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What is Automated Customer Service & Why it is Important

what is automated customer service

When you automate customer service, you put an end to manual processes, human errors, and unhappy customers. In fact, you put your support team in a better position to handle more complaints, offer speedy resolutions, and delight customers. 

“Has old-fashioned customer service gone straight out the window? Modern-day customer service does not simply mean treating the customer right. How well you automate your processes and how quickly you respond to customers can make all the difference.”

However, there is a challenge. 

Many entrepreneurs still hold on to the notion that “More Technology = Less Human Touch“. Well, automating customer service does not mean replacing your human agents entirely. Automation technology is primarily a tool to extend an agent’s capability and sustain the “human touch”. 

So if you are looking to embrace technology and customer service automation tools, now is the time. In this blog, we will understand what customer service automation really means, its impeccable benefits, some best practices to embrace, and some mistakes to avoid.

But before we proceed, let us answer the question “what is service automation?”

What is Automated Customer Service? 

Customer service automation is the process of replacing manual tasks with powerful automation technology and tools. The major objectives of automated customer service are to save time, reduce human errors, and allow customer service representatives to respond to customers and resolve their problems efficiently quickly. 

“Automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” – Bill Gates

From the above definition of customer service automation, it is clear that it can revolutionize your support department. However, complete process automation still remains a dream for many organizations. A lot of customers still prefer to speak to human agents for a more personalized conversation. Therefore, it becomes all the more important to create the right blend of human support and technology. 

What is an Automated Customer Service System? 

An automated customer service system refers to powerful software that enables support reps to offer real-time support across email, chat, phone, social media, and other channels. The tool can help you automate a variety of customer service tasks such as ticket routing, email notifications, surveys, ticket labeling, tracking, and a lot more. 

In addition to automating your routine support workflow operations, you can even resolve common customer questions via FAQs, help articles, and tutorials. The best part is that such tools are super easy-to-use, affordable, and can help your team get started in no time. 

Read More: Why Help Desk Software is Important for Your Business?

Read More: Why Help Desk Software is Important for Your Business?

Benefits of Automated Customer Service

Right from dodging human errors to enhancing team productivity, there is a lot that automation brings to the table. Here are some of the top benefits of automated customer services: 

1. Avoid Bringing Human Errors Into the Process

Making errors is primary to human beings. No matter how skilled or experienced you are, mistakes can happen at any time. When you automate customer service processes, you can avoid such common errors and bring consistency to your department. 

For example, when you have an overwhelming amount of tickets, human agents can forget to respond to every single one of them, and it leads to poor customer experiences. On the other hand, when you use an automated customer service system, you can share automated alerts with agents and keep them notified about each stage of the ticketing cycle. 

2. Enhance Team Productivity

Customer service automation is a great way to speed up your support process. Support agents can automate their mundane and manual tasks and get more done quickly. 

Let’s understand this better with an example. When customers submit their support tickets, if your agents manually distribute them among themselves, it will only lead to a wastage of time and unnecessary confusion. On the other hand, with automated ticket routing, customer service reps can be assigned tickets automatically and work on issues that are well-suited to their skills or knowledge. 

3. Resolve More Requests and Queries 

When it comes to delightful customer service, speed is of utmost importance. No matter what you sell, customers demand faster responses when something goes wrong, and they need your help. 

According to a Statista report, 12% of Americans rate their number one frustration with customer service as “lack of speed.” 

With automation features such as a self-service knowledge base and chatbots, your support team can handle more requests, complaints, as well as customer queries. You can even handle customers that come from different time zones and make sure reliable assistance is available round the clock. 

Drawbacks of Customer Service Automation

Well, as they say, “there are two sides to every coin”. Customer service automation, if not done right, can raise several concerns for your team and business. Here are some popular drawbacks you should know about: 

1. Takes Time to Adjust 

Using automation technology is not as easy as spotting the sun on a bright day. You will need to spend enough time to train your employees, make sure everyone in your company understands the “real value” of automation, and foster a culture that embraces change. 

Although modern customer support tools are relatively easier-to-use, agents might need some time to adjust to them. The same goes for customers. Many of them might not feel comfortable finding answers on their own or interacting with a bot and might demand agent intervention. 

2. Can Lead to Impersonal Interactions

At some point in time, we all have interacted with a chatbot and saw how impersonal the conversation can feel. After all, nothing compares to an attentive human voice who is ready to go the extra mile to help you and keeps you engaged in the conversation. 

