When to Automate Customer Service and When Not To
Every business in the world is trying to save money where they can. Going over budget is a surefire way for your company to get crushed by inflation or struggling economies. Even more established businesses can fall victim.
So where is the ideal place to pinch pennies? If you skimp on your product or service, quality will suffer. If you cut back on your marketing and sales team, the revenue will slow down. What’s the play?
As crazy as this sounds, you can save money on customer service with automation. If you want to know when to automate customer service and when not to, then read on. We can help.
What is Customer Service Automation?
There are a couple of great examples of this process that you see every day.
The first is calling a customer service line. When an automated voice picks up and gives you prompts telling you to press a number or say something, this is an example of how you can automate customer service.
The AI gathers as much information as possible, hopefully doing whatever the customer needs, and if it can’t, passes the customer along to a real person.
Another popular example of this is a chatbot. You go to a company’s website and start typing. The initial reply is usually AI.
They ask a few common questions to help get a better idea of what you need and if they cannot resolve the customer’s concern, the query goes to a human whose job is to man the website chat.
Chatbots and jobs working online chats are growing in popularity. More and more people are looking for remote work and introverts prefer to work from behind a screen.
Phone work and call centers aren’t for everyone. But this doesn’t mean these people cannot excel in the customer service industry.
Who Can Use Customer Service Automation
Any time a business implements some new technology, there are going to be costs associated with the new tech. The same is true for customer service AI.
But if you have the cash to burn, it doesn’t matter if you own a large company or you’re a solopreneur.
It’s important to realize that these expenditures are an investment into your business and creating a quality customer service experience is one of the smartest things you can do for it.
A website owner that sells courses for niche website owners who are new to the space and also sells a neat bundle of affiliate marketing tools to help people find success could find this tech incredibly helpful.
Most people who own small online businesses like this already keep a small staff. Using AI to help with customer service can help keep the staff small while still being able to help customers in the off-hours. Essentially, you’ll be able to accomplish more with less.
Small and medium-sized businesses can use marketing automation to help collect data about the problems and concerns with their product or service. This data can then be used to make the company better.
So anyone can use this kind of tech to next-level their business. But when should you use it and when should real people take the reins?
When to Automate Customer Service
Throw the whole saving money thing out of the window for a few minutes. Using Artificial Intelligence in any capacity for customer service should only be used when it benefits the customer. At the end of the day, creating satisfied people is that department’s job, right?
Ask yourself this: What are our customers getting out of this experience? Is it going to be a hassle for them? How is this automated service making their lives easier?
The last thing you want on your plate is a horde of dissatisfied ex-customers taking to the internet streets with pitchforks and destroying your online reputation through social media and review websites.
“I can save money by firing quality customer service staff and let AI do all the work!”
No. You really can’t. AI can do a lot. It can help get the ball rolling to take a little something off of your staff’s plate. It can help with data collection. It can even solve some easy-to-fix problems.
But it can’t do it all.
AI also doesn’t need to take food or restroom breaks. It doesn’t have to get paid overtime. Nor does it call out sick.
For every single pro of automated customer service, there will be a con.
Instead of thinking about how your can completly automate customer service, try thinking about way to use them in tandem. Use chatbots to instantly answer questions and fix easy problems. Your customers will have their common problems fixed almost instantaneously.
This will allow your human reps the time they need to give customers the personal attention they deserve without sweating things like call times.
Another reason to use AI is so you can offer 24/7 support. Third shift work is rough on management as well as employees, but not everything can wait for the morning.
If you want to have a service that’s available around the clock, chatbots and other forms of automation can allow you to run a barebones staff when you don’t need or want everyone in the building.
This also extends to processes which just don’t require a great deal of personalization. For example, you don’t need to personally reach out to every customer asking them to fill out an NPS Score survey. That would be an incredibly inefficient use of time.
One of the things people like the most about companies that they do business with frequently is consistency. No one goes to Mcdonald's because it’s good. They go because they know exactly what they’re going to get.
Automation can deliver a consistent voice and tone, which helps to give customers a feeling of comfort.
Automation doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be personal either. It’s all about choosing the right software and automating it in the right ways. For example, automation tools like Writeupp exist which focus solely on clinic management, ensuring that the automated services on offer make sense in the context of the product being offered.
When Not to Automate Customer Service
There are reasons and times you need to have human beings handling customer support issues. One of the main concerns is that AI is robotic.
Many people, especially those of older generations, want to speak and connect with a person who knows and understands their dissatisfaction and can promptly fix it. A lot of young people don’t care. They want the problem solved and they don’t care who deals with it.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who you’re dealing with. There is no product or service that excludes older people, so having real humans around to address their concerns is a must.
Provided you’ve trained your customer service team well, they can handle complex issues that chatbots cannot. It can be really frustrating when you’re on the other end of a phone call and the robot voice keeps asking you over and over again to press 1 when pressing 1 isn’t your problem.
Pressing 2 isn’t going to help you either. So then you sit on the line for half an hour trying to figure out what you did wrong if this company even cares about helping you out.
You want to offer a fast track to being helped by a person whenever you can. It can be something as simple as hitting 0 or # or a phrase that puts them straight through to a rep.
The next con is jobs. Firing a ton of staff members for robots is going to end up getting a ton of bad reviews on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed. This can be a big problem when it comes to hiring new talent.
Are Your Customers Ready for Automation
If you think your company is ready to automate customer service, how do you get your customers ready for it?
The first thing you can do is use that email list that’s probably been gathering dust. Send out a newsletter explaining what you're doing and why and ask your loyal customers for their honest input. You may be surprised at how many people throw in their two pennies.
Next, prepare surveys. You can add them to customer service inquiries as well as attach them to online purchases.
Lastly, generate some content to talk about the move and what customers can do to get ready for these changes. Share the content on your social media platforms and maybe even mention it to your influencers.
We hope you have a much clearer idea in mind on whether or not you should invest the time and money into bringing this kind of automation into your company.
While there are costs associated with automation and new technology, the increased efficiency and long-term cost savings it can bring to your business can be worth it.
Are you ready to get started? Reach out today to find out what Ideta can do for your company.