The State of Customer Service Automation

The State of Customer Service Automation

What is automation?

Automation (or automatic control) is the use of various control systems for operating equipment and other applications with minimal or reduced human intervention.

When is it okay to remove the human element? There are many tasks that can be handled more efficiently by an automation system than by a person. An effective automation system can streamline processes that often get pushed down on a person’s priority list.

Customer Service Automation is the use of various control systems to operate software and applications providing customer touch points with minimal human intervention.

Why should you automate some of your customer service processes?

• To quickly answer frequently asked customer questions
• To free up your customer support team’s time, so they’re readily available to address more complex customer requests

How effective are today’s Customer Service Automation tools?

Here’s where we’ve arrived:

While there’s no all-in-one customer service automation software available, there’s a noticeable trend in emerging customer service tech. The most innovative customer service applications emulate customer service representatives. These applications utilize video to present a visually engaging and personable customer experience.

While most customers prefer to find their own answers through a quick Google or site search, when search results fail, today’s customers prefer speaking with an actual representative. We suspect this preference supports the focus on emulating or integrating human interaction in customer service technology.

1. The Automated Call Menu

Originally designed to quickly connect customers with the right support department, automated call menus have become a customer service standard.

When done well, an automated call menu quickly provides a set of options that intuitively connect you to the right person. The option to “press 0 for operator” is readily available in case any of the menu options don’t seem to fit the reason for your call.

But more often than not, automated call menus are poorly executed. Instead of efficient operator replacements, automated call menus have become never ending labyrinths of frustration. We’ve given automated call menus a Customer Service Automation score of 1 because they’re automated but not often personalized and engaging.

Most call menus today seem to bide time for a customer service representative or deter people from calling for support altogether. We don’t view automated call menus as an ideal customer service automation solution unless you take the time to research and map out your customer’s call menu journey.

2. Live Chat

Live Chat has quickly become a website must have. In some cases Live Chat can be automated by providing automatic responses after prompting customers to answer a predefined set of questions (similar to automated call menus).

But the best Live Chat customer service sessions are those manned by actual people. Google chat representatives even use smileys and exclamation points to create an engaging voice during their live chat support sessions.

We’ve deemed Live Chat the average customer service automation tool and given a score of 2.5/5 for having:

• Automation capabilities (even if not always used)
• An engaging human presence (success here depends on team training)
• Personalization

If you’re looking for a low cost way to make your customer service team conveniently available to customers, Olark, Velaro, and BoldChat are some of our favorite Live Chat applications. Remember the key to customer service success here is ensuring you’ve educated your Live Chat team on your company voice, values, and products.

3. Amazon’s Mayday Button

If only we could all offer Mayday Buttons to our customers. When Amazon announced the Mayday Button, they threw down the customer service gauntlet. Instant access to a pleasant, efficient customer service rep became more than a proof of concept, it became a reality for all Kindle Fire owners.

We’ve given the Mayday Button a 4/5 for Customer Service Automation because the Mayday Button doesn’t qualify as a fully automated tool. But Amazon has met customers today in a way that they would like to be reached:

• Instantly – with the push of a button
• Effectively – by a well trained customer service rep who can educate/show a customer the answer to their question
• Engagingly – an innovative, personalized live video chat experience that speaks directly to a customer’s need

Now, not all of us can afford the technology and infrastructure behind deploying push-button access to customer service. Many can barely keep up with training a customer service team (although we’re advocates of promoting a customer-centric business altogether). This is why we’ve included…

4. YouTube Videos

Did you know that people conduct more than 3 billion searches a month on YouTube?

If customer service automation tech was on par with customer expectations (convenient, intuitive, simple), most customers today would prefer not to speak with a representative and find the answer on their own.

Think about it – what’s the first thing you do when you have a question? You Google it. Imagine finding the answer to your question among the top search results in a visually engaging format. Problem solved in a moment and it was easy to follow. Perfect!

