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Four Ways Automation Makes Agents’ Lives Easier

Manual processes have held back customer service agents from higher-value activities. Automation unleashes your team’s strategic potential.
Oct 20th, 2022 6:10am by
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Customer service agents are under more pressure than ever. The shift to digital-first experiences has resulted in greater complexity, which in turn has led to a growing number of critical incidents that affect customers. In fact, data from PagerDuty identified a 6% increase in critical incident volumes from 2020 to 2021, and a 19% growth from 2019 to 2020.

Clearly the number of critical incidents is only trending in one direction. And with agents acting as the gateway to the customer, failing to address these in a timely manner can hurt your ability to maintain and exceed customer expectations. Now more than ever, customer service agents need to be empowered to address critical incidents without adding to their already burgeoning workload. Automation can be the saving grace here. Here are four ways automation can help make agents’ lives easier.

Reduce Costs by Improving Efficiency and Reducing Time to Resolve Issues

Automation helps to improve customer service agents’ efficiency when responding to cases, which can also help to reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR).

When a critical incident is first identified, automation enables customer service agents to escalate the issue to the relevant technical team and bring in other first responders to work on a resolution. Previously this process would have been manual and would have involved the agent trying to figure out who the subject matter expert is and then trying to track down that person via phone or email, wasting precious time as part of their support escalation practices.

Once flagged, further escalation could be needed. For example, if a case linked to an incident is nearing or breaching customer service-level agreements (SLAs), agents need not worry about further manual escalation. Policies can be created that notify VIPs to prioritize critical SLA-threatening issues. Going further, automation can also be used to link cases to incidents, while allowing agents to see other incidents being linked to cases by technical teams. This ensures that everyone is on the same page, allowing the entire organization to work together to reduce resolution times and protect SLAs.

Ensure Greater Customer Satisfaction While Making the Team More Time Efficient

Automation helps teams meet SLAs since it reduces an agent’s workload, which in turn delivers greater customer satisfaction. It can also ensure that best practices are followed, and it can simultaneously reduce time spent recreating a problem later.

Capturing information about a problem for a help desk team is an important step for any customer service team. With automation, agents can run scripts to capture important environment information. They can also use automation to insert that into a case or ticketing system for other parts of the business to view. This ultimately helps those working on the problem downstream to resolve cases faster.

Another common activity for agents involves evaluating if a problem still exists. Automating this activity on demand ensures that the problem isn’t just a transient issue and that it is still present.

Last, an automated script can also be used if a recurring issue or request by customers has a simple low-risk fix. This empowers agents to deliver immediate improvements for a customer and eliminates the time to resolve with other resources, which can be more expensive higher up in the escalation hierarchy.

Reduce Human Errors in Repetitive Tasks

Automation reduces the chance of human error when an agent has to perform a set of manual tasks when responding to cases under customer pressure. For example, if there is a 10-step process to setting up new customers, automation can help the team streamline this process without missing or incorrectly executing any steps. This could involve one-click processes with prompts for the agent to only insert necessary or required information. This required information can then be used over and over in similar actions without the manual input from the agent. Reducing opportunities for human error in this approach can free up agents to act more as a “sanity check” on steps in the process versus driving it from beginning to end.

Automating repetitive tasks with this approach reduces the pressure on teams to fill in every single line item and complete every action on their own while under time pressure. Ultimately this leads to agents having more time to focus on more important activities, helps prevent burnout, and scales their operational execution.

Free up Time for Higher-Value Activities Like Building Customer Relationships

Automation empowers agents to spend more time building and managing crucial customer relationships. Communication with internal stakeholders and especially customers is at the core of customer service responsibilities.

Without automated communication workflows and visibility, agents operate blind. They are isolated in their own organizational silo. Oftentimes, they are left to manually call various parts of the organization to find out the latest information to share with their clients. In the best case, they follow slowly updated systems of record. With automation, updates are provided on the latest and greatest actions being taken to address the issue. This allows agents to proactively prepare outbound communications, which helps to reassure customers that you are on top of the issue. This improves the customer experience.

Automation Is Critical

Manual processes and procedures, while important to follow, have held back customer service agents from higher-value activities. Automation unleashes the strategic potential of your team and supercharges your customer service organization. It enables agents to better understand digital incidents, mobilizes the right people to solve them, ensures that they follow a consistent approach and keeps customers up to date. These teams can be freed up to proactively communicate customer problems, potentially auto-remediate low-risk issues, collaborate at scale with technical teams, and provide real-time updates to customers and other stakeholders.

When things go wrong, customers never remember the issue. They only remember their experience. Automation can help ensure that experience is the best it can be. Rapid resolution, regular communication and well-maintained routines will make agents’ lives easier, allowing them to always be available when customers need them most.

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TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in: Resolve.
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