Humans are great at complex tasks. But simple, repetitive tasks? Not so much.

Luckily for us, we live in an age where automation is affordable and exceedingly practical. As your customer support operations takes on more projects, automation ensures your systems actually earn customer satisfaction, instead of burying you in complexity.

4 Ways Automation Improves Customer Service

Here are some automation practices that can supercharge your customer support team.

1. Automate predictable customer communication

Automating predictable communication with the customer is a great first step.

For example, automate a confirmation email as soon as you receive a customer request. It’s a simple gesture to let your customers know that you’re working on it, and goes a long way in managing expectations. Your customer satisfaction surveys will thank you for it.

Other one-off communications that can be automated are post-purchase survey requests, responses to questions on help forums, and billing reminders.

2. Get notified right away when something breaks

Unlike humans, automation has the ability to identify errors immediately.

Let’s explore an imaginary scenario. Let’s say certain elements of your user interface (UI) break, and some features become unusable.

Luckily, you had the foresight to automate an alert to your developers when something might be broken. Your criteria: five support requests about one feature within a fifteen-minute window. Whenever these conditions are met, you trigger an instant message to you and your developer team. You then deal with your issues swiftly with minimal outage.

By automating this error communication, the time between problem and discovery disappears. It can take hours for humans to notice a pattern of error, but a bot can recognize this immediately. This is a much better scenario than hearing about issues through a deluge of negative social media posts.

3. Automate checking for important updates

Humans don’t check their emails every second, but bots can. Automating internal progress notifications updates eliminates time lag due to human error.

This is perfect for customer support reps who are coordinating efforts from different departments. They can get notified when engineering, design or IT teams complete tasks that your customers are waiting for.

For example, an integration between support and engineering might look like this:

  • The automation software automatically copies all support tickets from Zendesk into the developer’s project management app (Jira, for example)
  • Once the Jira ticket is closed by the developers, you automatically sync that completion status into the Zendesk record
  • An instant message fires to the customer service rep so that the customer can be notified immediately

The customer is happy, and you didn’t have to hound your engineering team for updates. You’ve ensured the time to completion is as short as can be by taking human error out of the equation.

4. Maintaining a duplicate-free CRM

The amount of effort a customer must put in can make or break a customer experience.

If you require your customer to repeat their problem whenever they call, things start to look like more trouble than they’re worth. Eliminating redundant customer input is one key to a great experience.

The best way to eliminate redundancy is to automate syncing of customer records between everyone at your company. All teams should have the ability to contribute to a central record, and any party should have the power to see a full view of the customer.

In practice, this means that whenever any team updates a customer entry, that new data should be pulled into everyone else’s application. For example, customer support could link their software (Zendesk, for instance) with any the following cross-team events:

  • when tickets are open and closed with engineering resources (eg Jira, Basecamp)
  • when billing details are updated (in Stripe, QuickBooks or Xero).
  • when the customer purchases or interacts from the sales team (eg Salesforce)
  • when product usage is tracked in your customer success tools (eg Gainsight, Intercom)

Having this information at their fingertips will save everyone time, and in the end, eliminate customer frustration.

Key Takeaways About Automation

Smartly configured automation takes away human error and provides instant updates in areas where timing is crucial.

Today, customers demand more from customer service. As automation technology becomes ubiquitous in the digital space, it has become a necessity for delivering fast customer service outcomes.

Start small, and try out the scenarios described above in your customer support organizations.

Title image "Other Stuff" (CC BY-ND 2.0) by Kontramax