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Finding the balance between automation and human support

AI and automation keep infiltrating business areas, and customer service is no exception. But can you really afford to lose the human touch?

Customer service is experiencing a revolution, driven by the rise of mobile messaging, AI, machine learning and bots. Expectations are quickly shifting, and companies are being forced to rethink their practices.

Gartner has estimated that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement. In the meantime, chatbots are quickly spreading. Reportedly, 69% of consumers interact with a virtual assistant or chatbot at least once a month. Does this mean automation will completely take over customer support?

Perhaps it will, perhaps not. As messaging is on the rise as a channel for support, businesses are using automation to connect with customers in a more personalised way, while saving time and money. However, before deciding whether automation is the way forward, companies should really understand that it shouldn’t be just about covering the basics of customer support – but always aim for customer satisfaction.

With a plethora of reports online and research pieces analysing if robots are outperforming humans in customer service – it seems that we are sometimes missing the point:  Business is built on relationships.

Customer satisfaction largely comes from establishing good relationships – these relationships are essential to the success of every business. But without human interaction; there can be no relationship in the first place. As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people.

As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people. #CustomerService Click To Tweet

Indeed, as more and more consumers demand quick answers and seek self-help options, AI and machines are presenting viable solutions. A major point in favour of using chatbots is response time, because – unlike humans – bots can manage thousands of interactions simultaneously.

But just because we can automate something, doesn’t mean we should. The reality is that robots have their limitations too. Make a chatbot your primary customer touchpoint, and there will be a very limited number of queries he’ll be able to handle. If you truly value your customers, you have to ask yourself if it is worth the risk.

People expect quick service, but they also want their interactions to be (or at least feel) “human”. So, businesses should provide customers the option of whether to interact with a bot or a human – or a hybrid of both.

 

What does the future look like for customer service?

 

Machines are here to make things easier for both agents and customers; but humans must be present to step in when something goes wrong. Hence, the best solution for managing customer relationships would seem to draw from combining both; the efficiency of automation with human engagement.

The important thing for companies implementing automated processes is to recognise when a person should take over – and find the right balance of automation and human interaction for delivering the right customer treatment.

The role of automation is becoming paramount to deliver a seamless customer experience. While it cannot fully replace humans, it super-charges them; making it infinitely easier to attend multiple queries, deliver and respond more efficiently.

 

Mastering the art of automation

 

Automation can help businesses to save time and money, but when it’s not used thoughtfully it can end up hurting engagement and retention. How can you make sure your company is automating the right way and for the best?

Here’s a few things to factor in:

 

  • Automate where it makes sense

Think about the problems you’d like to solve and be selective about the areas where automation can be useful, for both your agents and your customers.

If you want to incorporate automation for customer service, consider implementing it for repetitive tasks and simple queries. When it comes to messaging, automation usually works well for responding to questions that are frequent and simple to answer; this helps to free up some valuable time for your agents to focus on more important tasks.

 

  • Contextual data makes the difference

Contextual data is incredibly important when automating communications with customers – in context lies the power to deliver personalised, relevant content. This is crucial, especially when as much as 83% of consumers now expect a personalised experience.

Customer profiles should feed into your content strategy to provide an understanding of each customer. Companies should integrate this data into automated processes such as drip campaigns and general marketing communications, in order to send the right message at the right time.

Whether it is an auto message in live chat or an automated response via email – a little bit of context to tailor your communication can go a long way in making the customer feel that it’s not just another machine-generated message.

 

  • Timely follow-ups

One of the best uses of automation is the power it gives sales and service agents to follow up with both prospects and customers.

Workflows allow you to automate parts of your business that are essential to marketing, sales and service. From customer messaging to internal processes, automation can help organisations to increase productivity, drive sales and boost customer engagement.

 

  • Automating internally

The ability to streamline internal processes with automations cannot be underestimated. In addition to running communications, with Ibby’s workflows you can automate lead scores, contact statuses, tasks for your team and more; to easily manage your data and stay on top of every action required to convert leads, up-sell and retain customers.

You can trigger notifications for your agents based on your contacts actions and generate tasks automatically for your team to follow up. The possibilities to drive productivity are endless.

