Is ‘Personalized Automation’ an Oxymoron? Not in Customer Service.

By Elaina Ransford

The idea of automation typically brings to mind factories staffed with robots working on assembly lines, producing thousands of identical products. While this may be an accurate depiction of automation in the manufacturing industry, when it comes to customers service, the output doesn’t have to be uniform. In fact, automation can actually deliver care that is far more personalized than even human-powered customer service through a call center.

Automation in customer service today has the potential to be highly customized through customer data and machine learning. Unlike call centers, in which representatives greet each caller with the same script, and respond to each problem with a set of predetermined phrases, automated customer service treats tickets and customers differently based on their choices and history with the company.

When Humans Become More Robotic Than Robots

There’s something particularly infuriating about calling customer service and having the representatives on the other end recite a script in a monotonous voice that clearly indicates they’ve already uttered those exact phrases a hundred times that day. Despite the fact that it is a human speaking, there’s such little personalization that the interaction often ends up feeling devoid of empathy or understanding.

This, combined with the often interminable wait times prior to the beginning of the conversation, and then even additional holds during the conversation itself, makes it unsurprising that over 94 percent of customers dread contacting customer service (according to a recent Helpshift survey with Propeller Insights). There may technically be a human on the other end of the line, but the interaction bears little resemblance to how people interact with each other in any other context besides customer service.

This is a sad state of affairs, considering that customer service is one of the most important touch points between a brand and a consumer. Indeed, 82 percent of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service experience.

How AI-Powered Automation Uses Data To Personalize Every Interaction

Messaging-based customer service is uniquely well-positioned for automation in two key ways:

1. Ticket Auto-Classification

AI uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) and/or menu options to classify tickets into categories and assign those tickets to the appropriate agents. This significantly reduces the chance of a customer being transferred from agent to agent and having to start from scratch.

2. Bot-based Interactions

Bots respond instantaneously to customer queries, and by following a decision-tree structure, can respond and even resolve user queries with the most appropriate course of action — whether that be surfacing a piece of information for the customer, pointing the customer to a knowledge base article, or involving an agent.

These two forms of automation work in tandem with one another to ensure the most efficient and effective experience for every customer.

More than that, though, they drive personalized experiences. By collecting information from the user upfront, and then following a decision-tree structure wherein the customer’s responses trigger follow-up questions, bots in conjunction with auto-classification not only rapidly identify the user’s problem, they also ensure that any answer the user receives is precisely aligned with the nature of their issue.

The AI also improves over time through machine learning, becoming increasingly adroit at accurately addressing users’ problems. The customer will ultimately have more accurate and personalized access to care without having to wait around for an agent.

The bot may not change its inflection or make jokes (unless you program it to!), but it does something much more important: it listens to the customer, and personalizes its responses to the nature of the problem.

It also allows for more personalized interactions with human agents when it’s necessary to escalate. Because the bot has already collected information from the customer, and the auto-classification engine has already assigned the ticket, agents can be rapidly brought up to speed through a user snapshot that enables them to quickly solve customer problems without asking them to repeat information.

Go Beyond The Script With Automation

One of the best things about AI today is that it enables personalization. From Siri greeting its users by name, to predictive algorithms generating Spotify playlists tailored to users’ tastes, AI has the capacity to deliver personalized experiences to millions of users at once. For brands that are built on delivering great experiences, this is an important capability to prioritize.

 

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