Loyalty to the brand sprouts from delivering quality customer support. Customer’s loyalty to the brand depends largely on the quality of customer support they receive. A 2022 Salesforce survey reveals that 82% of customers say positive customer service makes them more likely to purchase again.
Customer support automation is the best way to improve the quality and speed of customer service. This blog explores the need for support automation, how to automate customer support, and the benefits of automated customer support services.
Why do you Need Support Automation?
Customer support existed for as long as businesses have. Once products or services are delivered, customer support takes over. In some cases customer support comes into the picture even for the installation of the product/service. Customer support teams are swamped with support tickets at all times and are under constant pressure to deliver more with less.
Earlier, customer support was provided by third parties, but now companies have their in-house customer support team. With the growing size of customers, it becomes difficult to respond to all of them on time or even get back with an appropriate response.
Why and how customer support requires automation is clear from the following statistics –
1/3rd of consumers say they would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.
52% of the customers say that they have made an additional purchase from a company after a positive customer service experience.
67% of customer churn is preventable if firms resolve issues the first time they occur.
The following indications warrant the need for automating customer service.
A huge backlog of tickets
This is a common problem faced by custom support executives because customers reach out to them as soon as they have an issue or need advice. In most cases, these tickets or issues need to be handled outside working hours. The influx of tickets is what greets customer support executives with a pile of fresh tickets every morning. It becomes extremely difficult to resolve all of them quickly and efficiently.
The influx of tickets and customers affects the resolution rate drastically. With the average open rate of emails at 21.33%, the emails sent to customers are often ignored. Even customer support phone calls are considered spam calls, making it difficult for customer support executives to reach customers.
Irregular gathering of feedback
Customers are in the driver’s seat of business operations, so it becomes important to gather their feedback that forms the basis of business improvement initiatives. With a wide array of customers, it becomes challenging to keep an eye out for feedback and collect it on time.
Inability to provide useful information
Customers often require guidance during the buying process, like knowing how far the product they purchased is, or whether gift packaging is available for the product or not. When customer support falters at such points or they do not have the handy information required, customer satisfaction is affected.
Customer support automation ensures that all of these issues are addressed and that top-notch customer support is delivered. Automated customer support services are more successful in improving agent productivity, quick resolution of issues, and customer satisfaction.
What is Customer Support Automation?
Customer support automation is a form of customer support that is provided to customers using automated technology, such as voice assistants, AI chatbots, and voicebots. Automation of customer support streamlines the way support tickets are handled by reducing the amount of human involvement while delivering advice or assistance. Customer support activities like booking a ticket, responding to general queries, answering refund-related questions, etc.
Support automation provides staff with more time to focus on priority requests and spend undivided attention on their other KPIs. Automation also accelerates the resolution of customer issues, which elevates the custom satisfaction scores. These automations can be geared towards improving the customer experience or the employee experience.
Companies automate customer support for 3 main reasons –
A speedy resolution is what every customer expects from a business. Lightening fast resolution of customer requests is made possible by automating customer support tasks.
Customers expect to be able to communicate with their favorite businesses via their preferred communication channels. They expect a seamless experience across channels. Automating the support function ensures that every customer rep who interacts with the customer has a complete view of the customer history across channels.
A major percentage of customers prefer self-service channels that help them figure out what is wrong themselves rather than have someone else do it for them. Automated customer support empowers customers to handle simple tasks on their own.
So, how does automated customer service work?
Imagine one of your customers has an issue with an electronic gadget they purchased from you. Their first step would be to either call or visit the “Support” page on the company’s website. As soon as they visit the website, the AI chatbot asks them to describe the problem. The AI software picks up keywords from the description provided by the customer and directs the customer to an article in the knowledge base. The knowledge base or the help document gives simple instructions to customers that might solve the issue at hand.