 

  • Be receptive to feedback

It can take time and effort to find the right balance for automated processes, so it’s important to gather feedback from your customers. Make sure you take their opinions into account and make adjustments in order to keep your customers happy.

 

Wrapping up

 

Automating processes can help you to gain a competitive edge, just make sure you’re improving the experience for customers, rather than just looking to save time and money – as this could do more harm than good.

Human interactions are still your best shot for building a bond with customers and solving difficult issues. From now on, a hybrid approach that incorporates automation (or AI) with live agents will be the key to successfully manage customer relationships.

AI is on its way to become an indispensable tool for customer service. Predictions indicate that advances in AI and automation will enable agents to enhance efficiency and performance, so companies need to be ready to adapt to future expectations and new industry standards.

 

Building a strong connection with the Millennial consumer

Proactive and engaging communication with the millennial consumer is key to effectively serve this essential market segment.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, is the generational cohort born between 1980 and 2000. Set to become the largest demographic by the end of the decade, Millennials recently became the most valuable demographic group across the UK in terms of their “wallet size”.

As the first truly digital generation, millennials’ demands have been shaping the future of business. For brands to establish a strong connection with the coveted audience, it’s important to understand what Millennials want and how they operate. Let’s go through a few considerations:

 

  • Millennials want answers to be online and quick

Regardless of what they are looking for, millennials search for answers online. Tech-savvy as they usually are, they demand a user experience that solves problems fast, and they’re less willing to put up with slow or poor service than older generations. An intuitive, engaging online presence is a must.

Instant messaging tools made available to Millennials are massively appreciated, for their ability to provide instant help and answers to their questions. Hence, live chat might just be the simplest solution to Millennial-proof a website.

Live chat might just be the simplest solution to Millennial-proof a website. Click To Tweet

 

  • Communication ought to be to the point

Having grown up in the era of instant access to information, millennials expect communication to be simple and direct. Corporate robots and ‘salesy’ messages are likely to drive them away.

Companies that are able to approach the audience with an empathetic, human tone will gain an edge.

 

  • An eye for authenticity

Advertising is not an effective way to gain the trust of millennials. In fact, only 1% of the digital natives said that compelling advertising would make them trust a brand more.

Millennials go to blogs, they read customer reviews and inspect reactions on social channels before trusting ads – so the key for brands to capture their attention is to find ways to show authenticity and brand values that align to their own.

 

  • It’s a myth that millennials aren’t brand loyal

It’s historically been a struggle for companies to connect with millennials due to their inherent distrust towards organisations. However, the common belief that millennials aren’t brand loyal is simply not true.

A research conducted by Accenture found that millennials can be exceptionally loyal customers as long as they feel they are treated as valued customers.2 Personalised service that is tailored to their needs proves very effective to ignite brand loyalty in this generation.

The same research found that more than 95% of millennials say they want brands to win them actively – which shows how important it is for businesses to take a proactive approach with their communications.

This is where technologies like live website visitor analytics can prove incredibly useful; as they allow businesses to proactively engage with visitors and prospects while they are online – and make the best of behaviour data to provide a personalised service.

 

A ticket to success

 

Companies looking to grab a piece of the coveted millennial pie will need to find ways to make the best of communication channels to provide a seamless end-to-end experience and deliver a consistently personalised service.

It’s time to throw out the old playbook and make space for new technologies. Innovative and engaging communication tools, combined with direct and strategic messaging can make a world of difference for effectively connecting with this lucrative demographic.

 

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Make your customer experience Millennial-proof!

It’s super easy to get your hands on a multi-channel messaging platform that can help your business to deliver the customer-centric service that Millennial consumers seek. Sound good? Sign up and take Ibby for a spin, you can get started for free!

Using the power of conversations to scale customer service

Customer satisfaction has become the new Holy Grail of business. There’s no two ways about it – customer satisfaction drives business growth.

Satisfied customers not only buy from you; they come back and buy some more, they talk to others about you, who then also buy, and so on.

It’s no wonder that so many companies speak about obsession with customer service excellence, but are they really meeting consumers’ demands and expectations? And what is the impact of great customer experience?

