Automating customer service can help companies improve their support agent productivity. This can reduce the amount of time live agents spend with customers. Besides insulating businesses from high call volumes, it speeds up customer service processes and reduces human error.
Nevertheless, automated customer service does have some disadvantages, such as a lack of human interaction and an inability to handle complex inquiries.

What is Customer Service Automation?

Customer Service Automation is a customer support process that reduces human involvement in solving customer inquiries. Businesses achieve automated customer service using self-service resources, proactive messaging, or simulated chat conversations.

Below are some examples of automated customer service systems:

  • Automated workflows
  • Chatbots or Conversational AI
  • Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or Voicebots
  • Email Automation
  • Self-service Help Centers
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In the past, companies have dealt with customer service issues through a team of customer service agents. Support agents handled inbound phone calls, emails, and other service interactions. As the company grew, it required more support staff.

Unfortunately, hiring means added expenses for the company. As a result, customer service automation became a cost-reduction measure to scale support without sacrificing quality.

Advantages of Automated Customer Service

The benefits of automating customer service processes are numerous. In addition to lower costs, let’s learn why more businesses are automating their customer service.

A) Lower Costs

In order to talk about customer service automation, we must consider the price. Customer service automation costs a fraction of what a live representative does. As businesses grow, hiring needs can be reduced. Savings extend beyond labor, as you reduce your office footprint and increase your customer lifetime value.

B) Improved Human Interactions

In many businesses, the customer experience exists in context to the customer journey. Anticipating customer needs before they appear is an example of excellent Customer Service. Your employees can focus on complex and challenging tasks. When they reach customers, they can show greater empathy and solve problems with increased mental capacity.

C) Better Team Collaboration

The use of automated customer service tools can improve team collaboration and eliminate confusion regarding who owns a specific support ticket. Automation for help desks can improve workflows, which reduces waste. Automation can flag a ticket for review if it doesn’t change after a week, so it doesn’t slip through the cracks. There are some help desks that have internal wikis so agents can share information. Help Center software can suggest articles from its knowledge base. That way, it can track and improve resolution rates. If you integrate your processes with your CRM, you will have a centralised source of information.

D) 24/7 support

Automated customer service provides 24/7 customer support without interruption. Chatbots, for example, let you get online help without having to talk to anyone. Chatbots can notify on-call staff when a service is down.

Below is an example of a Customer Service chatbot, a solution that’s always there, guiding users through a chat flow based on what buttons they tap.

Always-on service goes beyond customer service. Prospects need help too.

Chatbots can collect contact info from leads without them filling out forms. That chatbot then escalates the lead to a sales agent, so they can call them the next day.

E) Minimising Human Error

Nobody likes being passed around from one support agent to another, no matter how friendly they are. Your customers expect you to handle their inquiries as quickly and efficiently as possible. One of the best ways to speed up service is to automate.

Humans tend to rely on instinct and intuition. Customer service agents do their best, but tend to develop muscle memory.

F) Modern Customers have other expectations

Though the phone remains one of the most used customer service channels, that trend is changing. According to Northridge Group, younger generations embrace communication channels besides phone calls to get support.

Millennials and Gen-Z, as digital natives, are increasingly comfortable solving problems on their own. The know how to use online knowledge bases, FAQs, virtual assistants, web chat, and social media messaging.

If you don’t offer automated customer service, you’re limiting the level of service you can provide to savvy customers.

What’s the catch?

Of course, automation has its disadvantages like

A) Lack of the human touch.

Automation sounds good and can be very convenient to customers but of course, nothing can replace a human.

B) Inability to solve complex issues

Automated systems are able to solve simple cases like Frequently Asked Questions, simple conversational workflows or simple answers to emails. As soon as a case becomes more complex, automate customer service solutions reach their limits fairly fast, and human assistance is required.

C) Threat to customer service jobs

Customer Service specialists may feel threatened by the introduction of automation. The key learning here is that Specialists can focus on complex cases and doing what machines are not able to do, instead of spending most of their time with repetitive tasks or answering the same question over and over.

D) Significant resources to deploy customer service AI

Deploying AI to Customer Service requires investment and has considerable running costs. This is not to be underestimated.

E) Increased dependency on technology

Depending on the type of business and Customer’s expectations, Pros and Cons of automation need to be weighted against each other. The reality is, automation is here to stay in many areas of Customer Service.

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Paulo Nunes

I'm an entrepreneur and AI enthusiast, CEO of Two Impulse