Catherine Palmer
Catherine Palmer 31 October 2018

Automated Customer Service: Pros, Cons and Best Practices

When it comes to customer service, business owners are often struggling between staying with the old ways and going with the automation flow.

It seems that everything around us is becoming automated, and people all over the world are embracing this trend. And why wouldn’t they, when it can improve their lives and businesses? One of the aspects where business owners are struggling between staying with the old ways and going with the flow is customer service.

So, what is the answer: yes or no? There is no single answer to this dilemma since every business needs to find flaws and benefits of both approaches and decide for itself.

The good side of automated customer service

Implementing customer service automation can have many advantages:

Leaving no room for human error

First of all, automation removes or minimizes the human element in this area of your service, which rids you of the potential for idleness, futile effort, and human error.

Leaving space for human agents to excel in other areas

When human agents are in charge of typing out the responses which are basically the same every day, they are wasting precious time when they could be doing something else. These small reductions can add up to hours and days of time saved in a year.

Minimizing the wait time

Another flaw of the traditional customer service is the long wait time. There are two ways to solve this: hiring more agents or automating customer service.

You don’t need to hire more employees

Hiring more employees is not always profitable, or even doable, for all businesses. Limited funds or small office space can prevent you from doing that. On the other hand, the implementation of a live customer support help desk software can be very affordable, particularly if you opt for a basic subscription, at first. Later you can pay for the upgrades you think you need.

Millennials are digital natives, and they’ll embrace the automation

Finally, it is essential to realize that the customer pool is changing and generation Y is taking over the market. Most of the millennials, how we like to call them, would rather go to a Frequently Asked Question page before they actually ask a question because they are digital natives. They think that most of their problems can be resolved by googling them, and most of the time, they are not wrong. Your new customers are well-informed and resourceful, and you should appreciate that, rather than resent it.

The bad side of automated customer support service

Nothing is black and white in the world of business – everything is pretty grey. Consequently, there are several pitfalls that separate automated customer support service from being the most perfect solution for all businesses.

Lack of the human approach

One of the most exemplary parts of customer service always was empathy, which is quintessentially a human ability. That’s the thing customers can’t get with a machine. We mentioned millennials as digital natives, but even they react to an emotional bond with a brand, which is something they can get with a human agent and not with an automation.

The success of a technology depends on its design

As with every machine, good customer service software depends largely on the design. If your chatbots don’t understand questions, cause redundant conversation and similar, it will chase your customers away. And once they leave your website frustrated they could create bad publicity.

Unable to resolve complex issues

Chatbots react to simple customer problems, such as purchase, billing, types of products, etc. However, sometimes the problems go way beyond that, and they require a human agent who could understand, negotiate, and find a solution.

How to successfully automate your customer service?

Now, all of the above pitfalls can be avoided when a business is willing to put some effort into planning and devising solutions. Here are some tips that can help.

Don’t automate everything

Not all automations are useful. While a repeated customer probably doesn’t need assistance with checking out or selecting a product, a first time user could benefit from the chatbot.

Connect the service channels

When the automated channels are not mutually connected the customers will have to repeat themselves and eventually will get lost in an operational limbo. Make sure the automated processes are integrated with one another and with the human representatives as well.

Don’t ignore your human team

Human customer service agents are assets that need to be cherished. The extra time and funds can be invested in additional training so that they could become the backup for technology. Some customers would still rather talk to a human representative because they value the empathy, so always give them the option to choose.

Test the service and ask for feedback

Perfecting the automated customer service is not an easy task, and it is definitely not something you can evaluate on your own. It is a matter of constant testing and collecting feedbacks in order to improve. However, when you decide to implement a change, do it slowly and in small segments. This way you will be able to assess the effectiveness and the popularity of each individual upgrade. Asking for feedback will let your customers know that you appreciate their opinion, but also help you with the further upgrades.

Customer service is as old as businesses themselves, but it first gained the form we know with the first telephones. It progressed toward call centers (we have them today too) which were later outsourced, emails, social media, and finally automation. All of these upgrades required time, effort, and some trial and error to be implemented smoothly and now we see them as a regular part of doing business. In some years, it is expected that automated customer service will take over more than half of the entirety of this business area, and any business that wants to stay on top needs to consider this as an option.

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