The Automation of Customer Service

Balancing Human and Machine in the Customer Experience

The automation of customer service.

Customer service automation appears to be a win-win solution at first glance. It reduces the cost of employing and keeping staff and increases their productivity for businesses. And for customers, service becomes more fast and steady. But is it as simple as it sounds?

Entire battle

It's worth considering in detail the questions of whether such automation is explicitly needed for your business? How suitable are the technologies you choose for it? How well do you implement and adapt them? We will explore all these questions, and even if you have good answers, there is still one thing.

People still prefer to talk with real people.

Of course, this does not apply to every single case. Machines are getting smarter, people are getting more used to machines, and their interaction is becoming more frequent and efficient in everyday situations. But it is human nature never to allow people to trust what they perceive as something alien fully. Therefore, such technology must create a positive user experience, not only by bringing visible value but also by giving pleasure. 

And many businesses have answers to the question of how to achieve this kind of user experience. Here we take a closer look at them.

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Analytics

Using AI and ML to automate processes is today's most popular trend. But just by following the trend, you can choose the most popular and expensive technologies, attract specialists to their development and implementation, but not get the expected result. Just because you have not previously conducted a comprehensive analysis of what processes, in what way, and for what purpose, it is essential to automate. So before you hire high-end developers, you need the help of high-end analysts who can make the right choices for your business and set the right goals for developers.

For example, our goal at Mad Devs is not to sell the most expensive solution to the customers but to bring them the most value and create a long-term and productive relationship with them. And we achieve this not only through the expertise of our developers, who design and implement technologies for businesses of any size and complexity. We also achieve this through the expertise of our analysts, who do a comprehensive analysis of all company processes and offer the best practices in each individual case.

Using technologies

Cloud computing

Cloud Computing is the same server on which you can store your website or application, but with one crucial difference. It already provides the highest quality, most convenient, and advanced data storage and processing infrastructure. Thanks to services such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, and so on, you can significantly reduce the time and money for renting and buying your servers with spare capacity, creating and testing complex infrastructure, etc. These services already provide uninterrupted operation, adaptive power provisioning depending on load, extensive AI and ML data functionality, and a high degree of data protection. Of course, the integration of such services requires the work of high-class developers. Still, after quality development and testing, support of these systems becomes as simple and convenient as possible, and the results often exceed all expectations.

Mad Devs developers have great experience in such integrations, as we often provide such services for business automation of different sizes, complexity, and industries. And we confidently declare that Cloud Computing is an excellent opportunity for any business to take its quality to a whole new level. For example, look at our case with Veeqo.

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NLP

This very powerful technology allows you to recognize the human language. But not at the level of grammatical structures, but the level of meaning, context, and so on. This technology is already in active use, constantly evolving and astonishing. It helps subtly determine the human mood, desires, and expectations and gives not just scripted answers but also finds more and more appropriate answers based on the personal data of the client, his previous experience, the current context, and much more. Often, this technology and many other advanced AI technologies are provided as part of the Cloud Computing Services functionality. 

However, you can have your own data scientists on your team to create unique models. Of course, it may seem more costly. Still, later these models, trained on a large number of customers, can produce excellent results and become a separate product of your company, as Amazon, for example, has done.

Chatbots

Chatbots have been a huge trend in recent years. Yes, it can take a lot of pressure off the customer support center and make life easier for many people who want a simple answer to a simple question as quickly as possible. As mentioned above, this is where it's particularly appropriate to use NLP, and the smarter the chatbot, the more satisfied customers will be.

But this is a dangerous point where you can be tempted to delegate too many responsibilities to the bot. The best practice is to use a chatbot on the homepage of a website or app to provide personalized help information to the customer in the fastest and most convenient way possible. Chatbots can also be used to book movie or plane tickets, order a cab, and more, but they need to be even more seriously designed for that. 

