What Is Customer Service Automation and Why Is It Important?

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Find out everything you need to know about customer service automation, and the benefits that automated support can bring to both customers and support teams.

A brief history of automation

The concept of automation first emerged within the US car manufacturing industry in the late 1940s. Back then, the term was used to describe the growing use of mechanized processes on production lines, minimizing the need for human effort.

Since then, automation has been adopted across industries and sectors. And while automation processes have become increasingly sophisticated over the years, the basic reasons for automating have remained unchanged: to drive efficiency and free people from repetitive tasks.

The same holds true for customer service — a field where AI-powered automation is transforming the way agents work and how consumers interact with brands.

What customer service automation is

Put simply, customer service automation is a tool that streamlines workflows within CS teams. This tool gives agents more time to work on complex, high-value cases that require a human touch, while providing customers with speedy resolutions to any issues.

But every company has a unique customer base, and depending on the channels their customers use most frequently, support teams will require different solutions. As well as this, not every automation provider can offer the same quality of service.

This means how CS automation looks in practice can vary hugely: ranging from a simple, single-language, rules-based chatbot widget, to a powerful multilingual virtual agent that lives inside your CRM system and — supported by custom API integrations — can fully automate end-to-end processes. (If you’re wondering which category Ultimate fits into, it’s the second.)

Different customer service automation solutions

For some organizations, automating their support might involve implementing an AI chatbot to handle commonly-asked questions. Others may want to automatically communicate with customers across messaging channels like WhatsApp and Telegram.

Automated customer service could mean tagging and routing incoming email tickets. Or it might be setting up a system to offer agents suggested replies — allowing CS teams to give fast and consistent responses to customer queries.

Find out how Ultimate helped digital healthcare company TeleClinic to deliver empathic support through a blend of automation and suggestion.

Other companies may take a more holistic approach to automation, choosing to implement automations across multiple support channels. The best automation providers will be able to offer bespoke solutions that are tailored to each individual CS team’s needs.

The benefits of automating your customer service

Automating your customer service can bring a wide range of benefits — not only for customers, but for agents and companies too. Here are some of those benefits…

... For companies

By adding a virtual agent to their support team, companies can scale their customer service without increasing headcount. This helps keep costs down, while serving customers in new timezones.

Read how our Chat Automation solution supported the US expansion of stationary startup Papier.

It can be time-consuming (and costly) to hire multilingual agents. But with AI-powered multilingual automation, companies can expand into new markets while still providing localized support at native-level fluency.

... For CS teams

Customer service is a high-pressure industry, and 70% of agents say they feel overwhelmed. Coupled with rising customer expectations (something that 93% of support teams are reporting), you have a perfect storm of unhappy agents and dissatisfied customers.

With a virtual agent taking care of the heavy lifting — resolving repetitive queries or routing tickets — your CS team has time to engage in complex cases, where their skills are most needed:

“Since we automated chat, we have been able to focus more on exciting, interesting tasks, and spend more time on high-value interactions.”

- Hanna Jokela, Support Agent, Fonecta

As well as freeing up agent time to work on more rewarding tasks, automation can help customer service teams to manage seasonal fluctuations in support request volumes.

Find out how Ticket Automation can help your team beat the backlog blues in our free digital event.

... For customers

Patience is no longer considered a virtue — at least not by customers when waiting on a response from a brand. Today, 90% of consumers want an immediate answer when they reach out to a company with a customer service issue.

With automated chat, companies can offer fast, accurate, 24/7 support to their customers. And automating your email ticket system can cut large backlogs and slash response times:

“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.”

- Jamie Hopper, Customer Service Manager, Pockit

On top of faster response times and round-the-clock support, automation will allow your CS teams to offer a personalized customer experience. As 80% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that provide personalization, automation can support customer service teams to meet this demand: pulling data from your CRM system and providing support in each customer’s language of choice.

Happy customers, fulfilled agents, and scalable support that grows at your company’s pace. What more could you ask for?

Want to know more about CS automation?

Our automation experts are on hand to help.