Looking for an easy way to improve your customer service and streamline operations? Customer service automation might be your magic wand to make that happen. It is the most basic form of integrating technology into your business to bolster efficiency.
But what is customer service automation and how can you make it accessible for your business without it feeling like a robot is running your operations?
What you don’t want it to feel like when you automate your customer service.
You’re in the right place! This guide covers all you need to know about customer service automation, its benefits, and how to use it to your advantage.
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation is the process of minimizing human involvement in handling customer inquiries and requests. It simplifies customer-company interactions and allows customers to create a personalized experience for themselves using automated technologies. There are many ways to automate customer service, which we’ll cover next.
Types of customer service automation
Providing quality customer service at scale is difficult, but the following ways to automate customer service can help you overcome that hurdle.
Chatbots are AI-powered text tools designed to interact with customers in real-time. They are customizable, provide quick answers to basic queries, and direct customers to other resources or services within your scope.
Website chat also reduces typo errors and redundancy from handling multiple queries manually. Plus, you can collect lead information from website visitors directly through a chatbot so you can follow up or nurture them through the funnel later.
Moreover, as customers use chatbots, you can use their interactions to improve the information you provide on your website, the way you engage customers, and your targeting.
2. Email and SMS automation
Email and SMS automation allow you to maintain direct and consistent communication with potential and existing customers. Here’s how:
- You can build an email list and segment your audience according to their touchpoints.
- You can schedule and send brand newsletters and personalized SMS text messages anytime.
- Most importantly, the automation allows you to run targeted SMS and email marketing campaigns on new or improved services.
- You can also integrate email and SMS automation with your call center software to further communicate with customers based on the outcome of their call queries.
An example of some automated emails you can use to automate customer service.
3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) automation
CRM automation gathers, stores, and organizes your customers’ data into one place that is accessible to authorized staff. It helps your customer support reps retrieve customer data and information when necessary with little or no hassle.
An example of a lead inbox where you can automate follow-up.
Most customers prefer to help themselves if given the proper tools and information. They believe self-service is faster, as they don’t have to go through countless customer service protocols.
Here’s where a Frequently Asked Questions section and a robust knowledge base (with articles, tutorials, libraries, and whatnot) comes into play. They provide customers with useful information about your business, reducing the need for interactions with a customer agent.
5. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
This automated phone-based customer support service (pre-recorded voice) uses natural language processing to assist customers when they contact your support line. It collects information from customers, provides them with options based on their queries, and transfers them (if need be) to appropriate departments for further assistance.
Furthermore, IVR service can handle many calls simultaneously and help your customer agents manage their workloads better.
Top 7 benefits of customer service automation for your business
Here are seven significant ways customer support automation can help your business thrive amidst competition in your industry.
1. Less expense
Customer service automation is an effective cost-reduction measure to improve the customer experience without compromising quality. As it reduces the need for human involvement, you get to spend less on hiring, training, and managing customer support reps or employees who handle customer queries. It also reduces the average cost of service per customer.
In fact, research by McKinsey Digital revealed that organizations that use technology (read as automation) to revamp their customer experience save 20-40% on service costs.
And, a report presented by Juniper Research also estimates that chatbots will save businesses around $11 billion in annual costs by 2023.
2. More free time
Time is one of every business’s most valuable assets. That being so, automating simple tasks gives you time to handle more complex customer interactions that require a human touch.
For example, if it takes one hour to respond to 10 customers traditionally, an automated customer service system will complete the job in less time.
This allows you to assess other business operations, and if there is none, you can use the free time to rest and re-strategize.
3. Available 24/7
Humans can only work for a limited time per day. However, automated customer systems are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So whether in the dead of night or the wake of the day, you can be confident that customers won’t be stranded at any point interacting with your brand.
Even though this business is offline, there’s an option to leave a message for quick follow-up later.
4. Helps scale growth
Fast-growing companies have a larger customer base. Hence, automating customer service helps these businesses maintain and grow their consumer pool while staying on par with industry standards. It ensures they continually deliver quality without being overwhelmed by a growing demand for their service.
5. Improved quality and consistency of customer service levels
When implemented strategically, customer support automation can be used throughout the customer journey to provide quality and consistent customer service. You can use it to answer queries, onboard new customers, showcase new or improved services, and get customer feedback.
6. Increased productivity
Customer service agents can only attend to one customer at a time. Imagine hundreds of customers calling in daily with similar issues, and you only have a 15-man customer support team. Of course, this will result in chaotic customer service delivery, increased staff burnout, and poor work output.
However, putting time-consuming tasks—such as messaging and directing orders—on autopilot enables you to streamline your workflow. When neither you nor your employees are overburdened with redundant tasks, there is a high chance of being efficient and productive.
7. Less room for error
Every human is susceptible to making mistakes. That is why automation is your best shot at reducing the number of mistakes made in customer service, as it minimizes the need for human involvement.
For example, when you have an overwhelming number of queries, customer support reps can forget to respond to some or misplace customer details. And this can lead to poor customer experiences. Conversely, when you use an automated customer service system, customers receive answers to their queries promptly and accordingly.
How to use customer service automation
Getting the best out of customer service automation requires using it appropriately. Here are a couple of ways to do that.
1. Automate responses to questions
Instead of manually answering redundant questions, you can use customer service automation to create an FAQ page or a centralized knowledge base that provides answers to common questions about your business.
This makes it easier and faster for customers to access basic information, promoting a quality self-service experience.
2. Share customer refund information automatically
Processing refunds involves dealing with different customer banking platforms and accounts. So, instead of doing it manually, you can use customer service automation to process refund requests and notify customers of the refund completion.
3. Collect feedback from different channels
Customers’ feedback helps you gain insights about your services, products, and overall work culture. You can use customer service automation to send SMS surveys, obtain feedback, and create polls on social media platforms.
Furthermore, you can add chat to your website or integrate an automatic rating system to collect feedback on how customers feel about your content. Consider using emoticons, thumbs up and down, or the five-star rating system.
4. Broadcast customer data updates
Automated customer support can take over most data-related tasks, such as retrieving customer feedback and handling purchases. It can pull customer data from different business databases and perform updates swiftly without any mistakes.
5. Assist customer service representatives
Automated customer service is far more than just facilitating customer-based conversations. You can use it to gather information for your customer service representatives to help them understand customers’ expectations and needs.
It can provide details about a customer—such as who they are, previous complaints, demographics, and their purchases—and send them to customer service agents beforehand for proper processing.
It’s also a great way to collect first-party data.
Customer service automation is the future of customer service
Today, the world is increasingly driven by technology, causing customers’ needs and expectations to evolve. Hence, it’s clear that customer service automation is necessary for businesses and customers.
Fortunately, the adoption of automated customer service has already begun, and it’s been unarguably successful. While there will always be trial and error with new updates, there are plenty of reasons to believe automation in customer service is here for the long term.
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