Less talk and more action.
That’s the direction of today’s customer service innovations. Using automated customer communications to reduce the need for business interaction is a great goal. It can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance customer experiences if it provides consistent, personalized service when needed.
However, implementing customer service automation without compromising the service is tricky.
“One of the key steps to balance human and automated interactions is to identify when to use each one,” explained Senior Global Operations Leader David Ferrick. “A useful framework for this is to consider the customer’s intent, emotion, and complexity.”
So, if the customer’s emotion is neutral or positive, an automated interaction can be satisfactory and engaging–if not preferred in most cases. One study found the preference for automated channels for routine tasks (shipping status, for instance) was 2.4 times greater than contacting a live agent.
However, if the customer’s emotion is negative or frustrated (such as the product ordered is now on backorder with no shipping date posted), human interaction can be more empathetic and reassuring.
Customer service isn’t just a differentiator; it’s a fundamental driver of success and customer loyalty. But meeting the ever-growing demands of customers can be daunting, especially as your business expands and your customer base multiplies.
No doubt these innovations are a game-changer. Imagine having the ability to provide personalized support 24/7, instantly respond to customer inquiries, and streamline your support processes with channels your customers prefer—all while reducing costs and improving efficiency.
But to ensure this automation aligns with your company’s principles, here are seven factors to help incorporate automation that satisfies customer needs while positioning your company for growth.
1. Set Clear Objectives
Define your specific goals for automating customer communications. Identify which interactions can be automated and where human touchpoints are still necessary. Typical objectives include reducing response times, improving accuracy, and increasing customer satisfaction.
“Working with an advisory team that specializes in digital transformation will help sort out the daunting task of data integration and management,” Kim Georgeton, Managing Director, Digital Practice at Simplus, said. “A strategic advisory engagement can also guide you through options for a scalable and customizable system that can handle large volumes of data and implement AI technology that enables this data to be more instrumental in business operations.”
2. Understand Customer Preferences
Analyze your customer journey to identify touchpoints where automation can add value without sacrificing the customer experience. This involves understanding customer preferences, pain points, and expectations.
For example, while most consumers prefer the convenience of automated platforms, regarding sensitive matters like fraud or complex requests, 52% want immediate access to a live agent for help. And satisfaction levels tend to be higher when the agent can offer positive solutions.
Working with an experienced technical advisory team can help align the company’s desire to automate with the ideal digital systems while also reinforcing the company’s brand. The first step is to identify your current customer information and how to leverage it with machine learning.
3. Leverage Data Management
Any CRM system is only as good as its data. And by that, I mean relevant, operational data. Data that is not only accurate and secure but meaningful, objective, and segmented in ways that identify solutions.
A cloud-based, centralized, data-driven system that leverages data to create robust audiences and customer segmentation— based on customized factors like purchasing history, demographics, communities, etc.— is essential for building foundational data-based transformation.
For instance, Salesforce uses its own Data Cloud system to access its 1.2 billion customer records from over 60 different data streams, including transactions, communication history, service requests, and more. With Data Cloud, Salesforce reduced duplicate records and consolidated over 52% of its customer profiles, helping the company achieve a single view of its customers.
4. Select the Right Tools (aka get on board with generative AI)
Industry-driven tools help bolster company objectives with customized innovations that heighten CRM functionality, such as Salesforce, the world’s leading CRM platform, which captures real-time data for meaningful analytics, strategic segmentation, automated data management, and personalized CX with systems like Data Cloud and Marketing Cloud.
However, many believe the biggest influencer for automated customer service is generative AI. Salesforce research found that 84% of sales teams that use generative AI experienced increased sales with faster customer interactions. And 90% of service professionals say generative AI helps them serve customers faster.
“Generative AI will completely reshape the field of customer service, said Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce AI. “We’ll have the ability to automatically generate personalized responses for agents to quickly email or message to customers, freeing human agents to spend more time deeply engaging on complex issues and building long-term customer relationships.”
Generative AI creates automated interactions by understanding and reacting to human input. The more it accesses and continually learns from data, the better AI adapts to the tone and context of the customer interaction. The result is intuitive, personalized engagement. Now, you can really get to know what your customers want, and the fun begins.
5. Get Personal With Customers
Well-orchestrated customer service automation should achieve at least three things:
First, as I mentioned earlier, automation technologies such as chatbots and AI-driven customer support systems can analyze and utilize vast amounts of customer data to create a more tailored experience. These systems can provide personalized recommendations and solutions by tracking a customer’s past interactions, purchase history, and preferences.
Secondly, customer service automation enables real-time responses and assistance 24/7. Automated systems can instantly address common inquiries and issues, reducing customer wait times and frustration.
Additionally, these AI-supported tools use natural language processing to engage in human-like conversations, making customers feel like they are interacting with a responsive and empathetic agent. This level of responsiveness enhances personalization by ensuring that customers’ needs are met promptly and they receive timely, relevant information or solutions.
Finally, after a customer interaction, automated systems can send personalized thank-you messages, surveys, or review requests. These messages can be customized based on the customer’s previous feedback and behavior, creating a more engaging and relevant interaction.
6. Leverage Human Oversight
Although tempting, customer service automation isn’t a “set it and forget it” option. In some cases, human intervention is vital for decision-making in situations that require a deep understanding of the organization’s goals, values, and ethics.
While automated systems can process data and generate insights, they cannot fully comprehend the ethical implications or long-term consequences of certain choices. Therefore, having mechanisms for human-AI collaboration ensures that important ethical decisions and strategic choices can be made with the appropriate consideration and deliberation.
“Customer service agents are working alongside AI technology and systems to provide faster and more accurate information for a more satisfying customer experience,” Brenda Bown, CMO of Service Cloud at Salesforce, explained. “This will create a new role in your contact center — the high-value agent. High-value agents, with the assistance of AI, will shift their focus from resolving simple issues to engaging in more complex interactions that generate revenue.”
Additionally, maintaining a level of human involvement fosters a sense of accountability and responsibility within an organization. Individuals with the authority to intervene and make critical decisions are more likely to take ownership of the processes and outcomes. This accountability can lead to improved performance, as individuals are motivated to ensure the success and reliability of the systems they oversee.
7. Utilize Monitoring and Analytics
Consider using a system to implement robust monitoring and analytics tools that track the performance of your automated communications. Measure critical metrics like response times, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction.
Tools like generative AI are constantly learning new ways to engage with customers. Encourage customer feedback on automated interactions, then use this feedback to fine-tune your automated processes and address any pain points.
Remember that automation is not a one-time effort; it’s an ongoing process of optimization and refinement. By carefully planning and implementing automation, you can reduce the need for IT/Business interaction while enhancing customer service and efficiency.
Let’s chat to learn more about ways to simplify workflow with customer service automation! Our Simplus teams understand the complexities of implementing AI-backed Salesforce digital transformation to help your business grow.