Many support teams across various industries have turned to automation technologies in order to improve efficiency and productivity within their support organizations and overall businesses. Support organizations are often seen as cost centers versus revenue drivers and teams are on a mission to change this perception and better improve the customer experience for everyone involved.
Automation within customer support aims at removing bottlenecks, automating the most repetitive and mundane tasks currently assigned to customer service agents, freeing up agent bandwidth, and providing an AI assistant that can help support representatives deliver high-quality experiences. Customer support AI software can help teams facing ticket fluctuations, teams looking to scale, and teams who are seeking solutions.
In this blog we break down all things customer service automation. If you’re wondering whether your business could benefit from automated customer service, we’ll discuss the pros, cons, and how you can get started.
What is Customer Service Automation?
Customer service automation is the process of automating customer service interactions to reduce human agent involvement in resolving customer service tickets and customer inquiries. Customer service automation tools are designed to simplify customer support processes, empower customers to self-serve, enable agents to do more with less, and reduce bottlenecks for everyone involved in customer service.
There are many examples of customer service automation systems which include, chatbots, automating workflows, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), email automation, self-service widgets, and internal knowledge wikis.
The traditional way of customer support is to have humans helping humans, but hiring more headcount isn’t always the savviest way to scale support teams. As a company grows, new strategies and technologies must be implemented; AI allows teams to scale while maintaining quality.
Pros of Automated Customer Service
When support teams turn to automating customer service, they’re able to quickly see the benefits, and there sure are a lot of them. Aside from transforming your support orgs’ perception of being a cost center to being a revenue driver, let’s discuss why more businesses are automating support and how everyone involved is benefitting.
Resolve Common Cases Instantly
The biggest use case for customer service automation is resolving common cases instantly. “Where is my order?” “Can I reset my password?” “How do I use XYZ service or feature?” are all very common support questions seen across customer service, and replying to each one in a similar fashion over and over again, can get tiring for agents, as well as use up valuable time. By automating the most repetitive and monotonous tasks, agents are able to dedicate more time to more complex support needs and focus on work that can’t be automated.
Predict & Prioritize Tickets Automatically
One of the most mundane and redundant tasks that customer support representatives are inundated with is labeling and routing tickets, or ticket triage. Ticket labeling and routing can easily be automated to help predict and prioritize tickets faster than ever. If your organization is like most, then you’re likely manually routing tickets, meaning you’re using up agent power when you don’t have to be. AI can automate ticket routing and make it easier to manage the accuracy of where a ticket goes. By automating ticket triaging you remove one of the biggest bottlenecks support teams see, as ticket volumes fluctuate AI can help manage those influxes and give time back to your agents.
Assist Support Agents With Relevant Information
AI isn’t just helpful for automating responses and triaging incoming tickets, it can also help agents on a per-ticket basis and support them with relevant information to help resolve customer queries. AI can help automate ticket responses because as agents work to respond to customers, they have an AI assistant sitting on top of their helpdesk showing relevant answers from past support tickets that could help them respond to the current issue at hand. AI allows agents to surface knowledge faster than ever before which allows them to respond to customers much quickly. Consistently accurate answers, reduced response times, and improved CSAT can all be results of customer service automation.
Reduce Customer Service Costs
Time and time again we hear support teams looking for strategies to implement to help reduce customer service costs, and with automation, you can change that perception. Customer support shouldn’t be seen as a cost center but rather as a revenue driver—working to create consistent experiences where customers feel heard and understood will lead to increased customer retention and reduced agent attrition. Customer service automation can help reduce customer support costs by automating the most repetitive and redundant aspects of support and removing the need for human intervention at certain points of the customer journey. Companies can reduce hiring needs as they scale and still maintain a high-performing organization.
Scale Customer Support Faster
The issue that many companies run into when in the midst of growth is not thinking about the impact the businesses’ growth will have on their customer support organization. Support teams usually need to restrategize tactics for scaling when they’re seeking ways to efficiently and effectively scale in a way that can still meet support needs at the highest quality. By automating different aspects of the support process, you’re able to do more with less and still consistently meet customer needs. Businesses looking to scale customer support faster can turn to automation to help.
