Companies invest heavily in product quality and marketing to attract and please their existing and potential customers. But when the customers make a purchase, they face another business side — customer service.
Сustomer-centric businesses should ensure their customer service team can provide high-quality user support. Are your specialists overloaded? How much time do they spend on administrative tasks? Do they have customer experience technology to rely on? Are they connected with other departments?
In case of disturbing negative answers from employees and ever-increasing customer expectations, companies might switch to automated customer service. For instance, companies may consider utilizing Salesforce services to enable self-service or personalize customer communication.
In cooperation with customer experience consultants at Itransition, we have reviewed the major challenges of customer service automation, identified the service areas that can be automated, and the ways automation can bring value to customers, agents, and business owners alike.
Service automation challenges
Companies determined to automate customer service may reveal the following challenges.
According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer 2022 report, 85% of consumers expect consistent interactions across departments. It means that sales, marketing and service departments need to communicate and have access to unified customer data. Otherwise, they do not see a complete image of customers and lack data to offer a personalized omnichannel experience.
Inefficient processes and technologies
Outdated or disconnected tools and non-standardized processes prevent companies from relying on their infrastructure and successfully adopting an automated system.
Service agents loaded with time-consuming manual tasks usually show a low level of tech literacy, underestimate their value, and thus have a low demand for professional growth. Therefore, service automation requires companies to upskill their service agents, free them from manual administrative tasks, and allow them to redirect their efforts at building meaningful relationships with customers.
Top use cases for service automation
Even the adoption of cutting-edge AI-based automation is nothing like flipping a switch, where a company purchases a tool, and service agents start leveraging it immediately to boost their performance. First, automation means decision-makers should meticulously prioritize service areas, implement them step by step while pairing with training, and analyze the adoption dynamics after the launch.
Today, companies can successfully automate the following service tasks:
Ticket routing automation is a must-have in customer service. The system trains on keywords, products, services, and customer data and automatically tags, prioritizes, and assigns tickets and chats to the most appropriate agents and departments, depending on a query.
Ticket routing rules are set according to the language, channel, topic, and relevance. These rules allow routing tickets to an agent with the corresponding competence, assigning ticket follow-ups to the agent who dealt with it initially, escalating emergency requests.
Time-consuming manual tasks
Service agents have to deal with similar requests and questions over and over again, react to a flood of notifications from different channels, enter data manually, send follow-ups, and perform repetitive operations like generating discounts or sending emails. Such tasks take up a good share of their time, making them bored and prone to errors.
One of the simplest ways to automate the process here is to integrate canned responses to repetitive queries into a live chat. It helps service agents deal with a few conversations at once without hardly typing anything. Agents can tweak such quick responses to sound more personal if needed.
Another option is to use CRM email automation to send automated emails to users in case of any update on the reported issue from the customer support team.
Today, many customers expect companies to give them self-service tools. In other words, they are open to using online knowledge bases and interacting with chatbots.
To make the self-service experience efficient and satisfying, service teams can pair their knowledge bases with an AI chatbot. Agents will be freed from answering repetitive questions, while customers won’t have to study numerous sections in the knowledge base or contact an agent, asking a chatbot instead.
Due to a high call volume and a growing complexity of requests, it’s hard to provide a high-quality connected experience via phone. For instance, service agents have to toggle between multiple screens to access necessary information while making notes to record conversation details.
Telephony automation with a cloud-based phone system can boost personalization as it routes calls to the right agent, transcribes calls, and provides recommendations for next-best actions, relevant articles from a knowledge base, and customer data to agents during a call. At the same time, customer service managers can monitor calls in real time, review them, and assist if necessary. Virtual call providers help manage customer services more seamlessly with VoIP systems.
Customer experience personalization
Service teams can employ automation to scrape customer data from each interaction and build fuller customer profiles. It allows you to recognize existing customers, pick up the previous conversation, and provide a consistent experience across various touchpoints. You can also execute CRM email automation and deliver personalized email marketing campaigns, helping to attract new and retain existing customers.
It is also possible to train chatbots on customer behavior data and agent reactions to various requests. As a result, chatbots can accumulate multiple scenarios and imitate human behavior while offering anticipated actions and personalized solutions. Since chatbots work on mobile, your users' interaction with the bots can be tracked and improved using mobile analytics tools.
What do service agents get from service automation?
Service agents get more of their most valuable resource—time. Chatbots and automated algorithms take up a part of agents’ responsibilities, letting them deal with more challenging tasks.
Additionally, service agents get more satisfied with their job once freed from repetitive tasks. They are no longer nervous about making mistakes or lacking knowledge in particular areas as they get the right data and tools at their fingertips.
What do customers get from service automation?
Similarly to service agents, automation helps customers save time. Customers can get almost instant answers, receive updates when their issues are fixed, access self-service options, and navigate with the help of chatbots. Chatbots help customers get support round the clock and find answers to frequently asked questions.
Another benefit of automation for customers is a personalized and connected experience via their preferred channels. There is no need to provide personal information again and again, repeating answers when routed from a chatbot or another assistant. During communication, customers can assume the company knows them and is ready to offer targeted help.
What do business owners get from service automation?
Business owners can reduce costs as they don’t need to hire and train more agents when the ticket volume grows or when agents leave because of job dissatisfaction. Naturally, automation requires considerable financial investments. However, it’s a one-time effort that lays the foundation for process improvement and further automation when the business scales. Moreover, an automated system can run round the clock without extra HR-related costs.
The importance of balance between human and robotic
Automation brings considerable business benefits, but companies should be careful about the extent they automate. Automation should augment service agents’ potential, not take it over. Usually, companies require a mix of robotic and human assistance to provide a balanced and helpful service.