well. For instance, a regular customer would be familiar with the process, but for a first time visitor, automation could be frustrating. Here, you can choose to help manually.
From a customer’s point of view, consistency is vital. Pick the channels that suit both you and your customers and automate them. Do not waste your time and resources on a deadbeat platform.
If you are offering different channels, your customers expect you to be equally responsive to all of them. However, you cannot manually attend all the queries on all the platforms. Merging all your service channels is a great way to make your automated services collaborative.
A complete customer support software is the most efficient option to amalgamate everything on a single platform. When all the customer queries are stacked on a single dashboard, you can rule out scaling your support time for good.
While automating to merge channels, make sure that your system and human representatives are in sync. If the issue reaches to the human agents after failed attempts by bots, customers might have to repeat themselves. This is when the experience starts to deteriorate, and your omnichannel strategy would take a hit. To avoid that situation, make sure that the processes you automated can integrate with each other.
An agent should get hold of all the relevant customer information from all the previous platforms on a single interface. These could be social media messages, phone calls, emails, live chat, and support tickets. With everything in one place, agents can assist quickly and effectively.
Keep Testing and Ask for Feedback
Customer service automation should be appealing to your customers and team members alike. Furthermore, it should also be beneficial for your business. If any stakeholder is missing from getting the benefits of this technology, you should reevaluate your strategy.
That means you need to keep testing the system to achieve that level of coherence. Testing will also help you stay updated and run smoothly from thereon. It also helps to refine your automation strategy. If you think some changes are required, introduce them swiftly in phases and test them for efficiency. From here, you can weigh the effectiveness of the process against its popularity among your customers.
One other thing to consider while automating customer service is to collect regular feedback. It’s vital to amylase the sentiment of your audience against your services. The customer experience you offer directly reflects on the popularity of your product. So, make sure you keep your audience in the loop and work on the feedback you receive.
Additionally, keep track of how the audience interacts with the changes. The analytics will help you decide what level of automation to keep. Feedback from your team members is as important as that from the customers. Always check with the support team to know what works for them. You and your team can brainstorm on the list of no-brainer tasks to automate.
Cater to All Your Customers
Different customers have different requirements and separate approaches to online browsing. You have to automate services in a way that caters to all your customers. For instance, youngsters usually prefer self-service. So, instead of a bot popping up in their faces, you might want to automate FAQs and smart knowledge bases.
For the first time users who are having a hard time navigating through the website for products, you can send a proactive message after a specific time interval.
It takes more than a functional website to convert a potential customer to a paying one. And, it usually doesn’t happen on the first arrival. Hence, you need to have excellent follow-up skills to make a compelling sales pitch. The task is not always up to a human agent. Apart from the fact that it could be a tedious job, the leads often dry up in a matter of hours.
It is not humanly efficient, even if possible that these leads are followed up on time and convinced into making a purchase. An automated follow-up remarkably handles this issue.
Even sending a customer survey in the chat window after every interaction can help with the same.
Seamless Transfer Between the Automated System and Human Agents
Chatbots and human agents must have an alliance for smooth customer support. If a chatbot accurately responds to the initial queries and then fails to route to a human agent for complex ones, the entire customer experience effort will take a hit. A seamless chatbot to human handoff is vital in an automated system.
Don’t give your customers a chance to wait. Your system must be efficient enough to assign the right agent in time. After resolving the issue, the human agent can again transfer to the bot to collect feedback.
Here’s an example of what not to and what to do:
Tools for Automating Customer Service
Artificial Intelligence is around for a while, and its reach is increasing more than ever. The customer service domain is not unknown to this advancement. It happens to be the field that has leveraged its services the most. Depending on the size and outreach of a business, there are multiple options available. Let’s talk about these tools in detail.
Natural Learning Processing (NLP)
It doesn’t matter which route the customer opts to reach out to you, NLP is always in play. From phone calls, emails, text messages to social media, NLP plays a critical role in the process. The underlying technology ensures the accuracy of AI-powered services like virtual assistants.
We can make use of NLP for empathetic customer service messaging. The business to customer messages has gotten more effective over time. The acknowledgment of messaging errors along with the right timing and the convenience of using mobile messaging makes the platform more dependable. The efficiency induced in the interaction using NLP makes it more humane. Hence, allowing the customers to experience a top-notch service.
For example, our chatbot builder Kompose is built over powerful NLP to support smooth conversation flow. Additionally, it comes with built-in small talk intents, which can handle generic questions seamlessly. This helps in catering to generic experimental users, who, out of sheer curiosity, ask generic questions to chatbot such as:
- Who are you?
