How to Build Your Internal CS Automation Experts Team
OK, so you’re ready to adopt AI automation...what’s the first step? Putting together your Automation Experts Team! Here’s our step-by-step guide to take you through the process.
Top Learnings from This Article:
- An Automation Experts Team is a team that is responsible for all internal automation at a given company.
- An internal automation team should have a combination of customer support platform expertise, back-end system expertise, customer support expertise, and a buy-in from management who can make decisions.
- Your team should have a customer-centric approach in driving automation project forward, ensuring that both company and customer needs are being met.
- Robust backend integrations are key for complex and/or dynamic automation tasks to run smoothly.
If you’ve been paying attention when skimming through our past articles (and we know you have been!), you know by now that an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) requires at least one designated team member’s attention.
Automation must exist under a watchful human eye to ensure it stays on track and works effectively. Even better than assigning just one person to being responsible for your IVA, is to create an entire team of Automation Experts.
This doesn’t have to be a daunting task. And the good news is, our Customer Success gurus, Marika Svennblad and Mats Melén, who help our clients set up their Automation Experts teams, have a tonne of sound advice for anyone considering doing the same. Here is our step-by-step guide for building your internal Automation Experts Team.
What exactly is an Automation Experts Team?
Simply put, an Automation Experts Team is a team that is responsible for all internal automation at a given company. The members who make up this team should know the brand and its customers inside and out, while also being familiar with the customer service environment and internal processes. They need to be committed to the project, and eager to learn how to achieve automation, and build great conversational AI without sacrificing customer satisfaction.
While the automation itself is the obvious key driver for the Automation Experts Team, each expert should also have a customer-centric approach. This team must also understand the nature of the modern-day consumer and importance of multi-channel approach in customer service.
In order to be successful, an internal automation team should have a combination of customers support platform expertise (on the likes of Zendesk, Salesforce, Freshworks or similar), back-end system expertise (people who understand how back-end system data can be leveraged in customer support), customer support expertise (the actual substance matter expertise who knows and understand the process and the customers) and a buy-in from management who can make decisions.
What are the various roles an average Automation Experts Team requires?
Your Automation Experts Team should be customized to your company’s unique needs. That said, there are certain roles that should be filled for most teams to succeed. Our experts recommend a Customer Service Manager, a Project Manager, a Developer, and Customer Service Agents. Let’s take a look at each role in more detail.
Customer Service Manager (project lead)
- Leads the automation project team and vision
- Main point of contact between automation solution provider and the company
- Removes possible roadblocks, allocates resources to make sure the project moves forward, on schedule.
- With support of Customer Service Manager, the Project Manager (PM) is a key part of the Automation Experts Team
- The PM has a hands-on role in building the solution, monitoring results and improving the solution accordingly
- The PM should have worked as a customer service agent in their previous role. They have a strong knowledge on internal processes, the customer service department and the platform customer service department uses (platform = Zendesk, Salesforce or similar).
- It’s important to have a developer who understands automation
- He or she should understand the backend system and know the available APIs, and should be able to develop new APIs as needed.
- The developer should be able to step in when API Integration and other more technical actions are required.
Customer Service Agents
- Your customer service agents can and should be included in the Automation Experts Team as they are the ones facing the customer daily (and using the CS automation solution once in production).
- Since they are so familiar with your company’s customer support processes, it makes sense to have your agents pitch in and help out alongside the Customer Service Manager and PM on building and educating the IVA’s conversational AI.
Customer Experience Director
- Your CX director is the person who can present what the customer wants to achieve and how to achieve it with authority, to take automation to the management group for decisions.
- This is one of those roles that isn’t completely necessary for your Automation Experts Team, but is definitely nice to have.
Why Do I Need a CS Automation Experts Team?
Your Customer Service Automation Experts team knows the company vision and values, and are familiar with internal processes and best practices. They have a customer-centric approach in driving automation project forward, ensuring that both company and customer needs are being met (ie. great customer experience and level of service maintained while also providing value to the company through automation).
The colleagues on your Automation Experts team are always up to date with what is going on with the project and they are committed to building and continuously improving the automation solution forward. They work closely with the automation service provider to ensure the project KPIs and deliverables are met.
To be able to implement and run a customer support automation project, it’s important to have buy-in from different parts of the organisation, IT, CS and Management. Once you have the Customer Service Automation Expert team in place, the execution of automation will be quicker and more agile, and with the right people on your team, you’ll see the ROI much faster.
