Automating business processing is the best thing that has happened to companies struggling with completing projects and conducting professional customer service. Use virtual communication tools to automate customer service in 2021 and create a stronger, more reliable business communication system.
Why You Should Automate Customer Service in 2021
First, what is customer service automation? Automated customer support refers to using automation to reduce the need for employee or agent involvement to complete simple, mundane tasks when offering assistance and support to customers.
Now, this does not mean that you won’t need any employees at all. Customer service automation isn’t necessarily a robots-taking-our-jobs situation. The only aspects of customer service to automate are the simple, repetitive tasks that take up agent time. Time which can be spent better helping a customer.
The reason to automate customer service in 2021 is to ensure that:
- Customers are sent to the right department or employee
- Calls are routed effectively so no calls are missed
- Customers have multiple ways of connecting with your business (email, live chat, chatbots, trouble tickets, voicemail, etc.)
- And that customers receive assistance and responses even when employees are busy
By automating your support channels, agents and employees are better prepared and freed to assist callers. Let’s look at the best customer service tips for using automation to boost the way your business interacts with its customers:
1. Call Forwarding & Routing Strategies
For businesses with multiple departments and offices spread geographically, it can be hard to ensure callers reach the right department or employee immediately. And the last thing you want is for a customer to be bounced from one user to the next. With call forwarding, you can automate calls to route directly to the right department based on a variety of rules you set. So, how can you use call forwarding to automate customer service?
Time-based routing routes calls based on the time of the call. This ensures that when one of your offices closes for the day, calls are routed to another satellite office or your outsourcing company to maintain continuity.
Location-based routing forwards calls based on the location of the caller. Multinational and international companies find this feature most useful. They call route calls from their main location to offices in various locations or remote agents based on where the caller is situated. This ensures the caller receives assistance in their language and time zone.
Skill-based routing forwards calls based on the skill needed by the caller. By utilizing an interactive voice response (IVR), the caller can specify their preference such as a specific language or department required. The call is then automatically sent to the agent with the aforementioned skill.
Call forwarding enables better call management ensuring that callers reach the right destination and get assistance efficiently. Good call management results in good first call resolution rates.
2. Simultaneous Ringing
Another form of call forwarding is Simultaneous Ringing which enables incoming calls to ring multiple phones with one number. This means that an incoming call is forwarded to every sales or customer service member in your entire office (satellite offices and remote agents included). This ensures that during a period of high call traffic, whichever employee is next available can answer the call quickly.
You can create a ring group to include different departments such as your main office’s customer support team, remote workers, and your BPO. This ring group can be adjusted from time to time to add or remove users as needed.
3. Automated Communications
Next, you may consider using other automated communication tools such as cloud IVR and chatbots. These automation tools can provide customer support and assistance even when employees are not on duty (i.e., off-hours or the weekend).
Cloud IVR provides a caller with menu options such as “Press 1 for ___, Press 2 for ___.” Then, depending on the caller’s requirement, the IVR offers more options or assistance. Most cloud IVR systems are able to help with simple tasks that don’t require the help of an agent. The same goes for chatbots available on your website’s ‘chat with us’ option. Chatbots also provide customer support by assisting web visitors in basic tasks. These tasks include:
- Identifying or verifying the user or the account
- Activating an account
- Providing balance information (remaining balance and when it is due)
- Processing payments
- Renewing subscriptions
- Sending the call to voicemail
- Creating an issue or case ID and registering it within the system for the next available agent to view
- Offering company information or product/service description
As such, you can use IVR and chatbot automation to offer customer support when agents are busy or off-duty. This way, users and interested customers continue to receive help during the times most convenient for them.
4. Voicemail and Fax to Email
Additional aspects of customer service are voicemail and faxing. Virtual phone service providers, like Global Call Forwarding, offer the ability to forward incoming voicemails and faxed documents to registered email addresses. For voicemail, this is called Voicemail to Email or Virtual Voicemail. For fax, this is called Fax to Email, eFax, or Fax over IP.
By receiving voicemails and fax documents in your inbox, users can remain in the know even when they are not in the office. They can hear the voicemail in the email attachment and determine the urgency of the call. Store these voicemails in the cloud for future reference. Additionally, store important fax documents forwarded to one’s email in a secure platform in the cloud. By doing so, users have better access to important business documents and can respond effectively.
5. Automated Email & SMS Responses
Using advanced email and SMS features, you can set up auto-replies or autoresponders when users sign up via your website or submit a query via email or SMS. These auto-replies can simply state that they received the customer’s email or provide them with a case ID for their issue or concern as well as a timeline for when to expect a response. This helps customers know that their query and email have been registered and they can expect a response soon.
6. Self-Service Portals and Knowledge Bases
Finally, help your customers help themselves by offering self-service portals and support knowledge bases. Your self-service portal can help them submit queries, request renewals or refills, make payments, and so on. This way, they do not need to call or email your business and wait in line. A knowledge base, on the other hand, provides informative content and guides relating to the products and services your business offers.
You can provide product descriptions, define the purpose of the products, or offer step-by-step guides on how to use the product or use your service, and so on. This reduces the number of calls received by customer service regarding product usage.
Take Steps to Automate Customer Service Now
If you think your business can benefit from automating your customer service, then now is the time to start. Many businesses are facing a high volume of customer calls and emails regarding their products since the pandemic. This is due to shoppers moving online for their purchases. And so, your business must prepare to handle incoming calls effectively to offer excellent customer service. Try implementing the above automation services and tools and get ahead of the game as we move into 2021.