Gone are the days when delivering an exceptional product or service sufficed. Your modern customers count on you to resolve their issues with precision and in no time. And that’s why customer service is not just a need but a must for every company.
Research suggests that an overwhelming 93 percent of customers are likely to continue business with a brand that offers great customer service. But customer service is beyond just responding to customer queries. And one aspect that puts your customer service methods a step above the rest is automation.
In this guide, we’ll deeply examine customer service automation and how to set it up for your business.
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation refers to automatically resolving customer queries without the need to involve human-to-human interactions. There are several ways to execute customer service automation. And some of them are through web chat using AI chatbots, self-service resources, IVR systems, automated emails, etc.
What are the benefits of customer service automation?
Effective and well-executed customer service automation can positively impact your business. Below, we’ve highlighted the most important benefits of it:
- Better turnaround time — Unlike human agents, automated support is available 24/7 with instant response. So you do not have to worry about longer turnaround times or odd hours, as automated service can cater to your customers’ queries and their busy lives.
- Better customer engagement — When brands can understand customers’ issues and expectations faster, they help drive meaningful engagements in the long run. Be it through automated self-service support or detailed help guides, to name a few, automated service keeps the customers engaged and lets them feel worthy of their time.
- Better customer experience — Customer experience (CX) no doubt supports retention. And one fine way to enhance CX is through automated customer service, as it enables efficient and reliable customer communications with no room for human errors. Tailoring customer service automation to match each customer’s unique journey is another secret to enhancing CX.
- Better resource allocation — Well-planned customer service automation frees up your agents’ time that lets them offer more focused attention to solving more complicated queries. '
- Better customer insights — Each customer interaction hands you an opportunity to improve your future automation processes, thanks to its ability to collect powerful customer insights. Automatically collect customer reviews or feedback post an interaction to optimize your customer service further.
- Better service costs — Service costs such as hiring additional support agents, hardware costs, hidden expenses, etc., are cut down when you automate your customer service.
How to automate customer service effectively?
1. Identify key channels where you want to offer customer service or support
Your customers could belong to different demographics and naturally have varied preferences. And this applies to their favorite channels as well. For instance, a customer aged 18 to 25 may prefer to connect via social media for customer support as opposed to an older customer who’d prefer to write an email or speak with a call center agent.
So start identifying channels that fetch you the most traffic. It could be one or more key channels like emails, web chat, self-service guides, phone calls, etc. Doing so lets you build a more potent strategy than a generic one.
2. Take note of all query types from each channel & identify FAQs
The secret to solving customer issues instantly is to be well-prepared in advance and anticipate customer queries. And a foolproof way to do this is by noting down all types of customer queries handled by your agents from all possible channels.
Gather them up and see what can be handled through automation and zero human involvement. For instance, a query like “how do I set up my x account?” can be easily self-resolved by any customer when you offer a clear step-by-step guide or recording.
Identify such frequently asked questions (FAQs) and create a database of all frequent customer queries and resolutions to reduce the taxing load on your agents.
3. Set up a knowledge base
Customer-facing teams often encounter repetitive tasks such as onboarding, training, and answering the same questions over and over again.
That’s when having a complete knowledge base comes to your rescue. It's a centralized repository of information that contains a variety of resources, such as FAQs, troubleshooting guides, how-to articles, SOP templates, tutorials, and best practices. Tools such as Scribe can be of great assistance in creating a knowledge base quickly, offering predefined and customizable templates.
By leveraging a knowledge base, businesses can empower their customers to find solutions to their queries on their own, without requiring assistance from a support agent. This not only improves customer satisfaction and reduces support costs but also allows businesses to scale their support operations more effectively.
Here’s a snippet that highlights the myriad benefits of offering self-service customer support:
4. Set up canned and pre-written responses
Canned responses are predetermined replies to customer queries. An instant acknowledgment over email to a customer raising a support ticket is a common example of a canned response.
Setting up such canned responses as an acknowledgment of their concerns can elevate customer experience multiple folds. Doing so lets your customers be at ease that your team is actively working to resolve their issues.
Apart from canned responses, pre-written responses to frequent queries can save your agents time and effort. To execute this, create a complete database of pre-written responses to common queries for various channels.
