The latest customer support stats reveal that a transition to automated customer support is imminent. So, how do you automate customer service without losing the human touch or increasing expenditures on machine learning and AI?
In this in-depth article, we’ll look at the examples of automated customer support services, including but not limited to;
- Live chats and bots
- Canned replies
But first, let’s start by understanding the foundations of support automation.
Defining support automation.
Also referred to as customer service automation, support automation is the practice of reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement when advising or assisting customers, depending on their requests.
Customer service is understanding a customer’s needs and providing assistance or devising a solution to meet them. But here’s the rub; customers have varying expectations, which can either be matched or mismatched by the internal support skills, and this can complicate the equation. However, integrating the two is what creates excellent customer service.
Therefore, automating customer service enables businesses to eliminate or control the person-to-person interactions when they’re either unsuitable or redundant.
Examples of automated customer support services.
Providing grade-A customer support is a critical ingredient for business success. However, it isn’t always one of the easiest things to do, especially when starting or growing your business. But with the following five examples, you can effortlessly provide personal customer support to eliminate redundancy, complexity, and disorder.
Customers are rather impatient when it comes to them wanting their issues addressed—they live under the “right here, right now” slogan. When they raise a problem or a question, they usually want answers immediately.
This is where self-service thrives. Creating a self-service online library enhances customer satisfaction while reducing support volume. Why so? As much as people want immediate assistance, they prefer it when you enable them to help themselves.
Developing your company-specific knowledge base helps save a lot of time and keeps your customers satisfied. Here are a few important features to look for when conducting a vendor search:
- Instant access to knowledge.. It’s important to feature your knowledge base on your website so it is easy for users to find and utilize. For easy access, consider an AI-powered chatbot to answer customer inquiries.
- Make search natural. For customers to self-serve, you need a platform that understands and responds to inquiries, just like a co-worker or friend. Make sure the platform you choose features natural language processing (NLP) technology.
- Data and reporting. AI-driven systems create workflows for processing data sets to determine what’s working for your knowledge base and where an improvement is needed. What’s more, it helps track vital metrics like ratings, article performance, searched terms, total visitors, etc.
- One-click to contact. Your knowledge base should be able to address the majority of customer queries and concerns, but there will be instances when it won’t know the answer. Make sure your platform allows for positive and negative feedback, and seamless escalation to a live chat agent if the issue cannot easily be resolved.
The best way to leverage support automation is to bring all customer services into a single location. That way, you can cut overhead costs, i.e. your team spending countless amounts of time traversing different platforms like chat, phone, social, and email. Unifying all conversations with your customers into one power center is the gateway to support automation.
There are two steps towards achieving this feat; organization and collaboration. Organizing help involves understanding what’s already working for you and putting it into a system that creates an autopilot program.
On the flip side, collaboration debunks the narrative that support automation is specifically meant to benefit the customers and improve outside service. It aims to make the in-house team more satisfied with their working environment. Collaboration tools do that by automatically identifying who is responsible for a conversation as well as protecting them (conversations) against duplication.
You’ve probably seen it before: you contact a company for assistance, the automated system assigns you a ticket number, and what follows is the generic “your request has been received” notification. Frankly, such messages paint a bad picture of automation, making it less popular among customers. For that reason, canned replies are far better than the cold autoresponders.
Autoresponders are non-specific emails that are perfect for general announcements and marketing, but not for sensitive situations like customer support or service. On the other hand, canned responses are pre-written responses to frequently asked questions or workflows that do an excellent job addressing various concerns.
Providing canned responses presents an opportunity to build deeper relationships with customers, which is extremely crucial, especially if it’s the first time they’re receiving your assistance. The ultimate goal is to use bots to serve humans faster, easier, and more efficiently without the humans even noticing. Canned replies also keep the language and tone consistent across various conversations.
Live chats and chatbots.
Chatbots are an excellent technology that companies can leverage to scale their customer service provision while minimizing costs. But the big question is: are customers satisfied with chatbots? To answer that, it’s clear that customers are looking for fast, straightforward, and thoughtful support, but there are times when they want that human touch and empathy.
Overall, customers love the live chat widgets that are increasingly getting featured in almost every website’s corner. It’s all for a good cause, considering the benefits they stand to gain from a live chat: faster resolution times and ease of contact. Isn’t that the most fabulous combo for reduced customer efforts?
Here are a few tips for conducting a memorable real-time chat;
- Personability. To bring in human touch and treat the chat like a real conversation, be sure to introduce yourself and align the discussion with your brand goals and culture.
- Speed. Remember, 60% of customers don’t have the patience to wait for more than 60 seconds for a response.
- Expectations. It’s natural not to have a solution for an issue instantly in a chat. In such circumstances, inform the customer about when, where, how, and from whom they should expect a response.
There’s a common misconception that machine learning and AI-enabled chatbots are reserved for big companies. However, startups and small businesses alike can also leverage the technology to connect with customers and improve their operations.
Chatbots should lean towards automating interactions to pave the way for humans to focus on more value-adding tasks. These include options like extending personalized greetings to customers and deciding whether to hide or show the chat box depending on the customer behavior.
Support automation is the future of customer service, but as we’ve seen, it’s not 100% feasible without the human touch. Real automation involves the adequate balancing of personal support and automated supports like self-service, centralization, canned responses, live chats, and chatbots.