Customer Service Automation

Gladly Team

Read Time

5 minute read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of those buzzy concepts that cause ripples of wildly mixed feelings whenever it is mentioned — especially in its capacity as a tool for customer service. Traditional ideas of what customer service is and means evoke pictures of smiling agents with headsets on, working hard to address the inquiries and complaints of calling consumers. We tend to think of good customer service as a one-on-one conversation between two humans, and it can be difficult to imagine a helpful and personal customer experience when real-life robots enter the mix.

But implementing AI into your customer service processes has the capability to make a good experience into a great one. The implementation of customer service automation helps customers and agents alike by allowing for better self-service for consumers, a lighter workload for staff, and increased speed and efficiency all around.

What Is Customer Service Automation?

Automated customer support aids the customer experience by using responsive modes of communication, such as chatbots, speech recognition, self-service help centers, and other technologies. It can look as simple as a pre-recorded message on an answering machine, or as sophisticated as a full-service chatbot.

To get the most out of customer service automation, ecommerce businesses should explore AI-powered CX. While automation lets businesses predetermine and pre-plan processes to respond to customers and assist agents, AI goes further by intelligently recommending additional support, proactively recognizing a customer’s need for help, or rapidly pulling a piece of pertinent information for an agent to refer to while working with shoppers in real-time.

With AI, CX solutions can also include in-house features, such as automatic forwarding to appropriate agents and automated queue building based on urgency or time received. Regardless of how it’s used, the objective is to relieve pressure placed on human agents and speed up the pace at which customer service can assist shoppers.

The idea of replacing human agents with robotic counterparts causes anxiety for many. We might imagine that trope of the factory worker’s job being taken away by a super-fast machine. In reality, customer service automation methods are there to help agents do their job, and in turn provide better and faster service to their customers. A balance must be struck between the automatic and human processes for a truly successful implementation of customer service automation.

The Pros and Cons of Customer Service Automation

The benefits of automation, especially for enterprise companies, far outweigh the pitfalls if done correctly. And being well aware of the risks of automation is your best bet for getting it right the first time.

Pro: Streamlining. Automated systems can help improve workflow for your team. Scripted responses to common questions or issues will save your agents time by eliminating the need for them to respond to FAQs. Additionally, automated task prioritization and attribution, including follow-up messages and status reports to waiting customers, can save days of work annually, and free up your agents to perform more pressing and complex duties.

Con: Maintaining personalization at scale. The Gladly Customer Expectations Report found that 72% of consumers are willing to spend more with companies that provide great customer experiences — which can be complicated to achieve when working with an automated system. When selecting CX solutions that incorporate AI, buyers should look for a system that tactfully balances the automated and human element equally — giving live agents the ability to intervene and engage with customers as needed, while AI enhances their ability to answer simple questions faster with predetermined responses and recommendations.

Pro: Reduced friction. No customer likes waiting for what feels like hours for their call to be answered. With a customer service software system composed of 100% human agents and a legacy ticketed system, there is bound to be a long line of customers drumming their fingers while listening to your carefully selected hold music, no matter how many agents you hire. Automated systems, such as interactive voice recognition, chatbots, and self-service help centers, get customers the assistance they need faster by answering simple questions up front, and forwarding them to the right agent before they wait. Having shorter wait times also means reduced customer churn and increased retention.

Con: Poor system design. In the Gladly Customer Expectations Report, 42% of customers ranked reaching customer service agents on their preferred channel as the most important attribute of the customer experience. When bad IVR, not-so-smart chatbots, or poor routing systems result in repetitive and redundant conversations, customers might feel like they’re just going around in circles. A customer service system that doesn’t utilize AI and automation properly will cause more pain than it’s worth.

