What is automated customer service?
Automated customer service refers to any type of customer service that uses tools to automate workflows or tasks.
Virtual assistants – such as keyword chatbots and AI chatbots – are a popular form of customer service automation and use pre-defined rules or artificial intelligence (AI) to help customers achieve tasks and resolve problems quickly – whether that’s locating store opening hours, changing an order, or locating account information.
These tools tap into people’s growing preference for text- and voice-driven systems – and the ease with which people now talk to “digital voices” through the likes of voice-activated devices, smart speakers, and more.
Crucially, you can deploy them across your customers’ preferred communication channels, meeting your users where they’re already spending time.
The state of customer service automation
With these kinds of results, it’s little surprise that automated tools like chatbots are set to represent a massive 70% of customer interactions as soon as 2022.
Despite this progress, most customer service operations are stuck in the past, based on a traditional call center model.
The result is long call queues, poor visibility of conversation history, and *those* endless security questions.
This is costing companies dearly – in high operational costs and low customer satisfaction, which harms brand reputation and fuels customer churn.
This post will help you better understand why automated customer service is essential to your support strategy – and how to get started.
The advantages of automated customer service
1. Always-on support
A key benefit of automated customer service is that you’re able to provide around-the-clock support – regardless of your customers’ location, circumstances, or time zones.
Unlike live agents, automation tools aren’t constrained by contact center opening hours, and allow customers to rapidly “self-service” simple issues, often without any need to involve contact center agents.
This is why automation is particularly useful for handling frequently asked questions (FAQs), freeing up human agents to tackle more complex aspects of customer service.
2. Lower operational costs
Automation dramatically improves operational efficiency and cuts customer service costs.
Voice, for example, is a comparatively expensive channel, so using a chatbot helps you to save on channel costs while freeing up agents to handle a higher volume of requests.
3. Time and efficiency
Automating your customer service allows you to handle more queries and rapidly execute tasks that would be difficult and time-consuming to do manually, such as coordinating Uber rides in a matter of seconds. This frees up human agents to handle more strategic tasks and complex user queries.
At the same time, automation allows customers to quickly get the answers they need, with less effort required on their end.
This is important when we consider that respect for people’s time is considered one of the most important factors in providing a positive customer experience.
4. Customer satisfaction and loyalty
Faster response times, shorter resolution times, consistent support across multiple touchpoints – these automation outcomes are key to providing a positive customer service experience and keeping your customers satisfied.
5. Agent satisfaction
Tools like chatbots alleviate pressure on overloaded agents by automating customer interactions over their preferred channels.
They can take care of high-volume, low-value queries, leaving more fulfilling and meaningful tasks for your agents.
And when integrated with a cloud contact center, they give agents a unified view of customer data and conversation history, so that your customer service staff have all the information they need to resolve queries quickly.
Automated customer service tools such as chatbots allow you to provide omnichannel, personalized customer service at scale. AI automation makes it easy to test, measure, and learn so that you can continually optimize the customer service experience.
Automated customer service examples
Not all aspects of automation relate to AI. Rule-based keyword chatbots, for example, automate common customer queries and simply point customers to information sources, in many cases.
AI automation, on the other hand, allows companies to automate more complex queries through the likes of conversational AI chatbots, using natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to better understand and process user inputs and intent, retrieve relevant information, perform required tasks, and provide rapid responses.
Crucially, AI automation provides invaluable insight into the nature of customer behaviors and pain points, so that companies can pre-empt problems, providing proactive, rather than reactive, customer support.
Automated customer service use cases
Let’s now look at a few of the many use cases for customer service automation.
Provide account status
Situation: Your customers want to access their account information instantly and painlessly. Your contact center agents are spending too much time on account information queries, rather than resolving more complex issues that require their expertise.
Solution: Build and deploy a chatbot that can engage your customers and provide them with relevant information about their account status. Security is a crucial consideration here, so use the likes of biometrics to help your chatbot authenticate customers.
Tip: Learn more about how to provide account status using a chatbot.
Situation: Handling appointment reservation is difficult, because customers often contact you via different channels, and you might use multiple platforms to handle all these queries.
Solution: Integrate your cloud contact center with an AI chatbot and customer data segmentation to simplify the appointment reservation process and boost agent productivity. Agents are able to handle multiple appointment conversations at once, users can communicate via their favorite chat apps, and customer satisfaction increases.
Tip: check out our full use case on how to help customers schedule their own appointments.
Connect people with lost property
Situation: Your airline passengers occasionally misplace their personal belongings, which can cause them a lot of stress and inconvenience.
Solution: Passengers can use your customer service chatbot to report their situation and seek help. Using named entity recognition (NER) AI capabilities, your chatbot is able to recognize their intent (report and find “lost luggage”) and their location. With this information, the chatbot can then direct the customer to the right place to receive help.
How to start automating your customer service
So where’s the best place to start automating your customer service workflow and tasks?
Like any digital investment, you need to start with a clearly defined customer service strategy, based on measurable business goals.
Depending on your goals, a useful place to start might be using a simple self-help keyword chatbot, deployed across your customers’ favorite channels, to help provide faster customer support at a lower cost.
And thanks to chatbot-building platforms like Answers, you won’t even need any coding experience to do this.
It’s important to remember that automated tools can’t help with everything. Your automated systems need to be able to seamlessly hand over complex tasks to live agents, automatically serving agents with the relevant customer data and conversation history for faster resolution and seamless customer service.
For this reason, it’s hugely beneficial to integrate your chatbot with an automated, cloud-based contact center solution that enables seamless agent takeover and helps you solve multiple customer pain points.
Learn more about automated customer service
In this post we explored how automated customer service empowers your customers to get the answers they’re looking for – when and how they want. It improves the customer service experience and automates responses to straightforward queries, freeing up your customer service team to handle more complex issues.
Check out our related reading below to learn more about how you can get started on your automation journey.
You might also like:
- Your guide to contact center digital transformation
- What is a customer service chatbot?
- Discover how this retail brand grew its net promoter score by 39%
Check out this video for a look at how easily you can automate customer support using an AI or keyword chatbot
Get Started with Automated Customer Service
Want to add automation to your customer service strategy?