Improve Response Times & Efficiency
Automating customer service can result in improved response times and boosted agent efficiency. With the help of customer support AI teams looking to improve their customer service metrics can do just that. When teams automate the most time-consuming aspects of support, such as ticket labeling and routing and responding to repetitive questions, they are able to improve resolution times by up to 77% and produce scalable support processes that boost CSAT, NPS, and First Contact Resolution — some of the most valuable metrics for support teams.
Provide 24/7 Customer Support
One key way that automation can improve customer service is by enabling 24/7 customer support. 24/7 customer support is necessary for scaling companies looking to expand customer service efforts and provide support at all times for more people. In fact, over 50% of customers expect a business to be available 24/7 these days. Implementing a tool that can automate customer support is another bonus of customer service automation – by using a widget that allows customers to resolve their issues on their own or search for information they need, teams can solve issues before they become tickets.
Gather Data For Continued Improvements
When support teams implement customer service automation tools, they can reap the benefits of using tech to gather data for continued improvement. AI works best when it has large amounts of historical data and company information to work off of, and as you continue to feed it more information, it will learn what your customers’ needs are, how they’re asking about them, and where there are gaps to be filled. As you grow, so will your AI and your ability to discover actionable insights from your data.
Reduce Human Error
No one likes seeking support and getting tossed around from one agent to another. Even worse, some folks will go looking for help and might not ever get the answer they need. When humans are intervening to solve customer problems, there will always be room for error. Many support teams still have agents manually labeling and routing tickets and responding to similar queries all day long.
Although human error usually results in only small mistakes, when compounded, those mistakes can cause a large issue and create bottlenecks in the support process. People seeking support will leave negative feedback and your agents will see their metrics go down. Customer service automation can reduce human error occurrences in the most redundant aspects of support by accurately routing tickets and deflecting repetitive questions.
Provide Preferred Customer Support
A large demographic of customers are calling the shots when it comes to support. In recent years studies have found that Gen-Z prefers text to phone calls, and that applies to customer support too. Customer service automation tools can help businesses provide preferred customer support and help them meet their customers where they are on the channels they prefer. By automating chat interactions, those looking to find support quickly through a chat function can do just that; businesses are essentially limiting their business if they don’t offer automation and aren’t serving customers where they prefer.
Cons Of Automated Customer Service
Despite all the benefits that automated customer service can provide, there are still some issues businesses can run into. The cons of automated customer service come into play when teams use the wrong form of automation, aren’t leveraging tools the best way, or have a misunderstanding of AI’s capabilities.
Lacks Human Interaction
The biggest downside to automated customer service is that it lacks human interaction and the personality that comes with emotional connotation through text conversation with human agents. Bad chatbots and automation can make it really easy to tell you’re not interacting with a person. Lucky for you, this can be combated with better performing tech like Forethought’s AI which utilizes a combination of machine learning, natural language understanding, and natural language processing to understand the sentiment and intent of an incoming support ticket. These types of automation solutions act more like a human and less like an artificial bot.
Some Issues Are Too Complex to Solve
As much as automation can greatly benefit teams by solving simple and repetitive customer issues, there are some issues you can’t trust automation tools to solve for you. Unfortunately, some issues are too complex to solve with AI tools. Fortunately, automating the large loads of repetitive tasks frees up agent time and gives them bandwidth to take on some of those too complex tasks.
More Reliance On Technology
As the use of technology within customer support grows, it’s important to keep the focus on your agents and customers and not the technology being used. Implementing customer service automation could mean more reliance on technology when really, that should be on your support team. Relying on AI tools may weaken the bonds formed with customers and could result in missed customer metrics.
Some Solutions Require Significant Resources To Deploy
Implementing the wrong technology can cost companies time, money, and energy. Some technologies and AI softwares simply take too long and too many resources to implement, making them useless until they’re completely and properly set up — processes that often take months to complete. The right tools for your teams will be easy to implement and set up and will provide value instantly. Forethought’s AI tools fall in this category, they can be deployed quickly and can begin helping customers much sooner than other AI tools.
Difficult To Find An All In One Solution
AI can be tricky to work with when you can’t find a solution that fits every single one of your business needs. Companies are often seeking out multiple vendors to tackle different aspects of their support system – they’ll buy one product to triage tickets and then another for agent assist and even a third to function as their chat widget. What’s great is that there are solutions for this, now businesses can find full AI platform solutions such as Forethought that work cohesively to triage, assist, and solve support tickets.
