How Your Customer Service Can Be Automated Yet Personal
Businesses can get so much value out of automation. Workflows become more efficient and less expensive, freeing up lots of company resources. However, automation can be troublesome in other areas if you’re not careful, especially when it comes to customer relations.
While automation is certainly convenient for everyone, many consumers still want a personal experience with the brands they choose. This might come in the form of human interaction or by being able to dictate how their interactions go. Automation can feel impersonal and rigid at times, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, we’ll discuss how you can use automation to assist your customers while still managing to keep their experiences personalized.
Use an Intelligent Virtual Agent
You’re probably familiar with Siri, Alexa, and other virtual assistants with lifelike voices. These are examples of an increasingly popular form of artificial intelligence known as an intelligent virtual agent, or IVA for short. They combine the efficiency of automation and technology with the comforting and familiar aspects of human connection in customer service.
In this case, the realistic voice alone makes interactions with an IVA seem more genuine. Even though there’s not an actual agent or brand ambassador present, consumers get a more personal experience. Your real-life employees can now focus on the problems and tasks that are too complex for automation to do alone.
With AI, you can tend to customer needs 24/7 and automate dozens of repetitive tasks. With a tool as intuitive as an IVA, you can implement automation without losing the personality of customer service interactions. This is the definition of a win-win.
Automate Only What’s Necessary
There can be such a thing as over-automation. Take the example of a customer service phone call you might place with a business. Thanks to automation, commands can be used to direct your call to the correct department and avoid being transferred half a dozen times to get there.
However, this process can be overdone. Voice recognition might not work properly, or the steps required to get from point A to point B might be too numerous. If your automated process is too lengthy, complicated, or ineffective, it will worsen your customer service strategy.
In this case, you should only automate what is necessary. At the beginning of the phone call, a couple of automated commands will be helpful without being oppressive. And always give customers the option of pressing 0 to get to a live person. Your well-trained customer service agents will be able to take things from there.
Give Your Customers Options
If you want your automated customer service options to feel personal, give your consumers options to choose from. This gives them some control of their overall experience. Even if automation is involved, it will feel like a personal experience because the customer selected their own course of action.
This can easily be illustrated with a chatbot integrated into your website. This virtual assistant is always ready to help, but only if the customer visiting your site clicks on it. If they want automated help, they are more than welcome to make use of it. If they’d rather find the information they need themselves, more power to them!
Another example is adding an option to your phone system that bypasses automation and takes the caller directly to a representative, as noted earlier. Small gestures like this make automation available but don’t force it upon customers who would rather take a different approach. This will also help customers ease into automation if they’re not sure about it at first.
Create a Knowledge Base
One of the great benefits of automation is data collection and analysis. You can use this to your advantage. Data can be used to create a knowledge database that allows you to serve customers better on an individual basis.
For example, your customer relationship management system can automatically track the services each customer selects. It can also record personal data, payment information, and anything else that might be useful for return visits. Interactions with the business no longer have to include the exchange of information and can be focused on more personal aspects.
Just be sure to be transparent about the data you track and record. Also, allow customers to opt-out of data collection if they so choose. While such data can be valuable for everyone, privacy should always be the highest priority.
Ask for Feedback
After implementing automated assistance, ask your customers for feedback. There’s no better way to determine what they want the most than by going directly to the source. Customer feedback will highlight the exact areas of the customer experience that you should consider improving.
Gathering feedback is as easy as sending an email with a survey link attached or implementing a pop-up survey on your website. Customers can choose to fill this survey on their own time, possibly with the promise of a small reward. Those with strong opinions are more likely to fill out the survey, which may work out in your favor.
Customer feedback will point out the issues consumers have with automation or their desire to have more features implemented. Customers may also make note of the things your agents are doing that you’ll want to focus on even as automation increases.
Automation can improve your business from day one. Just be sure not to let technology take away some of the best aspects of business, like sharing a connection and establishing relationships.