Pro: The next generation. Millennials are fast becoming the largest consumer base worldwide. These tech-savvy customers know their way around web-based support systems, and are more likely to consult a community or self-help system before reaching out to a human agent. Speed and self-reliance is the name of the game for this generation, and if they can fix the problem themselves with a little help from your AI assistants, they’ll happily do it. In the Gladly Customer Expectations Report, 37% of Millennials and 40% of Gen Zs said they’d fall in love with a brand because of great service.

How Some Companies Are Currently Leveraging Customer Service Automation

Here are some practical examples of how real companies are using automated customer service to their advantage.

1. Beloved by crafters everywhere, JOANN subscribes to Gladly’s services for a radically personal customer service experience which strikes the right balance between automation and interpersonal communication. 8 different communication channels are built into the program, meaning that customers will never have to repeat themselves when moving from AI messages to human voice conversations. The system additionally auto-sorts and prioritizes customer inquiries, reducing JOANN’s email backlog by 93%, and their email response times by 70%.

2. Popular socks and apparel brand Bombas struggled with a handful of friction issues across their customer experience — until they brought in Gladly. Thanks to the immediate intelligent responses provided by Hero AI and Sidekick, customers got the help they needed much faster, as Bombas saw an 81% reduction in time to first response and a 35% reduction in time to resolution.

3. Peak Design is known for state-of-the-art bags and backpacks that make it easier to move gear and travel — but their legacy system with Zendesk wasn’t offering their support staff that same flexibility. By switching to Gladly, they transferred to a conversation-driven system infused with AI to achieve a 98% customer satisfaction rate and a 91% ROI from implementing Hero AI and Sidekick.

4. Bonafide is a women’s healthcare company that’s growing — which means their CX solution needed to be able to scale at the same pace as the rest of their business. As their company got bigger, their support center struggled to maintain volume across channels. After they switched to Gladly, they implemented Sidekick to offer much-needed support to agents and continue to build relationships with customers — the tech even resolved 54% of requests on its own and brought a 50% ROI to Bonafide.

Read more: Scaling Your Customer Service Center for High Growth in Ecommerce

How You Can Implement Customer Service Automation Today

Start with the right product. Your requirements as a business will determine which customer service platform is best for you. Enterprise companies will need systems with high-traffic capabilities, whereas startups and small businesses want something scalable that won’t crowd out your human assets. Enterprise retailers that traditionally use platforms like Zendesk or Oracle are also migrating to platforms that better operate within the modern customer experience.

May we recommend Gladly for all your customer service needs? See why Gladly is the No. 1 Zendesk alternative.

Work with a confidence scoring mechanism. Especially early on in your AI journey, you’ll want to know how your customers feel about your automated systems. If it’s good, great! If it’s neutral, also great! If it’s bad, you may want to rethink your approach or your demographic. This also helps your AI to recognize when a customer is frustrated, and whether to then forward them to a human agent.

Integrate information. We know customers don’t want to repeat themselves, and your automated systems should enable this. Any chatbot, self-help, or email outreach mechanisms you have in place should contribute to a customer’s ongoing history with your company just as much as live chat and phone communications do. The right AI-powered tools speed up your average handle time while drawing on the precise customer, product, or fulfillment information to ensure a more consistent rate of resolution.

Combine humans with AI to optimize personalization. A truly personalized customer experience starts with the human element: live agents. But when they’re equipped with the intelligence of AI-driven CX software, these agents elevate to become what Gladly calls Support Heroes — agents capable of quickly calling on unique customer details to connect with them on a personal level and even create opportunities for upselling. By making personalized service more simple, support centers see tangible boosts in long-term loyalty and value per customer.

Read more: AI vs. Customer Service Agents — When Human Touch is a Must Have

An AI-Powered CX Solution for Your Business

The right CX platform will combine the human power of agents with the intelligence of AI to give your customers the best possible service experience. With Gladly, your organization can access seamless automation and AI at the click of a button to enhance every customer interaction.

To see if Gladly is right for you, try a demo to see what our transformative AI-powered platform can do for your ecommerce business.


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