Warby Parker has taken steps towards providing customer answers via YouTube by providing at-home try on consultation videos for individual customers. In fact, they’ve created a separate YouTube channel for customer support called WarbyParkerHelp. While this process can’t be completely automated, it still represents a huge step forward for digital customer service. Warby Parker recognizes where its customers often spend their time (YouTube) and provides them with personalized tips, available for viewing at each individual’s convenience.

We’ve given YouTube Videos a 4/5 for Customer Service automation because, again, this covers all the bases of today’s customer expectations but is not yet a fully automated process.

5. Persona Video

Persona Video by Sorriso™ and its emerging competitors are pushing the bar for customer service automation even higher. As a personalized, interactive video explanation, Persona Video automatically combines advanced customer data with pre-recorded rich video content. The result is a simple, specific, and engaging response to possible customer questions before they’re asked.

Imagine utilizing the wealth of data your company stores for each individual customer to identify trends and irregularities. Then, using your pre-existing customer portal, you’ll deliver a personalized video message to an individual customer before they even reach for the phone. It’s like taking the Mayday button and automating it with some algorithmic handy-work.

How has automation helped you?

How have you streamlined your customer service efforts? Have you been able to successfully automate any parts of your customer journey to satisfy your customers and support your customer service team? Let us know on Twitter @SorrisoTech.

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Creating a Digital Customer Experience That Customers Want

Creating a Digital Customer Experience That Customers Want

I was recently reading an in depth post by Sky Word on the difference between “experience” and “the customer experience”. The author, Ted, did a great job presenting his key takeaways about how people perceive experiences vs. customer experiences. To uncover these perceptions, Ted surveyed a variety of individuals and reviewed the stories they shared as examples of experiences and customer experiences. Ted’s thoughts really launched my own wonderings about the current state of digital customer experiences.

Digital Customer Experience vs. Experience

The common theme and, really, realization from Ted’s post was that people view customer experiences as improvable (they can always be one-upped) and don’t tend to be memorable – whereas experiences involve emotion and storytelling, experiences leave a lasting impression.

What really jumped out to me, after reading his findings and thoughts, is that people view customer experiences as themselves against one – themselves against one company. Whereas people view their experiences as themselves with others – themselves interacting with other individuals or groups of people that color their memories (experiences). So how can a company shift from being a faceless, impersonal “one” to a relatable and, positively memorable, person? It can’t. Or, rather, the goal is to have an un-memorable digital customer experience.

Blog quote - CX seamless

When it comes to the digital customer experience, can you really make a memorable, delightful, loyalty-inducing online experience? All of these digital touch points that make up an organization’s online customer experience are, at the end of the day, part of a list that a customer might come up with if their experience was bad – i.e. troublesome, un-smooth, time consuming, etc. And if all of these digital touch points flow seamlessly? Well, that’s today’s digital customer ideal! But that also means your digital customer experience won’t be memorable. A smooth experience does not make for a memorable experience. Your goal is to make things so convenient, quick, and easy, that the customer appreciates the way you’ve optimized your service to respect their time.

A simple, seamless experience that doesn’t require much thought shouldn’t stick in one’s memory.

To create truly memorable digital customer experiences in this day and age, you have to really wow customers. You can wow them with innovation and convenience – by rolling out a new digital feature. You can wow them with inspiration and emotion – telling personal stories or stories of charity that elicit feelings of good will. But can you wow them with a seamless experience? Not really. It’s like appreciating good security. If security is good, you’ll never notice the ones keeping you safe – you won’t have that bumpy moment where there’s a security breach and you need to be saved, that moment where you’d take notice of those working to ensure your safety. It’s not easy to appreciate what you can’t see.

