Liz Tsai is the founder and CEO of HiOperator, a scalable customer-service-as-a-service solution.
With rising labor costs and the Great Resignation, I believe it is likely that some companies are spending more money on customer service than in previous years. After all, during the 2021 holiday season, retailers and companies alike saw consumers spend $204.5 billion, an 8.6% increase from 2020, according to Adobe Digital Insights. As a result, some companies could be working through a long list of backlogged customer tickets with limited resources and a tight budget. This makes it essential to learn which areas to invest in and which areas to cut costs.
Before diving into specific areas, it’s important to consider both sides of using workflow automation in the customer service industry. Companies that only use customer service agents in their practices can risk human error and longer completion times for customer tickets. After all, there is only so much that agents can do manually. But on the other hand, companies that are implementing more technology, such as chatbots and automated responses, risk the depersonalization of customer service, which is a must in this industry. As such, it is crucial that companies evaluate their customer service practices strategically from both a people perspective and a technology perspective.
As someone who leads a customer-service-as-a-service company that provides automated solutions, I have seen firsthand the benefits of finding the perfect balance between agents and the technology that they use. This provides companies with a win-win situation across the board: Sufficient agents can lead to more satisfied customers, which can ultimately lead to more sales.
By augmenting people with technology, companies can streamline their efforts and leave less room for error. However, don’t simply replace humans altogether. A fun way to think about this is using Iron Man as an example. He is a smart, determined, hardworking individual who is armed with a powerful suit of technology. While most people talk about how effective Iron Man’s suit is, not enough people recognize that Tony Stark, the man behind the suit, is who is making the strategic decisions and leveraging the technology to help him succeed.
The same goes for customer service agents. When armed with the resources needed to make agents’ jobs more efficient, companies could notice more quality work. For example, price adjustments are one area of customer service that retailers may have had to navigate. Manually, agents would have to return the item, note the price the customer paid and adjust for the newly discounted price (not to mention calculate sales tax). This method can be lengthy and leave plenty of room for human error. With the proper software in place, agents can streamline this process.
Before implementing any workflow automation tools or technology, however, ensure you think about multiple aspects of your business. This includes the size of your current customer service team, the size of your customer base, pain points your customer service team is currently experiencing and any customer backlog that needs to be addressed. This can help you determine your company’s needs and what kind of technology would be more beneficial.
Furthermore, when investing in new technology, keep in mind that, just like implementing any new process, there is a learning curve that will take some time to overcome. Ensure you hold continuous training sessions on the basics to help train teams and keep them updated on how to use the tech.
Additionally, you can create an FAQ page that answers common questions. When creating this, keep in mind that it is critical the page or “cheat sheet” is a live document on which updates can be made when policies and procedures evolve.
If companies learned anything from 2021, it’s that e-commerce does not plan on slowing down anytime soon in 2022. In order to keep on top of customer service tickets and provide customers with exceptional and quality service, it’s important to strike a balance between your team and the technology they use.
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