Efficiency can sound like a bad word. Cutting corners, getting rid of the extras, sacrificing speed for quality are all ideas associated with efficiency. But in reality, efficiency is essential for providing good support - both for your customers and your company.

For one, customers don’t want to wait around. According to Bold360, 33% of customers are dissatisfied with how long it takes them to reach an agent. And that really frustrates them. In fact, Forrester reports that customers believe valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do for them. It makes sense, right? We’re all in a hurry to get things done - anyone standing in our way isn’t in our good books.

But agents benefit from support efficiency as well. The more efficient processes are, the more time agents have to spend delivering high-value support. That means they can leave the boring work to the robots and focus on rewarding jobs like problem-solving and improving the overall customer experience. Not to mention - more efficient processes save the company money!

Don’t sacrifice great customer support for efficiency

Efficiency has a lot of benefits, but you might still be wondering: how can you automate customer service without sacrificing the quality of the support?

Well, it’s all about balance and choosing the right things to automate. Rather than trying to replace humans with automations, use automations to superpower your humans. When you’re using automations to serve customers better, efficiency becomes the goal. Use automations and processes to enrich your service offering... not to remove human interaction.

How to improve support efficiency

Gracefully speeding up your customer support means finding the right things to automate. Don’t cut out the delightful moments that keep customers coming back. Instead, find the things that your agents do every day, repeatedly, and take that off their plate. Here’s how.

Create processes

Before you can automate anything, you need to have set processes in place for handling specific situations. Automation removes human intervention from the equation but does the same process over and over again. If the process isn’t right, automation will only make it worse.

If you aren’t confident in how a situation should be handled, it’s not a good candidate for automation. When humans are involved, they can quickly course correct and respond to customer’s nuanced tone. If customers run into an automated process that isn’t done well, they will get frustrated and there is less chance of rescuing the situation.

Consider existing known support issues that you already have a plan for how to handle them. Do you respond to every refund request the same way? Do questions about API integrations always get forwarded to technical account managers? If you’re consistently getting high satisfaction scores from customers on these types of questions, they are excellent candidates for automation. You already know how to handle them, just speed up the process by putting a bot in the mix.

If you're not sure which of your support issues could be automated, ChatCreate can help identify the most common recurring issues from your chat history. Sign up and connect your existing support tool, like Zendesk for example, and ChatCreate will automatically identify the most practical support issues for you to automate, withwhich no need to bring in a data scientist. From then on you can start handing over known support issues to ChatCreate to handle.

Store prewritten replies

When you are sending the same words to multiple customers, it’s really important to use the right ones. Write the perfect responses to frequently asked and common questions. Test them out in your regular workflow first to make sure they are easily understandable and get a good response from customers. It’s easier to adjust them now than when they are being automatically sent to a hundred customers each day.

It’s also important to keep your knowledge base or help center up to date when you start building chatbots and automating common responses. If you send a customer a link to a knowledge base article, it better be helpful!

Set up automations

It’s finally time to start setting up those automations and reducing the effort you and your customers put into resolving issues. Here are a few places to start:

  • Route incoming issues to the proper place automatically. Instead of spending time sorting and forwarding emails, have your inbox or chatbot do it for you. By doing the work up front, you can make sure common issues get to the right spot right away for better organization and quicker response times.
  • Example: emails about partnerships, business arrangements, wholesale inquiries should have their own spot. They are likely to be less urgent than support issues and also take specific care in handling.
  • Identify common questions that don’t require a human to resolve, and set up an automated reply through either a friendly chatbot or an email response. These might be questions like delivery updates, password resets, or general how-to questions. It will completely vary by company, so take your time to make sure they are truly straightforward questions that customers don’t require the additional assurance of a human.
  • Eliminate repetitive conversations like verification or account location by building a chatbot that asks the questions for you. Customers can find the answers in their own time and then be transferred to a human when they are ready.

To recap, review your existing support processes for opportunities to delegate the manual, repetitive work to automations. Be precise with the words you use in automations to ensure customers are getting the best possible response. Then, set up automations to help your agents and customers get to resolutions faster.

Balancing Speed with Quality

The funny thing about cutting corners to save time is that it rarely works out that way. The same thing can be said about support - if you try and automate the wrong things, you’ll find you spend more time cleaning up messes and dealing with frustrated customers than if you just had a human involved from the start.

So how do you ensure you don’t sacrifice the customer experience to save time?

First, metrics can help your support team keep a finger on the pulse of quality. Choose metrics that resonate with your idea of quality customer support like customer satisfaction scores, repeat or retained customer percentages and fewer customers who need to contact you a second time. Conversation reviews, or ticket QA, can also help spot issues where automation went wrong. As Martin Kõiva at Qualitista explains, “A support conversation review is the process by which an organization systematically evaluates the communication between its support team and its customers, in order to identify ways to deliver higher-quality service.”

Secondly, always build an escape route for customers who are the recipients of an automation. Whether it’s an option to talk to a human over chat or being instructed to reply to an automated email with more information if their issue isn’t resolved, make it easy for customers to reach an agent when they need to. Nothing is worse than that feeling of being in a trapped in a loop, pressing 0 repeatedly, trying to get the robot to connect you to a human. We built this escape hatch right into the ChatCreate plugin. If you’re setting up a ChatCreate flow, all it takes to include an easy handoff is to tick the “handoff to human” box for the topics that should be handled by an agent.

Conclusion

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all - Helen Keller

If you’ve previously considered automation or chatbots and dismissed them as cost-cutting measures that had no place in your support strategy, it might be time to think again. Employing smart automations to make your team more efficient can be done without sacrificing the quality of your customer support - in fact, it might even improve it for customers who are extremely time sensitive.

Dare to try something new, and experiment with improving support efficiency. You might just find the perfect automation that makes the lives of your customers and agents easier. It only takes a few minutes to try ChatCreate out to see if it could work for you. If not, turn it off. We won’t be mad. (Plus, the first 1000 chats are free anyways).  

If you’d like to build your own chatbot, sign up for a free account or book a free demo with one of our experts to see how ChatCreate makes finding the right automations easy.