Success in customer service and automation follows success in planning for the right amount of automation in the right places. Understanding how to properly automate will be key to excellent CX going forward.
Automation has fundamentally shifted the future of many industries. Customer service and customer experience (CX) are no different. Modern consumers demand fast, easy to use, self-service solutions to common problems and automation is ready to provide the interactions they demand.
Businesses looking to automate and stay relevant must beware the perils of over-automation. While straightforward interactions like bill payment or order status lookups are primed to be automated immediately, more complex, “high-value” interactions like special exemptions and unanticipated issues necesitate a human agent. Value can help identify which call dispositions should be automated, but when customer service professionals combine value with call volume, they discover which interactions should be automated first. Every customer service department committed to excellent CX should begin determining where on the matrix of evolutionary automation different call dispositions fall.
“While straightforward interactions are primed to be automated immediately, more complex, “high-value” interactions necesitate a human agent.”
The Value Test
Not every call is the same. The human element adds value to some calls, but there is a point of diminishing returns for others. The added value for any one interaction depends on a couple of variables. An interaction has less value if it is an easily automated, routine process. Looking up information in a database, collecting standardized forms from consumers, conveying common information to customers — all of these popular call dispositions follow routine steps from beginning to end. The routine nature of these calls and their low complexity mean adding a human to the mix brings little value over a well-implemented automated solution.
It only takes a few seconds to find a driver through ride sharing, summon them to your location, and pay for the service. Paying bills to other companies like insurance or utility providers shouldn’t take more than a couple seconds either. Automation has made consumers’ lives faster, simpler, and easier in many ways. They want low-value interactions to be automated. Self-service options are faster and more effective than human interactions in many ways. Now consumers expect every business they interact with to catch up to the self-service standard.
Complexity isn’t the only determining factor for value. Human agents bring a lot of value in other examples. Humans can identify when and how to upsell and cross-sell during calls where automated solutions often can’t. Skilled agents know when to be overly caring to bring a frustrated customer back from the edge and reduce customer churn for extreme calls.
Complex, tense, or unanticipated interactions necesitate live agents’ skills, perception, and plenty of human empathy — traits automation can’t easily replicate. Automating the right way means first recognizing which interactions your business processes receive high-value or low-value from human interactions. The low-value call dispositions should be automated first.
The Volume Test
Once customer service professionals identify the best interactions for automation, they must determine which ones to automate first. Many businesses wouldn’t benefit from overhauling entire customer service systems from the ground up. A sudden wholesale pivot can do harm to businesses not built to change rapidly, or those with many layers of disparate systems to manage transitioning away from. The majority of businesses face these challenges. The solution is to automate the right interactions in the right order.
By measuring the volume of interactions as well as their complexity, businesses can easily determine which call dispositions should be automated first:
- The most straightforward and low-value interactions with the highest volumes deserve to be automated immediately.
- As businesses begin to realize the return on investment in the form of savings and improved customer satisfaction from these initial automation projects, they can move forward with other low value interactions where the pivot to automation is expected by consumers.
- Only once these low value customer service calls are automated should businesses turn their attention to high volume/high value calls.
This step-by-step shift from manual customer service to an automated/manual mix makes the transition easier for companies as well as consumers, and creates the perfect synergy between skilled live agents and powerful automated solutions. The matrix for evolutionary automation balances the complexity of various call dispositions and the frequency of those calls. This matrix will let forward-thinking businesses committed to excellent customer service keep pace with the fast, on-demand expectations of consumers.