Automating your customer service has its perks, and oftentimes serves as a way to encourage those customers who dislike talking on the phone to call or log on just to get in touch. You can reap the benefits of quick issue resolution for your business, as well as lower customer abandonment rates, preventative problem solving, and everyone’s favorite, more free time.
People feel more in control when presented with clear options through automated customer service, like they are steering the conversation the way they want.
But that is not to say that automated customer service is without its faults. You can easily lose the personal touch and care offered by live help. Over-simplification of options can be discouraging, and often leads to customers choosing to “stay on the line to speak with a representative” anyway. It’s a delicate balance between personalization and ease of use.
Make your options specific
When automating, a common pitfall is grouping options too broadly. If a customer calls your customer service line or visits your online help page and they are unsure which button to press at the first menu, you’ve already lost them. From there it becomes a guessing game, which causes frustration.
Take the extra time to build out clear pathways to specific information. Automation is more successful when it is intuitive, and your customer’s intuition is to ask a lot of questions to understand your product or service.
Let them correct their own mistakes
Another great option to have is a “back” button. If people start down an automation path that doesn’t lead them to their answer, many systems force them to hang up and call again to try a new path.
Save them the pain and give them the option to “return to the previous menu” at any time. As an added bonus, allow them to return to the main/first menu at any time to start from scratch.
Give the in-person option right away
In most main menus, the option to speak with a live customer representative is the last thing presented. Sometimes it’s not even stated, hence the “try pressing 0 to see if it works” mentality.
Start your automation with a notification that the caller or online user can opt for a personal interaction at any time.
Some people still prefer to talk through their issues instead of searching hopelessly through a directory. For online help, a chat feature is a great way to personalize service.
Offer a callback option
Even if someone calls to try and get a quick answer out of your customer service department and opts to speak with a live representative, there may not be anyone available to speak with them right away.
If your queue piles up, customers will lose interest in your product, publicly complain about their experience, and ultimately decrease the amount of business you do with them and their network.
Offering a queue option is a bit of a bandaid solution for this. Obviously, the best way to fix this issue is to have more representatives to tackle the large number of issues coming in. For many small businesses, this is not a reality. Your customer service department may just be you!
If you or your team can’t keep up with calls or online conversations, offer the callback solution and make sure the customer knows that their questions and concerns are important to you. But be sure to follow through and call them back!
Limit your “related help” suggestions
It’s easy for customers to fall down the hole of clicking link after link to find their answer. While educating end-users about your business is always smart, it’s important to consider whether or not that’s what they want. Instead of offering specific pieces of information, offer a “learn more” option.
Let them come to the recommendations, not the other way around.
Alternatively, have a pop-up customer service messaging system that automatically appears after a given amount of time or clicks. This can create a feeling of personalization by implying concern over the customer’s confusion.
Keep your FAQs up to date
While many customers are looking to discuss more intricate matters if they call a service line, online users could be looking for any number of things, among them an FAQ section. Yes, automated customer service over the phone can make it easier to find answers to simple questions. But if someone is looking for an answer to a simple question, something that is most likely a simple answer, the most direct way for them to find it is to offer the solution on a Frequently Asked Questions page.
Of course, as you grow your business, many questions may become “frequently asked questions.”
Keep this section of your site limited by only including questions that have simple answers.
If you get a question over and over that requires paragraphs of explanation to resolve, that may be an issue with your product or company, not the customer. If it is a question that can be answered in 4 sentences or less, it’s safe to put it on your site, as a short answer is more likely to keep the reader’s attention to the end, allowing them to effectively solve their problem without having to revisit the site or call the service department.
There are countless ways that customer service can be automated, and countless ways that automation can go wrong. Whether your customers miss the personal aspect or they are frustrated with the nuances of your automated system, any negative experiences they have will reflect negatively on your business, your brand, and you as a business owner.
The customer experience does not end after purchase, and you have to put just as much time and effort into making sure the experience stays positive as you put into making sales and growing your business.
Use these basic tips to ensure that, even if your customer service needs to be automated for business reasons, every caller or online user has a variety of easy-to-use options for finding the answers they need.