Automating Customer Service for Small Businesses

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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Did you know that you can automate customer service?

Whether you’re a fresh startup or a fast-growing small business, you can automate parts of your customer service to save precious time, improve the customer experience, and position your organization for growth.

What do we mean by service automation?

It’s the process of integrating certain tech tools to carry out parts of your customer service or sales processes, so that your team’s involvement is minimized.

Now, this might sound like something you’d find in a major Silicon Valley firm. But automation is accessible to even the smallest of businesses, and it’s more common that you might think.

A common example is a chatbot for online customer service queries.

Most transactional websites have online chat systems backed by a human support team. However, sites that attract a high volume of customers — such as banks — can automate part of the chat process using a combination of artificial intelligence and natural language processing.

Think of it as a virtual assistant.

By posing specific questions, the chatbot can ‘understand’ what the user needs and guide them to their desired outcome; this could be a product or service, a detailed help guide, or a customer service agent. The chatbot may resolve their enquiry completely or at least solve part of it; either way, it has taken up significantly less of your sales representative’s time.

There are plenty of other ways to automate your customer service, along with other processes that we covered recently in our blog: Positioning Your Business to Thrive in the Tech Age.

A major benefit of automation is that it can run 24/7 across various time zones. Compared to hiring employees to work late-night shifts, it’s a significant cost saving.

Of course, there is a balance, and there is no substitute for human service.

‘Automate’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘computerized’, and it can include a much-needed human element too.

For example, our partner, Alliance Virtual Offices, provides a live receptionist service that takes care of business calls and basic customer service on behalf of their customers.

When you think about it, answering the phone is a repetitive and time-consuming task — which is exactly the type of job that can be automated. By utilizing a virtual receptionist service, you can automate these tasks and focus on other business priorities, without jeopardizing the customer experience.

A live receptionist will answer calls in your company name, filter out robocalls or spam, answer basic enquiries, take messages, forward calls to the appropriate member of staff, and schedule bookings or appointments in real time.

And since the voice on the line is a real human being — not a chatbot — it can actually enhance your customer service experience. At the same time, you’re preventing your team from becoming bombarded by irrelevant calls, which saves significant time, energy, and resources, enabling you to focus on what matters: positioning your organization for growth.

Alliance has penned an in-depth guide about automating customer service which covers the pros and cons of automation, and how to get started. You can also find out more about their live receptionist support here.

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