Can automation improve customer service?

Posted by - Angus Robinson on the 11th December 2017

Can automation improve customer service?

Automation is designed to make our lives easier, permeating much of our personal and business worlds – but how convenient is it really?

If used well, automation can save time, money and effort. However,if done badly or not targeted to the right audience, automation can leave customers frustrated and with a poor reflection of your company.

Benefits

Automation often allows customers to direct themselves more easily towards their goal. How often do you ring a business to be greeted with ‘Press 1 to talk to someone regarding your account’, ‘Press 2 to talk to someone regarding a technical issue’ etc.? This automated service allows us to cut through the long process of being transferred across multiple staff to reach the person that can deal with our query.

Phoning a company can often result in long hold times, causing frustration. A great response to this is using automation. Rather than being left on hold, customers are now sometimes given the option to leave a name and number and the required person will call them back as soon as they are available. This allows the customer to carry on with their day and receive a call in the same amount of time they would be left on hold anyway.

Many queries can now be solved through automation. For example, call your mobile network provider and an automated service will tell you your remaining balance and usage of certain features. If simple queries can be efficiently answered like this, it will free up a lot of your time as a business. It allows companies to focus on other areas of customer service and prioritise customers that require a more immediate response.

Automation is also a great idea for improving customer service. How often after contacting a service have you received an automated email or SMS asking for feedback? Probably at least a few times. This is becoming more and more popular and it’s easy to see why. Find out how your customers are feeling through a short review allows you to directly focus your attention on areas for improvement for your company. Essential in gaining loyalty, reputation and growth.

Drawbacks

Despite its uses, automation can be really frustrating. An example of this is voice recognition technology. There’s nothing more annoying than calling a business and being asked to record information verbally which it’s then left to interpret. Whether it’s because of an accent, sound quality, volume – or it just doesn’t seem to like the sound of your voice: if voice recognition software doesn’t work, it can get customers really riled up. The point of automation is to make customers’ lives easier, making it 10 times harder will not result in good customer service. Automation is only good if it works effectively and people know how to use it.

Here’s a funny example of when voice recognition doesn’t work so well!

Frequently customers now receive follow up emails regarding a service. Although this is really useful for businesses, it can become irritating for the customer. The more surveys they’re invited to fill out, the less likely they’re probably going to find the time to do them. It’s also important to remember that customers are more likely to give feedback if it is negative or if there is an incentive involved, so the results of your automated messages may be slightly biased.

Can it improve customer service?

Automation is a great tool for improving customer service, if it is used correctly. Automation must aim to benefit the customer first; whether this is saving time or improving convenience. Target automation towards your customers’ needs and make sure they understand how to use it. Keep it simple and both you and your customers can reap the benefits.