Driven by the need to keep costs down, many companies are going full speed ahead with modernizing and automating their customer service processes. It would seem strange not to. Since the pandemic, decoding customer loyalty drivers has become a challenge. As support volumes go up, 76% of businesses say automation could make up for shortfalls in employee performance. 

Technology is providing some credible alternatives to large contact centers by way of cloud-based integrated call management solutions. Conversational AI is pushing the envelope in terms of contextual understanding and responding to customers in ‘real-time.’ This is finally giving pause to those arguing that technology could never replicate the ‘human factor.’However, there is a nagging fear that the efficiency advantage delivered by technology has its costs. 

In a recent study, only 33% of customers agreed that chatbots provided faster service than human agents. While this does not mean that technology itself is to blame, integration issues on the backend can play spoilsport. If automated tools are not calibrated properly before being deployed, there could be a direct impact in terms of CSAT and/or Customer Effort Score (CES). For example, customers may not get enough time to type in all their order details when prompted by the IVR and be forced to call back again- especially when using a smartphone. 

When they finally get through speaking with an agent, they may be prompted to participate in a post-call survey. These are just some of the situations where the limitations of full-scale customer service automation are clearly evident. So putting all of one’s eggs into the automation basket is certainly not a good idea.

To ensure quality customer service, automation should complement the strengths of the human element. This needs a holistic approach in terms of deciding what parts of your workflow should be automated.  

Finding the Right Balance Between Customer Service Automation and Customer Experience

Here are 4 best practices to help you make the right automation choices:

1. Decision support tools for customer service agents:

 Sustained agent performance is necessary to deliver customer satisfaction. 75% of customers will buy more from you if they are satisfied with your service. This means agent productivity has a direct impact on revenues. However, agents need ongoing coaching support to perform their tasks effectively apart from the initial product training. 

If the cost of training and support increases over time, it could affect the profitability of your business. This is where customer support automation can make a difference. Chatbots can be used to route calls to agents and provide them real-time suggestions on what procedure to follow. 

This can enable agents to provide 100% accurate answers to customer queries- 100% of the time. The data chatbots collect can also create canned responses/scripts that better fit the context in which a customer might ask a question. 

Further, chatbot support can allow agents to empathize with a customer (right-brained activity) versus analyzing account information (left-brained activity). This can drastically improve the quality of customer support within a short period of time.

2. Reduce Transfers between Departments

Automation tools can noticeably cut handle time by giving your agents all the information they assist a customer seamlessly. For example, they can automatically confirm the customer’s identity by verifying the phone number they call with CRM data. 

They can also display the previous interactions a customer may have had with your team so that agents instantly know how best they can assist. All of this takes place before the conversation has begun, saving precious time. 

For example, the information gathered by AI makes it easy for agents to resolve issues, reducing the need for transfers to other teams. However, if a transfer is unavoidable, AI tools make the handoff seamless for both the transferring agent and the one to who it is being transferred. The result: better customer experience.

3. Escalation Management

 One of the main reasons customers escalate to a supervisor is if the agent they speak to fails to grasp their emotional state. To be fair, agents only have a few minutes at the start of an interaction to judge how a caller may be feeling based on their tone of voice and the words they use. 

Conversational AI tools are especially suited to the task of sentiment analysis, thanks to advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology. It generates on-screen prompts for agents to follow when dealing with an angry customer or a challenging issue. 

In case escalation is imminent, agents may be able to proactively offer a priority follow-up – especially if the customer has called about the same problem before. Based on the interaction data collected, you can even tweak your escalation management process to directly connect repeat callers to a Tier 3 representative (manager/supervisor) in the future.

4. 360 Degree View of Customer Data

To a customer, the agent they are speaking with represents your brand. They do not differentiate between customer support, marketing or sales. For this reason, operating in departmental silos can lead to data fragmentation, reducing customer service effectiveness. 

The reason is agents may need to put customers on hold more often while they search for information. At the same time, switching between multiple screens can also add to agent fatigue, making first contact resolution harder. This can be easily addressed by integrating helpdesk and CRM into a single interface. 

The goal should be to enable role-based access to information across departments like sales, marketing, and customer support. 

The result: better cross-functional collaboration and faster resolution. You might also find your team doing much better in terms of compliance.

Last Words

Automating customer service is inevitable in the digital age. However, customer experience should be at the center of all your automation decisions- not the other way around. Also, the success of any customer service process depends on the ability of its agents to have meaningful conversations with customers. Cultural or language barriers can impact customer perceptions about your brand. With Helplama, you get access to trained, US-based agents that drive your business goals and connect with customers in a way that only native English speakers can.  Our flexible plans come with no contractual compulsions, and our Zero Risk Money Back Guarantee puts you absolutely at ease. Contact us today for more information!