- You are annoying me.
- Nice to meet you
- How was your day?
- Are you human, et cetera.
Chatbots and AI-powered Automation
The introduction of the live chat was a significant development in customer support. Instead of waiting for the agents to call back and reply to emails, people could just directly reach out. Live chat was the first leap towards real-time customer service.
However, live chat is still far from covering all the incoming requests. Somewhat automated, live chats still require human agents to take charge behind the dashboard. Furthermore, 24×7 support is almost impossible even if you scale your customer support team. Not to mention, the more you extend the team, the more it adds on to the incurring cost.
The issues here, collectively, can be resolved by an AI-powered chatbot. Chatbots have established themselves as a more dependable support automation form. They take care of the time-constraint that comes with human agents. A chatbot can respond to customer queries all day long.
A chatbot can usually answer the common queries, and in case of something complex, it can loop in the human agent. Chatbots participate in a hybrid conversation, allowing the machines to learn from the human reps and vice-versa. The more queries a chatbot handles, the more efficient it gets. It’s a win-win for both the machines and the humans.
Moreover, chatbots also play a crucial role in human-to-human interaction. Based on the data collected, they can route the customers to the best suited human representative. Based on business requirements, there are all kinds of chatbots available in the market. Simple chatbots are easy to deploy and integrate.
If you consider a chatbot automation solution, check for all the messaging platforms that integrate with it. A good chatbot will work across your website, applications, SMS, Facebook messenger, and other native platforms.
Complete Customer Service Software
Indigenously, customer service software routes the incoming queries to the most suitable agent available. The systems have developed over time to cater to the audience coming from all the different platforms. The omnichannel approach has become quite the rage among the brands. Customer service software essentially puts all the conversations from various platforms in a single dashboard.
While automating the customer service system, the developers are focused on intelligent technology that can route the conversations in the best possible way. The hybrid system offers a seamless working environment for the bots and agents. Virtual assistants, paired with human representatives, create an efficient support system.
If a company has a large support team, arming them with such a software would be the right choice. The leading software today comes with all the major integrations. Apart from responding to customer queries, complete support software will also allow you to track the website’s visitors. This helps the team be proactive. Furthermore, you can also look at user analytics on the dashboard and update your strategies in real-time.
Customer service software also helps tackle customer abandonment issues.
Cart abandonment rate, in some cases, can go as high as 80%.
Most of these are the results of poor customer services and untimely responses. For medium and large-sized businesses, customer support software is an ideal tool.
The primary goal of creating automated responses is to take the load off human agents while dealing with regular queries. These are suggested articles or recommended answers relevant to customer queries before they connect with an agent. These recommendations are based on AI algorithms. Simply put, they make for an intermediate technology between a self-search knowledge base and an automated chatbot.
This technology is arguably less engaging than a chatbot, but it can be highly effective. Merging the two would undeniably make the system more efficient.
The technology can either be a part of a complete customer support software or a standalone technique for selective automation. The goal is to maximize the efficiency of human agents by automating mundane tasks.
One such task could be optimizing the ticket route that uses previously gathered data to assign tickets to either chatbots or the most suited agent available. Furthermore, functions such as tagging ticket assignment, scenario automation, creating quick replies, ticket prioritization, and note-making could also be automated to make room for complex customer queries.
Smart Knowledge Base
Many websites use self-serving knowledge bases hoping that the customers would find what they are seeking. While it’s a standard approach, you can choose to make these knowledge bases smart, so the customer finds quickly and avoid getting frustrated.
These smart knowledge bases use AI to route the customers to the most relevant articles. In addition to helping customers, smart knowledge bases empower the human agents as well. While interacting with customers, they can use these articles to respond faster and more efficiently.
Better yet, you can connect your knowledge-base to chatbots. The chatbot can further match the data from the user’s query and fetch answers from your knowledge base.
Better yet, you can connect your knowledge-base to chatbots. The chatbot can further match the data from the user’s query and fetch answers from your knowledge base.
Create your own Automation System
If you are not interested in a complete software or even a fully automated chatbot, you can always create your own automation system using specific tools. These could be APIs, data transcript services, webhooks, etc.
Services like Wit, IBM Watson, DialogFlow allow you to create chatbots across multiple platforms. Amazon Connect enables you to set up a voice IVR system. The selective automation can be a part of a more generous strategy for your internal team of support agents. Based on your customer demands, you can choose from any of these services and put them in action.
