Balancing automated and human customer service solutions

Last Updated on February 21, 2022

Robotic and human hands touching

The pandemic not only changed the way we live, but it also changed the way we work too, accelerating the move towards automated solutions for many tasks, including in providing the high standards of customer service today’s consumers expect. However, while the ability to automate many tasks in both customer facing and back-end operations has ensured cost controls and seamless performance, it is not the ideal solution for everything.

Finding a balance between the convenience of automation and the in-depth knowledge and personal touch of an agent is one that is more important than ever, now that consumers expect more, and, in many cases, agents no longer have colleagues nearby to consult with for complex issues.

What is Automated Delivery in Contact Centers?

Whether seeking assistance for an on-line shopping experience, or post-purchase support for a customer who bought in a store, one of the key developments in delivering quality support has been the rise of automated systems in contact centers.

Using a variety of technology systems combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning powered platforms providing in-context, real-time responsiveness for customer queries, an automated solution can take a customer through the entire support process from initial issue to final resolution.

These systems not only provide a fast and effective support experience for the majority of customers, but they also free up agent time to focus on the more complex issues that benefit from a more personal touch. For businesses today, the key is finding a balance between the two approaches, automated and human support, that satisfies consumers most effectively.

Contact Center Technology Today

With advances in AI technology, it is now possible to deliver a touch-free experience for consumers from their initial interaction through to a solution they are happy with. It is achieved through the adoption of a number of systems, including:

  • Chatbots – AI driven technology that offers automated responses to customer queries in real time.
  • Emails – From reminding a customer they have items in their basket to keeping them up to date with deliver schedules. Automated emails can deliver a response for a variety of actions the consumer takes.
  • Template Responses – Set responses to specific questions. Less sophisticated than chatbots, and more obviously automated, but ideal for simple questions such as order updates and so on.
  • Interactive Knowledgebase – An online portal that allows consumers to self-serve assistance through comprehensive search facilities to find the right answer.

There are several more technology driven options that have been an integral part of the customer service process for many years that also have a place in automated systems, including automated ticketing, while a social media responder can be included into the system to provide an entry into the service system for the 63% of customers who expect a company’s social media channels to deliver support.

In addition, systems such as automated call routing and team inbox solutions deliver both efficiency and convenience for agents as they tackle the more complex cases.

Human versus Automated Delivery and CSAT

When balancing the provision of support between agents and technology, a key metric to be looked at is the Customer Satisfaction Score, or CSAT. It is particularly relevant today, with social media, review portals and other user-generated content such as YouTube giving consumers a louder voice than ever before. A poor experience can go viral in a few days and have a lasting impact on a brand.

By gathering CSAT scores across interactions with the system, leaders can gain detailed insight into the customer experience and understand where automation and a more personal experience with an agent excel. The CSAT score is driven by three key metrics:

  • Response Time
  • Time to Resolution
  • Status Update Performance

In these metrics, automation scores highly. The immediacy of response, rather than waiting for an agent to become available, is very noticeable. With over half of customers today expecting a response within an hour, there is a tangible benefit for automation here. It is a similar story with resolution time.

An automated system can take a customer from query to resolution seamlessly, providing an efficient service. Good agents can do the same of course, and this doesn’t mean a manual system cannot score highly, but with consistent performance, you can rely on the automated option to deliver for your customers.

Finally, status updates. This is an area where automation can help whether the customer is being served by an agent or technology. Automated status updates for shipping, query processing and so on keep the customer informed, and give them a feeling of control over the situation, which deliver higher satisfaction ratings.

Maintaining a Personal Experience in a Technology Driven Landscape

Studies have shown that as many as 75% of consumers cite a positive customer service experience as a reason they love a brand, so ensuring your customer service solution is as good as it can be is extremely important. Customers want to feel valued and respected, and while automation can deliver resolutions to many of their problems, ultimately, customers enjoy a personalized customer service experience with real, human agents.

The question is, how do you keep that feeling of a personal experience within the automation dominated customer service experience? Automation has so much to offer, it can be tempting to simply utilize it everywhere, however, there are areas where a human touch can have a significant impact. Social media is one of those, and with real people operating social media platforms, a brand can develop a real identity, with two-way engagement that customers love, without compromising query response at all.

Using agents to solve specific issues or deal with complex or time-consuming problems is another. These situations are the ones where the customer will notice, and by having a real person to interact with, a successful conclusion puts a human face on the brand, no matter how extensive automation is elsewhere.

For Contact Centers, the Future is Already Here, Are You?

With automation taking on so many tasks, the entirely automated contact center of the future is here right now. The question is, are you ready for it? With the immediacy of contact and seamless resolution experience provided, automated contact centers deliver the experience customers want. If you haven’t adopted automated systems for your customer support yet, you could be giving your competitors the edge.

By leveraging the latest technology, you can deliver a quality customer experience that will build brand loyalty and help grow your business.