Ask 10 experts about the future of work, and you will likely get 10 answers about its exact definition. It’s a broad concept, and one that can take on different directions depending on the industry, definition, and specialty area of the expert in question.
But one thing is clear: the future of work is, in more ways than one, built on the concept of automation.
That much is true, regardless of whether the workforce will begin to return to the physical office, as some experts predict, or remain remote, as others forecast. In fact, automation will dramatically affect both types of environments. It already has.
What exactly does that look like? And how will support automation in particular impact the way we build, manage, and execute our work in the future? That’s what this guide will explore in more detail.
Three cornerstones of the future of work.
As complex as concepts surrounding the future of work might be, its goals can be summarized more easily in two major concepts: productivity and profitability. Technology, when used the right way, is helping teams prosper regardless of their circumstance, through a few core tenets:
- Accelerated collaboration: through benefits like more accessible expertise as well as smarter AI and technology-enabled communications abilities.
- Knowledge: specifically the ability to collect, analyze, and share data beyond its traditional silos. RPA tools like Capacity do the heavy data lifting, along with building the foundation of a more streamlined and organized way of sharing the newly gained information.
- Digital assistants: empowered by AI and machine learning to not just help customers and internal stakeholders, but become better at providing that help over time. Truly knowledgeable chatbots, built with both the knowledge and personalization capabilities to self-optimize, can free up teams to become better prepared, more productive, and more profitable.
None of these cornerstones change between remote and in-person environments. They’re equally important in each scenario, creating a more productive and efficient environment in the process.
Support automation, defined.
The above three cornerstones, on some level, already hint at how better-automated support intersects with the future of work. To truly understand that intersection, though, requires digging more deeply into the role that support automation plays.
At its core, support automation is the process of automating the tools that helpdesks need to maximize their productivity and reliably help customers. They leverage support automation platforms like Capacity to enhance their customer service capabilities. In this context, automation can take a few different forms:
- Chat automation: answering common questions without human input while deferring more complex questions to live agents.
- Natural language processing: enabling automated chatbots to communicate like human beings and learn based on their own experience. Because of features like the ability to recognize word combinations as carrying a specific meaning, the NLP functionality within Capacity allows it to answer even complex questions without human involvement over 84% of the time.
- Platform integration: particularly the ability to integrate within existing apps to automate support and support-related data without manual entry, processing, or analysis.
Crucially, none of these features mean that support automation can or will replace actual employees. It does, however, have the potential to drastically impact the future of both in-person and remote workforces.
How support automation can change the future of work.
Regardless of whether future work will be in-person or remote, customer service will remain an essential component. In fact, the argument could be made that the move to a more virtual society, with increasing numbers of products and services being offered online, only increases the need for high-value customer support.
The past year has offered a perfect real-world case study of that hypothesis. According to one study, call volumes to customer service departments increased across industries, from airlines to grocery stores. Another study found similar results when looking at different audiences.
That increasing volume can introduce potentially significant issues. Customer service staff can easily become backlogged in trying to answer questions quickly, letting even simple and general issues remain unresolved and reducing customer satisfaction as a result.
That problem remains, regardless of whether your support staff is remote or in-person. In either case, automation can reduce the backlog and even increase solution rates and customer satisfaction.
Through automation, your customer service staff is freed up for more strategic tasks. Your support agents become heroes, increasing their own satisfaction with their job and performance in the process. Their ability to move away from catching up and towards proactive improvements has a potentially dramatic impact on the future of customer service work.
Done right, and that field turns from an entry-level struggle with high turnover rates to a much more desirable work environment. Remote or in-person, agents can build strategic plans to maintain and improve the way that their brand helps its customers succeed. Support automation, in this scenario, is a change engine built to change the way we think about customer service careers.
Finding the right platform to build future-proof support automation systems.
For many support teams and companies, the above might sound like a pipe dream. But in reality, it’s much closer to reality than you might think. That’s because the right software can go a long way towards building a system of automation that eases tactical tasks and frees up capacity for more strategic thinking.
We’ve outlined some of the most important features of support automation above. Chat automation, natural language processing, and platform integrations are all vital to move from simple task automation to more comprehensive RPA systems that self-adjust and improve over time. A platform like Capacity can build it all into the right structure for your agents and teams to implement and leverage.
See how teams in industries as diverse as education and banking are leveraging Capacity for their support automation needs. And in the process, you begin to see just how that level of support automation can truly begin to define the future of work as we know it today.