One last issue businesses face when looking to automate their customer service is finding a product that has limited integrations and can’t connect to their agent help desk. Many products will have limited integrations but it isn’t difficult to find a competitive solution that does integrate with your current tools and could actually perform better for you and your teams.
Customer Service Automation Strategies
Now that you have a better understanding of the pros and cons of customer service automation let’s get into specific strategies for automation and what teams can do within their customer support organizations to improve customer and agent experience. From implementing a chatbot to deflect incoming tickets to using AI to protect customer data, there are many things AI can do for support teams to help improve KPIs and business processes.
Add Website Chat For Increased Engagement
One of the greatest uses of AI is in chatbots and adding a website chatbot can help support teams and the businesses they belong to, increase customer engagement, improve self service, and deflect customer questions before they even become tickets. An AI chatbot gives your agents the power to focus on more complex customer support tasks rather than trying to work down a queue of repetitive and redundant questions. Chatbots help increase customer engagement because customers are often looking for ways to solve their problems on their own, in fact 62% of customers prefer self service methods to speaking with an agent and will find ways to engage on their own.
Automate Ticket Routing
One of the more tiring aspects of customer service is ticket routing, also known as ticket triage. A tried and true strategy for improving customer experience and customer support processes is to automate ticket routing which frees up agent time to focus on more complex customer tickets. When teams are able to automate the tasks that take up the majority of agent time they can get their time back and help agents do more with less.
Assist Customer Service Agents With Knowledge
AI can help teams with a few aspects of support: triaging incoming tickets, solving and deflecting repetitive tickets through a chatbot, and assisting customer service agents with knowledge. AI is sophisticated enough to be able to surface knowledge for agents who are working their way through a queue of support tickets. When tickets get too complicated to solve, agents must sift through loads of information, notes, and data to find the right answer for their ticket.AI can simplify this process by providing that information right there and then in a central location that keeps agents in their help desk.
Integrate CRM Data To Automate Email Responses
Automation in customer service isn’t just available through chat widgets and agent help desks, teams can also automate email responses if that is their primary channel of customer support communication. Automating email responses can be done by integrating CRM data and building out workflows that are targeted at your email interactions.
Integrate Seamlessly To Cover The Entire Customer Journey
Automation is great for customer support teams because AI tools and products integrate seamlessly to cover the entire customer journey instead of just one aspect of it. AI for support teams is a great investment when teams are looking to enable their agents to do more with less and when they’re looking for something that can benefit both the customer and the support representative.
Maximize ROI With Data Decisions
Data powers everything, especially in the world of AI and customer support. Without data, AI can’t do what it is designed and meant to do, i.e, interact with customers and respond to their questions in a similar way to your historial ticket responses. Data can help teams power their AI software and AI can help teams leverage and analyze that data to respond to customers, help agents close more cases and faster, and find gaps in knowledge articles or agent abilities.
Protect Customer Data
With automation and AI tools comes the need for data and security compliance. Support teams using AI can utilize it to protect customer data and privacy. Often, businesses will ask customers to submit sensitive data and information and customers, and in order to keep that data private and secure businesses must put measures in place that redact data and don’t actually store sensitive information anywhere. Tools like Forethought’s AI platform feature trust pages and trackable security measures to ensure customer data protection.
Automation For Your Business
With today’s tools and technology, businesses looking to improve customer service and boost their CX have no excuse for poor customer service. AI is widely available to support the various facets of the customer support journey—from submitting tickets to helping teams discover support insights into how to better support their customers, AI can do a lot for support.
The right tools for a scaling business trying to empower their agents and help their customers can find their solution in a full AI platform such as Forethought.
Forethought’s platform takes customers through the entire support process and is there to help them along the way.
Solve incoming queries before they become tickets by using an AI-powered chat widget that deflects repetitive customer questions and enables self-service.
Triage incoming tickets automatically and more accurately than ever before using AI that is trained on your business’s data and understands how to label and route tickets based on how your teams have done it before.
Assist agents in surfacing relevant knowledge and articles to help them resolve customer support tickets faster and close more cases per hour. AI software can sit on your agent’s help desk and assist them in answering customer questions.
Discover and gain insight into where your customers need more help and how you can take action to better help your customers, and make it easy for agents and support staff to analyze that information and make sense of it.
The right AI tools are out there and are ready to provide support teams with the support they need to do better and help customers even more.
Interested in learning more about Forethought’s AI platform and how this could be the solution for your team?