Caveats in Automating Customer Service
Too much of anything is bad. While automation can add wonders to customer services, overdoing it can create repulsion. You have to be careful as to what would help your business and what can damage your reputation.
Don’t Ditch the Human Touch:
Automation can help customers with quick assistance, but a bot can not handle all queries. Your chatbot must route the complex queries to a human agent, and the transfer should be as seamless as possible.
Even if a bot can handle the queries, customers can still request a human agent for the process. It creates a sense of trust, and humans can empathize better. So, ditching human resources for maximum automation can backfire. Not to mention, a human agent becomes crucial if the system goes down for some reason.
70% of customers prefer a human agent to a bot for complex questions.
Human interactions establish trust and create customer loyalty. So, you should not dismiss the human connection in any scenario.
Don’t Automate Just One Channel
Automating one channel fails the entire purpose of elevating the customer experience. Your customers are everywhere. They can choose any medium feasible to reach out to you. Your automated system should extract and classify information from different channels and hold them in one place.
Merging all possible channels will get you information from live chat, messages, phone records, support tickets, social media tagging, etc. All the information in one place will help the agents assist better and the customers don’t need to repeat the details.
Don’t Rely on Automation for Complex Queries
Automation is excellent for streamlining simple tasks such as product inquiry, purchasing, billing, exchange, and return queries. However, not all questions have direct answers. The human agents are trained to converse with the customers in case of complex situations. They can reason with the customers and come to a settlement if the problem cannot be directly resolved.
Depending on an automated system for everything can frustrate the customer and hurt the brand image. A customer should not go under-appreciated at the hands of a machine.
Don’t Rush into Automating Customer Service
An automated system is only as good as the data it gets. Spend time on the initial configuration of the system. Generally, all the intelligent systems come with comprehensive training and initial onboarding instructions. Once you set it right, its efficiency improves over time.
Depending on the training received by the system, you can automate the tasks in phases. As the accuracy increases, you can expand your automating horizons and rely on the system for more complex tasks.
Furthermore, do not fall short on training the system. Many systems require human inputs for initial training. If you don’t train your tools enough, you may end up in a messier situation than before automation. For instance, a poorly trained system might route the queries to the wrong team of agents. Sorting the tickets could become impossible if tagged wrong.
The whole process will affect the analytics report. Hence, jeopardizing your entire customer service strategy.
Don’t be Laid-back if the System is Up and Running
Now, this could be a little far-fetched, but you can never be too careful. Even if the system is up and running, make sure that you audit it regularly. The system must be updated and maintained on time to avoid redundancy in the responses.
One key point to elevating customer experience is to keep updating your services. The customers should know that your company spends enough time to care about helping them. You can ask your customers for feedback and make changes accordingly. These feedback surveys can either be performed by the bots after every interaction or you can send them via emails at regular intervals.
While resolving customer queries induces satisfaction, working on customer feedback builds loyalty and trust.
Future of Automation
The number of businesses automating customer service has increased over the past few years. They have a clear edge over the ones that are yet to get on board. Automation has improved the overall customer experience. With humans and bots teaming up, the response time has gotten short, and customer satisfaction has gone up.
Not just the customers, implementing automation would also keep your team happy. They can have the satisfaction of spending their time on more important things. Automating mundane tasks should not be optional for any business. When the business expands, taking care of every customer becomes an impossible job for human agents, no matter how much you scale the team.
At some point, you will need a system to store all the customer data that can be pulled out later to assist human agents while interacting with the customers. In addition to diving in history, detecting real-time issues is equally important. This part remains outside the operating capacity of humans.
The latest data has reflected that people are choosing services over products. If you shift your efforts from selling the product to selling the services around the product, it can make a big difference in your sales numbers. The consumer today is moving away from consumerism. The sense of having access to the product is taking precedence over outright ownership. With changing customer preferences, businesses need to re-imagine their practices too.
With the increasing feasibility of automation technology, more and more brands are shifting to AI systems. In the current scenario, when everything is going digital, it only makes sense for businesses to start automating customer service.
While it is essential to keep the human touch alive, it is equally important to start automating your customer service. With tons of tools and technologies available to back it up, automation has a strong foothold in the future of customer service.
At Kommunicate, we are envisioning a world-beating customer support solution to empower the new era of customer support. We would love to have you on board to have a first-hand experience of Kommunicate. You can signup here and start delighting your customers right away.