As technology continues to advance and evolve, it's not crazy to feel like all jobs are changing. New products and software are being introduced into all roles on a daily basis, changing (and often revolutionizing) the way we make a living.
While some fear that their jobs will be completely taken over by machines, the truth is that new and advanced technology – and specifically automation – is simply streamlining the way we do our jobs, making certain tasks easier and giving us more time to focus on more important things.
Customer support is one such area that has benefitted immensely from automation. After all, no one wants to sit and sort through emails all day, answer phones and direct calls 24/7, or hear the same question asked every five minutes.
Customer service automation reduces the need for customer service representatives to have to put up with these tedious responsibilities all the time, while paving the way for optimized, consistent and streamlined 1-1 interactions at the right moment.
What is customer support automation?
Customer support automation is the process of using technology to streamline aspects of customer care, allowing customer support reps to assist the customer more easily and quickly.
While this might sound complicated, the reality is that you probably use automated customer service more than you might think.
Customer support automation has given us such excellent tools as:
- Voicemail directories
- 24/7 online help centers
- Artificially-intelligent chatbots
These are just a few examples of automation utilized by plenty of companies around the world.
Customer support automation doesn't completely eliminate the need for in-person customer support representatives. Oftentimes, automated customer support services will simply attempt to answer a customer's question before resorting to a live, in-person representative.
If the software is efficient enough, however, the customer might not need to talk to anyone at all – the automated customer support already answered the question they'd planned to ask a representative, freeing up a lot of time for your service team and resolving the customer's query much more efficiently.
What are the benefits of customer support automation?
The benefits of support automation are twofold, benefitting both the customer and the service team, such as:
Less room for error
Automating key areas of customer service, especially data collection, reduces the chance of human error getting in the way of the customer and their questions. When the process is automated and run by artificial intelligence or other smart technology, the customer is more likely to get a prompt reply and, if and when necessary, directed to exactly the right person.
Less time waiting
One of the worst parts about calling customer service is sitting on the phone for hours just to speak to someone for a few minutes or even seconds. Customer support automation eliminates the need for customers to sit and wait by allowing the automated tech to resolve their questions over the phone (or online) almost immediately.
Better customer experiences
Due to the reduced risk of error, less time waiting, and a faster routing to the right person, automation can enable you to deliver optimized customer experiences when used well. Considering that 96% of people use customer service as a way to determine whether or not to continue doing business with a company, this is a big deal.
Optimized time management
A customer service representative's job entails a lot more than just answering questions over the phone. However, because of the sheer number of calls coming into your average call center, it seems like this is all customer service reps have time to do. Automating more of the process allows reps to excel at their other responsibilities without having to spend the entire day on the phone answering frequently asked questions.
A modern look
Consumers are increasingly looking for automated or semi-automated options when they reach out for support. With automation, you can enable customers to start a live chat conversation on whatever device they're using - and if they still need it, they can be routed to the right rep for their query within moments.
Generations Y and Z in particular are eager to embrace new technologies, which means that automating more of your customer service is likely to appeal to how they want to engage with you.
Readily available customer information
We can all attest to the frustration that comes from having to explain the same issue to several customer service representatives. Automated customer service is a great fix, allowing for the customer's entire history with your company to be centralized in one convenient place and synced to the right apps.
In order to have complete, up-to-date data from all of your customers readily available in your support apps, consider deploying a two-way syncing solution like PieSync to integrate customer data between your entire app stack.
How to implement customer support automation
When deciding which areas of customer care to automate, start by looking at your current time-consuming workflows. You can also find opportunities by identifying common "if-this-then-that" processes: if this action happens, then this other action should be triggered. For example:
- IF a lead status changes to "Customer" in your CRM, THEN sync it with your customer support software
- IF a customer completes a satisfaction survey, THEN update this in all apps with customer data
Some of the best ways to automate customer care and support include:
- Resolving common questions and problems with bots and automated help desks
- Routing support tickets to the right rep based on priority and importance
- Automating customer satisfaction surveys
- Connecting data between your help desk and ticketing software and CRM
- Sending customer check-in emails at pre-defined intervals
- Create email workflows sharing valuable and personalized content
- Automating employee surveys and feedback forms to identify internal areas for improvement
- Automating customer onboarding processes
- Notifying team members when a customer is due for a check-in or if they need to be aware of changes
- Setting up automated alerts for customers at risk of churn
- Use reports and dashboards to identify blockages and weaknesses in business processes
Best practices for automating customer support
As you automate customer support, here are some best practices to keep in mind to deliver excellent customer experiences at scale:
Personalization – Successful automation relies on personalization. However, take time to consider the right balance for your audience – there's a fine line between helpful and creepy personalization.
Segmentation – You can't paint all your customers with the same brush. Make sure you have the data to deliver the right experiences for every customer. You can achieve this by segmenting your customers based on interests, purchase history or demographic data.
Don't forget about the 1-1 interaction – Remember that automation isn't there to replace human interaction, but rather streamline experiences and make more time for valuable 1-1 conversations.
Centralized data – Automation works best when it has valuable and relevant data powering it. To have the most important data always at your disposal, make sure to sync your customer support apps two ways with your other apps. With a real-time sync between your tools that store customer data, such as your CRM and email marketing tool, you know you're always looking at the latest and most relevant customer data everywhere.
How to use automation to put the customer first
Automated customer service means nothing unless your customer can successfully use it. Implement too much artificially intelligent tech and the customer might feel like your company lacks a human connection. Implement too little and they may feel like you're behind the times. It's a delicate balance, but it's one that you can't afford to mess up.
Companies that have embraced customer service automation have been 26% more profitable than those who haven't. This means that, no matter how much automated support you're utilizing, even a little will go quite a long way.
Successful customer support starts with giving the customer a choice. Present them with an automated call directory that runs them through the most common questions, then ends with the option to speak to a representative. This way, those who are comfortable with the automated tech can utilize it, while those who aren't still have the option to speak with a real person.
Additionally, it's essential for the automated support to still feel personal (but not too personal - for example, never use data your customers didn't explicitly provide to personalize your services). It's a thin line between thoughtful and creepy, and it's going to take a little bit of tinkering to develop a voice for your automated customer service that fits your brand. In the end, though, it'll all be worth it to see loyal customers returning again and again.
How can your organization benefit from customer support automation?
Customer support automation doesn't eliminate the need for in-person customer support representatives, but will rather streamline experiences or attempt to answer a customer's question before resorting to a live, in-person representative.
This enables customers to have their questions answered promptly, allows customer service representatives to lighten their workload so that they can spend more time focusing on solving more complex issues, and helps the company to spend less while offering more. It's an all-around win, no matter how you look at it.
Find a unique balance between human interaction and automation and you're sure to see your company continue to skyrocket to success.
To have consistent access to the most valuable data as you introduce more automation, use PieSync to connect your apps. It's simple to enrich your data everywhere and give service reps a 360-degree view of every customer. You can get started with a 14-day free trial now.