Automated Customer Service: How to Save Time & Delight Customers

March 25, 2024
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automated customer service

Automated customer service isn’t a new concept - but it’s evolved dramatically in recent years.

With automation and AI quickly advancing, these technologies have the potential to transform business operations and the digital customer experience.

It’s why 71% of organisations are already using automation and AI, with the remaining 22% expecting to do so within the next 12 months.

That said, it’s understandable that there’s still a degree of scepticism towards these emerging systems and solutions.

Do recent innovations in automation and AI really live up to the hype? Are they the best fit for your business or contact centre?

And how can you leverage these tools in a way that saves time and improves efficiency without sacrificing customer service quality?

In this article, we’ll explore these questions and offer a practical guide to getting the most out of customer service automation. We’ll cover:

  • What is automated customer service?
  • The role of AI in automating customer service
  • 7 ways to leverage customer service automation
  • Benefits of customer support automation

TL;DR:

7 ways to maximise efficiency and enhance the CX with automation…

  1. Optimise Self-Service with Chatbots & Virtual Assistants: Use AI chatbots to automate a range of interactions and tasks, reducing interaction volumes by up to 70%.
  2. Improve Agent Performance with Automated AI Assistance: Augment human support with AI, providing agents with response suggestions, knowledge base access, and canned messages for efficiency.
  3. Implement Real-Time Translation for Overseas Clients: Eliminate language barriers with automatic, real-time translation, facilitating seamless and inclusive customer service.
  4. Utilise Sentiment Analysis: Monitor customer and agent sentiment during interactions to improve service quality and gather insights on customer satisfaction.
  5. Route Interactions Intelligently: Automatically direct customer queries to the most suitable agent or team based on specific rules, enhancing response time and resolution effectiveness.
  6. Automate Staff Training & Quality Monitoring: Use AI simulations for comprehensive agent training and performance monitoring, speeding up the onboarding process and enhancing skill development.
  7. Leverage Automated Reporting & Analytics: Use AI to generate interaction summaries, insights reports, and knowledge gap analyses to streamline reporting, enhance decision-making, and improve performance.
human hand reaching for AI robot hand for assistance

What is automated customer service?

Automated customer service encompasses a range of technologies designed to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of customer support.

These systems work either by operating independently to resolve customer queries without human intervention (e.g. customer service chatbots) or by assisting agents in real-time during interactions (e.g. AI Agent Assist).

Automation tools incorporate various types of software and artificial intelligence (AI) to help businesses manage customer conversations, streamline support processes, and provide faster, more accurate service.

The key objectives of customer service automation are to maximise operational efficiency and empower human agents to deliver higher-quality service - both of which enrich the customer experience.

The blend of automation/AI with the human touch is essential here.

Although automation can dramatically improve service speed and consistency, a human agent is still necessary for addressing complex, nuanced, or sensitive issues.

enthusiastic human agent and two happy customers

The role of artificial intelligence in customer service automation

The integration of AI in customer service automation has marked a significant leap forward.

While the terms ‘automation’ and ‘AI’ are inextricably linked and often used interchangeably, there is some distinction between them.

At its core, automation refers to technology that can execute tasks and processes autonomously, eliminating or reducing the need for human input. This broad concept encompasses everything from simple mechanical devices to software programs.

Artificial Intelligence, however, is a subset of automation characterised by systems designed to mimic human intelligence. The types of AI often used to automate customer service include:

  • Conversational AI: Conversational AI is an umbrella term for a range of technologies that enable communication between humans and machines. It encompasses various applications of AI, including NLP/NLU, Generative AI, LLMS, and Machine Learning.
  • NLP & NLU: Natural Language Processing & Natural Language Understanding techniques enable AI systems to analyse and comprehend human language.
  • GenAI & LLMs: Generative AI (GenAI) and Large Language Models (LLMs) allow AI solutions to produce complex, contextually relevant, and human-like outputs - even in scenarios with limited or ambiguous inputs.
  • Machine Learning: Machine learning refers to algorithms which enable AI software to learn, make predictions, and improve performance over time.

These technologies play a huge role in advancing the capabilities and sophistication of automated customer service systems like chatbots (more on this later).

