How Customer Service Automation Is Humanizing the Customer Experience
Automation has transformed customer experience (CX) as we know it — but how can a seemingly impersonal strategy enhance the human element of CX?
From scanning our groceries in the checkout line to calling in a prescription refill, automation has changed countless aspects of our daily lives. The customer experience is now complemented and enhanced by automated tasks, though one might ask: Are we losing the human element of customer service to artificial intelligence (AI)?
In the world of customer service, automation should be utilized to speed up resolution, though its ultimate purpose is to better support call center agents as they work to support customers. With AI technologies in place, agents can easily find access to data they need to resolve an issue. Further, customers can streamline their path to resolution by opting to resolve everyday tasks with the aid of automation before speaking to an agent.
Automation should never replace relationship building in CX but rather aim to enhance it. By providing autonomy and convenience, automation empowers the customer at every stage in their journey while also providing access to human representatives at any moment throughout their buying process.
Here, we’ll explore how AI and humans can work together to provide more seamless CX, how customer experience automation works and specific examples of automation supporting the human element of CX.
The Value of Humanization in Customer Interactions
As automation capabilities grow, the human element of customer interactions may feel lost to many consumers who call or write to companies for customer service. In fact, PwC reports that 82% of U.S. consumers want more human interaction from their customer experience — identifying a need for companies to find ways to balance the value of human interaction with the value of AI technologies.
So how can AI and humans work in harmony to better support the customer? There is tremendous value in the role that AI can play in humanizing the customer experience, and it begins with making the agent’s job easier. Whether AI takes the form of a chatbot that engages with the customer or is deployed as a tool to assist an agent while they are on a customer call, these technologies serve to empower agents. And when agents are empowered to do their best work, they are more engaged, productive and empathetic employees.
First-time resolution is also a powerful benefit of using automation for customer service, as it connects customers with more direct answers and avoids the experience of bouncing between agents or escalating issues to another department or management. This allows for a more human connection when the customer engages with an agent, as they feel that their needs are understood, their time is valued and that the brand is making their experience a priority.
When a customer calls in or initiates a chat, AI capabilities can identify and, in many cases, resolve repetitive issues, questions or tasks that can be completed quickly before the agent becomes involved. With certain repetitive tasks, such as changing or verifying an address or generating a shipping label already completed, the agent’s time is freed to further support the customer with more complex customer service needs.
Data and analytics provided by AI also enable the humanization of CX by allowing the company and agent to anticipate and identify a customer’s needs before they arise, providing a superior customer experience overall. In critical moments of the customer journey, automation is a key supporter of the agent, therefore supporting the value and importance of human interaction.
Customer Service Automation in Action
Automation plays a role in countless functions, from tiny tasks to large-scale process mining initiatives, though there are several specific ways it can be applied in customer service to aid in the customer’s journey. Here, we’ll look at four processes driven by AI that drive customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty.
1. Knowledge Base
A knowledge base consists of many resources that customers can use to answer common questions about a product or service. These resources can include anything from FAQ guides to video tutorials and help customers resolve issues quickly without initiating a phone call or other form of contact with customer service. When supported by AI, interaction with a knowledge base can trigger human escalation if a customer cannot find the answer or resource they are looking for, demonstrating the perfect blend of humans and AI working in harmony to support the consumer.
2. Pre-Written Responses
AI-generated pre-written responses can help agents when they are emailing or chatting with a customer, reducing the need to type each response. This streamlines the customer’s wait time, leading to more efficient resolutions and higher satisfaction rates.
3. Conversational Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Conversational IVR, or interactive voice response,recognizes keywords spoken by a customer during phone interactions. This technology then connects customers to the right specialist based on the keywords provided during the exchange, reducing the need for multiple transfers or escalations down the line.
AI-driven chatbots are one of the most common automated features of today’s customer service operations. When a customer reaches out via chat, bots can either guide the conversation toward resolution or drive the conversation so it can quickly connect customers to a qualified representative.
5 Examples of Automation Humanizing CX
With customer service automation solutions in place, agents can utilize specific tools and automated processes that streamline issue resolution and allow the human element of the customer experience to thrive. Here are a few ways that automation can lead to a more human connection in customer service exchanges.
1. Greeting and ID Validation
When a customer picks up the phone or types a chat message, AI can perform the greeting and ID validation required to begin the customer service interaction. This process can take time for agents to complete, but they can begin providing customer service sooner with this step already completed.
2. Gathering and Cross-Referencing Customer Data
AI can support agents while they are on a call by gathering relevant data, such as call and hold times, and cross-referencing previous interaction data. These analytics are critical to improving CX and ensuring a seamless customer journey across all touchpoints.
3. Basic Troubleshooting
Automation can help in basic troubleshooting by providing suggestions to common issues right away. Customers can often complete the suggested processes and resolve their issue immediately without needing to speak to an agent. Alternatively, the agent can recognize when further technical support or escalation is required.
4. Triggering the Proper Departments
When necessary, AI-supported customer service can also help trigger the proper departments or escalation. Predictive analytics can uncover customer needs before they occur, which can signal the right specialists and allow for faster resolution overall.
Learn How Automation Will Enhance CX in 2022
The customer experience will continue to be supported by automation, though it’s critical to ensure that the human element of CX is nurtured across every touchpoint and interaction. When empowered by automation and analytics, agents are capable of supporting the customer in every scenario. With Deloitte estimating that 79% of companies plan to invest in AI capabilities over the next two years, it’s clear that CX organizations are unlocking value from humans and AI working together. Learn more about how CX automation will evolve by downloading the 5 Customer Experience Trends to Watch in 2022 report from Sitel Group®.