Customer support is the arm of your business that helps buyers when they need it—but who’s there to help you? From long phone support queues to sifting through critical details, customer support teams have the arduous job of serving thousands of customers with help from a relatively small group of agents.
That’s where customer support automation can do the heavy lifting. Automation tools can keep certain aspects of your customer support operations running 24/7/365 without the need for human involvement at every turn.
What is Support Automation?
Automated customer support addresses user inquiries without the need for human involvement. It keeps access to support open to customers even when service teams are unavailable or off the clock.
Yet, customer support automation will not eliminate the need for human interaction or the importance of forming relationships. It simply offloads mundane, inefficient, or unnecessary support tasks to automated tools so agents can focus on the larger and more meaningful cases that require their attention.
Examples of support automation include:
- Self-service portals and knowledge bases
- Automated responses (to emails, forms, etc.)
- AI-backed chatbots
- Immediate case routing
- Predictive intelligence that gauges intent and emotion
The Benefits of Support Automation
How do we know support automation works? It’s easy to see the benefits almost instantaneously after implementation. Automated support is:
Time is money. And when automated routing or automatic responses remove the need for live agents to take action themselves, the savings add up. Chatbots can even save businesses up to 30% on customer service costs. In addition to serving customers after normal business hours, automated tools can often perform multiple agents’ tasks without paying them the overhead required for employees.
With automated tools, support teams enjoy increased awareness and decreased confusion about who owns which case. Using pre-defined rules, automation routes tickets to the appropriate team or agent, increasing the likelihood of resolution on the first try. Automated support benefits the entire team with deeper collaboration and higher efficiency through improved workflows that eliminate unnecessary steps. As automation tools handle more grunt work, agents don’t have to limit their time with callers or miss their goals for faster resolution. Instead, they can focus on outcomes like meeting customer needs and building relationships.
Good for customer experience (CX)
Providing more options for customers to receive support allows them to choose their preferred channel for assistance, reduce wait times, and resolve their issues faster. For instance, automated routing delivers cases to the appropriate departments or agents the first time, ensuring faster resolution. It also leaves more time and energy for reps to focus on complex issues that automation alone can’t solve. These benefits add up in customers’ minds, improving their brand loyalty and customer experience.
Customer support automation can also reduce human error, establish a uniform tone and voice across all touchpoints, and centralize your customer data into a single system when using a CRM platform.
Common Problems That Support Automation Can Solve
Automated support tools already tackle several customer service issues—and support automation technology is continually improving to address even more. When agents are overwhelmed, automation kicks in to offload common inquiries customers might have like:
- Account information — updating personal details, changing communication preferences
- Payment options — viewing balances, making a payment, setting up a recurring payment, changing subscription plan
- Technical support — how to install, troubleshoot common issues, where to locate specific functions
But support automation solves deeper-seated issues than customer inquiries. It can also improve your team’s biggest challenges, including:
- Process bottlenecks
- Manual data entry
- Silos across teams and departments
- Reporting ability
- Approval workflows
- Compliancy (in heavily regulated industries)
How to Implement Support Automation
If you’re just getting started adding automation to your customer support operations, you can do a few things to get the ball rolling.
Start with a Strategy
Support automation includes everything from self-service options to AI. Which tactics will you implement? Conduct an audit of your current support team operations, and decide which automation tools are right for you. Gather metrics like how many inquiries you handle regularly, what topics they’re typically about, how many agents it takes to resolve them, and how long it takes to close a ticket. While support automation may not be for everyone, larger call volumes and long wait times indicate the need for a dedicated support system.
Build a Knowledge Base
Knowledge base articles allow readers to find answers on their own time. Identify common questions your customers have, and write short articles to address each. Then, format your articles in a way that’s easy for customers to search and find on their own. Overwhelmed with writing about everything your customers could inquire about? Start small with a list of frequently asked questions and their answers on your homepage or support page.
Implement a Customer Support Platform
Customer service software is the ultimate way to reduce support challenges and increase team efficiency. Agents can view a customer’s full profile and interaction history, reply to emails and queries, chat with users, and prioritize tickets. They can even route to other team members and generate support team analytics. Look for a system that allows you to see the full picture of your customers’ needs and makes support effortless instead of an added headache. To make the process even smoother, integrate your help desk system with other commonly used solutions like your CRM, marketing platform, or e-commerce system, so all your data is there when you need it.
What Can’t Support Automation Do?
Despite its tremendous benefits, customer support automation can still have challenges. When you prioritize speed and efficiency to deliver answers to customers, you sacrifice the personal touch that a phone call with a real person can bring. And if you choose the wrong customer service system, you may put the burden of finding answers on the customer, resulting in lost time and deep frustration.
Sometimes, automated customer service isn’t the right solution. When your service system can’t adequately personalize the experience by drawing on accurate customer data, you forfeit the personalization that some customers desperately need, like those with sensitive issues or new users who aren’t familiar with your products. This is why choosing the right customer support software is so critical.
Sugar Serve Automates High-Definition Customer Experiences
SugarCRM’s customer support software has everything you need to create an outstanding, high-definition customer experience (HD-CX) and streamline customer service processes. After all, it’s easier to give the right answers when you can see them right in front of you.
How does Sugar Serve differentiate itself? Sugar provides effortless customer service software that lets you:
- Boost agent productivity
- Route cases intelligently
- Prioritize cases by SLA
- Gauge customer sentiment
- Minimize customer service costs
- Deflect more calls
- Enable self-service
- Resolve cases faster
- Treat customers to consistent, branded experiences
Unsure about implementing support automation? SugarCRM is upfront about customer service platform costs and relentless about helping you finally realize automated efficiency (and happier customers).
See Sugar Serve in action watching our demo today.