How automating aspects of your customer service process can improve customer satisfaction and lead to better results
Automation is now undeniably here to stay. From streaming workflows to AR automation software, automation helps businesses become more efficient and productive. One area where automation is offering huge benefits, both to staff and customers, is customer service. This is an area where change was needed, with 68% of agents reporting they were overwhelmed by new systems and processes.
More and more, customers want to be able to solve their own issues online without any interaction from human agents. With some 60% of customers wanting to be able to do this, it has become more important that businesses seek to meet these demands with efficient automated processes.
If you haven’t joined the automation revolution yet, why should you? What are the actual benefits of integrating automation into your customer service processes, and what areas of customer experience touchpoints should you be looking to automate? Our guide to benefits will help you see what you may be missing out on.
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation refers to any area of your customer service workflow where you introduce automated tools and systems designed to make things easier for your customers and your agents. You can implement them across the channels your customers use to interact with you so that they are in place where customers’ most frequent touchpoints occur and improve the customer experience.
Creative automation technologies can range from virtual assistants that can guide your customers through your website and suggest products to chatbots and IVR (interactive voice response) systems that assist people who call your contact center. They can carry out a range of tasks, including basics such as store or office opening hours to changing an order or arranging a refund.
Many automated systems are now AI (artificial intelligence) powered and use things like machine learning (ML) to learn and improve as they move forward. As people prefer to use text and voice-driven systems, this can be a crucial aspect to any automated system as it will become more efficient over time.
Why should you consider customer service automation?
There are two primary advantages to implementing customer service automation; the first is that it makes things easier for your customers, meaning their journey can be smoother and their customer satisfaction levels higher. The second advantage is that it makes your agents’ workloads lighter and also frees them up from dealing with basic inquiries so that they can focus on more complicated queries.
With more and more people shopping online, you want to make any interaction as smooth as possible. When you consider that global retail e-commerce sales totaled around $4.9 trillion in 2021, you can see how important the market now is. It’s not just about the actual shopping. However, it’s also about every aspect of customer service, from checking on an order status to finding out how to use a product properly.
You will likely already have an FAQ section on your website, but even they can be cumbersome and hard to navigate as more information is added. Adding an AI chatbot to that section can save customers time through a simple question-answer format, guiding the customer quickly to the info they need.
Five great benefits of customer service automation
While you may know the two broader advantages of customer service automation – helping customers and making your staff’s jobs easier – knowing more details of benefits can help with any implementation decision. One thing is for sure, businesses that adopt a customer-centric approach through automation will see improved results.
1: Quicker responses and higher customer satisfaction
Customers don’t want to wait for answers or service. Whether you are dealing with retail customers or want to improve B2B customer service, responding quickly can make a huge amount of difference to your customer relationships. If a potential customer has to wait too long for answers to their questions, they may simply vote with their mouse and try one of your competitors.
If you are experiencing issues with your customer service that leads to low CSATs (customer satisfaction scores), then you may want to troubleshoot your entire customer service process to see where problems may be occurring. Once you have identified issues, you may find that automation is the answer to improving your customer service process.
You will already know that certain queries are submitted time and time again. These can take up valuable time from your agents and lead to bottlenecks, especially in busy periods. By introducing AI-powered chatbots to your system, you eliminate those bottlenecks by directing customers straight to the answers they need.
2: Reduced costs
If you operate a call center, then you know that just hiring more staff to provide better customer service is an expensive option that includes hiring and onboarding costs as well as ongoing salaries. You may have already looked at reducing costs by installing a cloud PBX system from Dialpad, so why not look at what integrating automation into your system can achieve?
The beauty of automation in this area is that you can improve your customer service standards without the added costs of hiring new staff. It’s not a case of replacing your existing staff but rather complementing them so they can deal with more complex cases. It also saves you from diverting staff to train new team members, which can also be costly.
Automated tools, such as chatbots, also don’t need an annual rise in their salaries or bonuses for reaching certain benchmarks or targets, so you can again save costs in this area, although you may divert some of those savings to better rewards for your human staff. Of course, automation can’t deal with every case, but it can offer significant savings.
3. Increased reliability
As mentioned earlier, if customers are unhappy with your customer service, then they will simply go elsewhere. With customer service automation, you can not only improve response teams, but you can help ensure that your overall customer service is more reliable too. Although some customers may still be wary of aspects of automation, they are beginning to see the benefits.
4. Making things easier for your staff
There’s already been mention of how automation can save you costs by not having to expand your workforce. However, tied to that is the idea of good staff retention rates as if you are losing staff on a regular basis, then you face the various costs involved in replacing them. Where automation can help in this area is by lightening the workload of your employees.
You will always be looking for ways to streamline workflows and may already be using tools such as Process Bliss business efficiency solutions. Customer service automation is another tactic that can make your agents’ jobs easier and can thus raise their job satisfaction levels, leading to higher staff retention rates.
Your contact center will receive two broad categories of queries; those that can be handled by chatbots or virtual assistants and those that need the intervention of human staff. By introducing automation to your system, such as Dialpad’s virtual receptionist service, agents can focus on the more difficult questions while your automated system can deal with those questions that are simple to deal with.
Ecommerce is a 24-hour business. And if you operate globally, then you are also operating across multiple time zones. However, your main location may not offer a 24/7 service, and that means automation can fill those gaps where human agents are not available. By having some form of assistance available, your customers will see you as being more reliable, and it can also boost sales and conversion rates.
Of course, it is inevitable in that scenario that there will be queries that your automated system can’t deal with, but they can take the customer’s details, so they get a priority callback when a human agent becomes available. The whole idea is that automation means your customers perceive your overall service as being more reliable and accessible.
5. Reduce human error
It doesn’t matter how long your agents have worked for you, or how experienced and knowledgeable they are, mistakes will happen. Human error can include eventualities as diverse as the wrong order being picked in your warehouse to an agent inputting data into your system incorrectly. While a single mistake may not cost you much, multiple ones can add up to a significant amount each year.
Automation will not eliminate all errors, but it will drastically reduce them. This is especially true when it comes to repetitive tasks where agents may become complacent and tick the wrong box or fill in a field incorrectly. Automation can minimize those types of errors happening and can therefore save you a significant amount on an annual basis.
It can also have a knock-on effect on your staff. As they are taken away from those mundane and repetitive tasks, they can focus more on the work they are now doing. This means that the likelihood of human error is reduced as they can concentrate more on the task at hand.
We are seeing automation being used in every business sector, and its use can range from automated testing tools to automated payroll or inventory management. As the technology progresses, the use of automation will become more widespread, and it will offer further benefits to those we see today.
Adopting automation into your customer service process can offer many benefits now. By improving the process at every customer touchpoint, you are improving the customer journey and experience while making things easier for your human agents. The first step is to identify what areas of your customer service would most benefit from automation and then moving to implement the tools you need.