Automation Isn’t For Everything (But It Is For A Lot)
The Pareto principle proposes that for many events, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. The principle has been tested by many industries and businesses around the world and has proven to be true for customer service as well.
Over the past few years, automation and self-service have quickly become massive players in the contact center industry. Some customer service leaders may be tempted to apply modern technology and digital solutions to every part of a business. Before jumping into the deep-end of self-service, executives should understand that automation isn’t for everything, although it is for a lot. Customer service leaders should remember the 80/20 rule and apply it to CX automation and innovation.
Most contact centers see 80% of their calls and interactions caused by the same approximately 20% of query types. By innovating these critical use cases, executives can accelerate their path towards digital CX and smooth out their journey towards success. By automating where it’s needed and letting live agents handle the rest, customers and agents stand to benefit.
“By automating where it’s needed and letting live agents handle the rest, customers and live agents stand to benefit.”
Automation Isn’t Always The Answer
Modern customer service should utilize both live agent interactions and self-service. Live agents are most beneficial when their empathy and training can have the most impact on a customer interaction. Complex calls that don’t follow any standard routine must be handled by live agents.
Automation is best suited for more routine, common calls where speed is most important and empathy isn’t required. To deliver successful first call resolutions as often as possible, contact centers must deploy the right form of customer service at the right time. Consumers expect self-service capabilities for straightforward requests. They benefit from the speed and simplicity of modern automation, but for the 20% of calls with complex queries and non-standard solutions, live agents are necessary.
Unique, nonstandard customer service calls are much more likely to find success with live agent intervention than with pure self-service automation. Callers looking for answers about an extremely specific issue or need will end up frustrated and hitting dead ends with standardized automation channels, but agents’ empathy and understanding create a powerful solution that helps callers feel cared for and understood even when problems can’t be immediately solved.
Organizations need to identify the routine, repetitive use cases that are best solved with automation, and those that require empathy and advanced problem solving that are best answered with a human touch.
“Callers benefit from the speed and simplicity of modern automation, but for the 20% of calls with complex queries and non-standard solutions, live agents are necessary.”
According to research from Microsoft, “getting my issue resolved quickly” is the most important aspect of a satisfying customer service experience for today’s connsumers. Self-service capabilities instantly speed up customer service for any interaction where end-to-end automation is appropriate. The 80% or so of customer service calls with straight-forward, routine answers are perfectly primed for fast, almost instantaneous, automated interactions. Customer service agents benefit from added speed during interactions as well.
For calls that need live agent interactions, automation can still provide a speed boost as well. Self-service tools, positioned at the right place in the user journey, can complement live agents and provide a great vehicle to improve customer experience. Tools like Visual IVR, implemented after a call is placed, but before customers speak with agents, allow businesses to authenticate callers and gather critical information while customers wait on hold and push that information directly to agents. Better equipped with the right information, live agents can deliver faster, more convenient experiences that customers demand. The added information makes experiences more enjoyable for callers and empowers CSRs to provide the best possible service.
Reduced Agent Burnout
Contact center agents excel at delivering empathetic, human experiences to consumers calling about complex, stressful situations. Their skill and expertise provide interactions that even the most advanced automation can’t match. When agents get bogged down in simple, straightforward, tedious calls, the ability to deliver powerful interactions where agents’ skills are really valuable diminishes. When agents’ are completely burned out, customer satisfaction decreases and agents’ morale and productivity is drastically reduced.
Self-service tools deflect these tiresome, repetitive tasks away from agents. Tools that deliver end-to-end automation and completely contain these tedious interactions empower agents to focus only on calls where their skills are most valuable. As call volumes have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, these routine tasks have only become more overwhelming. Freeing agents with successful automation takes the most simple interactions off their plates and empowers them to deliver the best service they can every time they speak with a customer.
Automation Is For A Lot
Today’s customer self-service tools improve customer service and customer satisfaction in many ways when used correctly. Self-service interactions are often faster than live interactions and automation helps agents be more prepared for customer needs. Automation also delivers secure methods for handling sensitive information like payment processing, and more. Together, live agents and modern automation deliver the best customer experience possible.
Automation and self-service have arrived. 2020 created the perfect blend of conditions for companies of all sizes and industries to join the self-service moment. Contact centers of every size and every industry have realized what experts have known for a while — digital self-service like Visual IVR is necessary for today’s customer service and CX. As businesses deploy solutions, they would be wise to remember that automation isn’t for everything, but it is for a lot.