When customers need assistance with their technical problems or wish to share sensitive information, they feel more comfortable speaking to human agents. This illustrates that although customer service automation is a great thing, it can never replace your team altogether. 

3. Poor Automation Can Be Costly 

Automation, if not implemented properly, can prove to be expensive. Investing in a wide range of support tools that your team does not even need can cost your business excessive amounts of money in the long term. 

For example, you don’t need to invest in separate help desk software, live chat or survey tool. With great options available in the market, you can go for a tool such as ProProfs Help Desk that comes loaded with all these powerful tools and features. This will not only help you save money but also allow you to offer 360-degree support from a single dashboard. 

Best Practices to Follow When Setting Up Automated Customer Service

  1. Be Smart About Task Distribution
  2. Do Not Sacrifice the Human Touch
  3. Create & Update Your Knowledge Base Content
  4. Let Chatbots Do the Talking
  5. Personalize Your Automated Responses 
  6. Fill Training Gaps
  7. Take Feedback at Key Touchpoints 

1. Be Smart About Task Distribution

Right from the first day onwards, you need to be smart about workload distribution. A handful of your agents should not feel like they are doing all the work while other agents roam around freely. So how do you create a fair yet smart ticket distribution system? 

Help desk software offers the automated ticket assignment feature that helps you automatically distribute support tickets among your agents. You can choose “round-robin” to distribute tickets equally or route tickets based on agent skills and experience. 

Ticket assignment is one of the simplest ways to automate customer service. But why should you go for it? Well, your team can always assign tickets manually; however, that might lead to agents picking easier tickets for themselves. Even worse, a high-priority ticket might stay unassigned for long and lead to a poor service experience. 

Read More:  10 Service Desk Automation Ideas that Boost Performance and Quality

2. Do Not Sacrifice the Human Touch 

The battle between ‘digitalization vs. the human touch’ has been a long one. Although automating customer service is important, you should not lose the most valuable – human-to-human experience. 

In customer support, the human touch refers to the empathy, respect, personalization, and flexibility customers get when interacting with human agents. There is no doubt that technology is efficient, but it often fails on all these important aspects.

You need to remember that automation is a tool and not a complete substitute for human agents. Strike the right balance between technology and the human aspects of customer service, as discussed above. This will help your agents track issues, organize tickets, and create better workflows. 

3. Create & Update Your Knowledge Base Content

Update Your Knowledge Base Content

Creating a vast knowledge base is considered one of the top customer service automation best practices. After all, a knowledge base helps you automate the basic issue-resolution process so that your customers can find answers to their common questions without human intervention. 

According to a study, 89% of customers use a search engine to find answers before a company’s customer support team for assistance. 

So, what contents you should add to your knowledge base?

  • Easily Accessible Content: You must create content in the form of FAQs, blogs, and glossaries of words and phrases. Such content must be easily accessible to customers and other stakeholders. 
  • Visually Helpful Content: Some knowledge base content will require a visual representation of the solution in the form of small videos, infographics, product screenshots, graphs, etc. To meet these needs, you must create video tutorials and how-to articles. 
  • In-Depth Content: Sometimes, customers need extensive pieces of content to understand the root cause of a problem. For example, you can include step-by-step guides to help customers troubleshoot their technical problems. 

4. Let Chatbots Do the Talking 

In this day and age, customer support automation is incomplete without chatbots. Modern customers demand faster responses and 24×7 assistance, and what better way to meet these expectations than developing chatbots for your own team. 

Chatbots use the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to hold meaningful conversations with customers, help you generate leads, and boost engagement. Even when your customer service team members aren’t available, chatbots can interact with prospects or customers and resolve their basic questions. 

However, many customers dislike the idea of having robotic conversations. To rise above this challenge, you need to ensure a chatbot provides a seamless and personalized communication experience. Make sure it is powerful enough to tap into stored data to grab information about customers’ personal information, past purchases, as well as preferences. 

Even if your bots are not able to solve a customer problem, they can automatically route the conversation to a relevant agent or department. 

5. Personalize Your Automated Responses

Almost every business today makes use of automated responses to reply to customer complaints or update them about the status of their issue. But the last thing any angry customer would want is a reply that seems robotic or impersonal. 

