“By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.” – Gartner Predicts
It’s ironic that a major part of the customer’s interaction with an enterprise during his /her journey is with the customer support team.
So, it’s safe to say that, by 2020, if 85% of customer relationship with the brand will be managed without a human, a lot of customer service issues will also be handled without any human intervention. Possibly, even that remaining 15% will be in the case of issues other than customer support. Or in cases involving very complex queries which only a human can solve.
Why are we emphasizing on humanless interaction? Because the future is about automating tasks and giving users an excellent customer experience.
When it comes to eliminating human intervention in customer service, this is done primarily in two ways –
As you can see, in both the above scenarios, human intervention cannot be eliminated, but restricted to a bare minimum level. For doing so, support automation tools seem lucrative as we already rely on machines for most of our tasks. But, according to a report by Aspect Software, even self-service support becomes promising as “73 percent of consumers said that they should have the ability to solve most product and service issues on their own.”
So now when both automated and self-service support seem lucrative, which one should you choose for your business? Let’s walk the talk to understand each in depth so that we can make a more educated call.
Customer support is automated mainly for a quick resolution of support tickets. While self-service support tries to reduce the number of support tickets raised. So evidently, both cater to different use cases. Let’s talk about those use cases in depth.
A report by Desk.com revealed that “more than 30 percent of customers expect to get a response within ten minutes of reaching out for customer service via text messaging/social media.” So to speed up customer communication”, you need to use some sort of automation.
Currently, automation is mainly used to enhance your customer’s support experience by encouraging and expediting their communication with your company. Virtual agents like IBM Watson have come up recently to offer end-to-end automated customer support. But it’s reach and adoption is still limited.
Automation can be applied at multiple levels of customer communication. You can use it to initiate a conversation with the customer or to quickly solve a support ticket raised. Mentioned below are the use cases of automated customer service at various levels –
Providing support through chatbots – chatbots assist in solving simple, quick-response requirements, leaving more time for customer service representatives to focus on complex customer demands and interactions. Intelligent chatbots like Twyla bots can help you in such a situation.
Workflow management – customer service automation tools like Ameyo help in routing customer queries to the appropriate customer support agent. This eliminates the customer time wasted in transferring a call from one agent to another.
Research – the customer support agent has to collect relevant information for answering user queries correctly. Support automation tools do the grunt work of searching through the databases and providing the right information to support agent which he finally conveys to the customer.
Communication – a thoughtful, personal response to customers is to be drafted, which is time-consuming. Tools like Digital Genius, help in pre-filling solution details and answering repetitive questions through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
In contrast with automation, that reduces the response time of support queries, self-service support reduces the volume of support tickets raised.
You can deploy one of the following solutions on your website, for your customers to seek help from –
Interactive Walkthroughs – An interactive walkthrough breaks down lengthy online processes into multiple small tasks. Each task is an instruction that appears on user screen in the form of an interactive tooltip and prompts the user to take an action.
With Whatfix, you can create interactive walkthroughs within a few minutes and list down all of them within a widget. This widget can then be effectively used to provide self-service support to customers.
The gif below shows how a self-help widget and interactive walkthroughs provide online contextual help to users.
Static FAQs and Knowledge Bases – All the potential questions that your users might face about the product are compiled and put up on the website. The Fitbit website puts a little creativity into this.
Discussion Forums – Allows users to discuss queries amongst themselves. For example, through the MIUI forum, users can discuss their queries and also submit feedbacks on new features rolled out by MI.
Now that we know what self-service support and automated customer support is, let’s examine each to find out how can they help your business.
There are disadvantages too. But, you need to weigh both the advantages and disadvantages, to find out whether you should be investing in either of them or not. We have already talked about the advantages first, so it’s now time to be the bad cop.
The only drawback that self-service support faces is that it needs to be updated from time-to-time. New features will be added to your product continuously and those changes need to reflect in your self-service support section as well.
It’s not a drawback in the purest terms because updating documents doesn’t eat up a lot of your time.
Though the process of updating support automation tool with new technology isn’t a regular one. But, whenever a support automation tool is to be automated, it time-consuming process.
As per our analysis, you should go for self-service customer support tools.
Because, automation in customer support is still in a developing phase, it takes away the personal human touch. It is still years away from matching a human’s ability to perceive, judge, and react to complex situations in a caring, helpful way. Some might argue that automation in support actually helps in providing a personal touch with the help of quick canned responses. But, customers are intelligent enough to distinguished a personalized email from an auto generated reply.
On the contrary, effective and reliable self-service options like guided walkthroughs (interactive walkthroughs) have already picked up pace and are widely used. Companies have claimed to reduce their volume of support tickets by around 30%, by providing online contextual help for customer support.
So, on a final note, to automate or to self-serve, is the decision that you need to make. But if you want to reach out to customers proactively, even before they ask for help, self-service support can do that better with the help of guided walkthroughs. And, as per a study initiated by inContact “A staggering 87% of customers want to be contacted proactively by a company, in matters relating to customer service.”
So when your customers demand it, you should deliver it.