Without a well-planned customer support automation system, it is almost impossible to run and grow a business today. As customers have become more demanding and tech-savvier, it is more important than ever to cater to their needs to the fullest extent.
One of the most effective ways to excel in this area is to leverage customer service automation. It aims to improve support agent productivity, minimize errors, speed up service processes, and ensure a better customer experience with fewer human interactions.
Automating customer service not only proves to be a weapon for combating the ever-growing customer expectations but also serves as a key differentiator for your business in the competitive landscape. However, if not properly executed and managed, automation can pose serious threats to the company.
This comprehensive guide covers all you should know about how to automate customer service and its implementation, including the best practices and common mistakes you should avoid, as well as some of the best use cases and real-time examples.
When people hear customer service automation, the first thing that pops into their mind is chatbots, which is almost synonymous with customer service automation software and is an unfortunate misnomer. In reality, this nascent segment has the substantial scope and potential to unlock productivity in a customer service team. It goes far beyond just chatting and communicating with the customer.
Traditional customer service workflows often involve wait times, consume precious hours, and are prone to human errors and dissatisfaction. The essence of customer service automation lies in minimizing human involvement with the use of self-service systems, automation, and now increasingly AI-enabled chatbots to answer queries and address concerns.
At first glance, it appears counter intuitive to take the human factor out of the equation. However, given the repetitive work in customer service, it makes great sense for both customers and service agents to use automated customer service tools and solutions.
Businesses can automate customer service on both ends, with front-end self-service applications for customers and workflow automation tools for agents on the backend. This helps reduce customer service costs by a magnitude and results in a substantially elevated customer experience, tracking, and optimization.
Self-service portals help customers solve their problems on their own using AI-powered solutions. Some of the most common customer side areas that can be automated include:
On the customer support agent's side or with a customer service team, the software can automate a wide range of functionality to improve productivity and save time.
Automation is a great way to improve the efficiency and productivity of the customer service department by minimizing the number of repetitive requests the team generally deals with. A combination of AI and automation allows for creating responses for common queries, or you can use an AI-powered chatbot to answer simple questions quickly.
Such automation shortens response time, resulting in higher levels of customer satisfaction. Customer service automation solutions come with a host of benefits for businesses. Let us look at a few of these.
An automated customer service software has the biggest effect on the support team's workflow. You can automate the help desk to respond to the most common scenarios, thereby saving your agents time typing the same response repeatedly. The software can also automate workflows by assigning tasks like following up on support cases.
Such small reductions in the effort can add up to hours and days saved for the agents over the long term. The most successful customer service automation examples are Uber, Swiggy, Netflix, and Adobe.
They have completely automated each step of their service experience, from selection and booking to payments and support. The primary interface is a mobile app streamlining the entire automated process for a satisfactory experience without manual intervention.
Response time is your customer service's 'make or break' factor. The quicker you respond, the better the results. While humans have their limits, automating the task helps deliver satisfactory experiences.
Let users pick from a list of options from the self-service widget. Common queries get resolved instantly, while human interaction can be scheduled for complex issues.
For example, Richpanel Agent CRM software Dashboard gives the support agents a 360-degree customer context to give them relevant insights like customer lifetime and return rates. This means they are always on top of their order history, purchase behavior, and conversations and don't need customers to repeatedly repeat their details and issues.
Customer service automation helps improve experiences and measure satisfaction as you can gather feedback throughout the journey. The software lets you collect data at each stage through surveys and ratings from chat to emails and text.
For example, an eCommerce store can send automated emails to customers after they make a purchase, thanking them for trusting the brand or asking them to rate or review their purchase experience.
Like Amazon Customer Account, providing Personalized customer account Set to Show them Order History with Repeat Order Option, Product Recommendation based on Activity or interest, Manage Subscription, Returns & Exchanges using Self-service flow. These steps go a long way in improving customer satisfaction and loyalty, all of which are made possible with RichPanel's Shopify Customer Accounts.
Read More: How to Automate Ecommerce Customer Service
Automating your customer service lets you create 24x7 support that satisfies customers even when the support team is off the clock. AI-powered chatbots and live chat features help the business practice proactive engagement, solving problems before the customer notices them.