Your canned responses for email, chat, and SMS should not sound robotic. You must create canned response templates for different situations and encourage agents to make necessary tweaks to add a healthy dose of personalization. 

Personalize Your Automated Responses

One way to do this is by using an empathetic tone. Rather than blatantly promising that you will solve the problem, try to understand what’s the exact issue they are facing and how it has impacted their work or life. You can also offer personalized recommendations based on their past purchases and appreciate them for being loyal to your brand. 

Personalized emails also increase the chances of your customers opening your emails and sharing a valid response. After all, carefully drafted messages can make anyone feel special. 

Read More: 11 Best Canned Response Templates for Customer Support Emails

6. Fill Training Gaps

Even before you automate customer service, you need to make sure your team members are well-prepared for the changes that will follow. Adapting to any new technology is not easy and will demand that you arrange adequate training sessions. 

Using technology without proper training is like drawing with a white crayon – pointless. 

Companies spend millions of dollars to automate their business processes, including customer support. However, the same companies have spent far less time and money giving agents the skills needed to use even the simplest technology effectively.

Every time you introduce a new tool to automate customer service, make sure your agents receive in-depth product training sessions. Ask them to raise questions, clarify their doubts, and give them some time to adjust. You can even record these training sessions and add them to your internal knowledge base. This will allow agents to refer to any training materials whenever they feel stuck quickly. 

7. Take Feedback at Key Touchpoints 

Embracing and adapting to automation is a time-consuming process. It requires testing, and you will need regular feedback to make necessary improvements. 

For customer service automation success, you need to take feedback from customers as well as employees. Ask customers how helpful they find self-service content or chatbots. Similarly, take regular feedback to understand if employees are facing any challenges adapting to the new technology. 

As soon as your reps finish up solving the customer problems, a survey should be shared that focuses on taking feedback about their experience with your customer support. Capturing feedback makes customers feel valued, helps you improve your process, and come up with better ways to serve your customers. You can also share pop-up surveys to monitor the effectiveness of your knowledge base articles. 

Read More: Survey Question: 250+Examples, Types & Best Practices

Don’ts of Customer Service Automation 

There is a very fine line between poor customer service and delightful customer support. One single mistake or wrong decision and you may have to regret it for a lifetime. 

Now that we have discussed the best practices, let’s look at some of the common mistakes you need to avoid when automating customer service. 

  • Do not try to replace human agents altogether: While technology can help you achieve a lot of things and that too in a short amount of time, it can never replace your team entirely. It cannot handle angry customers, calm them down, or make them laugh with humor. Therefore, the technology that you implement must know when human inputs are required and when it’s not. 
  • Never rely on a single channel: When you automate customer service, you must do it for all your communication channels. There is no point in automating the process of some channels and leaving others behind. For example, if you have your automated email ticketing process but not live chat, customers will not have a seamless support experience. For better results, you need to make technology as inclusive as possible. 
  • Do not handle high-priority issues with automation: There are a lot of situations where you should not use automation and allow human agents to solve the problem. For example, if a majority of customers complain that their account has been compromised, your department heads will need to join forces and see what can be the possible reason. Even when the issue is resolved, you need to call customers personally and try to win their trust back. 
  • Never be satisfied with the same technology: We all know that the current times are known for rapid digitization and expansion of technology. Make sure the customer support tools you use are updated from time to time. As your team grows, you might want to go for premium plans to enjoy more powerful features. In addition to technology, you need to update your responses from time to time. Moreover, make sure you follow the latest automation trends and try to incorporate them into your process. 

Automate Customer Service But Keep the “Human Touch” Alive

Every business looking to flourish recognizes the importance of giving their customers center stage in every single interaction. However, if you still manage your customer service tasks manually, keeping customers happy can prove to be a far-fetched dream. 

Customer service automation can help you avoid human errors, enhance team productivity, and delight your customers with faster responses. Distribute tasks based on skills, personalize your responses, leverage chatbots, and encourage self-service. 

While it is great to embrace technology, the real essence of service lies in human-to-human interactions and personalization. Keep the human touch alive by asking agents to handle complex issues, take feedback, and appreciate customers for choosing you over a thousand others.

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About the author

Jared is a customer support expert. He has been published in CrazyEgg, CoSchedule, and CXL. As a customer support executive at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in developing a complete customer support system that more than doubled customer satisfaction. You can connect and engage with Jared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn