Customer Support Academy

Customer Service Technology for Automation Success

Explore the different types of customer service technology available on the market, and learn how to choose the right tech setup to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

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By the end of this module you’ll:

  • Recognize the capabilities of different customer service tech solutions available
  • Be able to determine what kind of automation solution is right for your company
  • Understand key customer service tech terminology
  • Know how to avoid information silos when adding to your existing tech stack
20 min. Clock

Customer service tech 101

Both business leaders and customer service teams will already be familiar with customer relationship management (CRM) technology. Whether you use Salesforce, HubSpot, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk, Adobe, SAP, Freshworks, or any other provider, all CRM software serves the same purpose: to record interactions with both existing and potential new customers.

This includes contact information, personal preferences, marketing and sales outreach, and all conversation history with customer service teams. A CRM system stores all of your customer data in one place — giving companies a holistic, 360-degree view of their customers, and allowing them to create personalized experiences.

Many leading CRM providers offer their own customer service bots, often in the form of chat widgets. This might seem like an obvious place to start for support teams looking to enhance their CX with automation.

The bot can access to your valuable customer data, your team already knows how to navigate the software, and you won’t run the risk of creating a new data silo. But the trouble with using these in-built bots is that often they are less sophisticated than the solutions offered by providers who specialize in AI-powered automation.

We’ve all had bad bot experiences, where we’re trapped in a cycle of misunderstanding, and can’t get the answers we need. In today's fast-paced, experience-led customer support landscape, this just isn’t good enough.

You might be cautious about implementing an automation solution from a new provider. But issues of siloed data, lack of customer context, and getting to grips with an entirely new software system won’t be a problem if you choose the right platform: one that deeply integrates into your CRM and can easily be configured to work within your existing tech stack.

What kind of automation solutions are available?

The market is flooded with customer service automation providers, all promising the world. This makes it difficult to choose the right platform to meet your business needs, and deliver the exceptional experience that customers expect. Let’s dive into the capabilities of different automation solutions, and learn how they work in more detail.

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Headless solution vs. replacement widget

Many automation solutions can be integrated into your CRM. This means that your automation platform and your customer service software speak to each other, ensuring a more personalized customer experience. However, one aspect that is rarely considered is whether your automation solution has its own widget or if it is a headless solution.

If a solution has its own widget, you’ll have to rip and replace your existing widget. This introduces a new system to your team and creates a data silo.

Headless means that — just like your human agents — your automation platform sits inside your existing tech stack, integrating into the tools and systems you already use. As a result, all the information stays within your CRM and doesn’t disrupt your tech stack or create data silos. The user interface is exactly the same, so your team won’t have to get to grips with navigating a new software program.

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No-code vs. low-code

Another thing to consider when launching automation is who will be using the platform most, and how easy it will be for them to manage.

No-code platforms are exactly what they sound like: tools that allow non-technical users to build applications without writing a single line of code. These types of solutions have a simple user interface, feature drag-and-drop elements, and do not require the help of a developer to build. These are great if non-technical folks, like your customer service team, will be the primary users of the platform.

Low-code platforms require limited amounts of coding, and are an ideal way for developers to design applications quickly. However, if a low-code solution is being managed by non-technical users, they will often need to be familiar with programming languages or ask for IT resources to build or change anything within the application. This is an ideal solution if you have developers available to customize elements within the automation platform. 

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Out-of-the-box vs. bespoke solutions

When deciding between an out-of-the-box and a custom automation solution, it’s important to consider what your long term goals are.

Out-of-the-box solutions are trained on industry standard data and will have you up and running virtually instantly. This is a great option if you have a limited budget and have a relatively small number of simple, repetitive requests. They are fast, easy to implement and the base level automation rate will stay approximately the same in the long term. 

Bespoke solutions are built and trained on your existing historical customer support data. The way this works is that AI technology analyzes existing chat logs and email conversations and extracts the most common questions, resulting in a virtual agent that is customized to your brand and understands how your customers speak.

Custom solutions take a little longer to launch (think a few weeks vs. a few days) and likely cost more to implement but, with training, they continue to learn and improve. This is a great option if your company receives unique requests that won’t be covered by benchmark data, and if you want your automation levels to increase as time goes on.

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Additional features

Depending on how sophisticated you need your automation solution to be, here are some additional features to consider when deciding on a provider.

Backend integrations: Another benefit of bespoke solutions is that you can automate more processes end-to-end through custom-built API integrations. This means your automation solution connects with your back office and third-party providers, such as payment processors or order management systems. By pulling data from these systems the virtual agent can automatically solve more complex queries, without agent involvement.

Omnichannel support: Automation doesn’t end at chatbots. According to Forrester research, email remains the #1 support channel preferred by consumers. Meet your customers in the channels they use by going with a provider that can support automation across all digital channels, including chat, email, social media and messaging.

Multilingual capabilities: Brands that serve a global customer base (and forward-thinking companies looking to expand into new markets) should consider a provider that uses AI to offer native-level support in multiple languages.

The most powerful automation solutions are...

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Headless

Deeply integrated into your CRM system without disruption to your existing tech stack, a headless approach means no chance of siloed data.

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No-code

With an intuitive interface, no-code platforms are easy to use, maintain, and onboard new automation managers: ideal for non-technical users.

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Bespoke

Custom solutions offer made-to-measure, on-brand automations that meet exact business needs, enhanced by powerful backend API integrations.

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Omnichannel

Connect with customers by automating interactions across all digital support channels, from chat to email to social media and messaging.

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Multilingual

Prime your business for global expansion by offering fast, personalized, native-level customer support in the languages your customers speak.

Integrations for CS automation

The best automation platforms are those that can easily work within your existing tech setup through powerful integrations. Here are the different types of integration you should know about.

CRM integrations

Like a human agent, an automation solution that integrates with your CRM sits inside the software your customer service team already uses. The benefit of a CRM-integrated solution is that you’ll be able to pull customer information and conversation history. This means you can personalize automated interactions. When deciding on an automation provider, make sure their solution supports the CRM you currently use.

API integrations

Solutions that can offer custom-built API integrations allow your automation provider to connect with back office systems in charge of order management, payment processing, delivery tracking, and anything else that goes on behind the scenes. These backend integrations allow you fully automate complex processes, like questions around the status of a refund, or whether a payment has been authorized.

Trending customer service automation statistics

Here’s what businesses found after integrating an AI-powered virtual agent into their customer support offering.

Organizations reported higher CSAT 99%
According to IBM
Companies mentioned faster complaint resolution 90%
According to Deloitte
Users prefer chatbots to answer simple questions 74%
According to PSFK

Keep learning

Browse the Customer Support Academy for more courses on how to improve customer service