Business process automation has become increasingly relevant over previous years. With businesses having now seen the benefits first hand, the requirement to create further efficiencies using automation is becoming even more apparent. In a previous blog post, we covered the process of implementing business process automation. This post will outline some potential means of implementing automation to improve your business’ customer service and team morale.
Automation, when combined with a deep understanding of your user journey, enables a significantly improved customer service process. By understanding your user journey, you’re equipped to understand where automation can assist, and where a person will best aid them. There are a number of solutions (from a plethora of providers) that can enable this:
Help desks are one of the oldest solutions in the book for enabling customers to communicate with your support staff. Implemented heavily in the technology sector, but starting to be adopted in other industries too, help desks are a great solution for B2B solutions. With natural language processing, they can also provide automated responses early in conversation threads to ensure people get answers to their questions instantly. See Freshdesk as a potential help desk solution.
Live chat takes the conservative help desk one step further by ensuring there is a customer service representative available to speak at all times. While being seemingly tricky from a logistics standpoint to maintain, many live chat solutions are available as apps too, enabling your staff to respond from outside the office. For your customers, this removes the frustration many individuals face in calling customer service numbers, as they’re able to tend to other tasks while waiting. From our experience, customer satisfaction also improves as people feel your business is much more accessible.
Triggers take live chat one step further. Let’s assume you learn of sections within your user experience that confuse customers (this happens to us all). An interim solution to solving the problem is to implement a trigger based live chat solution. This automatically “pops up” for your users, asking them if they need help when on a particular page. This one off integration for your developers will enable an interface for your customer experience/support staff to implement live chat. We’ve found some great success from the Intercom solution for this.
Similar to help desk automation, there are now email services that tap into customer support staff’s inboxes, providing preset responses to your team based on the email received from the customer. These preset responses are written for the customer support staff, and only require a single “click” for approval before being sent to the customer.
I’ve saved the best for last. By really understanding how your customers interact with your business, knowledge bases (such as frequently asked questions) can now be extremely interactive. Interactive knowledge bases decentralise the information so it’s available across your whole platform. This enables information to be available when you know your customers may require assistance based on previous interactions.
Artificial intelligence can be utilised to take automation one step further with respect to customer service. There are two primary mechanisms where you can use machine learning (a type of artificial intelligence) to enable this:
Customer experience mapping in the context of automation is the process of analysing a customer’s engagement with your platform to provide assistance where required. For instance, in the case of e-commerce, if we find the user is regularly placing similar searches but not finding a desirable product, we can infer that either:
The product they’re looking for does not exist, or
The product they’re looking for is not showing in their search results.
Fairly obvious, right? It’s at this point that engaging with a human or providing alternative search ideas could be extremely valuable. The high level of engagement would also suggest this customer is highly likely to transact, so it is undesirable for them to instead shop on a competitor’s store.
Chatbots take live chat one step further again by enabling software to communicate with your customers. This uses a type of machine learning called natural language processing. As the name suggests, language is analysed to determine the intent of the individual interacting. This can then be used to create links between the customer’s requirements (based on their queries) and support documentation already available. Research found that 60% of professionals feel 3 minutes is the appropriate response time for web chat, with only 6% believing that more than a 1 hour wait is acceptable. If the chatbot is no longer assisting, a member of the customer service team can then step in to help. While this has proven very effective in some cases (and humorous in others when chatbots aren’t well developed), it is worth pointing out that we take a hard and fast rule against developing chatbots. Their replacement of what should be a human to human interaction is a misalignment of our company’s vision. However, they may well offer huge potential benefits for you and be worth exploring.
From the above, it’s evident that staff time is saved by implementing automation and artificial intelligence. However, it’s not just about time saved. It also means staff don’t have arduous tasks to perform that can make them feel unfulfilled. Employee engagement costs the global economy $300 billion annually (read more about this here). Staff should be focussing on meaningful tasks instead of those that increase boredom and disheartenment.
You can read how to implement automation from our previous blog available here.