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Automation and Customer Service: Pros and Cons

27 March 2018

One of the big trends you’ll see in both work life and everyday life is the automation of mundane and simple tasks. From topping up your phone to ordering a reservation, you’re more likely to be interacting with a bot than a person in many tasks that robots can handle. Calling any large company or organisation will usually get you directed to a bot first, saving time and money on customer support. But what makes automation ideal – or less than ideal – for so many companies, particularly when interacting with customers?

For service-oriented firms, automation has many advantages over using a human staff member for certain tasks. Directing calls to specific departments can be achieved with a bot, as well as certain services that can be used with multiple-choice questions, such as topping up your phone or calling a governmental organisation about a common issue. Other automated designs, such as chatbots and automated emails, can cut down on the time it would take to do it manually by a significant margin.

However, automation isn’t perfect and it requires careful consideration. Your main target groups should affect your overall strategy: If your main customer base is young and experienced with computers, using a chatbot is a great way to engage with these audiences, as many young people are more comfortable with an online chat system than calling the company. However, many old people prefer using a phone, and in this case, it’s better to emphasise a quick and easy way to call the company than forcing them to use a chatbot. Having both is certainly possible, but your automation must be planned around your main demographic.

Another potential pitfall is the reliability of your automated system. We’ve all had to use automated services that get our requests wrong or simply don’t work, particularly voice-command systems commonly used in call automation; to say it’s irritating would be an understatement. Like any software, there can be bugs and glitches in automation systems that need to be ironed out before implementation, or fixed ASAP if it’s currently in use. Conduct regular tests to see how well your automation system is working, as one glitch or bug could make the system useless, inconveniencing your customers and harming the reputation of your company.

Even though these problems can be quite common in an automated system, implementing one as a tool for your business, rather than a substitute for human interaction between staff and customers can be a great decision. While it can save time on mundane and common requests, it’s also best integrated with a well-trained and talented support team, and the automation can save time for them too. As with any service you offer, make sure that there’s a clear feedback process that people can use to illustrate issues that they may have.

Provided that you accomodate for the fact that automation, like any computerised system, can have bugs, glitches and inconsistencies, automated systems can be a boon for your company. At Soft Intelligence, we’re passionate about gathering feedback and ‘soft intelligence’ from your clients and customers, transforming it into straightforward and accurate data that turns the hassle of feedback processing into a breeze. Take a look at our feedback apps and see if your company would benefit from them.