Man or machine? For better customer service, use both

By next year, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Yet almost the same percentage of consumers (79%) wants a human service.

Computers may be better than ever, but most customers still prefer to interact with other human beings. The key to making machines work for customer service is not getting around your agents entirely; treat automation technologies as their technicians. For agents and technology to work in tandem, use tech for:

1. Connect clients to agents.

The last thing they want to hear is that customers contact your company with "Listen carefully to our menu options." Instead of using technology to greet your customers with a computer, use it to create better ones. correspondences with human agents.

Use diligence to update your customer profiles. Invest in a contact center solution such as Five9, which uses information such as interest centers, difficulties, and call history to associate callers with agents. Rowan Trollope, CEO of Five9 describes the machines by providing mastery, while humans provide the heart that allows the client-agent connection.

2. Address the easy questions.

No matter what your business does, customers tend to ask the same questions all the time. Although artificial intelligence is not used for more complex queries or more emotional customers, most customers are happy to work with robots on small things. Eight out of 10 from among them have a positive view of chatbots.

Give chatbots the first chance to respond to SMS requests and social media. While many robots still struggle to speak as human beings, they can write a text or respond to a direct message in a natural way. Setting up your own Facebook Messenger bot takes less than half an hour. Unless you have API developers in-house, work with a company such as Twilio to set up your SMS bot.

3. Fill in the missing fields.

When one of your representatives interacts with a customer, this agent must have all the relevant information. What is the customer's address? What is his job title? In which industry does it work? How long has she been a client?

Your team simply does not have the time to identify and capture all of these data themselves. Asking long-time customers is that you have not listened. Instead, use a data improvement service such as Cien. With the help of AI, Cien extracts the data from the Web into a connected CRM system. If he can not fill a field himself, he marks it as missing or inaccurate. For a top-down view, it reports accuracy by individual or group.

4. Automate follow-ups.

The only biggest complaint Customers have information about the companies they work with that are lacking. Most customer service teams are simply too busy to follow each customer. But for customers to consider a problem solved, they must hear from the company.

Carried out carefully, automated follow-ups can give customers the closure they need without burdening sales reps. Although most CRM systems offer an automatic tracking feature, Gmail users can use a free extension take the job from the shoulders of the agents. Web-based automation systems like Zapier can send follow-up SMS.

It's not because automation disrupts customer service that the customer service basics have changed. People want to deal with real people and they will always do it. But that does not mean that automation technologies can play no role, especially for the tasks that most agents are happy to entrust. Get the right balance and everyone wins, especially the customer.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson

Editor-in-Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor who oversees the content of Previously, he worked as a publisher at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at