How customer service automation can help your business

Automation in customer service

The number of service messages that come in via social media and messaging channels increased significantly over the past years. For instance, the Dutch retail chain HEMA reported an increase of 60% of volume in 2017, compared to 2016. At the moment HEMA handles around 30,000 messages per month, of which 8000 messages on average via messaging channels. But how do companies cope with the thousands of messages that are coming in on all kinds of channels and at any time without significantly increasing service costs? For more and more organizations, customer service automation is the answer to the question.

Companies don’t only have to deal with an increased number of messages, but also with increased expectations. Today consumers expect service where and when they want it and as fast as possible. A company that cannot live up to a consumer’s expectations, risks that he will leave immediately. Moreover, he might not leave silently. Complaints about poor service can go viral in no time via social media and cause damage to a company’s reputation.

Today consumers have numerous possibilities to get in touch with companies. In addition to the traditional service line and customer service via e-mail, many companies now offer the possibility to send inquiries via live chat, messenger and social networks. However, providing fast, personal and high quality service via these different touchpoints is still a challenge for many organizations. Automation in customer service can solve some of the struggles of today’s customer service.

What is customer service automation?

The term customer service automation describes the process of reducing or removing human labour when it comes to assisting customers with their enquiries, needs and wishes. This is achieved by implementing AI technology and chatbots into the customer service processes. Acting as virtual assistants, chatbots are able to perform simple tasks, provide information and initiate processes. Common tasks that chatbots take over from their human colleagues today are:

  • The answering of recurring questions, such as simple questions on products and services with low involvement.
  • Supporting the service agents by suggesting answers that the agent can approve or disapprove.
  • Preparing work for customer service agents, such as asking for missing information like an e-mail address or order number that is necessary to handle the case.
  • Identifying conversations and routing them to the right person within the department or company

Frank Smit, Chief Innovation Officer at OBI4wan, explains the applications of the chatbots of these days as follows:

’You can see a chatbot as virtual customer service employees. The bot ‘reads’ the message, determines the intention of the questioner and ensures a complete set of (customer) details. His job is then about done; the complete set of details are handed over to another employer.’

Importantly, adding automation to customer service does not mean removing the human element completely. The best results are achieved when service agents and virtual assistants are working hand in hand together. With this approach customer satisfaction, measured with the NPS score can go up by 10%, as shown in the case of bol.com. Alexander de Ruiter, CEO of OBI4wan emphasizes that “the bot is there for efficiency; the employee for empathy. Because of this effectiveness, a bot creates a better customer experience.”

Would you like to know more about chatbots? Read our whitepaper!

What are the consequences of automation in customer service?

Through intelligent automation in customer service, companies can reduce costs, provide better and faster service, and increase customer and employee satisfaction.

Reducing costs with automation

A chatbot can handle thousands of messages at the same time, so there is no need to hire new agents when the volume increases. According to an article by Chatbots Magazine, chatbots can save up to 30% in customer support services. After implementing a chatbot into their service team, the Dutch e-commerce player bol.com managed to even reduce their service costs by 36%.

Better and faster service

Chatbots can retrieve information based on keywords much quicker as their human counterparts. In this way, they can answer simple questions instantly and thus speed up the service process significantly. Moreover, virtual assistants never sleep – customers can reach out to them 24/7, so that they are not limited by traditional service hours anymore. Customers receive answers quicker and are assisted at any time without having to deal with waiting times.  According to a recent survey by Arvato the majority of consumers expect 24/7 customer service from e-Commerce/online retailers.

Happier customers and employees

While routine work and recurring requests are automated, customer service agents have more time providing high quality and personal service to customers. As their virtual assistants take over time consuming routine tasks, customer service agents can focus more at the core of their job: Engaging with customers and helping them solve complex issues. At bol.com employees have 20% more customer interactions per hour since they implemented their chatbot. This eventually leads to more happiness and satisfaction not only for customers but also for customer service agents. In our blog “Want to form a team with chatbots? bol.com knows how to do it” we explain how the optimal mix between humans and machines can be achieved.

What to consider before implementing customer service automation?

It is of major importance to determine which parts of customer service are suitable for automation and what should be achieved. What are the goals and what problems and challenges does it solve for your organization? Existing customer service data should be analyzed to get a clear picture where a chatbot would deliver added value and where he shouldn’t be applied.

Would you like to know more about the possibilities to automate customer service processes within your organization? Contact us for a free demo of our AI and chatbot solutions.

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