Customers today have more ways to connect with brands than ever before, which means a higher volume and degree of complexity in tickets for customer service teams. Often, managing these tickets involves manual processes that are time and resource intensive. Due to the heavy administrative load, scaling up your customer service often involves investing into more agents and more training. Both of these investments are costly, and not the most efficient way to scale.
By automating a significant chunk of agents’ administrative workload, from tagging, to updating, to routing tickets, at Ultimate, we reduce backlog and free up bandwidth. This allows agents to focus on serving customers better, resulting in happier customers.
Scaling Customer Support Operations With Automation
The pandemic has increased ticket volumes across the board, as customers turn to digital channels over traditional in-person channels for assistance. Although the pandemic-driven surge in ticket volumes stabilized in mid-2020, according to Zendesk, volumes still remain high — at 16 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels on average.
Not only that — the channels customers prefer when engaging with brands have significantly changed in light of the pandemic. According to a recent Forrester study, prior to the pandemic, messaging was ranked fifth overall in terms of channel usage. During the pandemic, it rose to second place overall. Customers value convenience more than ever, and they want to engage via seamless, digital-first channels. Delivering messenger-based support experiences is no longer a nice-to-have — it is now business-critical.
As the customer service environment has evolved dramatically both in terms of volume, channels, and complexity, driving operational effectiveness and scalability through automation is a top priority to customer service directors. In the same Forrester study, only 37 percent of customer support leaders said they were satisfied with their current digital channels/solutions. Meanwhile, half said they are currently implementing, or plan to implement, an automated conversational support solution in the next 12 months.
Research firm Gartner predicts that,
"By 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML) applications, chatbots and mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2018."
Ticket automation can drive operational effectiveness, optimize costs, boost the customer experience, and ultimately, pave the way for scaling up in a sustainable, cost-effective way. By reducing backlogs and issuing replies for recurring queries, automation can increase team productivity without increasing headcount. Automation also enables scaling of customer service coverage, both in terms of 24/7 coverage and multilingual support, without requiring additional hires.
The use of automation also leads to happier customers and better performance. According to a whitepaper published by SQM Group, for every 1% improvement in FCR, there is a 1% improvement in customer satisfaction (CSAT).
Even with increased ticket volume, automation cuts down average handle time dramatically by issuing simple preset replies to recurring questions. This improves overall response time and helps customers get what they need, faster. As an example, with Ultimate’s ticket automation solution, our client, Pockit, was able to reduce their response time from weeks to less than two days.
"In just two months, we were able to reduce about 95% of our support tickets backlog. We also reduced our response time from weeks to under two days, thanks to Ultimate’s Ticket Automation."
Jamie Hopper, Customer Service Manager, Pockit
Reducing Manual Processes With Ticket Automation
A big part of agents’ work when it comes to dealing with tickets is administrative and repetitive in nature. According to research from McKinsey, with currently available AI technology, it is possible to automate up to 45 percent of routine and repetitive activities people are paid to perform.
By automating these burdensome tasks, your customer service teams are empowered to serve customers better. With Ultimate, all the behind-the-scenes work, like extracting relevant information, adding it to the ticket, updating the status of the ticket, and adding the appropriate tags, are done by the AI. This streamlines the agents’ work and reduces backlog significantly.
By the time the ticket is routed to the agent, the agent is able to give 100 percent focus and attention to doing what they do best - serving customers and keeping them happy.
Incidentally, increasing customer happiness also has a direct impact on employee satisfaction, since unhappy customers tend to dump their frustrations on agents. For every 1 percent improvement in FCR (which virtual agents help with), there can be a 1 to 5 percent improvement in ESAT (employee satisfaction), according to SQM Group. How does employee satisfaction impact cost-effective scaling? When you’re not constantly having to hire and retrain new employees due to high turnover, you reduce those costs, and you get a higher quality of work from more experienced, satisfied employees.
Just how much can automation help? As an example, one of our clients, Pockit, was able to reduce its backlog of 17,000 emails to fewer than 1,000 in less than two months by using Ultimate’s ticket automation. When scaling up operations, it’s important to reduce backlog in a sustainable way, while dealing with higher volumes of new incoming tickets. Armed with automation, agents can be better allocated to the most challenging tickets (both incoming and in the backlog), for better performance overall.
More on employee satisfaction
Do More, With Less Resources, Through Automation
Automation not only frees up agent bandwidth and time, but also saves additional hiring costs and allows you to achieve operational efficiency.
This means that you can scale up your customer service automation while your brand grows and expands to new markets, or as you plan towards a big shopping holiday season, without needing to invest in hiring and training new staff. And you can do all of this, without compromising on quality. All you need to do is set up the automation once and it runs consistently, 24/7.
Automation also enables your existing agents to do more and deliver better service. How? By supporting agents in providing a faster and more comprehensive experience throughout the customer lifecycle, automation takes care of the simple queries while agents can focus on more complex requests. Supported by ticket automation, human agents can work faster and focus on what they do best: building a human connection, while leaving repetitive details to the machine.
Additionally, because Ultimate uses natural language processing (NLP), teams possess the capability to handle tickets in a wide range of languages without additional multilingual agents. Not only that, because AI doesn’t get tired like humans do, you can send intelligent replies to customers at any time of the day or night, 24/7.
And when it comes to training and continuous improvement, Ultimate’s AI-based intent detection system is always learning and improving — so that replies sent to your customers are accurate and contextualized to your business and your industry.
The beauty of automation is that how much you want to automate is all up to you, depending on your goals, be it improving customer experience, optimizing costs, moving away from manual processes, and ultimately, to drive operational effectiveness and scalability.
When focusing on scaling your customer support, you might start with setting a high level of automation to clear a huge backlog, and then analyze, re-evaluate, and adjust your automation approach accordingly after the backlog has been reduced to a more manageable level.
Ultimately, you have full control over how much and what you want to automate, depending on your needs and goals.
Scale Your Customer Support and See Results Quickly
Ultimate prides itself on being a “no code” platform. This means that without needing technical knowledge, you can integrate Ultimate with your CRM platform in seconds. The user-friendly interface allows you to set up automation workflows quickly and easily. We also provide a high level of guidance and support from our in-house customer success team — to help you succeed in creating a customer experience that delivers results.