In a situation where the issue is more complex and the AI chatbot is unable to resolve it, the system prompts the customer to send an email to customer support. Simultaneously, they also receive a prompt that a ticket has been created and that someone from the team will address it. Since the automated customer support system and the ticketing system are integrated, the representative is equipped with the knowledge that the customer has already done the basic troubleshooting steps. This way the representative need not repeat the same questions to the customer.
How to Automate Customer Support
The first step in automating customer support is to identify the processes that do not require human involvement. Also, tasks that are repetitive and mundane are good candidates for automation. Answering FAQs, triggering status updates, synching information between databases, and similar tasks are good candidates for automation.
How to automate customer support? Automation of the customer support function can be carried out by the following steps –
Identifying the processes/tasks that do not require human intervention
Customer support, similar to most business functions, works according to the Pareto principle. More than 80% of all customer queries stem from a 20% data set of questions. So automating customer support effectively requires the identification of the 20%.
Building the knowledge base for self-service
The support database is a critical component of automated customer support services. To build a holistic knowledge base, you need to understand the customer and their behavior/preferences. Key pointers like – when the customer seeks support, what channels are they using to get in touch, and the languages they speak, help build robust knowledgebase.
Implementing tools that enable automated customer support
Implementing an automated customer support system requires the tools and the framework that help you achieve it. In most cases, it is a software solution that utilizes the power of automation and AI to automate processes. Workflow Automation tools could be as simple as templates or workflows
Integrating with channels and customer databases
For automation solutions to work effectively, you need to integrate them with tools so they can communicate with each other seamlessly.
Tracking and amending processes for performance
Implementation of an automation solution must be followed up with tracking and measuring the progress. Some pointers for evaluation would be – are customers happy with the solution? Are they asking for support agents? Are there any more processes that can be automated? Evaluating and tracking the progress of the automated process is important to make it better.
Examples of Customer Support Automation
Now that we are clear on how to automate customer support, let us now look at some examples of customer support automation. It is important to bear in mind that not all customer support processes are apt for automation, when we proceed with this understanding in mind automation becomes more effective.
1. Automating incident management
Growing organizations have to deal with higher volumes of incidents to manage. Incidents of all shapes and sizes like – employees unable to log in bugs in software, or equipment missing, may crop up in growing organizations. Irrespective of the type and scope of the incident, teams need to resolve them quickly to avoid interruptions in business operations.
Automating incident management enables project teams to work through incidents quickly and solve them effectively. The gap between a ticket management system and a business communications platform can be effectively bridged by a chatbot.
2. Automating Response to Customer Feedback
Businesses often use surveys to garner customer feedback to understand their experience and sentiment. Keeping a tab on customer responses and responding to them promptly entails a lot of effort for the customer support team. Automating this process helps the team track customer feedback and respond to them promptly.
3. Implementing Self-Service Portals
A majority of customers would like to resolve minor queries by themselves. A self-service online portal reduces the support volume and also increases customer satisfaction.
A recent survey revealed that 73% of customers want to solve service issues on their own. Creating a comprehensive knowledge base helps customers navigate through the self-service portal and solve simple issues on their own. This way customers can easily navigate through frequently asked questions in a 24/7 environment.
4. Automating Reporting
To identify what is working in your knowledge base and where you can improve, you need to track metrics like article performance, total visitors, ratings, and search terms. Automating the task of data gathering and reporting helps customer support teams stay updated on the performance of the knowledge base and identify areas of improvement.
What are the Benefits of Support Automation?
Companies that are focused on improving their customer satisfaction scores would consider automating their customer support processes. Customer support automation makes it possible to provide proactive customer support and improves customer outcomes.
Here are some of the main advantages of automating the customer support function.
The customer support process is largely in a reactive mode – where the team responds to customer queries and complaints. So, the resolution of the issue begins only when the customer calls or emails the support team about the issue. Proactive engagement in customer support is a welcome thing, and it helps resolve issues even before they arise.
For example, a customer is shopping on the website, and the shopping cart is abandoned without checking out. An automated customer support system will automatically detect that the cart has been abandoned, and message the customer asking if they need any help in completing the purchase. Such a proactive approach improves customer engagement and satisfaction by several notches.
