How to Use Automation to Deliver Better Digital Care
You started with one “jack of all trades” social media specialist, posting natively in places like Twitter and Facebook and answering customers’ questions. Then it was a small team, maybe five or ten. Then your marketing team or advertising agency took over publishing, and your social media team, growing to maybe 20 agents, handled inbound requests on a growing set of social media platforms and messaging channels. As your team passed 50 agents, or even 100… your processes and tools adapted.
The fact is that many larger, consumer-facing companies now have 200, 500, even in excess of 1,000 digital agents, engaging on multiple channels, all with the goal of creating an excellent customer experience. And so the questions snowball with your size: How many more agents do I need to add? Am I really going to recreate my thousands of agents in phone centers online? How does that help my customers?
Larger, consumer-facing companies have 200-1,000+ digital agents engaging on multiple channels, but without other forms of support, these companies struggle to meet demands.
You’re not alone: a lot of leading brands are asking the same questions. And almost invariably, the response from thought leaders is “scale through a combination of agents and automation.” But there’s a catch: you have to use a proprietary automation service, or the service itself is limited to chatbots, which may be great for front-end processing and repetitive tasks but do little to help agents achieve higher levels of efficiency. So if you really want to do more with the staff you already have, then keep reading.
Automation is neither a silver bullet, nor “set-it-and-forget” technology; rather, it’s an integral component of your engagement pipeline that can always be optimized, whether it's used for ingestion, chatbots, routing, or response assistance. To realize more fully the benefits of automation, your digital care team should follow this cycle:
- Measure agent activity and benchmark performance
- Review customer feedback to look for recurring issues
- Evaluate automation options in the context of your business objectives
- Implement automation, and then assess and repeat
1) Measure agent activity
While there are many metrics that can help determine the quality of service your agents are delivering (read our Digital Customer Care Playbook for more on this), 66% of consumers surveyed said valuing their time is the most important part of a good online customer experience.
To understand how well your brand is valuing customers’ time, measure average time for agent response (TAR), which shows the time for a customer to get a first response, and agent conversation handle time, which shows the time it takes the agent to access information to provide solutions. If either of these are too long, your customers won’t be happy about their experience.
2) Review customer feedback
Collecting and acting on customer feedback isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also the best way to grow your business. A study of companies with annual revenues of $1 billion or more found that even a moderate increase in customer experience increased annual revenue by ~25% for companies.
So, in addition to response and handle time, sentiment matters as well. The tried-and-true method for businesses to understand customer sentiment is through NPS and CSAT. These post-service surveys can tell you both how the customer’s interaction with the agent affects their view of the business and the customer’s level of satisfaction with the solution they received.
3) Evaluate opportunities to improve
Now that you’ve got both agent care benchmarks and feedback from your customers, it’s time for your team to evaluate which parts of the care pipeline aren’t contributing to great service. The truth is that there are often multiple areas to improve, and what improves customer experience for one brand may not work for another. Take an honest look at what is detracting from your brand's customer care.
Although every brand has unique challenges, there are some common issues. One issue that we’ve seen with enterprise brands is the challenge of delivering quick responses to customers due to limited staffing or business hours. Another is the difficulty for agents to access the information they need to deliver great solutions in real time. Improving these kinds of issues requires a combination of better processes and technology.
4) Implement options
Now it’s time to remedy the issues. Remember, automation can play a key role in this, but it isn’t a silver bullet. An efficient care pipeline is built up over time, with fundamentals like self-service, empowered agents, and automation.
One of the greatest strengths of automation is its ability to conduct common, routine tasks that bog down agents. If many customers ask the same general questions, a chatbot that handles these basic questions on its own can help. But automation can also function as an assistant for agents. If agents spend excessive time accessing information they need — perhaps looking for known solutions found in a community forum or FAQ — automation can search for, find, and then hand off this same information to help them create great answers more quickly. This can really speed things up, delighting customers.
And of course, digital care is always evolving. Remember to revisit steps one through four periodically, so your brand will continue to deliver the care that your customers expect and deserve.
How Khoros can help
The Khoros Care Automation Framework is a no-compromise, API-based agnostic automation interface that sits between the Khoros Care platform and the AI-provider of your choice. It’s an incredibly feature-rich integration to any automation provider that goes beyond chatbots, enabling you to offload not only frequent and repetitive issue resolution tasks but also assist agents in creating great responses and a whole lot more. Bottom line: the Khoros Care Automation Framework helps you to do more with the agents you already have.
So as you shift your issue handling from phones and chat to contemporary digital experiences it’s not just about “more agents, more agents, more agents.” It’s about smoother and better processes, with results that align with your business objectives, like cost reduction and CSAT improvement. At Khoros, we think it makes more sense to serve you than it does to just serve ourselves.
If you are currently a Khoros customer and want to learn more about our Automation Framework, connect with your account executive. If you’re not a customer, but want to learn more, contact us here.
And if you want to learn more about delivering exceptional digital customer care, download our whitepaper: Digital Customer Care Playbook.