About 40% of customer service inquiries are repetitive and easy to solve. Sadly, customers wait on the phone for about five minutes for responses to these questions. These mundane issues clog up the support channels – phone and email – and therefore increase the time it takes for companies to resolve more serious issues.
A Microsoft survey reveals that 90% of customers expect brands to offer an online self-service portal and 74% of customers have actually used a self-service portal to resolve an issue. This is good news as customers no longer wait as long as they used to in order to get an issue resolved.
Customers’ dislike for slow services and their willingness to resolve issues on their own is an opportunity to provide a better customer experience. How then can you automate customer service successfully to meet your customers’ needs and improve customer experience?
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation involves utilizing computer systems to deal with repetitive tasks. These automated systems help customers answer questions and resolve issues on their own without the intervention of a support agent. The demand for quicker and more flexible service, as well as the emergence of messaging platforms, contributed to its rise.
Types of customer service automation
1. Knowledge base Articles: This is one of the oldest forms of automation. It involves helping customers resolve an issue through a well-written article. Think of it like a manufacturer’s manual. A knowledgebase article describes a problem and lists the steps a customer can take to resolve them. Unfortunately, most businesses do not invest time to create helpful articles that help customers to resolve issues.
To create a helpful knowledge base article, take note of recurring questions and create articles to answer them. It isn’t just enough to create an article, it is important to optimize it for search as customers use a search engine to find answers to questions before calling an agent. For knowledge base articles to be helpful, they must be succinct and lead the customer to issue resolution quickly.
2. Tutorial videos:Tutorial videos are a spin-off of knowledge base articles. It caters to the need of customers who are visual learners. Through tutorial videos, you demonstrate the steps or actions required to resolve an issue. About 68% of customers would rather watch a video that explains how to resolve an issue than call customer service. This shows the effectiveness of videos as a form of automated customer service.
3. Chatbots: Chatbots simulate the interaction between a customer and a support agent. It provides the personalization and conversation that is absent in knowledge base articles and tutorial videos.
While helpful, it is expensive to make a video for all customer issues. On the other hand, not all customer issues or queries deserve an in-depth article. A question like “What is the cost of shipping?” or “how long does shipping take?” may be too brief for an article.
Some customers may not have the time to comb through your knowledge base to find an answer to a simple query. Chatbots are a better alternative.
They enable customers to get quick and convenient answers on the go either from a messaging app or from your website. Customers get real-time responses to questions without contacting support reps.
Advantages of automated customer service
1. Better customer experience: Automated customer service enables you to provide the kind of service your customers demand. This is easy and convenient service. In fact, 64% of customers prefer to contact a business through messaging and 65% prefer to resolve issues on their own.
With automated customer service, you serve your customers the way they want to be served.
2. Productive agents: With automated support, your agents do not have to spend time answering the same questions over and over again. Automating repetitive tasks and FAQs give your agents time to focus on areas where a human touch is needed. The rise of automation also creates new career paths for customer service agents. They might be interested in learning how to train conversational AI systems to better understand customer intents and needs and to serve them better.
3. Reduced costs: When customers can resolve issues on their own, they are less likely to call contact centres. This results in higher cost savings.
Automation also reduces the need to hire more people to do the same task. Juniper predicts that conversational AI which is a form of automation will save banks $7.3 billion in 2023.
For companies, especially small and medium scale businesses, who desire to do more with less, automated customer service is the way out. It enables them to offer reliable and excellent service, at a much cheaper rate.
How to choose a customer service automation software
Customers value immediate and quick responses. If you are struggling to provide these, a customer service automation software is your best bet. With so many customer service automation software in the market, how can you choose the one that is best for your business?
1. Integrations: The goal of an automating system is to help customers to complete a number of tasks without contacting a business. Therefore, it is necessary that any system you opt for integrates seamlessly into your business tools.
2. Platforms: A customer service automation software should support the primary platforms you want to automate your services on.
While it might be a bit too much to support all the messaging platforms, it should at least support the major messaging platforms like Web chat, in-app mobile chat, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter.
3. Livechat support: Granted, Live chat is different from an automated system. But any well designed automated systems give room for human interaction when necessary. This is where Live chat becomes important.
A customer service automation system that supports Live chat doesn’t only lead to better customer experience, but it also saves cost. It removes the need to pay for an additional Live chat service. Instead, it offers two features at the same cost.
How to do customer service automation right
Personalization is important in marketing, and also in every interaction a customer has with your brand which includes your automated customer service. The goal of automation is to help customers get immediate answers and help with tasks.
To get automation right, you really have to understand the situations where automation works best, and then apply automation to those situations alone.
In these situations where automation is best, give room for instances where customers need to speak to support agents. At certain points, customers still need to talk to a support agent. Therefore, make it easy for a customer to get in touch with a support agent when necessary. In fact, the customer doesn’t even need to ask. Your automation system should be intuitive and proactive enough to suggest that a customer speaks to a support representative when it cannot handle a request.
Another way to effectively automate is by assigning a customer issue to an agent experienced in handling issues of that nature.
For instance, a support rep that handles general issues like billing and product questions might not be adept at handling technical issues. When a support rep gets an issue that is outside his/her area of specialization, he/she should be able to assign that customer to the right agent who is capable of handling the said issue. This way, automation still works but not at the expense of quality service. In eBanqo messenger, for instance, a support agent can easily assign a customer to a specialized agent for assistance.
Customer service automation helps businesses provide faster and better support for their customers. It also helps them to save costs. Despite these advantages, it isn’t a replacement for support agents. Rather, it makes the support process more efficient. Businesses that utilize automation are more equipped to rise to the challenge of providing speedier and more convenient support, tailored to meet the customer’s needs.
If you need more help understanding support automation and how it will uniquely serve your business, we are happy to answer any additional questions. Simply get in touch.