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Getting Started with Customer Service Automation

If your company has been watching the rise of AI usage in day-to-day customer service, you might be looking to add the technology to your support suite. Customer service automation can play an important role in your growing company’s support offerings. When carefully optimized, these tools can save time and money, streamline workflow, and still meet customer expectations.

Of course, human interaction remains the heartbeat of customer service. Even the best automated tools can’t convey the personality and brand identity that you’ve so carefully cultivated, or match the empathy of an understanding support agent. Even though customers want their needs handled quickly, they also expect genuine expressions of gratitude, concern, and helpfulness. A smart, efficient support plan will often use automation to complement a professional team of agents. How to arrive at the proper mix is the million-dollar question. Here are six things businesses should consider when adding customer service automation to your support offerings.

Do your research before jumping in. Of course, you’ll do your due diligence in selecting the ideal automation-software package. To truly find the right solution for your company, consider more than features, options, and price, and look at it through the lens of your customer needs. While top-shelf AI tech may be appealing, you may not actually need the most sophisticated (and likely costly) AI. Look at the data to determine what your customers want and how they want to communicate with you. Do you really need all those bells and whistles? Know your audience and plan accordingly.

Enable human interactions, don’t replace them. Don’t think of customer service automation as a money-saving crutch. AI can handle lower-tiered support needs, helping customers serve themselves with knowledge base answers. But automation software can benefit both your team and your customers. You’ll efficiently service customers who prefer to handle support issues themselves while lightening your team’s load (savings funds in the process). These savings should be reinvested in your company in the form of better training and tools that foster the agent/automated system connection. Ensure your automated systems enhance the customer experience, rather than act as a barrier to it.

Agents still need foundational knowledge of basic support situations. If your systems go down, can your team carry the load, or is it a red-alert situation? An automated system should enhance productivity, but it shouldn’t be able to bring production to a halt. Automated customer service should be used for transactions like repetitive support cases, self-service resources, knowledge bases, checkout pages, and usage monitoring. These are the types of tasks that tie up your team’s time. Everyone benefits when they’re automated. That being said, your team should still be well-versed on how to handle these issues when needed, and not be left at the mercy of a machine.

Everyone’s opting to “hold for a representative.” Are your automated customer service options effective on your phone line or online help forums? One way to check is to pay attention to how many people stay on the line to speak with a representative. If your representatives, live-chat agents, and operators are clogged with customers, your automation may not be effective. Perhaps your automated options are too broad, too simple, or don’t offer adequate support. Perhaps your product is not geared toward automation and needs more personalized feedback. Some customers want help picking the right dress for a wedding or advice on the best cell phone for their needs. If your product is complex or personal in nature, consider where and how automation fits in.

Make sure your FAQ is pulling its weight. As much as you’ve tried to cover all the bases, sometimes your automated helpline or FAQ section doesn’t sufficiently handle your customers’ inquiries. Read through customer reviews and online forums to see what your customers are asking. Some will ask a question directly of the company, while others will seek answers from other buyers. Keep tabs on what reviewers find to be confusing about your product. Scour Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Google Reviews for user-submitted questions to which your automated customer service may lack answers.

It’s all about having the right options. It’s always best to offer live help, right off the bat, for consumers who prefer that method. For those who prefer to quickly handle things themselves, automation is an attractive alternative. Just ensure that it’s not sending customers around in circles. Poorly configured automation can cycle customers through repetitive chatbot prompts or send them down a wormhole of unhelpful prompts. Counter this by setting a time limit for when a live agent or call-back representative steps in to help a confused customer. Limit how many suggested help topics pop up in online help forums. Make sure to offer a “go back” or “return to main menu” option, to prevent customers from hanging up or closing your website in frustration.

For companies looking to grow customer satisfaction and loyalty, automation can be a powerful resource when applied with consideration. With an increasing number of platforms to monitor, these support tools can help with the simplest inquiries, clearing time for your agents to properly address more complex asks. Identify the ideal level of automation for your company and offer services to implement and manage it. The right balance can increase productivity while maintaining that human touch.

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