How To Automate Customer Service: A Comprehensive Guide in 2021

Post by
Indrek Vainu
    Published: 
April 20, 2021
How To Automate Customer Service: A Comprehensive Guide in 2021

1. Introduction

Customer service automation means using software to perform certain tasks in the customer service journey on behalf of human support agents. 

Most often through the use of Artificial Intelligence (mostly using Conversational AI), the automation of customer service entails automated chatbots or Virtual Customer Assistants for quicker support, personalized product recommendations, speech-detecting intelligent IVRs for smart routing, call center call transcription and analysis and agent-assist support systems for giving detailed information about customer issues. 

Such features are offered by a variety of customer service automation software platforms.


2. What is Customer Service Automation

To understand what customer service automation is, it is important to understand how customer service has evolved over the years. In its infancy, customer service meant a call center staffed with several agents, where the customer could be routed to a person in the call center by either their company or the human agent was busy and unable to assist. 

The person in the call center would then be assigned the call to help the customer and transfer the customer to another representative if needed. Calls were assigned to multiple agents, one for each queue in the call center. The individual would then be assigned the call and manage its progress to get the customer assistance. Often the number of agents was so high that people used their break times for answering incoming calls.

Nowadays customers engage with companies across a variety of channels. In addition to calling, customers use emails, messaging (Messenger, WhatsApp), SMS (or text messages), live chat on websites and new channels like RCS and Apple Business Chat.


Example of a Natural Language Understanding customer service chatbot.


With the proliferation of channels, the call center agents become more and more overworked as they have to juggled between answering calls, text messages, Facebook messages and conducting live chat. 

As such automation is needed for reducing the burden of call center agents and providing customers with a delightful user experience that is immediate and accurate.


3. Benefits Of Customer Service Automation

Customer service automation brings several advantages. Customer service is usually seen as a vital part of business operations. However, it's possible for customer service to get a lot of complaints that's why companies are forced to have customer service centers. 

During the process of dealing with companies, the customers are forced to wait on hold, respond to automated phone prompts and wait for the company to email them back. This results in customers feeling like they've been inconvenienced, and sometimes even end up taking their business elsewhere. 

Customer service automation makes the process more enjoyable for the customers and the agents. Namely automation of customer communication with Conversational AI and smart chatbots provides:

  • Fast answers to questions 24/7 in any language.
  • Accurate answers with links to more information.
  • Customers do not need to repeat themselves after being transferred to the agent as the conversation history is transferred to the agents.
  • Increased self-service resolution rate meaning customers can solve their issues on their own without talking with customer service agents.
  • Reduced agent workload as the AI answers FAQs and agents can deal with more complex and high-value issues.



4. How To Automate Customer Service

When you start automating customer service make sure you first have a business case in mind. This means have a financial metric that you can tie directly to your customer service automation project. 

This can be costs saved, decreased time to resolution, increased revenue from additional personalized sales etc. Whatever it is, have a metric, your North Star, that you can objectively determine whether your automation project is producing results. 

Here are some of the things you can do to automate your customer service operations. 


4.1. AI Customer Service Chatbots

The simplest form is a customer service ai chatbot. A chatbot is an interface through which the user can obtain information from the machine. The interface is usually in written form (chat) and in many cases the chatbot presents the user information with simple Yes/No type of options. 

These if-else statements are essentially decision trees where the user selects a certain answer. Upon the selection of that answer the user is given a follow-up question with a choice of answers again. Here is a curated list of 30 chatbot software platforms.

 

Clickable chatbot.

 

4.2. Virtual Customer Assistants

An improvement upon a chatbot is what's called a Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA). These intelligent agents are not only capable of presenting a multiple choice selection of answers to the user but also understand user intent from free text. Understanding natural language and being able to interact in multiple languages is a significant leap. While most VCA require technical skills to be built there are emerging platforms that support the no-code approach to building VCAs where no coding skills are needed.

 

Chatbot with intent detection.

 

4.3. Digital IVRs For Better Routing

Using ai for customer service in the call center can be done in a variety of ways. It used to be that when calling customer support the main form for customers to reach human support was through pressing buttons on their phones. Now companies have deployed digital forms of IVRs where customers just speak and tell what their problem is. 

 

4.5. Call Center Transcription And Analytics

An example of AI powered customer service are solutions make use of analyzing what customers have talked over the phone with customer support agents. Such technologies are capable of transcribing speech into text and then analyzing what customers actually wanted. This provides various information into what were customers' problems and what type of information they were looking for. 

 

4.6. Agent-Assist And Co-pilot Mode

AI also helps customer service agents provide better support. These so-called co-pilot modes assist agents when they are on the phone or chatting with customers. AI is analyzing information provided by the customer and from that they can provide answers that the customer service agent should tell the customers. 

 

 

4.7. Voice and Face Authentication

Authentication in the context of customer service usually means authenticating through a combination of a sign-up ID and a password. It is also possible to use voice authentication. Here the algorithms are listening on how the customer is speaking. This means that the AI is looking at the tone, cadence and pitch of the voice of the customer. Based on those parameters the algorithms create a user profile and use it as a method of authenticating the customer.

 



5. How To Measure Customer Service Automation

While customer service automation does allow you to streamline and streamline your customer service operations, it does not guarantee that the benefits will be on par with other customer service activities. 

What does determine the success of customer service automation is the ability to clearly measure and quantify the outcomes of your efforts. This will enable you to gauge the ROI of your investment as well as the incremental benefits that are coming from the use of customer service automation. 

There are a number of metrics that are important when determining the success of customer service automation. Here is a detailed list of the key Conversational AI customer service automation metrics. In a nutshell what you want to measure is:

  • Self-service resolution rate
  • Costs saved with using AI
  • Positive customer feedback share
  • AI impact on reducing inbound requests across all customer service channels (phone, email, live chat, messaging).


6. Customer Service Automation Software

There are many companies offering customer service automation software and their platforms are available in different versions with varying feature sets and pricing structures. There are companies in this space who provide a complete solution to this problem. These are customer service automation platforms that have a wide range of tools and features aimed at helping businesses out in the customer support space. For more details refer to this list where we have ranked the top 10 customer service AI software companies.


7. Conclusion

The fact that customer service is not just about the user support, but also the whole relationship, serves as a reminder that it should be handled by skilled support agents who know the product, its audience and its mind set. Considering the benefits offered by customer service automation, the use of AI is gradually becoming the more preferred option for most companies to make their support more efficient and user-friendly.

If you are looking for AI chatbots for your customer service, then feel free to sign-up for an account with alphachat.ai In just 5 minutes you can get your own natural language understanding AI chatbot that you can connect with your website.