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Customer
experience
automation:
Benefits and
three steps
to get started

Author: Amrita Singh

As it becomes more complex to deliver a top-notch customer experience (CX), the benefits of customer experience automation become more compelling and often result in customer experience improvements.

When customers reach out, the right tools can help you respond more quickly across multiple channels and keep your teams focused on the most value-added tasks. CX automation also can lead to decreased operating costs, improved margin and reduced churn.

How readily you achieve those customer experience improvements depends on whether you choose the right areas to automate, and how you balance automation with human expertise and critical thinking skills.

The benefits of automating the customer journey don’t apply to every business process. In some cases, CX automation could introduce an unnecessary risk of errors or other problems that actually damage customer relationships. To ensure that CX automation will lead to customer experience improvements, you’ll want to start with pilot projects and test the benefits of customer experience automation wherever possible. As you get started, keep these three considerations in mind when evaluating the benefits of automating the customer journey.

1. Fix a broken process before you automate

You’re being inundated with calls and complaints from customers about a recently launched product. There’s a key feature that many of them are struggling to understand, and it’s causing them to make errors or simply give up on using the product completely.

In this case, automating the process could enable contact center agents to field more questions and complaints, but the problem isn’t merely about the volume of outreach. This is a customer education problem.

To achieve customer experience improvements, there’s a point in the process of marketing the product to customers, or even during the point where a purchase is made, that needs to be addressed first. It could be as simple as walking through what the product setup looks like in the “awareness” phase or providing some tips at the point of sale.

Good CX automation means customers don’t reach a point of frustration where they have to come back to the company with complaints. If you can close those gaps earlier, the benefits of customer experience automation become clear: you’ll see greater efficiencies from automating certain processes in your contact center because agents will be devoted to more exceptional customer challenges instead, which will result in customer experience improvements.

2. Offer a safety net based on human interaction

Technology often can work faster than we can, particularly if the processes are repeatable. That’s where automating the customer journey comes in. CX automation in the form of a chatbot, for example, often can result in customer experience improvements by addressing your customers’ most frequently asked questions.

But sometimes customers have an issue that a standardized response won’t cover. That’s where the benefits of customer experience automation end, and you need to offer a fast and easy hand off to a live agent.

Another example of customer experience automation is in physical environments, like a self-service kiosk that lets customers avoid long lines at the cash register. Inevitably, some customers will struggle to understand the kiosk interface, enter the wrong information or encounter other roadblocks. So it’s important to train associates to check in routinely with customers and be available to those who need assistance.

Keep in mind that customers often respond emotionally to many parts of an experience, and they may expect you to show empathy in your response.

3. Focus on the benefits of customer experience automation

A CX strategy, including CX automation, should always begin with the question, “What do our customers really want?” Automating the customer journey to gather feedback from text messages might help you reduce call volumes, for example, but make sure you look holistically at where customers are reaching out first. You might discover more of them are using social media as a customer support channel, or that they would prefer automated replies to email instead.

Similarly, pivoting to CX automation that emphasizes e-commerce versus in-person buying may make a lot of sense in terms of cost savings and efficiency for your business, but customers may need certain elements to enhance the experience. For instance, are you offering curbside pickup and delivery, or multiple payment options?

CX automation needs to be customer led

Many of the benefits of automating the customer journey—whether it’s fewer mistakes, better decisions or the ability to scale—will be felt internally, but they also need to result in overall customer experience improvements. That means customer experience automation needs to be led by customer need. In other words, CX automation is always a means to an end, but the means should always bring value to customers at every point in the journey.

When it comes to customer experience automation, partner with a trusted adviser who can help you figure out how to balance automation with human expertise that will lead to customer service improvements rather than backfiring on you. 

Amrita Singh is Manager, Product Marketing Customer Experience and Contact Center Solutions at Verizon.