There are a few general tips on what's best to include in your chatbot:

  • Make a chatbot that can work not only with text but also with audio and, accordingly, with the ability to give answers to the client in different formats.
  • If the chatbot encounters data that it cannot process, there is no need to write to the client about it. Have the bot friendly ask the user for a little more detail.
  • The bot should offer to rate the quality of its work right inside the dialog so that the user has no trouble giving an assessment and doesn't have to navigate to separate sections of the site or app.
  • Make it possible to switch to live chat with a company representative in a dialog with the chatbot from the beginning and all the way through. There's no need to make the user wander around the site looking for this feature.
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Seamless

People like to move between devices, even within a single task. For example, a customer opens a chat window on a site via his smartphone. The customer receives some link in the process, which is more useful to open on a computer. And imagine how unpleasant it is when this chat window will not appear after opening the website on the computer. So the customer will need to duplicate this link in a messenger, and so on. There can be many such scenarios, and they all need to be minimized. 

The state of user activity can be tracked, and when opening a site or app from another device, it can be opened in the same state. A great example would be Google services, where documents are tracked and stored in the cloud, and all changes are synchronized at once for all devices. The same approach can be used to develop your sites and apps, which would be a huge advantage.

Key practices

Remember the individual cases

There is always a chance of unusual situations arising. Therefore, the customer should always have an easy way to get help from a qualified representative of the company. Along with a digital assistant, there should be access to a live person in the form of a chat, a call, and so on.

Don’t make customers beta testers

Сustomers should receive a complete service or product, not their raw version. So before the final implementation and use of automation, you need to do the maximum amount of internal testing in various scenarios. Only after that make them regular features. 

Don’t pass the buck 

When specific processes are successfully automated, that doesn't mean you can underestimate human involvement. The number of employees may decrease, but only people should still make decisions and take responsibility. 

Don’t sacrifice quality

The demands on the professionalism of employees should not be lowered just because machines do some jobs for them. On the contrary, when employees have such a powerful tool as automation at their disposal, the overall quality of the department should increase, and employees should live up to this level.

Boost the human employees

The money saved thanks to automation can go to training real people in whatever it is they are supposed to help customers with. Now that your team is no longer a bunch of answering machines, give them new knowledge and skills. Create in-house refresher courses for employees and teach them how to handle the more complex tasks while machines run the simple ones.

Ask for feedback and improve

Customer service automation is a big deal, so don't expect benefits to flow immediately. There may be various contingencies that will cause adverse reactions from customers. Find ways to encourage customers to share what they think of the automation initiative. By doing so, you'll show that services are being automated not because of the company's needs but to provide better customer service and to have a chance to improve it every time. 

Mix the digital and physical

Even when automation shows good results, you don't want to go overboard. Combine automation with the participation of real people in communication with customers. Analyze customer preferences and use automation where customers want it. And where customers prefer live interactions, provide them with the opportunity to do so without delay. 

The lines are fading

Today, a massive amount of technology takes automation to a prohibitive level. But only technology or technical expertise is not enough. The boundaries between the physical and digital worlds and between technical and human disciplines are increasingly blurred. The choice of products is increasingly based on details, often even unknowable by the user. So it is good to have both true engineers and marketers in your company, who can implement any technology and use it correctly to take metrics, but also psychologists, philologists, sociologists, and so on. After all, making changes to the product now has to take into account more and more factors, in that no one will notice, but they will definitely feel it.

Summary

Automation in customer service is a beneficial and sometimes even necessary initiative. Especially when you need to process a massive amount of data from many customers to improve the customer experience, machines calculate much better and faster than humans and can identify patterns much more efficiently. And given that the technologies that help to do this have been available for a long time and are showing themselves perfectly in practice, their use is obviously not redundant.

But they are not perfect. We must keep in mind that they cannot yet replace humans in everything. And in some ways, they should not even try to. Along with many other excellent tools, they are just tools to improve the company's work and customer service. You need professionals anyway to make important decisions, take responsibility, represent the company, and show human involvement where it's needed. 

And to understand the exact balance of automation of customer service requires an individual and very careful evaluation of each market, business, and its customers to choose only the best practices and technologies from all over the world.

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