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Automation & Authenticity In a Digital First World

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With the pace at which the digital age is moving, studies posit that by the year 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be conducted without the need for a human agent. Currently, the widespread controversy surrounding automated customer service gives the technology a bad reputation. Most customers reiterate that businesses that send automated responses often appear insensitive to their needs. The most significant bone of contention with the automation efforts is that many companies try to misrepresent automated emails and responses by claiming that a human performs them. While automation technology seems like a highly beneficial tool in customer service, the technology is still eons away from mimicking a human’s ability accurately; especially in complex queries. Such ingrained weaknesses in automated systems tend to deny customers the authenticity they crave for in their interaction with support systems.

Further, the quagmire arising from automation is that many companies are not equipped to give their undivided attention to every customer. In some cases, even though the fear of losing authenticity is considerable, automation becomes a necessary component of customer service. Without automation, contact centers would experience an overwhelming number of emails, calls, and social media posts. However, numerous companies reckon that automation of customer service involves a complete overhaul of human interaction or minimization of human interaction. While it may seem like automation is mandatory in the digital age, the primary objective of such technology should be to enhance the customers’ experience; not to replace it. This article will delve into strategies aimed at achieving a balance between automation and authenticity.

Use Automation to do Things Humans Cannot

The human capability has its limits, and automation enables support staff to offer customers an experience that surpasses human abilities. Typically, a human offers a response by reacting to a customer’s query. With automation, companies can create better customer service by inculcating a higher degree of responsiveness that humans would not ordinarily achieve. Inherently, automation introduces a proactive approach to customer service.

For example, if a company has a website, it is impractical to have humans monitoring traffic every minute of the day. However, automated systems can monitor real-time traffic and notice any signs of distressed customers. The automated system can react in real time and thus act as a company’s eyes and ears. On noticing distress, the automated system can guide customers to tackle the specific problem they are handling. Such real-time support enhances customer support in a way that humans cannot because it helps resolve customer issues before they arise. Subsequently, there is a reduction in customer complaints.

Automation Should Complement Human Support

Customer service platforms are crucial in handling tier-1 support requests. In any organization, some routine tasks tend to adversely interrupt customer service agents’ time. Additionally, such tasks easily fatigue support staff. Automated systems can be used to handle such simple routine tasks and thus free up time for support staff to focus on tasks that are more challenging and those that need creativity. Essentially, customer service support staff assisted by automated systems can allocate more time to the complex queries of their customers. In this case, the company is able to retain the automation aspect and respond quickly to customers, while still maintaining an aspect of authenticity in handling complex client problems. Scaling in such instances is convenient because no element in the entire process is compromised.

Identify Problems that can be Solved Using Self-Service Options

In the contemporary digital age, customer needs are rapidly evolving. Companies have to accommodate and adapt to different customer behaviors. For example, the millennial generation is more inclined to solve problems without human assistance. Having self-service options for simple problems can improve service delivery. Therefore, businesses should seek to automate some simple services to stay competitive.

Self-service platforms also serve businesses well when they are launching new products. Upon launching new products, companies can develop interactive FAQs and interactive knowledge bases to help resolve the numerous queries that customers might have concerning the product. With such technologies, it is possible to scale customer service efforts by improving the speed of response; even if there are limited resources.

Integrate Customer Data and Support Systems

Automation and authenticity are often fragmented aspects of various companies. Any automation effort should infuse authenticity as its core mandate. When an automated system collects customer data, it is essential that the data stored allows easy retrieval. When the customer eventually gets to interact with a human agent, the agent should have the customer’s data ready so that the communication does not seem disjointed. Failure to do so often results in customers becoming frustrated because they are forced to repeat any information they provided in the tier-1 interaction. Also, when customers have to explain the same problem to multiple agents, it can cause frustration. Thus, integration in the support system is a vital demonstration of how proper automation ingrains authenticity, enabling a high-quality customer experience.

Do Continuous Testing and Ask For Feedback

An automated system is not just a system that stands on its own. The entire system has to be favorable to customers, confer positive benefits to the company’s bottom line, and make work more manageable for the staff. Identifying weaknesses in the automated system and perfecting its operations requires continual testing as well as feedback collection. Testing enables businesses to stay up to date with the latest software. Also, asking customers for feedback can help companies determine the changes that are welcome and overcome the challenges in the current system. Constant vigilance can thus aid businesses to improve the authenticity aspect in the automated systems.

Evidently, dehumanizing the customer service experience is often a consequence of arbitrarily automating different functions. The result of such haphazard changes to a business can deter progress. Automation should be a gateway to improving customer service and should provide an authentic experience to the customer. To be successful companies have to integrate the two aspects as this is the only way to scale automation in a company. If a company implements automation the right way, it is possible to scale in all aspects of the business. Consequently, the bottom line of such companies improves and businesses can stay competitive in the market.

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