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Customer Service Automation: Is It a Smart Investment?

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Today, automation is everywhere. From social media to grocery shopping, you have multiple ways to automate many facets of your day to day activities. Automation in customer service is no exception.

As customers are becoming more demanding and tech-savvy, customer service and sales automation are growing. Not only does it make the process faster, but it provides a seamless experience that customers appreciate and remember.

The use of automation in customer service is invaluable. However, the practice has gotten somewhat of a bad rap in recent years. Here you can learn more about automation and why it may be beneficial for your business. You can also learn about some of the potential pitfalls, which will help you avoid them.

Benefits of Automation for Customer Sales and Service

When you implement automation into your sales and service processes, you will likely see a few benefits. Put simply, automation helps to remove or at least reduce the human element necessary to complete a transaction. This helps reduce cases of human error, wasted effort, and redundancy.

Streamline Processes

With customer service automation, you can help to improve your team’s workflow significantly. For example, it is possible to automate the help desk system for a business and provide scripted responses to some of the most common support scenarios. This means human agents do not have to waste time typing out the same response again and again.

This same program can be used for automating workflows by attributing and prioritizing tasks. These include following up on support situations and responding to customer requests and questions. This type of small reduction in effort for your team can result in hours and even days of saved time during a year.

By introducing self-service resources for customers, such as interactive knowledge based software and FAQs, you can ensure customers can solve mundane issues and answer some of the most common questions without speaking to a live customer service represented. The automated solutions provide your team more time to handle more challenging queries.

Reduce Customer Related Friction

When a customer contacts customer service, one of the biggest complaints is long wait times. You can shorten these by offering options, such as hiring more agents or automating your support channel.

Automation can be done by using IVR – interactive voice recognition. With this, you can let your callers interact with this program and ensure they are directed to the right department based on their needs. This is going to save your team time and help the customer avoid frustration. All this results in a limited desire to complain or churn.

This can be taken a step further by allowing you to avoid friction points for your customers, thanks to the use of predictive analytics. Usage monitoring, voice recognition, and call recording will allow you to keep up with how customers interact with your support funnel, sales team, and product. This will enable you to surveil the adoption of new products and improve your overall customer retention rates.

Reduce Your Costs

Another option for reducing wait times and expediting the customer service process is to hire more employees. This is not always feasible for all businesses. For example, if you are just starting out and you have limited funds, recruitment could be slow. With automation, you can operate more convincingly and even more efficiently, even with a smaller team.

While some automation efforts are more expensive to integrate into your systems, some are available on a subscription basis. With this model, you do not have to pay for more than what you use, and you can easily scale the subscription to meet your needs.

Cater to a New and Emerging Demographic

Today, Generation Y is growing in numbers, while Baby Boomers and Generation X are dwindling when it comes to purchasing power. However, pretty soon, the Millennial generation will make up the biggest part of the customer pool.

All of Generation Y is often grouped together and said to be aloof, lazy, and entitled. There is another way to look at this. Millennials are considered “digital natives.” They are problem-solvers, resourceful, and self-reliant. It only makes sense that they would prefer to have the option of automated service. In fact, up to 70% of all women in the Millennial generation are comfortable when it comes to solving a simple issue and not speaking to a human.

Around 60% of Millennials also feel fine about themselves and the company they are contacting when they can use the support automation to handle their problem. Along with being comfortable solving their problem with automated service, Millennial shoppers also welcome the chance to do this on their own and enjoy the additional opportunity presented to bond with the business or brand they have contacted.

Potential Issues 

If your customer service automation is simple to implement and free of risks, then everyone would be good-to-go. However, this is not what occurs. There are a few possible issues that may arise when implementing an automation strategy. Knowing what these are will help you avoid or at least prepare for them.

Lack of Human Connection

If you automate your customer service efforts, you eliminate the human element of the customer support you offer. Some customers may not appreciate having to talk to a machine. After all, human ability and empathy are an important part of any customer service. Recently, a study conducted by a brand showed that when they could connect with their customers emotionally, it increased advocacy and reduced attrition.

Issues with Configuration

If your system is not designed properly, it can hurt the overall customer service automation system. If the IVR that is implemented causes your customers to “chase their tails,” or if your chatbots are unable to understand the issue had by the customer, then automation may be more trouble than help.

If the automated processes you use are not available to cross-reference or analyze, you will not benefit from the insight they may provide. This also means that your customers are not receiving informed and qualified services.

Reputation Issues

If you invest in customer service automation, but it winds up, leaving your customers feeling frustrated or confused, they may disengage with your brand completely. This can happen because of improper configuration, no human presence, or a combination of the two.

Remember, a single dissatisfied customer is usually more visible and louder than 10 happy ones. This means that the bad publicity may hurt your brand image.

Investing in Customer Service Automation

As you can see, there is a lot to think about when it comes to customer service automation. While it may not be right for all businesses, it does offer certain undeniable benefits. Be sure to keep the information here in mind and review the automation solutions available to help you ensure that the right solution is found and used, regardless of the type of business you have or the products or services you offer.

Being informed will help you know if this is a smart investment and if you should provide automated customer service to your customers. Keep in mind, automation does require a learning period, but in the end, it can be an invaluable addition to your business and ensure your customers remain content and happy with the service received.

Published: November 9, 2020
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Devin Caldwell

Devin Caldwell is a small business owner who loves helping other entrepreneurs succeed in the competitive business world. He owns three businesses and works as a consultant in his limited free time. Devin is also a husband and father of two beautiful children. If you want to work with Devin, reach out to him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DevinCaldwell13.

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