Better customer outcomes
Every customer interaction intends to achieve an outcome that satisfies all parties. Satisfied and happy customers are willing to go the extra mile and make an extra payment for the brands they believe in. With conventional customer support solutions, the team spends most of their time troubleshooting common and simple issues or rerouting calls and tickets and runs out of time dealing with complex, important issues.
Automated customer support prevents such issues by freeing the team from simple tasks and giving them enough time to work on complex issues. Having a comprehensive and optimized knowledge base ensures that customers can resolve simple issues on their own.
Better customer experiences
Resolving customer issues faster and proactively creates a favorable impression on customers. Actively engaged customers are more likely to derive greater value from the product and remain loyal to the brand.
Comprehensive customer view
All the customer support team members will get a comprehensive view of the customer request status. Customer support automation integrates different apps under a single platform for seamless movement of data between apps. This provides a single source of truth for the entire customer support process. Automated customer support lets the team track all customer activity, right from ticket history to product usage, in a single platform.
Gather customer feedback easily
The best way to improve customer service is to act on the customer feedback. To gather customer feedback easily and quickly, you need an automation solution. Automated feedback gathering is more effective in gathering and responding to customer feedback proactively.
A customer support team that is engaged in important tasks is much more productive than one that slogs on mundane tasks. Using chatbots to handle simple customer requests, frees the team to work on tasks that improve the productivity of the team.
As opposed to clunky manual support systems, automated customer support is streamlined and redundancy-free. Support automation streamlines internal and external communication channels so that there are no communication gaps or misunderstandings within the team and with the customer.
Consistency in tone and approach
Automation brings standardization into the tone and approach of customer support. The customer reps are clear about what and how to communicate with the customer. In some cases, issues that do not get resolved by the chatbot are routed to the customer rep. In such cases, the automated solution provides a heads-up to the rep, so that they can take up the issue resolution from where the bot had left it.
Enriching customer experience
Automation equips customer support teams with the ability to understand customer behavior and give the customers exactly what they want even before they ask for it. Automating customer service helps record every interaction with the customer, highlight patterns in their behavior, and also identify key trends in customer interactions. AI-based automation can also flag off any deviation from the expected patterns in customer behavior for a seamless customer experience.
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Disadvantages of Customer Support Automation
Given the many advantages of customer service automation, is it OK to assume that it is a beneficial move for the business? The decision to automate customer support must be taken after a lot of deliberation of the pros and cons. Support automation is like a double-edged sword, on one hand, it improves customer engagement and experience, but on the other hand, implementing a one-size-fits-all approach can result in a bad experience for customer support teams.
The biggest disadvantage of using an automated customer service system is the loss of personal touch in customer interactions. The technology for automated systems can no doubt resolve complicated problems in business processes, but the lack of human interaction stands out as a disadvantage. Some of the other disadvantages of automated customer support automation are –
In situations where an automated workflow does not lead to a desired result or if a wrong path is triggered by automation – bad customer experience is the result. An example would be that the chatbot triggers wrong or irrelevant responses by pulling wrong responses for the typed keywords. This type of situation arises when the bot does not clearly understand the user’s problem and gives the same irrelevant responses repeatedly. Incomplete workflows in automated systems can result in a frustrating customer experience.
Automation of complex workflows
Primarily, automation is meant for simple and repetitive tasks that produce predictable outcomes. But sometimes, companies automate complex tasks in customer support. As a result, customer support automation tools are unable to handle the complexity involved and end up creating broken workflows. This can be avoided by choosing tasks to be automated judiciously. Even after automating simple tasks, it pays to monitor their performance for customer experience to ensure that things are going as per preset business rules/conditions.
Progressive businesses interested in winning and keeping loyal customers would consider customer support automation seriously. Not only does it simplify customer support, but it also relieves the team from slogging on repetitive tasks.
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