5. Set up interactive voice response (IVR)
IVR, also known as Interactive Voice Response, has become an industry standard for automated phone systems. This tool answers incoming customer calls and presents a menu of options for the caller to select their desired next steps. Customers can choose to be directed to the appropriate agent or department, receive responses to frequently asked questions via pre-recorded messages, or select their preferred language.
Setting up your IVR menu correctly is crucial for providing a positive customer experience. It's important to ensure that your menu is easy to navigate, enabling customers to quickly find the information or assistance they require. If your menu is difficult to comprehend, customers may become frustrated and abandon the call.
6. Choose the right software
Here are some key aspects that you must look for in customer service automation software:
- It should provide valuable customer insights through your customer interactions.
- The ability to easily set up step-wise guides, knowledge base, and automated responses.
- Must offer templates for all kinds of channels.
- Must offer customization and branding features.
- The ability to trigger automated responses precisely to customer queries and personalize interactions.
- Request and gather customer feedback automatically after each resolution.
- The ability to serve multiple channels in one system.
- Send automated alerts for multiple internal workflows.
- Understand customer emotion, convert text to speech, analyze voice, etc.
7. Integrate with CRM
Since your existing customer relationship management (CRM) system holds historical information on each customer, it only makes sense to integrate it with your automated customer service.
Doing so lets your agents have a complete view of each customer’s journey and interaction history. You can track each interaction and ensure customer conversations are more contextual and not shallow.
8. Set up a chatbot
Chatbots enable automated conversations and also can route complicated queries to human agents.
AI-enabled chatbots also aid in customer self-service methods. For instance, an automated chatbot can respond to a customer with a link to a self-service guide that could help them solve their concern.
Some major benefits of using chatbots are their scalability, the ability to tend to multiple customers simultaneously across platforms, and the use of historical data to build custom workflows.
9. Set up an onboarding process
Another effective method of enhancing customer service is to take a proactive approach in reducing the instances where customers need to reach out to your business for support.
You can do this by setting up easy-to-follow onboarding processes from the point of customer sign-up to increase product adoption. The idea is to be able to use a step by step that uses both text and screenshots to guide them through the process. Solutions like Scribe can aid companies in creating customer onboarding processes effortlessly, allowing businesses to optimize the onboarding process and increase customer satisfaction.
Ultimately, by providing an intuitive onboarding experience, you can minimize the need for customers to reach out to your support team, improving efficiency, and freeing up resources to focus on other aspects of your business.
10. Measure & optimize
You must know by now that the sole intention behind customer service automation is not to provide surface-level responses in less time.
For effective customer service and to see envisioned results with retention, it’s vital to continually improve your automation and turnaround time while elevating the customer experience with each interaction.
Measure your results and optimize efforts non-stop by gathering feedback and tracking responses.
Customer service automation best practices to follow
1. Set up a separate profile
Keep your automation processes streamlined by dedicating a separate profile for your support activities. This means having a separate email address, phone number, and social media accounts from your usual marketing ones.
2. Always ask for feedback
Every customer service interaction, no matter how small it may be, must end with an automated feedback collection message. It could be as simple as a rating or a text review. Asking for feedback indicates your conviction to improve and is often appreciated by customers. Negative reviews or ratings below three stars serve as wake-up calls to revamp and improve your responses.
Audit everything we’ve discussed, from canned responses to chatbots to knowledge bases and guides. Auditing lets you pinpoint problem areas that must keep up with the evolving trends and technology.
Offer an escape hatch
The lack of human touch is the widely known drawback of AI and anything to do with automated responses. And some customers may wish to interact with a human from the get-go. So make it simpler for them to exit your automated system, reach out to your live agent, and get their issues sorted.
Supercharge your customer service with automation
Change is the only constant. And customer service is not any different when it comes to evolving with expectations.
Achieve the biggest impact out of customer service automation by consistently transitioning your methods and understanding customers. Hence don’t be afraid to experiment with trending technologies such as Scribe that are easily accessible to us.
Quinn Malloy is a copywriter and marketing professional based in Prague, Czech Republic.
He works for CloudTalk, helping to create compelling messaging in support of the next generation of cloud communication.