To summarise, while all AI involves automation by nature, not all automation involves AI.

AI’s role in digital customer service transcends mere automation by introducing the ability to understand language, learn, adapt, and offer an automated yet humanised customer service experience.

artificial intelligence brain

7 ways to leverage customer service automation & AI

Now that we know the basics of customer service automation, the next step is learning how to implement and use this technology successfully.

In this section, we’ll cover 7 ways you can save time with customer service automation tools and still deliver exceptional support.

1. Optimise self-service with chatbots & virtual assistants

Virtual assistant chatbots can be deployed across your website, app, and social media channels to provide 24/7 automated support at every digital touchpoint.

These systems excel at answering FAQs and handling repetitive tasks. They can even use chatbot fulfilment technology to automate customer-specific queries/tasks such as order status updates and booking appointments.

Chatbots can be an automation game-changer, especially if you’re looking to improve self-service or reduce the volume of interactions handled via human interaction.

In fact, Talkative customer Bugaboo has achieved a 50% decrease in live chat interactions since deploying our chatbot solution.

Before the days of AI, chatbots used to operate using decision tree frameworks and pre-defined rules/responses, frequently leading to customer frustration and a poor user experience.

Now, advanced AI chatbots can be trained to autonomously handle a huge spectrum of customer service queries, going beyond FAQs to cover more complex tasks and interactions.

One of the techniques used to achieve this level of chatbot sophistication is through integration with an AI knowledge base.

Take Talkative’s GenAI chatbot as an example. With our solution, you can use documents and URLs from your company website to create multiple knowledge bases.

From there, the bot can learn from your knowledge base datasets and answer countless questions about your business, products, and services - using the information provided plus generative AI.

It can even escalate interactions to a suitable human agent or team when necessary, thereby mitigating chatbot limitations.

This allows your customers to benefit from optimal self-service and a superior chatbot experience while still retaining the option to connect with a human representative if necessary.

Want to learn more about the different types of chatbot design? Take a look at our other blog: How do chatbots work? A Complete Guide.

2. Improve agent performance with automated AI assistance

Contrary to popular belief, automating customer support is not always about removing human agents from the equation.

In reality, the true goal of automation is to augment the human experience through higher efficiency, speed, productivity, and performance.

One of the ways it does this is by empowering support agents to communicate faster and more effectively during human interaction.

There are a number of solutions available that achieve this by providing customer service reps with automated help and assistance in real time.

Consider the following examples to illustrate how this works:

  • AI response recommendations: AI solutions can be used during live chat conversations to generate a selection of response suggestions for each customer message. These systems work by analysing the current conversation plus historical interaction data in order to produce relevant recommendations. With Talkative, you can gain these capabilities via integration with OpenAI or Google Agent Assist.
  • Knowledge base suggestions: This feature allows you to create AI knowledge bases using web pages and file-based resources (e.g. articles, documents, spreadsheets, etc). Once set up, the AI can extract information from your knowledge base content and use it to automate response suggestions for customer live chat queries. The distinction between this feature and other AI responses is that it uses your knowledge base dataset in addition to the interaction context to generate suggestions.
  • AI rephrases: Powered by generative AI, Agent Rephrases work by offering improved or revised versions of agent messages during chat interactions. This means that, instead of having your agents manually edit and proofread each live chat message themselves before sending it, the AI does all the work for them. Agents can even choose a preferred tone/style (better spelling/grammar, longer, shorter, friendlier, or more professional) for the rephrases.
  • Canned messages: Although canned responses don’t typically use AI, they’re still a valuable automation tool to have at your disposal. Canned messages are pre-written responses designed to quickly address common questions or issues that customers frequently encounter. These ready-made replies allow agents to swiftly provide consistent, accurate information without needing to type out each response individually.

These tools not only facilitate faster responses and resolutions but also guarantee the delivery of precise and uniform information by customer service reps.

It’s for this reason that 81% of contact centre leaders are currently investing in assistive automation and AI for agents.

automated AI assistance for human support agents

3. Implement real-time translation for diverse demographics

For global brands or those serving a multicultural customer base, automated translation is a game-changer.

