Four things you need to know before integrating automation in customer support

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to the implementation of automation in business, but here are four key categories that can shine a light on the best decisions for you and your business before you integrate automation in customer support.

Know your Product

When Amazon first released its Kindle Fire HDX, it proved that even in the age of AI, stepping away from customer service automation can be the way forward. The creation of the Amazon ‘Mayday’ tool meant that an interactive customer service experience was just a click away. The free tool, available 24/7, 365 days a year at no additional cost, meant that within minutes, customers could access a video stream with a customer service agent, able to answer Kindle related queries, draw on screens and demonstrate device features step by step.

On the other hand, many businesses have gone in the other direction – choosing to substitute human interaction with the affordable efficiency of almost entirely automated customer service. From self-checkout tills in supermarkets to self-check-in kiosks in airports, to automated chat bots – automated customer service has quietly become part of our day to day lives.

Chatbots — key in improving customer engagement, retention and experience

Chatbots are proving to be a fundamental tool in improving customer engagement and retention. Indeed, the whole of the customer experience

The key to success is finding an equilibrium that works for your business. Many companies are now adopting hybrid chatbots; installed alongside existing customer communication processes, the bots quickly generate automatic responses to simple customer enquiries, only requiring the input of an agent for more complex issues, a transition which can be made seamlessly. More often than not customers receive a fast response to enquiries without knowing they are communicating with a bot.

Know your demographics

When deciding on the level of automation suitable for your company, understanding the demographics of your average customer is key. Factors such as age, location, and the type of support they require while using your product affect the type of customer service your average customer will want and need.

Microsoft’s 2018 State of Global Customer Service Report revealed that the most popular customer service channel is still ‘phone or other voice channels’. When compared to email, live chat, online self-service options, social media and SMS, 39% of respondents listed phone and voice calls as their preference.

However, this statistic varies throughout different age groups. While 50% of those aged 55+ listed this as their preference, this dropped to 38% for those aged 35-54 and dipped to only 29% in those aged 18-34.

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While statistics seem to suggest that younger clients are less inclined to speak to customer service teams, it does not necessarily mean that they would prefer to communicate with an entirely automated service. Younger people instead showed a greater affinity for communicating via alternative methods, with a total of 55% of votes highlighting email, live chat, social media or SMS as the preferred option. This is where the practicalities of hybrid chatbots become useful, marrying the affordability and efficiency of bots with the accuracy and intelligence of agents to create the ultimate customer experience.

Location is also an important factor. While 39% of all respondents listed ‘phone or other voice channels’ as their preference, only 30% of Japanese respondents concurred with this. Similarly, only 4% of Japanese respondents listed live chat as their preference, a statistic which was 6.5X higher in the UK, with 26% of UK respondents preferring live chat.

Know the FAQs

What are your customers asking your Customer Service team about? How easy is it to solve the problems which they highlight? How many of your common queries could be answered with the same, or a similar response every time? By understanding your frequently asked questions and the complexity of your frequently given answers, you can determine the level of automatability your business’ customer service has.

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Know when to draw the line

Customer service automation doesn’t have to require replacing your customer support agents, but it’s essential you give them the tools to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Whether you’re aiming to improve results, increase customer satisfaction, reduce costs, scale-up operations, or simply provide an improved and more personalised customer experience – by keeping your end goal in mind and making well-researched decisions based on your product, customer demographics and FAQs, AI and automation has the power to revolutionise your customer experience.

Written by Edmund Ovington, VP, Global Alliances, Unbabel

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