Automated customer service is set to not only transform the way customer care departments operate, but also the customer care experience itself.
While some may feel that customers would prefer human-to-human interactions over automated self-service solutions, a number of surveys point to a different conclusion.
For instance, over the years, Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Reports have shown that customers preferences are trending towards interactions that are:
Already in their 2018 report, 88% of respondents expected brands to offer an online self-service portal, and 66% engaged with self-service before engaging with an agent.
These customer service trends have continued to increase to this day and they are unlikely to reverse course—Forrester even expects digital customer service interactions to increase by 40% during 2021.
Automated solutions can help brands meet these evolving customer service expectations, while also delivering a number of major business benefits. For reasons such as these, there is a strong likelihood that automated customer service will dominate the market in the years ahead.
What is automated customer service?
Automated customers service tools refer to digital tools that take over customer service tasks normally performed by humans.
Here are a few examples of what these tools look like:
- Chatbots and virtual assistants, such as WalkMe’s ActionBot, can be used to answer common questions, perform tasks, and act as a business’s initial customer engagement
- Knowledge bases are searchable online libraries that contain information about specific topics, such as products and services
- RPA, BPA, and similar approaches can be used to automate a number of other routine customer service tasks, such as travel reservations, ride-hailing, customer service query routing, and much more
Over the years, we have gradually seen these types of tools become both more sophisticated and more common.
One reason for this is that these tools can significantly improve the customer experience. Another is that automated tools offer major benefits to businesses themselves.
Why automated customer service is the future of business
Here are just a few of the many reasons why automation has become such a powerful force in the customer service industry:
Customer service tools such as chatbots can be directly connected to data sources, such as a customer’s profile, to offer personalized recommendations or solutions.
Amazon’s chatbot, for example, can draw from a customer’s past purchase history to resolve questions more quickly. It can also be used to automatically perform tasks related to your orders, such as providing refunds or canceling items.
Humans often need to look up customer data manually and they are not always familiar with every process or procedure for completing tasks.
Also, most of us have personally experienced long wait times, either on the phone or in person.
Automated customer care tools, however, can eliminate these issues. They have instant access to customer information, they can immediately complete whatever tasks they have been programmed to perform, and there is no need to wait for them to become available.
Automated tools are available 24/7, so customers are not limited to calling during certain days of the week or certain times of the day.
Unlike humans, digital tools also don’t change behavior based on their moods, how tired they are, their physical health, or other similar factors that affect human performance.
Automated tools can be relied upon to consistently, efficiently, and repeatedly perform the same tasks an infinite number of times without making mistakes.
4. Customer satisfaction
When customers can get fast, great service at any time of the day or night, they will naturally be more satisfied with the experience.
That increased satisfaction will boost other key customer metrics, such as engagement, loyalty, and lifetime value.
The impact of these automation tools can be seen in a company’s bottom-line profits.
Every customer’s interaction with an automation platform can be analyzed and used for future optimization.
During those interactions, customers provide useful input related to their experience with the brand, products and services, and interactions with employees.
Those insights can then be incorporated back into the organization as part of a performance improvement strategy.
6. Lower business costs
Automation can cut costs in a number of ways.
Perhaps the biggest savings come from the reduced need for human customer service agents.
Some companies have seen extraordinary reductions in ticket backlogs and staffing needs. Smaller customer service headcounts decrease costs related to salaries, benefits, training, equipment, and even rent (if your employees need to work from the office).
Keep this in mind…
As with any other tool, automation has both pros and cons, so it is important to be aware of and avoid common pitfalls.
Do not over-automate. Too much automation in any form of communication, such as marketing or customer service, can remove the human touch and have a negative effect on the customer experience and customer perceptions of your brand.
Do not ignore customer input. The insights collected from customer interactions are only valuable if they are used. To ensure customer feedback isn’t ignored, mechanisms should be put into place that continually feed this information to appropriate parties.
Do not invade customer privacy. Personalization can speed up and improve customer service interactions, as mentioned above. But using too many personal details can come across as invasive or creepy, so it is important to be sensitive to social boundaries.
Do not use a generic brand voice. If a chatbot is not customized to the brand’s voice, then this can create a disjointed experience between customer service interactions and the rest of their interactions with a brand.
With the proper planning, customer service managers can sidestep these pitfalls, transform their customer service departments, and realize most—if not all—of the benefits described above.
To learn more about the real-world impacts of automated customer service, see how WalkMe achieved 98% customer satisfaction with the assistance of automation.