Real-time translation allows you to provide multilingual customer service during live chat interactions.

It works like this...

  1. An international customer sends a live chat message using their first or preferred language.
  2. The AI translation technology within the live chat software detects and identifies the language being used, typically using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning.
  3. The customer’s message is automatically translated into the support agents’ first language.
  4. When the agent sends a response back to the customer using their own language, that message is also automatically translated back into the customer’s native tongue.

This process empowers your agents to efficiently handle queries in any language without delays or misunderstandings - thereby saving time and creating a seamless experience for all users.

In turn, you can break down language barriers and deliver accessible customer support without outsourcing translators or hiring a multilingual support team.

Moreover, automated translation can also boost brand loyalty by showing a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and customer relations.

It’s why the Talkative solution includes automatic, real-time translation into over a hundred languages as standard - for both live chat and chatbot interactions.

multilingual live chat

4. Utilise sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is an AI-powered solution that automatically detects the underlying opinion, emotion, or attitude expressed in written communication.

In the context of automated customer service software, this enables you to monitor the sentiment expressed by participants during text-based customer service interactions.

Sentiment analysis typically uses Natural Language Processing and other AI techniques to categorise the underlying communicative tone as positive, negative, or neutral.

You can leverage real-time sentiment analysis in the following ways:

  • Live chat monitoring: By using sentiment analysis during live chat interactions, supervisors can track the sentiment of chat messages in real time. This helps them to flag potential issues or concerns promptly, ensuring timely intervention and excellent customer service.
  • Chatbot monitoring: Beyond live chat, sophisticated sentiment analysis like Talkative’s can be applied to chatbot conversations as well. This yields valuable data on the performance of your chatbot and how your customers engage with it.
  • Agent evaluation: With the Talkative platform, it’s possible to monitor both agent and customer sentiment throughout live chat exchanges. This can help you save time when it comes to quality assurance and evaluating an agent’s performance or communication skills.
  • Customer attitudes: By applying sentiment analysis to customer messages and feedback, you’ll be able to proactively pinpoint customer satisfaction levels and pain points. This information can be used to make targeted and meaningful improvements to your customer service operations.

Ultimately, sentiment analysis offers invaluable insights into customer perceptions, agent communication skills, and the overall quality of your customer service experience.

It also provides a quick and effortless way to automate performance management and the collection of customer feedback.

customer sentiment emojis

5. Route interactions intelligently

Automated routing is the process of transferring incoming customer queries/requests to the most appropriate agent or team using specific rules or criteria.

The rules for interaction routing can be based on various parameters, such as agent availability, team expertise, department function, customer attributes, and urgency.

For example, say one of your website visitors submitted a product or pricing query using your chat service.

In this instance, an intelligent routing engine would automatically connect that potential customer with a suitable advisor from your live chat sales team.

On the other hand, if an existing customer raises a complaint about a technical issue with one of your products, they’ll likely be routed either to your support team or to a specialised agent for troubleshooting.

This streamlined process means that customers are matched with the right resources from the outset, reducing average handling time and increasing the likelihood of first-contact resolution.

It also bolsters efficiency by minimising idle time and eliminating the need for manual sorting, ensuring all customer inquiries are addressed swiftly and by the most qualified personnel.

Plus, as routing automation is often contingent on agent availability and expertise, it helps prevent overwhelming workloads while protecting agents from being confronted with issues they’re not equipped to resolve.

Want more info on how to route customer interactions effectively? Check out our complete chat routing guide.

6. Automate staff training & quality monitoring

The use cases for customer service automation software go beyond assisting customers and streamlining various support processes.

Advanced AI models can also be used outside of customer comms to automate agent training, onboarding, and performance monitoring.

With Talkative, this can be achieved with our AI Agent Training Simulator. This feature revolutionises staff training by pitting agents against virtual simulations of customer service interactions.

Once set up, the AI acts as a customer would in a specified scenario, allowing your agents to interact with it as they would in a real-life live chat conversation.

This not only expedites the process of onboarding new hires but also makes it far easier for existing agents to upskill or improve their abilities.

