What is contact center automation and how to start

Khoros Staff

Let's delve into customer service automation, a transformative tool for your customer and agent experience! What sets it apart? Its low-risk nature is worth trying, even if you have reservations.

While commonly associated with chatbots, automation has far broader capabilities. Streamlining interactions across different communication channels makes customers feel valued, even without human agents. They equate to uninterrupted, around-the-clock care for your customers. With the ability to answer questions anytime, bots can bolster cost savings and improve customer experience and CSAT. Chatbots are proven to be positively influential in higher scale verticals like retail, telecom, travel, finserv, automotive, or events.

According to a recent survey, 73% of brands expect the number of inbound channels to increase in the next one to two years. Whether you've fully embraced automation or not, understanding its potential for your contact center and customer service is essential for future success. 

This blog will dive deep into the transformative power of contact center automation on digital customer service. Industry experts provide valuable tips to help you get started, but first, let’s understand why contact center automation is so crucial.

1. Meeting demands for personalized assistance anytime, anywhere.

Connecting with consumers has never been easier with direct messaging capabilities across various channels like social media, smart speakers, brand-owned chat, and messengers like WhatsApp. However, managing countless one-to-one messages while maintaining a seamless customer experience is challenging.

To be a leading brand, personalized and helpful answers must be provided promptly. 75% of consumers prefer an authentic human voice over a perfectly crafted brand message, while 68% of customers will spend more money with a brand that understands them and treats them like an individual.

Customer assistance, anywhere and anytime, is a precious key to meeting their expectations. Automated customer service is your ally in exceeding customer demands.

2. Set automation goals

When implementing an automation program, you should keep two fundamental goals in mind.

First, we prioritize elevating the overall customer experience. Automation has the potential to drive significant improvements by simplifying processes, minimizing wait times, and providing tailored interactions. Envision implementing self-service options like interactive voice response (IVR) systems, knowledge bases, and intuitive chatbots — customers can find quick solutions without needing human agents. That means immediate assistance, shorter wait times, and happier customers.

Secondly, a well-designed automated customer service program boosts the efficiency of your human agents. It's like having a superpower — automation acts as a force multiplier! With automation taking care of all those repetitive and time-consuming tasks, your agents can shift their focus to what truly matters, providing personalized assistance and building genuine connections. They can now tackle complex, high-value tasks that require human intuition and expertise. For instance, you can streamline your agent workflows and boost productivity by automating data entry, form filling, and information retrieval. This flow means your agents can prioritize solving more critical customer inquiries and offer top-notch support.

💡 Strategically allocate your budget and invest in areas that enhance your customer's experience.

3. Start small

Embarking on the automation journey might feel overwhelming, but our step-by-step approach supports you throughout.

There will always be support conversations that require a human agent and those that don’t. Automation is best used as a way to support agents, to begin with. Start small and manageable. Pick one area to automate and gradually expand. It's all about learning and refining your customer service automation strategy as you go.

For instance, let's take financial institutions; they can begin by automating the appointment scheduling process in their contact center. A chatbot or automated system handling bookings simplifies the process for customers and agents. Say goodbye to back-and-forth communication and errors that come with manual scheduling! By streamlining this process, you provide customers with a seamless and convenient experience while enhancing efficiency for agents: no more scheduling errors or delays.

Automation in contact centers - start small

Remember, accurate data is the foundation of effective automation. Start small, gather insights, and fine-tune your processes for accuracy and effectiveness. You'll notice areas like order tracking that could benefit from automation as you go. By collecting data and customer feedback, you can continuously improve your automated interactions and exceed customer expectations.

💡 Start small, scale up, and build a seamless automation implementation that guarantees ROI.

4. Onboard a chatbot like you would an agent:

Implementing a bot starts with considering your customers intent — what do they want or need when they reach out on your website, social, or app? Common intentions include returning my product, resetting my password, upgrading my service, or paying my bill. Virtual agent bots are capable of handling queries like these more efficiently. After identifying the intent, set up your bot to respond with scripts to solve customers’ problems or gather more data to hand off to a human agent.

Chatbots, just like human agents, need time to develop their skills. For instance, imagine a company launching a chatbot for its e-commerce website. They begin by training the chatbot to greet customers and provide basic product info. Once proficient in these tasks, it takes on more challenges like handling frequently asked questions (FAQs), order status updates, and simple issue resolution. This way, you can maintain quality customer service while reaping the benefits of automation.