To help answer these questions, let’s take a look at some stats;

  • Only 1 in 5 companies deliver good or great customer experience (Forrester research)

  • Customers are willing to pay as much as 4.5 time more for an excellent customer experience (Forrester research)

  • 61% of customers globally switched companies due to poor service in 2017. (Accenture research)

  • 77% of customers would recommend a company to friends after positive customer experience (Temkin Group)

  • 73% of companies with “above average” customer experience maturity perform better financially than their competitors (Temkin Group)

 

The challenge is that today’s customers have high expectations, and not much patience. They now expect companies to know more about them, and they want responsive, personalised support that can help them with problem solving and with making better choices.

On the other hand; many service teams don’t have the tools to engage with customers and support them at a granular, personal level.

Companies have to keep a strong focus on personalisation; and acknowledge that catering for each customer personally is paramount to great customer experience.

 

Meeting customers’ needs with real-time conversations

 

Success today calls for the ability to meet customers’ needs and expectations in real time. An effective solution? Eliminating barriers with real-time conversations.

Real-time conversations can humanise the online customer experience and provide the most personable form of interaction for online consumers.

Did you know that over 70% of customer satisfaction has been reported to have come from live chat? As a low-friction point of contact, live chat is the ideal conversational platform that can make all the difference in delivering truly personalised service.

Unlike putting customers in a queue, raising tickets that can take days to resolve or making them interact with multiple levels of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems – a real-time conversation with a helpful human on live chat can provide immediate assistance. It stands to reason why live chat has won a place as the preferred channel for customer contact.

A significant side benefit of implementing a live chat tool is that it can provide analytics for tracking visitors’ activity on websites in real-time. Capturing real-time data of visitors and customers provides agents with valuable insights and context to achieve new levels of personalisation.

Simply put, good service means good business. Increasing customer satisfaction requires empowering teams with effective tools for communication, data gathering and automation – to enable agents to have real-time conversations with customers to deliver more meaningful, personalised service.

 

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Take Customer Service to the next level with Ibby!

 

We, at Ibby, are working on an innovative message-driven solution for business growth; to enable teams to use the power of real-time messaging to increase sales and scale customer support. We would love for you to have a first-hand experience – Sign up to start chatting and delighting customers!

 

We’re all in for human support: Here’s why

In many ways, automation is making aspects of life easier or more convenient. But does that mean customer support should become less human?

As automation keeps spreading its wings, the ways customers interact with businesses are ever changing. Over the past few years, we’ve all witnessed how machines have taken over for an infinity of simple tasks.

Technology and AI are progressing faster than ever, and the efficiency of automation is not really in question – for a number of things. However, when it comes to customer support, the best person for the job is, well, a person.

When it comes to customer support, the best person for the job is, well, a person. #CustomerService Click To Tweet

 

Automation is not automagic.

 

In most cases, when questions arise because something isn’t working as expected; it’s really hard to argue that automation is the best answer. This is mostly because some of the most typical questions, like ‘why’, can be incredibly complex for a machine to answer.

Truth be told, humans are better for customer communication because they can better understand what you want and provide more accurate answers. That’s why customers want to talk to real people, and they want better human service.

Many people don’t like dealing with machines, and they certainly don’t like having to go through rounds of “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand that” to get to talk to a real person. Still, customer service agents are often only available as a last resort. [Sigh].

 

Our people and values: Our humans are there for you.

 

For us at Ibby, people are at the heart of our business. Ever since we embarked on our journey in the SaaS world over 3 years ago, we’ve relied on our great agents for providing the best possible service – and our human support has made a big difference to our customers.

Our team is 100% committed to help you to succeed. That’s why, with our Ibby platform, we offer you hands-on support via live chat, email and phone with each and every plan. Human-to-human.

While we highly value automation for its convenience, we know that the human touch not only still plays an essential role in customer communications, but it’s also craved by customers.

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At Ibby, we have embarked on a journey to help businesses to boost sales and support with the power of messaging. We would love for you to have a first-hand experience. Sign up and take us for a spin!

 

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