AI Agent Training can be leveraged in a number of ways, for example:

  • New hire training: Onboard new agents by simulating common customer service interactions and scenarios they’re likely to encounter most often.
  • Product knowledge training: Train agents on product features, specifications, and troubleshooting processes by simulating complex product queries/issues.
  • Sales training: Provide sales reps with practice opportunities to engage with virtual leads, pitch products or services, and handle objections effectively.
  • Communication skills development: Help agents improve their customer communication, empathy, and problem-solving skills by practising with AI in various scenarios.
  • Compliance training: Ensure agents understand and adhere to company policies, legal regulations, and industry standards by simulating compliance-related interactions.
  • Difficult conversations: Prepare agents to manage challenging or sensitive situations, such as handling rude customers or urgent complaints.
  • Quality assurance/monitoring: Use AI training as a tool for automated quality monitoring, where the simulations are used to evaluate and compare agent performance. You can also test the effectiveness of other automated tools (e.g. AI knowledge base responses, canned messages, etc.) in a range of real-world scenarios/interactions.

Overall, automated agent training offers an innovative and efficient way to drastically reduce training times and optimise agent performance.

By letting agents experience a variety of real-world scenarios through AI simulation, you’ll ensure that they’re armed with the skills and knowledge necessary for the full spectrum of customer service situations.

You’ll also give your teams the opportunity to practise customer communication, troubleshooting, navigating difficult conversations, sales techniques, and more - within a controlled, risk-free environment.

7. Leverage automated reporting & analytics

AI shines in its ability to swiftly analyse extensive datasets and uncover significant trends or patterns.

This ability means AI can automate reporting for you, offering useful insights into analytics, customer needs, overall performance, and the productivity of your customer service agents.

Beyond saving considerable time, automated AI reporting also guarantees increased accuracy and consistency.

With Talkative, you can take advantage of automated AI reporting in multiple ways, for example:

  • AI Interaction Summaries: Reviewing a full transcript or recording of a customer service conversation is extremely time-consuming. Interaction summaries accelerate this process by condensing entire conversations into a few sentences. Powered by OpenAI, this feature works by generating automatic summaries of every live chat, web call, and video chat interaction. These concise summaries allow you to assess the content and outcome of any interaction at a glance.
  • AI Insights Reports: This reporting feature goes further than automated summaries, providing a more comprehensive analysis of your interaction data. It works by using a powerful Large Language Model (LLM) to analyse all your interaction transcripts and then produce an insights report. These reports include an overview of the top 10 issues raised by customers in the past week/month (with an example interaction for each issue) and flags any queries that an AI bot could potentially automate.
  • AI Knowledge Gap Report: In addition to automated reporting for your human interactions, you can also use our AI Knowledge Gap Report to gain insights into the performance of your AI chatbot. The report works by providing a full list of all the questions customers have raised with your chatbot, plus whether or not the bot was able to answer them using your knowledge base. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to optimise and expand your knowledge base dataset, improving the accuracy and performance of your chatbot over time.

With automated reporting and analytics, you can monitor performance more efficiently and quickly gain insights into the overall effectiveness of your support strategy.

These insights will empower you to make data-driven decisions and targeted improvements - helping you reach your customer service goals.

business and customer service goals target

Benefits of automated customer support

By automating customer service effectively (with the help of the above examples), you can enjoy the following benefits…

1. Boost efficiency & performance

Customer service automation can have a massive impact on operational efficiency and agent performance.

In fact, a survey by Harvard Business Review found that automation solutions increase productivity for 90% of employees.

What’s more, almost 90% of workers say that they trust automation tools to help humans get more work done, reduce errors, and make decisions faster.

By handling a range of queries, interactions, and tasks, automated systems help reduce agent workloads and streamline customer service, thereby boosting efficiency.

And, with AI automation offering real-time assistance to agents during customer conversations, your human support teams will be empowered to perform better and faster - resulting in optimal performance and productivity.

happy agent working in an efficient contact centre

2. Improve customer satisfaction & service quality

As automation creates a more efficient and productive customer support system, it makes sense that this leads to increased satisfaction and improved customer service overall.

