AI applications and automation have sparked a lot of debate around the future of the workforce. However, many roles such as customer service (CS) still need humans to resolve complex issues. These roles stand to benefit the most from AI-based automation to improve employee satisfaction and decrease turnover.
The biggest benefit of automation in CS is augmenting human interactions to be more responsive to customers. For example, AI technologies embedded in customer experience feedback can aid in channeling customers to the “right” agent with a suitable emotional and professional background. Technology arms the agent with the customer’s past and recent history, as well as recommendations on how to best engage. This helps teams match resources with the job, and removes repetitive tasks from agents’ plates so they can focus on where they’d like to specialize in their jobs.
Here are a few tips for how to use automation to your advantage and boost team morale.
1: Help Team Members Focus on a Career Path
The front lines of customer support can be one of the toughest jobs at a company. For example, call centers in the U.S. have a turnover rate of 30-45%, which is more than double the industry average. In many cases, AI-based automation can help with customer self-service, reduce call volumes, and empower agents in areas such as multilingual translation.
This automation will help CS employees specialize in areas where they otherwise may not have had the time and attention to focus. I believe that the CS role is evolving to the point where generalists will become less common. One of the most important things CS managers can do is to help entry- and mid-level employees identify where they want to focus their career path.
Pro Tip: After a new CS employee has been on the job for six months, strategize with them where they’d like to be by the end of the year. At the end of their first year, they should have a much clearer understanding of the CS career path at your company and how their skill set fits within a specialty.
2: Make an Impact on KPIs
Like any team in a metrics-driven organization, CS teams are focused on KPIs such as customer satisfaction scores (CSAT), first response times (FRT), and first contact resolutions (FCR). Performance on these metrics can make or break a CS team.
Without automation, metrics like FRT can slow to the point where it’s unacceptable. Automation helps customers help themselves with simple tasks such as resetting passwords, troubleshooting and addressing their FAQs. It can also assist agents in resolving cases faster. For example, multilingual AI agent assistants can help the agent chat with customers in 30 languages. This can reduce the personnel required to translate and increase the likelihood of FCRs.
Pro Tip: Automation will free up your agents’ time. Make sure they are able to maximize this time to respond to more cases. Or, they can give challenging cases the attention they need on first contact, helping to increase CSAT scores. If team members are driving toward personal KPIs in these areas, the entire service organization’s KPIs will benefit.
3: Hire impactful roles that support CS
If they’re empowered by automation, agents can accelerate more quickly through the ranks. Managers can help agents identify strategic roles to support their career growth. For example, if customers call in more frequently than expected with technical challenges, certain agents will be better equipped to serve them. These team members can specialize and become problem managers. This role works directly with engineers to resolve more complex technical problems.
Automation can also open up doors for the organization to hire more personnel to support the CS team. For example, if more problem manager positions are created, the company will need to hire more engineers to support them.
Pro Tip: If automation is improving your KPIs, you may be ready for the next step. Analyze which areas may require CS management positions or cross-functional supporting roles (in engineering or elsewhere). Make these strategic hires and take the time to talk directly with customers about areas to improve the product.
The age of empowerment
Instead of fearing the rise of AI, CS teams should view these tools as empowering them to be more efficient. By automating mundane tasks, CS roles can become more challenging and fulfilling to the entry- and mid-level workforce. It’s no secret CS has a retention problem. It’s time we looked to technology to become more proactive – unlocking customer insights and focusing on long-term career growth.