Premiere CX professionals are improving customer satisfaction by asking five key questions before applying automation and AI to interactions.
Our constantly connected digital world has created a culture with lightning-fast service expectations and a customer base that is perfectly content switching loyalties after only one or two disappointing service experiences. With the need for premier customer service higher than ever, customer care departments are turning to new technology to find success—but how do they know where to start?
To give customers the speed and service they want, many businesses are integrating new kinds of technology into their CX plans: automation and AI. That’s easier said than done. Some customer service functions have proven difficult if not impossible to automate both effectively and within budget of companies outside the Fortune 100.
To meet today’s CX standards and drive the growth of customer satisfaction and loyalty, CX professionals and service industry leaders are automating interactions by first asking five critical questions:
- Which of our interactions does automation technology excel at handling?
- What tasks do my live agents excel at?
- What are the most common customer service topics at our contact center?
- What kind of experience brings the most value to our customers?
- How can customer service interactions add value to my business?
“With the need for premier customer service higher than ever, customer care departments are turning to new technology to find success—but how do they know where to start?”
Where to Start With AI and Automation
The first question to ask when implementing AI and other automation alternatives is “Which of our interactions does automation technology excel at handling?” Today’s automated technologies, like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), are perfectly suited for customer service interactions with standardized steps.
Think of calls for anything with a form to submit or calls like those to change an address associated with an account or begin an item return shipment. The customer calls, alerts a customer service representative (CSR) that they want to return an item, and has to look up the order number and read out a long difficult string of numbers and letters. The CSR then has to look up their information in your company database before even starting the returns process.
Automation can accelerate and greatly improve this interaction. By scanning a product barcode or QR code with a smartphone, automated technology can find the order, look up the product information, pull data from a database, verify that the product can be returned, begin the returns process, create a shipping label, and send the label to the customer in a few seconds. It doesn’t matter which customer calls or what item they ordered—the steps from the beginning to the end of the interaction remain the same for every call. These common calls with repetitive steps are exactly what customer service automation is built for. Customer effort is greatly reduced, speed to successful resolution is increased, and customer satisfaction goes up while minimizing the chance for human error caused by agent burnout from needless tedious steps and having to write out long order numbers.
Automation in Moderation
The key to successful AI or automation technology today is about knowing what not to automate just as much as what should be automated. Some interactions require the empathy, flexibility, and critical thinking skills live human agents have in abundance. I recently called Blue Cross Blue Shield to solve a complex issue with my insurance claim. Unfortunately for me, after a recent doctor’s visit, my physician incorrectly categorized the reason for the appointment.
For the first time in years I was charged for an appointment my insurance had always covered in the past. AI and automation aren’t built to handle backend human errors like this. No one had anticipated that my doctor would miscategorize my appointment. It took an hour-long call with an incredibly kind, helpful CSR to call my doctor’s office, clarify the clerical issue, verify the appointment was the same as it had always been, manually change the logs, and remove the charge on my account. This unusual, non-standard interaction necessitated a human interaction. There will always be these rare, complex interactions for any customer service department. These calls are where live agents stand out.
Implementing the Best Solutions
Once tasks are sorted between those best for automation and those best for live agents, the implementation and digital transformation process can begin. The final three questions are aimed at determining which interactions and processes to automate first:
What are the most common customer service topics at our contact center?
What kind of experience brings the most value to our customers?
How can customer service interactions add value to my business?
After working with dozens of businesses in almost every industry, our team at Zappix has discovered a particularly beneficial trend for any customer service department looking to automate—the vast majority of calls to contact centers happen to be the same calls that automation excels at handling. For almost every business we’ve spoken with, the Pareto Principle applies: approximately 80% of the calls they receive are ripe for automation, while about 20% are geared toward live customer service agents.
Creating Real Value
For these common, repetitive, straightforward calls, the most valuable experience, according to customers, involves the fastest resolution possible with the least effort needed. Customers don’t want to jump through hoops, and they don’t want to have to talk an agent through every step they already know the answer to. By automating these customer service calls, CX leaders can reduce friction for customers, improve customer satisfaction, and bring value to their contact centers.
That’s the final question leaders must ask: How can customer service interactions add value to my business? Right now, customer service success is becoming one of the most important factors in business differentiation and customer loyalty. Great service leads to reduced customer churn and adds to total Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). As customer service professionals begin automating the right use cases and better understanding the way customers interact with their solutions, customer satisfaction will increase and business will thrive.
Successful CX leaders know the potential impact automation and AI can have on their contact centers and customers. Realize that potential quickly by starting the automation journey with these five questions.
Yossi Abraham is president of Zappix, a leading digital self-service provider transforming the user journey during contact center interactions. He holds over 20 years of experience in various managerial roles, mainly in the telecom and IT industries. Managerial positions include general management, sales and business development, marketing, project management, and chief of staff. When he’s not working, Yossi enjoys playing with his two children and reading. He highly recommends Good to Great (by Jim Collins) and Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance (by Louis Gerstner).