Over the past three months, companies have been forced to totally change the way they work, having a significant impact on their customer service process, model, and strategies.

And, as they start to look to the future and reflect on the success (or failings) of this fast-paced change, they must consider the future of customer service and how recent experiences can inform their future approach.

That means, alongside factors such as work-at-home (WAH) and blended in-centre/WAH models, the role that automation will play in the future of customer service must be considered.

In the customer service department of the future, automation is going to help to reduce the extent to which each agent acts as the glue that holds the customer experience together.

Does that mean that automation will replace agents? Emphatically, the answer is no. Although there are many rumours and reports circulating about how automation will make the human element of customer service provision obsolete, this simply isn’t going to be the case.

When a customer calls customer service, or uses chat or email, they deal with an agent who knows where to find the information needed by the customer.

But, in most legacy businesses, accessing all the required information involves enquiring in 4 or 5 different systems, such as CRM, order management, package tracking or accounting systems, as well as various knowledge bases and information portals. In effect, the agent becomes the nerve centre of each customer’s experience, navigating the relevant systems to piece together the information required.

When automation becomes a part of the employee and customer experience, the human interaction still continues, but technology enhances the process. So, while an agent writes notes or logs an inquiry, or technology transcribes the phone call, automation is finding resources and information that help the agent as part of the conversation.

So, rather than replacing agents, automation is simply replacing many of the straightforward mundane keystrokes and inquiries they must handle. This not only makes the agent’s life easier but also enhances each customer’s experience by reducing call handle times and optimising the process followed. This may over time reduce headcount, but not fully replace agents.

As we look to the future of customer service, automation undoubtedly has a major role to play. However, rather than replacing agents, the technology supports them, helping companies to create the best possible customer experience.

To find out more about the role that automation could play in your customer service, please get in touch.

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