Artificial intelligence is here.
From smartphones to self-driving cars, technology is seeping into our everyday lives and weaving into our society. We have smart watches that monitor our heart rates, we are able to video conference with people across the globe, and we even have headphones that can translate languages in real time. Customer service is no exception. In fact, we are already experiencing increased automation in customer service fields with the rise of instant messaging AI bots.
The transition towards automated customer service has been arguably successful. While there will always be trial and error with new technological advancements, there are plenty of reasons why automation in customer service is here to stay.
And while there may be some hesitation about whether or not automation can ever really replace people, the benefits of automating customer service are already becoming evident. In fact, this article from IBM predicts that by the year 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will happen without a human agent.
Here are the reasons that automating customer service is a growing - and why it's a beneficial trend:
When you have an automated customer service option at your company, it's always available. Computers don't need to sleep, they don't get sick, or ever take a vacation. If you're using automated customer service, your customers can contact you whenever they want. They can use your technology to solve their problems and answer their questions. This will also eliminate the eternally frustrating experience of being placed on hold and waiting for a human agent to get on the phone with you. An automated customer service system can handle thousands of queries simultaneously and isn't dependent on the pace of human interaction.
When your customers can find the answers they're looking for when they need the information, it helps them feel more satisfied with your company. Automated systems and utilizing technologies such as apps and chatbots means that you're making it more convenient for your customers. When they can have their questions answered when it's convenient for them, it contributes to an overall feeling of satisfaction. They'll be more likely to continue with your company if getting answers to questions isn't a hassle for them.
Automating even a part of your customer service processes can have a huge impact on your budget. Companies spend thousands each year hiring, training, and retraining customer service professionals. In fact, if your company is lacking customer service skills, it could cost you millions.
Switching to automated customer service is a huge cost saver. You never have to re-train a computer system. And even if repairs need to be made or features need to be improved, you're improving one entity, instead of whole departments.
The cost of customer service automation can actually be positive too. It can allow smaller companies to provide exceptional customer service that they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford if they had to rely on hiring and training a human staff. Relatively simple automated programs can accomplish exponentially more than a team of agents. Through automation, small companies can provide the excellent service that they want to at a fraction of the cost. It can allow small business owners to know their customers are being taken care of so that they can invest more time and money in their business.
We live in a world where speed matters. We can instantly connect to the internet in a matter of seconds just by opening an app on our phones. Gone are the days of waiting for dial-up internet connections and computers taking upwards of five minutes to load one webpage. We expect things to happen quickly.
This goes for customers as well. According to a recent Zendesk study, 69% of customers equate speed with quality customer service. Even your best agents can't compete with the speed of technology. An automated customer service system allows customers to access information more quickly.
The more quickly your customers can get answers using bots and automation, the more it actually frees up your human agents' time. Your customers can have questions answered quickly. Automatic systems can simplify and override time-consuming tasks that bogged down your human agents' workflows. This means that your human agents can spend more time on more complex inquiries or resolving any issues behind the scenes. Automating customer service doesn't have to entirely replace your customer service team. But it can greatly increase their productivity by eliminating mundane tasks that slow them down.
Automated customer service is inherently a more DIY approach. Many companies are investing in their FAQ resources and making online resources easier to find. In fact, recent studies suggest that Millennials actually prefer self-service customer support. Millennials are now adults in their twenties and thirties and are a powerful demographic. And the evidence is in: they prefer to do it themselves.
Whereas in past decades some may of worried that automation would take away the personal touch, now we know that empowering customers with information actually communicates trust in them. Overall, customers are looking for companies to give them as much information as possible upfront before having to pick up the phone and call your organization.
Customer service is a changing industry. It's changing in time with the rest of the world and we as a society are learning how best to integrate new technologies into our lives. As customers' needs and expectations evolve, it's become clear that automating customer service is a beneficial move for both businesses and customers. Automation won't replace good customer service - it'll enhance it.