For example, a customer on a website has items in his cart, which an automated system will detect to send a message asking if he needs help completing his purchase. The user might check out because of this prompt.
If the same user, for example, has a delayed order, the system sends an email informing of the delay, apologizing, and providing a way to reach out to support.
Automatic routing and ticket assignment are among the best ways to streamline support workflow and improve agent efficiency.
Automated customer service systems come equipped with routing options to ensure the tickets get to the right agent at the earliest for an effective, quick resolution.
Businesses can benefit from better workload management as an automated system assigns tickets depending on the issue complexity and agent skills and expertise.
Here are some best practices you should follow when implementing customer service automation and realizing its benefits for your business.
One of the first things you should do after deciding on customer service automation is to plan the execution. Firstly, identify your requirements and ways an automated system can benefit you. Suppose your team gets frequently overwhelmed by repeated queries, or you see a constantly rising metric like average handle time. In that case, there is a possibility that automation can address some inefficiencies in the process.
Plan the automation flow by understanding your customer needs and deciding what processes and tasks should be automated. This may include self-service resources, repetitive support cases, checkout pages, knowledge bases, etc. Use scripts, macros, and templates to help the team scale their efforts.
Team members can respond to common questions and address issues more speedily using pre-written messages. Finally, ensure the agents are trained properly to manage automated workflow, know what technologies are being used, and how to manage cases where automation does not work.
When automating your customer service, it is essential to keep in mind that automation is only a tool and cannot be used as a total substitute for human support. This is probably the best practice to follow while implementing customer service automation. Automated support certainly improves the experience for both the clients and the agents. However, the human touch should never be sacrificed for automation because it is a valuable aspect of customer experiences.
Your goal should be to ease agents' work and provide the timely support customers need, not to replace the support agents. So, try to balance automation and human support by integrating them seamlessly into the system. Always give your customers an option to connect to a human agent if they need.
If you offer support through multiple channels, the customers expect you to be equally responsive to them. While it may not be easy to address all the queries on different platforms manually, automated services can be merged to get collaborative multi-channel automation that proves beneficial.
The customer service software should bring all the information from support tickets, live chat, phone recordings, messages, and social media together on a single platform where agents can view all the customer queries stacked on one dashboard. This makes it easy to scale the support time for different customers.
When implementing a multi-channel approach, see that your human agents are in sync with the system. Clients may have to repeat themselves when the issue reaches an agent after the bots fail. A well-crafted omnichannel automated customer service approach will avoid such a situation by ensuring the integration of processes you automate.
The use of automated canned responses is completely fine as long as they don't appear to be robotic. While there is no need to disguise automated responses as real, it is important to personalize and customize them based on the issue.
Agents can personalize templates and pre-written responses by adding customer details like name and purchase history. Personalizing messages and emails like this will add the extra friendly touch your clients will certainly appreciate.
Customer service automation tools can benefit businesses of all sizes and types by streamlining self-service to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. While several software options are available in the market, it is important to choose the right one for your requirements. What works for eCommerce may not work for IT companies, while a SaaS may require an entirely different set of features in a customer service solution.
As the software is key to your customer service efficiency, it is crucial to find the right mix of functionality and features for your business. You also want to ensure the software is easy to use and offers an intuitive user interface. It should also be user-friendly for your agents so they can handle everyday tasks seamlessly.
You can never ignore customer thoughts because they are directly linked to customer satisfaction. Each customer service cooperation should end with an option to rate the experience and provide feedback.
Low ratings should allow the manager to reach out and improve the customer's experience. If any hiccups are discovered in the operations, they can be addressed before they make a bigger negative impact.
Another effective practice is regularly auditing everything, including the responses, knowledge base, chatbot responsiveness, etc. If your automated customer service does not evolve with other parts of your business, you risk leaving your customers dissatisfied or losing them to the competitors.
Some customers want to talk directly to customer service agents or expect a human touch.
So it is always a good practice to provide a simple route for customers to bypass the automated system and communicate with agents.
For after-hour requests, you can give an option of leaving a message that is addressed at the earliest.
It is easy to jump on the trend of automated customer service without proper planning. A single mistake in implementation can make a big difference, resulting in high customer attrition, ultimately costing you in terms of loyalty and resales.
