As a brand with your finger on the pulse, you’re probably already aware of the many benefits of automation when it comes to customer service. Here’s a reminder just in case: improved customer wait times, effective triage and integration with existing messaging platforms.
That’s not to say that everything should be automated, however. While automation solutions are improving in leaps and bounds, the practice still occasionally gets a bad rap. Let’s take a look at how you can make customer service automation work for your company:
What are the Benefits of Customer Service Automation?
Chatbots are basically automation in action – they ensure that potential customers receive a proper welcome, carry out some preliminary research, point them towards the products they’re looking for and offer post-sales follow-up if needed.
Advances in Natural Language Programming (NLP) now mean that conversing with a chatbot can be pretty similar to talking to a human. A major advantage from a business point of view is obviously the huge savings involved in not having a multilingual customer service team manning the decks 24/7.
Automating your help desk service not only means agents don’t waste time providing the same responses to queries day in and day out. It also enables you to automate workflows by prioritizing and attributing tasks, give priority to queries that require human intervention, gain valuable insights into customer behavior and engage with a key demographic.
That demographic is millennials (also known as Generation Y, i.e. those born between 1980 and 2000), who engage with brands in a way that differs considerably from that of their Boomer parents. They loathe phone calls, for a start, considering them intrusive. But at the same time, 66% of them take instant communication for granted. Bots that integrate with millennials’ favoured messaging platforms (Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, for a start) are a sure-fire way to provide younger customers with the speedy answers they need via the platforms they know and love.
What are the Practices to Avoid?
That’s not to say that everything should be automated, or that you can tell HR to dial back that planned recruitment drive.
While a lot of millennials are perfectly happy to chat with a bot, that’s not necessarily the case of older consumers. And while ineffective customer service systems can be truly frustrating, so can the impression of dealing with a machine. An improper configuration that means customers are stuck going round in circles, or chatbots that are unable to understand or respond to basic queries (or just sound too robotic), is a recipe for annoyance and ultimately, brand abandonment. Keep in mind that 82% of customers have stopped doing business with a company because of poor customer experience.
A perceived lack of human interaction can be truly damaging to brand loyalty. Customers in this day and age are increasingly likely to cultivate relationships with brands they have developed an emotional bond with, and whose values they espouse. It would be a shame to invest in an effective multichannel branding strategy only for clients be let down by an impersonal customer service experience.
What’s more, if your chosen automation solution can’t provide you with behavioural, geographic and demographic data on the people your brand is interacting with, you’re missing out on valuable insights. A major benefit of automation is its ability to provide you with the input you need to improve the customer experience.
How to Implement Truly Effective Customer Service Automation
With all of the above in mind, here’s a quick guide to what you should automate, what still needs a human touch, and the best ways to ensure automation truly works for your company.
Basically, not all aspects of customer service invite automation. Queries that come up time and time again, payment processes, knowledge centers with self-help resources and monitoring are all elements that can be automated – and in this day and age, really should be.
But while chatbots can happily handle standard questions regarding shipping charges or returns policies, they’re not so great (yet) when it comes to more complex queries or de-escalating potentially sensitive situations with unsatisfied customers. When it comes to customer interactions, automation is best used to screen customer requests, swiftly deal with the more routine ones and ensure that more complex cases are handed over to a human agent.
At the same time, it’s essential to avoid data silos and ensuring customer frustration by ensuring that your service channels are working in collaboration. Software solutions such as PieSync enable you to connect your cloud apps and ensure that your customer contacts are in sync between different service channels. Ensure that your automated processes can interact with each other and with the various solutions you use in order to avoid clients being bounced from one channel to another and having to repeat their situation over and over again – a situation that does not make for a happy and satisfied client – or service team.