How Do I Set Up My Internal CS Automation Experts Team?
So now you are convinced that you need and want to set up an Automation Experts Team, how do you go about it? Our experts describe five straightforward steps below.
Step 1: First, you have to identify the problem that you’re trying to solve, and its root cause. Find out what is actually happening in your customer service before starting the project. For example, if your agents are overworked, is it because of processes, complex cases, increased number of tickets, use of multiple backend systems simultaneously? What’s the underlying reason that causes your agents to be overworked? Once you know what’s going on, it’s easier to start solving the problem.
Step 2: Make sure you have the time to commit to the project. Time and resources, of course, but you will also have to be willing to learn how to use the solution and what it takes to build a successful IVA. Set goals and create KPIs for your automation project.
Step 3: Once you have identified the problem you’re trying to solve and made sure you have a committed project team, find out what are the most frequently asked questions in your customer service. If you know this, it’s far easier to start the automation process. Be sure to also communicate internally that a team of CS Automation Experts have been nominated.
Step 4: Now it’s time to start learning the basic elements of how to build a strong performing AI model and conversational AI. How does the AI learn to recognise differences between topics and how can you design a process that solves these cases? At this stage, you’ll also want to select your first automation task.
Step 5: Once the solution is built, take it to a live environment quickly, rather than getting stuck on a testing mode (which can lead to massive delays, as we’ve seen with many clients). The building of these solutions is iterative in nature, and the sooner you take the solution live, the easier it will be for you to validate how your replies work and what topics should be added, as well as how processes can be defined. Taking the solution to a live environment is an efficient way to find out and improve quickly. Be sure to communicate the results with your entire company. Finally, select your next automation tasks to automate, and start training your AI on those.
What Are Some Automation Experts Team Best Practices?
Our Customer Success gurus offer some of their best practices on setting up an Automation Experts Team.
- Close collaboration between provider and client is more important in B2B, because of the complexity of B2B/internal processes. In B2C, processes are more visible to the outside world, which is why a dedicated project group is essential.
- Dynamic replies bring more value (and increased CX) for customers. For example, if a customer asks about their order status, a seamless backend integration can enable the customer to receive near real-time information on their order (for eCommerce brands). Due to complexity of B2B cases, backend integration is super important and brings more value (in B2B, the cost of the customer is greater, which is why backend integration is recommended to tackle incoming customer queries).
- Automated process doesn’t need to feel robotic or generic. Consider the Intelligent Virtual Assistant as a part of your customer service team: give it an identity and establish a tone of voice that will be familiar for your brand and customers. Design answer flows that follow the structure of any normal conversation (each conversation has a beginning, middle part and end) and think of ways how the IVA can interact with your customers, rather than tell them what to do. You can also drive personalization through backend integrations.
- It’s also important to identify your goals. Is your automation goal to increase CX? Will there will be agents working together with the IVA or will it operate with no support from human agents? Will the IVA be accessible 24/7 or during business opening hours? All of these questions help you formulate a strategy around customer service automation
What Challenges Should I Expect To Encounter with My Automation Experts Team?
It’s easy to get stuck thinking about processes when designing replies for your IVA. A strong AI model starts with data. Incoming customer messages are at the core of every decision that gets made throughout the process: what is being asked? What type of reply should we use, and what topics and sub-topics should we address? Look at the data and find out what is being asked and how it’s being asked. Try not to get to hung up on processes (ie. How topics A, B, C, etc., are handled in my company), trust the data and make decisions based on what you see.
It’s also common to lose sight of the fact that successful automation needs resources from various parts of the organisation. If there is no clearly stated goal for the automation from management, it might be hard to pull resources from the IT department, for example. You as a company need to be ready to put in the resources needed, which can require taking them from other tasks. If there is not a mandate, with goals and timeframe to prioritise customer service automation, projects can get stalled.
Whether or not you decide to create an entire team of Automation Experts, or even if you can only assign the responsibility to one or two people, it’s integral that there are human eyeballs on your automation. Not only will those responsible keep any automations in check, but while monitoring the AI, they will also identify ways to improve processes and increase CX even further.
Here in this article, we’ve given you everything you need to know before setting up your own Automation Experts Team -- from explaining what it is and why it’s important, to laying out various roles that should make up such a team, a step-by-step guide for setting up your Automation Experts Team, and finishing off with some best practices to ensure your team goes live and thrives.
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