The CFO’s Guide to Maximizing ROI with Support Automation


If you’re a CFO, chances are you currently have one thing on your mind, and one thing only: Proven ROI. Ask and you shall receive: Here’s how to ensure recession-proof profitability with customer support automation in 2023.

Seeing value with support automation can happen in several ways. You can reach short-term wins like saving costs within weeks with the right tech. This may be why 79% of contact center leaders plan to invest in greater AI capabilities in the next two years.  Or, you can reap long-term benefits like reduced agent churn. Did you know that the average turnover cost for one CS agent is $14,000? No matter where your strategic focus lies, here are the top 3 ways in which you can create and track value with automation in numbers.

Saving costs with automation

Cutting costs by laying off support agents or immediately freezing all tech investments might seem like the best way forward in uncertain times,  but they’re ultimately knee jerk reactions that can end up costing your business more in the long run.

Think of them like pulling the emergency brake when your car is skidding out of control: It’s probably the right thing to do in the heat of the moment, but once you’ve calmed down and collected your thoughts, you need to keep moving forward. In the world of customer support, that means making sure you continue to meet rising customer expectations — and chances are, you’ve been tasked to do it with less resources than before right now.

This is where customer support automation comes in. 

One of the most obvious ways in which customer support automation can help is by letting your team handle higher volumes without increasing headcount, and helping agents resolve more complex requests faster, translating to agent hours -- and operational costs --saved. Some examples include:

  • Automatically triaging tickets by theme (automation solution to look into: ticket tagging)

  • Automatically routing tickets to the right rep and department (automation solution to look into: ticket routing)

  • Pre-populating tickets with info like the order number or customer’s email address (automation solution to look into: a CRM integration)

  • Solving requests like password resets without any human interaction (automation solution to look into: backend integrations)

Best practice: SaaS platform ActiveCampaign saved $55K monthly with automation. One of the ways they do this is by creating proactive messaging for customers that were having trouble verifying their accounts. Handling this manually would have required one additional headcount's worth of work.

Learn more about support automation best practices for SaaS

Generating and tracking revenue with automation

In 2023, customer support centers are evolving from cost centers to value centers. They simply can’t afford not to. It comes as no surprise, then, that generating revenue with CS has emerged as one of the top CS trends for 2023 in our and other industry leaders’ most recent market research.

Read the Ultimate 2023 CS Trends Guide

There are several ways to squeeze the most out of your CS team’s natural touch points with customers to increase value and generate revenue. They include:

  • Providing in-depth education to your agents about your product or services and how to cross- and upsell it

  • Using automation to scale this process: With a virtual agent, or bot, integrated into your CRM, you can suggest products based on saved buying or subscription preferences and track the amount of sales made this way

Best practice: Global telco company Telia uses a virtual agent to suggest links to additional services that could be relevant to their customers. They then tag these links and follow the revenue they’ve generated using Google Analytics. Telia monitors and reports on subscriptions from this link. The revenue generated is the actual € value of the subscription placed via the link.

“For 32% of respondents to our trends 2023 survey, return rates drastically increased in 2022. Take that as an opportunity: Your support team can do more than just process those returns. They can suggest items that can be exchanged at equal or higher value.”

- Hosam Hassan, Solution Architect, Ultimate

Creating long-term value with automation

Setting up a virtual agent to reduce handle times and suggest products is a no-brainer on the (short) road to rapid ROI — with Ultimate, for example, you’ll have one up and running in under 3 weeks. But there are less immediately obvious wins to be gained from automation, as well. They include:

  • Incremental value: Once you’ve set up an a virtual agent for, say, chat, adding additional features like ticket automation or integrations is very quick and easy. The same goes for adding automated support in more languages, making it easy to scale across several markets. Plus, AI learns from your data, meaning it will become more accurate by learning from your real support conversations over time.

    Learn about the benefits of a trainable AI-powered virtual agent

  • Increased agent morale and career prospects, leading to less churn: Agents will be freed from simple, repetitive tasks, meaning they can focus on managing your automation tech (easily done with no-code technology), or move into more strategic CX roles — a rapidly evolving field.

“There are the measurable pieces, but then there are the non-measurable pieces. Being able to go to my agents and say, ‘Look, this is how we’re helping you out’ — that’s a huge morale booster for them.” 

– Match Bradford, Director of Global Enablement, ActiveCampaign

Best practice: Finnish online retailer Verkkokauppa reduced agent effort by 50% around special shipping requests. At the same time, the company reported higher agent morale due to lightened workloads and the ability to work on more strategic and complex tasks, reducing the risk of agent churn.

Must-track metrics to prove automation ROI 

  • Automation rate: Knowing this value will let you calculate how much time you will be saving with automation. Automation rates can vary greatly depending on your industry, how much personal contact you deliberately want to preserve with your customers, but while shopping around for automation providers, the best ones can help you determine potential automation rates based on your unique business case.

  • Cost per ticket: You should figure out your cost per ticket with or without automation to decide if automation is worth the investment for your business, or to decide between competing providers. One high-level way to calculate it is to add your total agent salaries to your CRM costs and divide it by your annual ticket volume (then, factor in potential automation rates into the mix). Cost per ticket is also a good measure to investigate with automation providers in more detail while you’re in the scoping or piloting phase.

  • First contact resolution rate: This affects both efficiency and CSAT, with both immediately measurable and more long-term effects on the impact your support is making with customers.

Best practice: igaming superstar Superbet breezed through the 2022 World Cup — their biggest peak season of the year — with a virtual agent solving 33% of all incoming requests without any human involvement.

Want to track CS automation success? Watch our free digital event to learn more

Times are tough, and they’ll continue to be for the foreseeable future. But instead of putting blanket freezes on all spending, businesses need to take stock and begin moving forward again. Automation is one of the most promising ways to remain profitable, generate value, and save hiring costs, while keeping customers happy.

Get your business ready for 2023