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make while implementing customer service automation is overdoing it. While automation is great at streamlining tasks like handling returns, products, billing, or exchange queries, not all questions can have automated answers. You should try and avoid relying too much on the system.
Complicating the support leaves your customers frustrated and hurts the company's reputation. For example, a complex IVR system, though designed to provide faster resolution to customers, can sometimes put them in an endless loop with too many options. The key is to let them connect easily with human agents to come to a settlement for the problem that an automated system cannot solve.
An automated customer service software is designed to collect customer data and create support workflows. Data segmentation is one of the most critical aspects of customer service software. The system should accurately collect and process the data to build customer profiles and segments.
Poorly collected information with incomplete or wrong details can lead to glitches in support responses and ultimately deteriorate customer experiences. It is important to ensure the system is powerful enough to gather the most accurate information and process it efficiently to address customers as they would expect.
Automation and self-service solutions are often double-edged swords. They can add substantial value to a business and its customers but also go phenomenally awry and leave a bad taste due to improper implementations. Automated customer service isn't a turnkey, set, and forget system. It requires much effort in the initial stages before getting a long-term payoff.
Continuous tracking, analysis, testing, iterations, and updates remain part and parcel of these systems. Implementing the system effectively also involves a deeper understanding of user behaviors, demographics, and inherent biases. Self-service systems should also include a regularly updated knowledge base, with fresh responses and quick answers to concerns to avoid customer frustrations.
Let us look at some practical use cases of automation for customer support teams.
Automated customer service proves to be quite useful when it comes to new customer onboarding. Doing it manually wastes time spent on identifying what information each customer needs and emailing every new client a list of things they should do. Proactive onboarding emails sent out automatically to customers after a specific number of days of signup eliminate the chance of any errors.
Trello does a great job breaking up the product into parts through a series of onboarding emails. For advanced automation, these emails can be set to trigger based on user activity. For example, Strava is a running app that sends you emails based on what activities you are undertaking. Such emails are more impactful as they are relevant to the user and prevent them from having to reach out to agents for assistance.
Customers expect to be able to access their account details effortlessly. Instead of wasting support agents' time on addressing account-related queries, a chatbot can be built and deployed to engage customers and provide relevant information about their account status.
Agents can focus their time and effort on resolving more complex problems that require expertise.
As clients can reach out via multiple channels, it is often difficult to handle appointment reservations; it might demand the use of more than one platform.
An effective solution to this problem is integrating the cloud contact center with data segmentation and an AI chatbot, making it a fully automated customer service system with little human intervention.
This will allow agents to handle multiple conversations at the same time while giving users the flexibility to communicate through their favorite channels for appointments.
Providing a self-serve facility helps reduce support volume and improves customer satisfaction as a business scales up. Bumpboxx, for example, dealt with an increasing number of support messages as the sales picked up.
To value customer time, the company adopted Richpanel's intelligent self-service tool that helps customers resolve basic queries related to products, returns, exchanges, and order tracking in a matter of seconds all by themselves.
Customer service software is often integrated with CRM to provide support agents with ready access to customer data from different sources. Thereby equipping them with context about who the customer is, where they come from, and why they are reaching out, no matter which channel they use to communicate.
The best automated customer service software for you is the one that suits your needs depending on your business vertical and customer groups. While many options are available in the market, the solution you pick should allow your team to consistently and effectively serve your customers.
To determine the best options for you, it is important to analyze the quality of support your customers expect and the ideal experience you want to deliver to your customers and your support team. You also want to list customer support features you find the most essential before shortlisting your choices.
Richpanel is one of the best customer service automation software designed to serve eCommerce businesses with an effortless customer service workflow through CRM integration. It aims to save time for support agents by eliminating manual tasks of triage and routing and improves customer satisfaction with automatic problem solving and instant query resolution.
The existing interactions of customer service automation seem incredibly promising, with plenty more exciting changes expected over the next few years. It will be a while before we witness a fully AI-driven automated customer service with tracking and self-learning capabilities, but that is, without a doubt, where this segment is headed in the coming years. To Learn more about Richpanel, Sign for free or Book a Demo