Call Center Automation: 7 Ways Email Automation Impacts Customer Care & Beyond
As automation has come of age, it has the potential to significantly impact call centers, digital marketing, and IT. But the words “call center automation” can mean different things to different people.
Before we dive in, here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Call center automation matters beyond customer care: it has ripple effects and implications for IT and digital marketing/eCommerce teams as well.
- Although “automation” may sound threatening, the kind we’re talking about actually supports your team and helps achieve better outcomes for your company.
- Email process automation is not the generic “we received your message” auto-reply. This tech, powered by machine learning, actually sends automatic replies to customers with a real resolution for their issue.
Let’s take a closer look at how this process automation works.
What is email process automation in customer care?
Intelligent email automation tools (like Astute’s Email Virtual Assistant, or EVA) provides a real resolution to customer inquiries very rapidly. It works by:
- Reading incoming customer emails.
- Interpreting the issues and coding the case.
- Using machine learning to generate a response based on how your agents have replied to similar messages in the past.
- Calculating and attaching goodwill, if applicable.
- Presenting the finished email to the agent to QA and send, OR sending it directly to the customer with no human intervention (if you so choose)
Leveraging machine learning to recognize patterns in how your agents have previously responded to similar queries ensures that, even though the reply is automated, it doesn’t feel that way for the consumer.
Why does email process automation matter?
For customer care teams dealing with high volumes of incoming email, expectations for ever-shorter handle times, difficulty finding and hiring good agents, and seasonal traffic spikes to contend with, this type of call center automation is the only answer.
For eCommerce and digital marketing teams, quick and seamless replies to incoming emails is also important. Forrester research has shown that over half of U.S. shoppers will abandon their online carts if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. What’s more, a HubSpot survey found that a whopping 80% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company because of poor CX. To stay in the game and stand out from the pack, eCommerce marketers need customer support automation as their secret weapon. Providing answers and resolutions that are quick and accurate make a big impact on your shoppers’ experience and loyalty.
How does the IT team come into play? One of IT’s core responsibilities is providing the infrastructure for automation. You’re also tasked with ensuring business units have the functionality they need to do their jobs. It’s your responsibility as a tech leader in your organization to understand how this could change the way you do business – not only for your internal helpdesk but for your company’s customer-facing teams.
7 ways email process automation affects your organization
1. Boost team morale
Teams are more productive and engaged when they have the tools they need to do their jobs well. But even beyond that, smart email automation boosts your contact center team’s morale in two other key ways:
- Helping agents stay on top of high email volumes by resolving repetitive customer emails and contact forms. This gives agents time to focus on the more unique or complex issues without dreading the backlog piling up.
- Stabilizing your core call center team. Without email automation, there are constant fluctuations in team size to deal with temporary traffic spikes. This means your core team endures the cyclical hiring and firing of new agents, which takes a toll on their morale. But email automation reduces the need for temporary staffing, translating into less disruption for your core group of talented agents.
Email-specific call center automation can add some much-needed breathing room for your team, boosting morale and reducing turnover.
2. Reduce email handle time by 80% or more
Beyond the impact on your team, email automation drives real results in terms of efficiency.
This process automation can have a massive impact on your key metrics, shortening AHT for email by 80%+ and improving customer satisfaction by providing quick, accurate responses via the most popular digital channel for customer service.
3. Simplify capacity planning
Large variations in contact volume around the holidays or busy other times of the year used to mean call centers had to seek outside help – either by hiring more agents or turning to outsourcers – to preserve any semblance of fast service.
But email automation tools like EVA enable you to flex to meet demand, adding elasticity while reducing cost and complexity.
The ability to automate responses to common inquiries makes a massive impact on the email volumes that human staff need to handle especially during peak times. With email automation in play, support staff capacity planning becomes much simpler.
4. Reduce online shopping cart abandonment rates
Studies by Barilliance have found that the average eCommerce cart abandonment rate is around 78%. And given that the number one reason people shop online is because they can shop 24/7, they expect to get a response 24/7 (KPMG). Your customers are shopping around the clock, they have high expectations, and most will abandon their cart if these expectations aren’t met.
So, how does automation help?
- Smart email automation, like Astute’s Email Virtual Assistant (EVA), can respond to incoming customer emails 24/7/365 with a real answer – not a generic confirmation message. Responding with a helpful, accurate reply within minutes increases your chances of converting that customer.
- Automated self-service chatbots can engage in back-and-forth, real-time conversations with customers while they are browsing your site or app, answering questions and offering product suggestions. Reducing barriers to purchase helps increase conversion rates.
5. Ensure high support standards (even during busy seasons)
Large variations in contact volume around the holidays or busy other times of the year used to mean customer support teams had to seek outside help (either by hiring more agents or turning to outsourcers) to preserve any semblance of fast service.
But email automation tools enable your support team to flex to meet demand, adding elasticity while reducing cost and complexity. No matter what the future holds, you can rest assured you’ll be able to keep email backlogs low and response times short – which keeps your customers happy.
6. Increase loyalty and repeat purchases
The relationship between positive brand experiences and customer loyalty is well-documented. When customers feel valued, they want to continue to do business with you.
According to Forrester, 75% of consumers say that valuing their time is the single most important driver of great service. While customer support interactions are one factor throughout the entire customer journey, they represent a high-stakes, high-risk moment along that journey. Replying as quickly as possible to resolve the customer’s issue demonstrates you value their time and their business, building loyalty and lifetime value.
7. Set the organization up for future innovation
Championing innovations like advanced automation and AI technology presents IT professionals with a chance to be thought leaders in the organization. The automation trend isn’t going anywhere, and others in the organization may look to you for guidance and technical knowledge.
Involving IT in the process of pushing automation initiatives forward brings the important behind-the-scenes, strategic work of this department to the forefront, where other business units can truly see the value you provide.
Ready to see how EVA’s advanced email automation could revolutionize how your organization responds to email? Set up a demo today.