Similarly, let's consider a telecom company implementing a chatbot for customer support. They start by training it to gather relevant customer info and triage inquiries. As it excels in this role, it advances to handle everyday troubleshooting tasks and guide customers through self-service options. The gradual expansion of responsibilities makes the chatbot valuable in customer support while maintaining quality interaction.

Consider enabling chatbots to evolve and fulfill their roles gradually and incrementally. You'll achieve digital-first engagement while keeping human interaction at the heart of essential moments. Customer satisfaction stays high, and you leverage automation's advantages within customer service.

💡Consider your customer's intent and think digital-first engagement, human when it matters.

5. Think creatively about when to use automation:

Prepare to break free from convention when exploring automation possibilities. While initiating every customer care interaction with automation isn't suitable for all brands, integrating it strategically during conversations to handle repetitive tasks can yield incredible results.

Take customer identification, for example, an area where automation shines! By automating the verification process, brands can streamline this experience, improve efficiency, and save time for customers and agents. Contact centers can enhance security measures and deliver a seamless customer experience with accurate automation tools.

What about situations where a customer doesn't respond on a messaging channel? A well-designed chatbot can step in and proactively reach the customer, showing that the customer service team is always ready to assist — no valuable interaction falls through the cracks with this proactive approach.

Moreover, automation is a credible way to handle common inquiries like order tracking or frequently asked questions (FAQs). When you implement automation at the right touchpoints, brands can efficiently resolve routine queries, freeing up human agents to tackle more complex and personalized customer needs.

So, by skillfully employing automation, you achieve peak efficiency, optimize resource utilization, and craft a seamless customer experience that harmonizes the benefits of automation and human support.

💡 It's time to take your customer care to a whole new level!

6. Use automation as triage

Let's explore how automation in customer triage transforms the assessment and prioritization of inquiries to deliver exception service with unmatched efficiency.

In today's hyper-connected world, customers are increasingly tech-savvy and demand nothing less than seamless and personalized experiences at every interaction point with a brand. Whether through social media, messaging apps, email, or phone, they expect consistent service that caters to their individual preferences and needs. To meet these expectations, it's time for a transformative journey that reimagines traditional operations and places the customer at the center of every decision.

Treating each communication channel in contact centers as separate entities, which led to fragmented and disconnected customer experiences, is a thing of the past. Modern consumers seek effortless interactions and fluid transitions between different touchpoints, expecting brands to understand their journey and provide relevant support, regardless of the channel they choose to engage.

Khoros’ orchestration framework breaks down internal silos to create a unified system that integrates various communication channels and data sources. This way, customer information and interactions become seamlessly accessible to agents, enabling care agents and marketing moderators to deliver personalized and efficient support.

Embracing automation in customer triage can work wonders for your ROI. Here's how it does it:

  • Efficient resource allocation:

    Automation routes customers to the most suitable resources based on their needs. It identifies high-priority cases and assigns them to specialized agents or departments that handle complex issues, ensuring prompt attention and maximizing resource utilization.

  • Personalized support:

    Chatbots within the automation framework engage customers, gather essential information, and provide personalized and targeted support. They streamline interactions, save time, and empower agents to deliver tailored resolutions.

  • Process automation for enhanced efficiency:

    Sometimes, an agent's initial involvement is necessary, followed by process automation for specific tasks within the interaction, like information exchange or verification. Automation handles routine steps, freeing agents to focus on more complex aspects of customer interaction and boosting efficiency and productivity.

You must understand your customers' needs and pain points in your transformative journey. When you leverage analytics and gather feedback, you aim to enhance service delivery and foster stronger customer relationships. Empowering your agents with the right tools and training for exceptional service while keeping a customer-centric mindset should be the core of your strategy for success. Together, this approach paves the way to achieving your goals!

💡Break free from channel-centric contact centers. Instead, reorganize around customer needs and priorities for a seamless, personalized journey.

7. Think beyond chatbots

Get ready to explore automation capabilities beyond chatbots. Think about streamlining customer conversations, improving efficiency, and reducing the involvement of human agents. Here are some examples of how automation adds value and enhances the customer experience:

  1. Tagging and categorization:

    Automation intelligently analyzes customer inquiries and assigns relevant tags or categories to each interaction, helping agents prioritize and address questions effectively. For instance, if a customer contacts the contact center regarding a product issue, automation can automatically tag it as a "technical support" query.

