is the New
Scott Gamester | VP Data Science, TaskUs
Companies are using increasing amounts of automation in an effort to meet ever-increasing customer expectations. 25 percent of customer support operations are expected to incorporate virtual assistant (VA) technologies across engagement channels this year--an increase of more than 23 percent since 2017. But companies should be cautious about which processes they automate or they risk negatively impacting their overall customer experience (CX). Here’s why.
Forrester found that brand CX ratings were flat compared to last year’s with hardly any variation and no clear brand leader. That’s because companies aren’t making the emotional connection with their audience that’s needed to improve CX. The solution is creating positive emotional experiences for increased brand loyalty. Although automations provide many potential benefits, implementing quickly without the right strategy can cause more harm than good. So it’s critical that organizations have the right intentions when using automation.
Automation shouldn’t be about replacing staff--the focus needs to be on better CX both internally and externally. When used properly, the customer, the company, and your employees all benefit. You differentiate your brand, gain deeper insights,boost customer loyalty, increase efficiency and improve employee satisfaction by making their jobs more meaningful and fulfilling.
When applied correctly, automation doesn’t just accelerate processes, it serves as a virtual assistant by taking care of routine tasks. This elevates customer experiences, giving your company a competitive advantage.
AI-powered Automations to Elevate CX
There are a multitude of AI-powered automations you might consider using to elevate your CX. These include ones that are used by customers, marketing, customer service agents and sales reps. Here are some examples of each.
Customer-facing automations including interactive voice response (IVR) systems and chatbots, both powered by AI such as machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP). These interfaces enable customers to get answers to basic questions such as product availability, delivery dates and account balances. Plus, bots can serve site visitors by guiding them to the product or information they’re seeking as well as anticipating their needs based on their profile history. Intelligent bots facilitate audience engagement on social media platforms, review sites and mobile platforms by responding to questions and offering to connect them with live agents.
AI powered automations serve up valuable insights and accelerate processes for marketing that aren’t humanly possible. These “virtual assistants” gather data from customer reviews and customer interactions from across the web as well as on your site or through your systems. They generate valuable insights and analytics allowing you to know your customers collectively and individually on a much deeper level while understanding and anticipating behavior trends. The result is a more informed marketing strategy which makes it possible to provide more personalized communications and experiences for your customers.
AI-enabled chatbots, VAs and self-service agents have the ability to understand, learn, interpret and reason. This allows them to resolve simple customer requests, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex problems. These systems can also be employed to gather relevant information and the purpose of customers’ inquiries prior to redirecting them to human agents enhancing efficiency and personalization of interactions.
Agent-facing systems have the ability to automatically suggest responses for agents to use as well as track agents’ decisions to ensure continuous improvements. To help agents better gauge customer emotions, NLP makes it possible to deliver real-time sentiment analysis. This allows agents to better manage conversations by enabling them to use the right word choice and tone of voice from the onset of each call. Continued sentiment monitoring throughout calls also leads to better call outcomes.
The delivery of customer purchase and interaction history, plus context data like which site page they were on when initiating live chat, enables agents to know everything about the customer without asking multiple questions or switching between multiple systems. Agent-facing bots provide quick-reply templates and facilitate faster searches of internal knowledge bases. They also support other operational steps and automate routine tasks like data entry. These all lead to a decreased average resolution time for support staff.
Best Practices For Incorporating Automation in Your 2020 CX Strategy
Start Slowly and
Improve Over Time
Don’t try to automate everything in the beginning. Your system needs time to learn and so do you. AI enables you to continually gather valuable data, so over time your system will become more efficient as will your staff at using the insights delivered to them.
Use Automation As a Tool,
Not a Substitute
Humans and machines should work together. Remember, automated customer service tools exist to enhance the experience, not replace employees. Your agents should get as much value from your automation tools as your customers do. Automation should enhance your overall support strategy, not detract from it. When it acts as a VA, serving up valuable insights and guidance to your staff, they’re enabled to provide the hyper-personalized experiences your customers desire.
Audience in Mind
When deciding what to automate, consider your audience first. Start by mapping out your customer journey, then monitor customer experiences across all customer touchpoints from pre-purchase, the sales process, customer service interactions, and post-purchase. This reveals where customers gather information such as your website, social media or third-party review sites and insights. This also shows you who they interact with throughout the buying process, how they seek assistance, and their preferred channel of communication. Knowing these data points about your customers allows you to tailor your automation accordingly.
Like most technologies, automation is not a set it and forget it project. Properly personalized automation requires routine reviews to keep it current. Customer needs change, and as a result, new knowledge gaps surface and contribute to how products evolve long-term. Although your system should get smarter on its own by continually adding new data, it still requires feedback to ensure it’s using that data correctly. Access it weekly to test out new scenarios and by submitting different types of inquiries to confirm it’s performing the way you think it should.
Request Feedback From the People Who Use It
Be open about your automation efforts and constantly request feedback from those using it, to ensure an excellent CX. Then address any identified issues or workflows for effortless usage.
Automation has its rewards, but don’t just focus on speed, ease and efficiency for the customer. Remember the people involved. You’ll need to drive emotional connections with your customers through personalized experiences to stand out from the competition. AI-powered automations enable you to do so by leveraging them as VAs to both your internal and external customers for the best possible outcomes.
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