Where Digital Customer Experience and Customer Experience Meet

When customers notice that your digital customer experience isn’t seamless, then there are opportunities for the members of your organization to create a memorable customer experience. When we tell stories we describe the characters, the setting, the story and its beginning, middle, and end. Your customer support staff – and anyone customer facing – are those characters that can make or break your customer experience in crucial times. Perhaps that’s why there have been so many articles published recently on how to hire for and train your support reps to transform your customer experience!

Where Should Your Digital Customer Experience Focus Be?

Blog Quote - human experience

As our digital world continues to change so quickly (hello IoT), we can’t all be the ones to wow customers with brand new features and conveniences. Many large companies are still bogged down by their legacy systems. These companies are currently wrapping their brains around the vaguely termed “digital transformation” to help them upgrade their legacy systems to a more agile point where back ends can swiftly transform to meet new front end (customer) expectations. So, for now, keep focusing on how to create a simple, seamless user experience when it comes to those digital customer touch points. And when it comes to places where those touch points may not flow together so smoothly, make sure your team is prepared to personally support your clients and customers. At the end of the day, we’re all human. It’s the shared human experiences that leave their marks in our memories.

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Understanding Digital Transformation Challenges for IT – Top Articles in May

Understanding Digital Transformation Challenges for IT – Top Articles in May

“Digital Transformation” is a vague term with a variety of meanings to different organizations and individuals. But as an initiative, digital transformation presents real challenges to IT teams. This month’s articles really reflected on major digital transformation challenges for IT, offered insights into the current state of digital transformations, and offered some different ways IT teams can begin to tackle some of those challenges. We hope you find these articles as comforting and useful as we did! Because it’s nice to know that many are still only beginning to determine what digital transformation really means and how they’re going to approach transformation on a path to success.

Can Agile Processes and DevOps Fuel Your Digital Transformation?

It’s no secret that digital experiences for government run entities lag far behind those privately managed, but Will Kelly writes a nice article on CMSWire about the lessons large enterprises can learn from the Federal Government’s shifting strategies to digitally transform. A look into how the government approaches the use of DevOps and the agile software framework to overcome digital transformation challenges and find success.

Utilizing APIs to Overcome Digital Transformation Challenges in Telecom

Weighed down by hefty legacy investments, Telecoms are just starting to feel the necessity of upgrading these systems to more cost effectively provide the means through which a rapidly changing customer experience can be created. APIs are one way Telecoms can quickly meet new demands while dealing with their legacy systems. Dan Nordale provides a nice piece on No Jitter on how APIs can empower businesses to deliver customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty by providing simpler and seamless customer experiences.

Data-Driven Customer Experience: The Challenge Of Openness

Hugo Moreno reviews the current state of data challenges for organizations developing their data-driven customer experience. Findings from a survey of 357 executives of large organizations reveal that data integration is still, currently, a challenge – though the pieces are in place to achieve integration. Open thought regarding knowledge sharing and transparency continues as well.

Businesses lack a streamlined approach to digital transformation

Sarah White for CIO Magazine reviews her key takeaways from a recent Gartner report on the state of digital business transformation. Key findings include an acknowledged shift in leadership (reflecting that the c-suite executive leading digital transformation is not always the CIO), executive belief that custom software is the future of digital transformation, and that digital transformation initiatives mean more than an increased usage of software and hardware – that business will be unrecognizable five years from now thanks to digital transformation.

Ryanair’s profits surge as it enters Year 3 of customer experience plan

What’s most interesting about Ryanair is not just the drastic turnaround in customer perceptions and profit – but that to achieve this success, Ryanair fully embraced digital transformation. This article reflects on the success of Ryanair’s plans, but what really stands out here is that Ryanair will be launching “more flexible ticketing, travel extras bookable in the mobile app, a new payment system on the mobile app, new rating systems online with real-time customer feedback, a digital gift voucher service and an increased focus on personalisation” – all highly digital customer experience offerings. If these items are launching this year, that means that Ryanair mapped out how to overcome their digital transformation challenges a few years ago and is already on a clear path to success! Quite a bit to be learned from this airline.

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