Automating customer service: 10 best practice tips

The practice of automating customer service has a bit of a bad rap. After all, everyone knows the pain and frustration of navigating automated phone trees and robotic responses. Neither make for a good customer experience.

But automating customer service (or rather, aspects of it), can be massively helpful. Not only does it save you time and money, it also helps support your service team as your business grows.

So, here are ten best practice tips to help reap the benefits of automation in your customer service processes, without falling foul of the robotic response.

1.     Don’t sacrifice the human touch

When automating customer service, remember that automation is a tool, not a substitute for human support. This is perhaps the most important practice to remember when optimising customer service with automation.

Customers still need empathy, respect and flexibility when they reach out to your team. Automation can’t provide that. What automation can do, however, is support your agents. It can do this by handling admin, processing customer information and making sure the right agent is handling each query.

2.     Don’t try to disguise automation as a real person

Automating customer service doesn’t mean that you must advertise your automation or scrap your company tone of voice. But that doesn’t mean you should try to hide the fact you’re using automation either.

Automated interactions with your customers should be friendly and professional. Any responses should be carefully pre-written in your company tone of voice. Just don’t pass them off as coming from a human every time — customers expect certain processes to be automated, after all.

3.     Use automation to reach out to customers

Automation is great at detecting struggling customers. So, use it to reach out and offer human support.

For example, sentiment analysis algorithms can detect when the messages streaming into your business are positive, negative, neutral, angry, confused, etc. Combined with automated triggers, you can then use this analysis to take instant action and support the customer on the spot. (Think bridging a support call in response to a heated ticket, or connecting a customer to a retention office after a negative tweet.)

4.     Automate the distribution of popular support resources

You can create messages that link to help pages frequently visited by a lot of customers, or that address common issues directly. Then, you can automate who to send them to, and when. (Automatic ticket replies, or onboarding help to new customers when they sign up, for example.)

Automating customer service this way actively supports customers before they even run into a problem. This leads to a smooth, trouble-free experience. Meanwhile, you can look to address the source of the issues and reduce the need for those popular help pages, making for a better experience all-round.

5.     Encourage communication with your company

Automating your customer service is a great way to lift some of the weight put on your customer service team. But, some customers might be wary of it at first. So, every time you use automation to reach out to customers, be sure to offer a way for them to contact a human representative too.

This encourages conversation and communication. It shows customers that you want to listen to their feedback and issues, as well as demonstrating that your service is open and accessible. This in turn builds trust with your customers — they know they’ll be able to speak to a real person if something does go wrong.

6.     Don’t leave it

Review it, test it, scrutinise it.

Automating customer service is not an easy task. As more customers come to your site, new methods for service automation may become apparent, or current methods may need tweaking.

Once you set up automation, it will do the task until you tell it to stop. If you forget it, your new customers will eventually find outdated messages in their inboxes, from that workflow you set up years ago.

Also, if there are errors, you will only find them by testing and reviewing your automation software use.

7.     Ask for feedback (and act on it)

Automation is a great way to optimise your customer service, but it isn’t perfect. Ask your customers for feedback on their experience with you after their issue has been solved. You can even use automation to field the responses.

If the same issue continues to earn mention, you know that there is a consistent problem. Then, you can work to improve your service further. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating — and the proof of your service is with your customers.

8.     Personalise your customer service

Personalise your automated responses by developing basic templates to personalise and send. It’s low effort, and personalised emails can be that extra little detail that adds the friendly touch to your company.

It will also increase the chances of your customers reading an automated email. It feels aimed at them, rather than spam for everyone and anyone.

9.     Think outside the box

There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to start automating customer service processes. Obvious tasks include things like auto-updating customer accounts, setting up alerts for critical issues, and scheduling outbound emails.

But beyond that, there’s a whole host of automated workflows you could create. We recommend starting any automation implementation with a consultation, to build out the use cases that work for you.

10.  Have backup

When automating customer service, have human support ready to step in at any point of the automated processes. Just as it’s important to remember that you can’t automate the human touch, it’s also important that your automation has a team behind it, ready to take over if needed.

That way, your team can help customers that are frustrated or have issues beyond those that automation can help with.

Automating customer service

No matter what your business offers, customer service is going to be a big part of your success plan. As your business grows, the more customers your team needs to serve, and the more tasks start to hold your support team back.

Automation, like any technology, can come with its fair share of pitfalls. But by following these best practice tips, you can avoid these pitfalls, and reap the benefits of automating customer service.

Try automation across your business and service, with a free trial of ThinkAutomation.