  2. Prioritizing urgent requests:

    Automation quickly identifies urgent customer issues and routes them to the most appropriate agents or specialized teams for immediate attention. For example, the system prioritizes a customer experiencing a critical service outage, ensuring their problem receives prompt attention.

  3. Routing customers to the correct department:

    Automation directs initial customer queries to the appropriate department or agent based on the nature of the request. For instance, it can route a customer seeking billing assistance directly to the billing department, expediting the resolution process.

  4. Automated responses for common queries:

    Bots handle FAQs and routine inquiries with pre-defined answers, freeing human agents from repetitive tasks to focus on complex customer issues.

  5. Automated order updates:

    Automation provides real-time order status, shipment tracking, and delivery notifications, enhancing transparency and reducing inbound inquiries.

  6. Automated surveys and feedback:

    Automation facilitates post-interaction surveys to measure customer satisfaction and gather valuable feedback for improvement.

  7. Language detection and translation:

    Automation detects customer language and provides translation services, ensuring smooth communication regardless of language barriers.

  8. Integrating with self-service tools:

    Automation collaborates with self-service portals, empowering customers to find solutions independently and reducing the need for agent intervention.

💡 Automation becomes a powerful ally in managing customer interactions, delivering efficiency, and fostering customer satisfaction — beyond chatbots alone. Let's unleash its full potential!

8. Consider the customer experience

While not all customers interact with brands privately, some start on public channels and later switch to private ones for more personalized care. The challenge arises when chatbots need to recognize this transition, leading to a disjointed experience.

Imagine this — we've all been there — you interact with a brand's chatbot on a public social media post, seeking product information. Then, you switch to a private chat, expecting the chatbot to pick up where you left off. But instead, you get a welcome message as if you're a new customer. You may experience a little confusion, but you’re most certainly frustrated from having to repeat yourself all over again or, worse, go around in a loop. If this is your chatbot experience, it's time for a seamless and unified chatbot experience that genuinely understands your customers' journey.

To deliver a unified experience, your chatbot must access historical data from public interactions when a customer switches to a private chat. They must keep the conversation going and fetch pertinent context from past interactions, guaranteeing a seamless shift and enhancing the overall experience.

Khoros’ intuitive software for digital contact centers exemplifies this capability. Integrating chatbots and automation technologies ensures a consistent, uninterrupted customer journey across communication channels. This approach creates an experience that makes customers feel valued and understood, regardless of their entry point.

💡Break down internal silos and leverage technology to create a unified and cohesive customer journey that genuinely connects.

9. Containment rate isn't the only important metric

Containment rates are just part of the picture when assessing automation's impact. While automation may sometimes lower containment rates, it significantly enhances overall efficiency and customer service quality. For example, consider a contact center using automation to handle frequently asked questions (FAQs). While the containment rate for routine queries might decrease, human agents can dedicate their expertise to complex issues, leading to higher customer satisfaction.

Automation extends beyond customer interactions. Automating initial stages like validation and data entry reduces errors and processing times for order processing, resulting in significant cost savings and improved customer experiences, even though the containment rate may not be 100%.

The best proof is in the pudding.

Samsung Benelux moved away from its traditional contact center and became digital-first with Khoros. Bots manage 13% of its customer inquiries, saw a 54-point NPS improvement after switching from email to messaging, and have a less than 10-minute response time for 80% of their inquiries.

Similarly, National Australia Bank (NAB) reduced click-to-call volume drastically — 96% now managed via messenger.

💡Understand automation's real power in transforming customer service. For more customer stories, visit

How can Khoros help?

Khoros believes each business has unique needs, so we help companies determine and implement automated customer service in ways that work for them. Your primary objective with any automation program should be to enhance customer experience and boost the efficiency of human agents to reduce contact center costs.

Striking the right balance between automation and human interaction results in improved customer satisfaction, streamlined operations, and a competitive advantage in the market. AI, automation, agent efficiency, digital and social channels — the contact center world is undergoing radical, transformative change.

Let us partner with you on this journey; together, we’ll redefine digital customer service automation.

Learn how Khoros can help your contact center achieve substantial savings and ROI.

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