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With labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflationary pressures and increasing customer expectations for seamless service that pushes the boundaries of any business, organizations are looking for ways to help their workforce do more with less. This pressure is especially acute for customer service teams that are already prone to burnout and high turnover.
By deploying automation technology, organizations can empower service workers to do their jobs more efficiently, reduce workplace stress, and advance their careers. And since customer service teams are often the face of the brand, happy agents translate into more satisfied customers, which also leads to better business performance.
How automation helps improve customer service
At its core, service automation is about making people’s lives easier. The technology consists of a series of tools that enable intelligent machines to take over time-consuming, repetitive tasks that humans used to do.
Here are three key benefits organizations see when they successfully deploy automation in service environments:
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1. Service teams are better at their jobs
Automation streamlines repetitive, menial tasks, making agents more efficient and productive and ultimately better serving customers. There are plenty of ways businesses can localize tasks across an entire organization ripe for automation. Here are a handful of automation-based tools that can help save time, increase efficiency, and improve the overall work experience for service professionals:
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA) bots enable agents to automate tedious workflows that require different systems, documents, and images, such as updating a customer’s account across different applications, logging into multiple systems to start the day, or copying customer information from one place (i.e., customer email) and entering it into different systems.
- Macros are a simple sequence of instructions that can be executed automatically, allowing agents to complete a multi-step process with a single click, such as closing a case.
- Orchestration engines help agents collaborate in more complex business processes that require many steps and team members, such as processing a loan application or issuing a refund.
- Chatbots increase the level of customer self-service, saving agents time by answering common questions instantly without the help of an agent. They can also collect important customer background information before an agent hires to save time, ensure accuracy, and personalize the interaction.
- Intelligent automation makes life easier for agents by recommending next best actions when working with a customer, pre-populating fields that agents often need to fill in after interacting with a customer, or processing customer input to correctly route a request.
- No-code and low-code automation builder puts the power of automation in the hands of agents, enabling them to quickly turn standard process steps, such as updating an address, into an automated workflow.
When tasks that used to take minutes or hours now take seconds, the time savings quickly add up in a high-volume contact center. With automation, the service is also more consistent, with less room for human error or things to fall through the cracks, especially with many new hires.
2. Agents are happier
No one likes to spend time on repetitive tasks, searching for information across multiple systems, or dealing with frustrated customers who have waited too long for a response. It’s no surprise that customer service teams struggle with low job satisfaction and high turnover, driving up costs for businesses and delivering a poorer customer experience.
According to Salesforce’s State of Service report, 67% of service decision makers say employee retention is a challenge in today’s market. But as organizations invest in technologies like automation that empower agents to do their best work, more agents are beginning to think about long-term career opportunities in the service industry. In fact, 85% of agents see a clear path for career growth – up from 67% in 2020 and 59% in 2018.
When done right, automation removes items from “to do” lists instead of adding steps to existing processes. These tools can reduce agent boredom, stress, and burnout by reducing manual tasks, adopting simple questions, and resolving complex customer issues with guided steps and recommendations.
As the service team becomes more efficient, customers are less likely to wait long for resolutions and vent their dissatisfaction to agents. Service professionals can focus on tasks that require a human touch, such as connecting with customers in personalized ways that drive long-term brand loyalty.
3. Agents can gain new skills and advance their career
In the same survey, nearly 70% of service leaders identified a lack of access to career development opportunities as one of the top challenges facing their departments. The lack of career growth opportunities contributes to low morale and high turnover among agents and prevents departments from achieving higher levels of service.
Automation can free up time for agents to continuously improve their skills and advance their careers. Time freed up by automation can be spent perfecting essential skills such as active listening and empathy or learning new skills such as sales lead identification and technologies such as no-code and low-code tools. These tools give agents new technical skills they can use to eliminate inefficiencies and better serve customers. Innovative learning platforms can even recommend bite-sized learning content, tailored to an agent’s skill level and integrated into their job.
Continuous on-the-job learning makes agents more satisfied and less likely to quit. It also enables them to improve the customer experience and deliver on the promise of making the service team a value center.
Get started with automation
Start small to reap the benefits of automation. Identify a few valuable areas ripe for improvement, such as those around simple, large customer requests. Or start automating a single step in a more complex process. Learn from this experience and then apply best practices to build on your success across the organization. Try deploying these automation tools in close collaboration with IT to accelerate deployment and be ready for future expansions. However, the most important thing is to get started – there is no time to lose in today’s business environment.
Nga Phan is SVP Service Cloud Product Strategy at Salesforce
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