How Automated Customer Service Can Improve Your Support
While one minute doesn’t seem like a lot, when it comes to solving problems – conversations with support agents can feel long and drawn out. This can be particularly frustrating when the issues are trivial in nature. There are many situations where customers spend 5-10 minutes on the phone just to find out basic information, such as learning a product’s return policy.
But what if customers could find this information on their own, in real-time and with just a few actions on a website? What if you could save them the time and effort of having to go through your customer service center, while also drastically improving their customer experience?
Automated customer service is the answer to this very problem.
What is Automated Customer Service?
Automating customer service simply means reducing human effort in common, repetitive tasks and offering alternate solutions, thereby saving time and effort – both for agents as well as customers.
This means incorporating provisions and processes that allow customers to retrieve information or answers at lightning-quick speed without requiring the intervention of a customer support representative or any contact with an organization’s support team.
The reason customer service automation works so well is because of how many steps the customer can effectively skip in search of a solution. With automated customer service, customers can also eliminate needless context-setting interactions with support teams and go right to finding a solution.
Why Is Automated Customer Service So Important?
Automation is not a replacement for human agents. It simply creates a gateway that deals with queries that would have taken longer to solve with an agent and would also be a waste of time for both the customer and the support team.
The objective is to create a system that effectively replaces certain repetitive parts of customer service with an automated mechanism. With automated customer service, you are making strides to help customers get what they want almost instantly. The benefits are threefold:
1. Empower Customers To Help Themselves
Like we mentioned earlier, automated customer service is all about handing the reins of preliminary support to the customer. By triggering the right prompts on a website, they will be able to get quick answers. This saves a tremendous amount of time and allows visitors to use that information faster to complete the tasks that required it.
They can also get the information at a time of their choosing because unlike humans, automation tools don’t need sleep. So, any form of self-support is available 24×7.
Most of all, automated customer service means reduced agent interaction. While it’s true that great agent conversations can garner higher customer satisfaction, being forced to contact customer care for every little piece of information is tedious no matter how helpful or friendly the support executive is.
2. Improve Agent Productivity
Repetition has always been the enemy of support. Boring, mundane tasks can be a big let down for agents in their quest to attain job satisfaction. Imagine having to pick up the phone 30 times a day giving the same answer to every single customer. This is not what customer support agents were hired for.
Here’s where automating customer service comes in. By automating, you are essentially reducing ticket volume since the customer won’t need to register it as a ticket in your helpdesk. With the repetitive questions no longer on the agent’s agenda, their inboxes become less cluttered and it frees up valuable time for them.
Of course, reducing agent workload is only the first step. With more time on their hands, support reps can focus on performing tasks that add more value to both the customer and the organization. It also means more important and complex issues can be given the attention they deserve. Significantly, agents can now focus on having impactful conversations with customers.
3. Reduce Your Costs and Overheads
Now that you’ve covered your two most important bases with automation, let’s talk about cost management. Having dedicated resources to answer repetitive calls can create overhead in two ways:
-The first is when your ticket volume is on the rise and you have to hire more agents to take on the extra work.
-The second is agent attrition because of job dissatisfaction, resulting in new hires and added training costs.
By setting up automated customer service, you save time and money you would have had to spend on recruitment and training. More importantly, there is usually only a one-time fee for implementing your automation systems and you can always upgrade your automation tools when you require.
Setting Up Your Automated Customer Service
We now know why automating customer service is necessary. So how do you do it? There are several ways you can go about this. Depending on your requirement, you can use any of the following:
Creating A Knowledge Base for Better Self-Help
Your support teams must be used to writing tons of emails that cater to a variety of customer questions. Why not turn those emails into solution articles for customers to view anytime they want?
Having a comprehensive knowledge base is a great way to create ready-made answers for frequently asked customer questions. You can build your knowledge base using past conversations, product information and other relevant sources that can help customers avoid having to call a service call center.
It can also be a great source of educational information through video tutorials, guides and other solution documents that give a detailed view into product or service related queries. You can also translate your knowledge base into several languages so it is accessible to a global audience.
Here’s an example of our knowledge base for Freshdesk customers:
Chatbots and AI-powered Customer Service Automation
One of the biggest disruptors in customer support was the introduction of live chat. For the first time, visitors on your website could get real-time help and didn’t have to wait for an email reply or get on a call to get advice. However, live chat had its limitations. Agents could still get overwhelmed by the volume of tickets, and 24/7 support was impossible without scaling your team.
That’s why chatbots have established themselves as a popular and reliable form of support automation. Chatbots are an automated form of service where the customer is effectively conversing with a bot via a chat popup on your website.
Chatbots normally have a set of ready-made responses to a list of common questions. So when the user types in what he or she is looking for, it retrieves and displays the answer immediately from this list.
While this is a very good automation measure, AI-powered chatbots like Freshdesk’s Freddy take it one step further. Freddy can analyze a customer question and then answer the question based on the existing set of knowledge base articles or conversational history between customers and human agents. As you add to your knowledge base, Freddy automatically updates itself so you are always prepared for future customer scenarios.
Helpdesk Automations And Canned Responses
While options like a knowledge base and chatbots offer customers a way to minimize their dependence on agents, there are also ways in which support teams can automate their own internal processes to save time.
Common workflows like ticket assignment, scenario automations, and ticket prioritization can be automated in your help desk, effectively reducing the effort of common or complex workflows to a single click. Agents can also reduce the burden of having to craft individual answers to customers by building canned responses to common queries.
How Do You Know It’s Working?
Numbers don’t lie. So what metrics do you use to know how well your automation is? Here are a few you should pay attention to:
#1 Ticket volume: This is the number that should give the best indicator of whether your automation systems are improving your service. If you see these numbers going down consistently then you are on the right track.
#2 Bounce rate and session duration: Bounce rate analysis on your customer portal or knowledge base can help you determine if the user is only clicking on the page and then exiting, or actually viewing your content in detail. Session duration measures how long a user stays on a particular page(s) of your website. These two metrics are good indicators of whether your knowledge base is helpful enough to your customers or not.
#3 CES: At the end of the day, what matters is if automated customer service is leading to a better experience. Customer effort score (CES) measures this very parameter through a 7-point scale that allows users to rank their satisfaction with the experience. Placing this feedback mechanism at the point right after customer service automation will help capture its effectiveness.
Customer Service Automation Will Help You Move Forward
Automated service is a critical step in giving customers a platform to become self-sufficient. This goes a long way in reducing customer effort and also buys your support team valuable time. What this does is improve the service experience for customers with simple as well as complex issues. The simple issues are taken care of via automation, and agents now have the bandwidth to tackle complex issues by giving it their undivided attention.
The bigger picture you have to look at is how automating customer service can help your company reach greater heights. Is it allowing you to serve 100 instead of 10 customers every day? Is it making it easier for customers to find useful information about your product or service? Is it generating interest from new visitors who could potentially become future customers?
You will get the answers to all these questions when you automate your customer service.