Now more than ever, customers value speed and convenience. They also expect their experiences with businesses to be contextual and meaningful. Thankfully, when customers expect quick action, automated customer service puts you a step ahead.
Businesses that automate customer service processes enjoy efficiencies that have a big impact on their bottom line. Their employees are usually happier, as they are able to focus on higher-value work.
Good customer service strategies also maintain a careful balance between human and automated help. Automation should be used to add value to experiences while reducing operational costs.
So, are you ready to put automated customer service to work? Here are seven 7 best practices to help you get it right.
The rise in automated customer service
Before we discuss how to implement customer support automation, let's talk about why it's necessary. Never before has the demand for digital transformation been so great. Businesses are facing unprecedented pressure to modernize business processes, supply chains, and workflows.
There are a number of trends that contribute to the urgent need for automated customer service:
The "experience economy" is in full effect
The idea that businesses today compete on the basis of customer experience is not a new one. 90% of Americans use customer service as a factor in deciding whether or not to do business with a company.
However, the expectations that customers have are evolving rapidly. The bar for customer experience is being set by companies like Amazon, Uber, and Netflix. On-demand movies, same-day delivery, and other services have led to a culture of instant gratification.
These expectations affect customer service teams in every industry. 90% of customers rate an "immediate" response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define "immediate" as 10 minutes or less.
What's more, a customer is four times more likely to switch to a competitor if the problem they're having is service-based.
Technology is democratizing
With democratized technology, companies can undergo massive digital transformations without a massive investment. Natural Language Processing (NLP), low-code platforms, and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are propelling automated customer service into the next generation.
In 2019, 25% of all customer interactions were automated through AI and machine learning. With 90% of companies now planning to deploy AI within 3 years, this number is expected to grow to 40% by 2023.
In short, automated customer service is moving from a novelty to a business-standard. Businesses are embracing automation in an effort to survive in the era of customer-centricity.
Messaging apps are ripe for automation
Messaging applications are no longer just a place where we communicate with friends and family. Instead, they are a hub for entertainment, commerce, and the interactions that make up our everyday life.
Companies like Facebook and Apple are opening up their platforms to businesses and third-party developers. These messaging apps offer the perfect conversational interface for automated customer service.
These companies know that automation is necessary for larger brands to use their platforms at scale. As such, they're partnering with business solution providers to build conversational apps on top of their own.
7 Powerful tips for automated customer service success
1. Think of automated customer service as a collaborative effort
Automated customer service works best when it's approached as a collaborative tool. When done right, it frees up your human resources for higher-value work.
The purpose of automated customer service should be to optimize human agents, not replace them. Freeing up human agents to handle complex issues allows them to become a greater asset to the organization. They’ll be able to hone problem-solving skills and focus on more rewarding conversations.
This helps employees feel engaged, challenged, and valued. It also helps businesses decrease employee churn rates, which is a big issue in customer service.
2. Start with big impact, low effort items
Chances are, you already know which queries you want to automate. You'll want to start with processes that are repetitive and fairly predictable.
If you're like most businesses, 20% of your FAQs generate 80% of your traffic. Those are the processes that are ripe for automation.
Your conversational strategy doesn't need to include every single question a customer might ask. In fact, doing so would be a high-effort, low-impact task.
3. Make customer satisfaction a top priority
Of course, automation will save you time and money. But, more importantly, it will help you deliver stellar customer service.
90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. So, focus on automating situations in which speed matters most.
Similarly, don't try to automate situations in which human input is essential to understand, negotiate, or otherwise solve the issue. Identify areas where your customers value human service most and avoid automating them.
4. Aggregate service channels
A common issue with automated customer service is that information exists in silos. This prevents true omnichannel service.
Siloed channels can also lead to customer frustration. If your customers are repeating themselves or repeating processes, there's a good chance you might lose them.
Good conversational solutions (like the ones we build at Hubtype) aggregate messaging channels in one simple dashboard. They have all of the standard helpdesk features and analytics you’d expect. This also makes it easy to share information across communication channels.
5. Make live help available if needed
When interacting with a chatbot or conversational app, it's important to give your customers a way to get human support when needed. That's true even for the most intelligently designed automated customer service solutions.
With Hubtype, our clients can seamlessly route questions to humans if needed. After a human resolves an issue, they can even pass the conversation back to a chatbot. This creates a well-oiled customer service machine, ready to take on anything.
6. Don't overcomplicate it
Automated customer service requires varying levels of technology. Many companies assume that AI or Machine Learning will be needed to solve their use case. But, in reality, they'd be better off using simpler automated customer service tools.
While AI can complement a conversational strategy, it is usually not needed as a core focus. More often than not, our clients find that rule-based bots are flexible enough to handle their use cases.
7. Focus on continuous improvement
When it comes to automated customer service, definitely don't "set it and forget it." In the beginning, you're going to learn a lot about your customers based on where they need additional support.
Unsolved use cases are opportunities to increase customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. Ask your customers for feedback and always keep improving.
Ready to take your automated customer service to the next level?
Get in touch with Hubtype and start making conversational technology work for you.