Automated customer service tools can increase customer satisfaction and service quality in the following ways:

  • Better self-service: Thanks to AI chatbots and virtual agents, customers can access next-level automated self-service. By answering questions, providing information/guidance, and performing various tasks, these systems empower customers to take control of their experience and resolve problems independently. This is a huge advantage as 81% of consumers attempt to rectify issues themselves before reaching out to a human, and 67% prefer self-service over speaking to an agent.
  • 24/7 availability: Unlike traditional communication channels that operate within specific business hours, fully automated systems (i.e. chatbots) can offer round-the-clock assistance. Whether it’s the middle of the night or a holiday period, customers can access automated self-service and prompt assistance whenever they need it. This 24/7 availability is especially useful if your customer base spans different countries and time zones.
  • Faster support: Automation streamlines customer support processes and interactions, leading to faster response times and reduced wait times for customers. Whether it’s through instant chatbots or AI-assisted agents, customers receive service that’s highly accurate and consistent without having to wait in lengthy queues or endure prolonged resolution times. This swifter turnaround not only satisfies immediate needs but also enhances the overall perception of your brand’s responsiveness and reliability.
  • Higher-quality human support: Customer service automation tools enhance the support provided by human agents in two ways. Firstly, they take over routine tasks and queries, freeing up agents to dedicate more time and attention to the customers who need the human touch. Secondly, by providing real-time guidance and suggestions during interactions, AI assistive automation helps agents communicate faster, more effectively, and with greater accuracy.

Ultimately, automation not only maximises efficiency but also elevates the overall customer experience through optimal self-service and empowered human agents.

customer and support agent using live chat

3. Reduce customer service costs

Although the implementation of customer service automation solutions can be costly, the savings you’ll make in the long term make it worthwhile.

Case in point, chatbot automation alone can reduce customer support costs by as much as 30%.

Not only that but recent research has found businesses enjoy a 250% average ROI for their AI automation investments.

Customer service automation helps you slash costs by reducing the need for manual work and human intervention.

Additionally, the scalability of AI and automation technology means you can handle large volumes of customer queries without hiring additional staff, further increasing cost efficiency.

These cost savings can then be reinvested in other areas of the business, driving growth and profitability.

benefits of an AI chatbot

4. Empower your customer service team

Automation doesn’t just optimise the customer experience - it also cultivates empowered agents and a superior employee experience.

In fact, according to research by Harvard Business Review, 80% of employees find that the time saved by automation allows them to deepen relationships with customers, take on challenging new projects, and learn new skills.

And that’s not all - in the same study, nearly 90% of agents said they felt more satisfied with their jobs since they began using automation technology, and 84% were more satisfied with their employer.

By automating mundane tasks/queries and providing access to advanced AI tools/training, you’ll grant agents more time and energy to focus on the more meaningful and rewarding aspects of their work.

This not only reduces burnout and turnover rates but also fosters a culture of continuous learning, development, and innovation within your organisation.

a team of happy customer support agents

The takeaway: Automate customer service with Talkative

Automated customer service and AI are here to stay.

With these technologies becoming increasingly advanced, automated contact channels will likely shape the future of contact centres and customer service.

As such, embracing automation isn’t just a smart move - it’s a necessary one for businesses looking to stay competitive in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape.

With the tools and tactics detailed in this article, you’ll be well on your way to making advanced automation a part of your customer service strategy.

But if you want to get the most out of automation and AI, you also need the right platform.

That’s where Talkative comes in.

As we’ve covered, our solution offers a variety of AI and automation tools - from advanced chatbots to AI agent assistance, sentiment analysis, AI-powered reporting/analytics, real-time translation, AI knowledge bases, intelligent routing, and much more.

Built with growing brands in mind, you can gain enterprise-grade AI features at a fraction of the usual cost with Talkative - and scale your usage without any nasty price jumps.

In addition to AI solutions, we offer a suite of customer support channels and capabilities - including live chat, web calling, video chat, cobrowse, and messaging.

It means you can deliver AI-enhanced, automated support - without breaking the bank or completely stripping away the human touch.

We also facilitate seamless integrations into leading contact centre systems and CRMs. In fact, our Salesforce integration is one of the most in-depth and cost-effective on the market.

Want to learn more? Book a demo with Talkative today, and check out our interactive product tour.

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