Customer Service Automation: Pros, Cons, & How To Set It Up

March 13, 2024 10 min read

Alina Benny

Alina Benny

How Automated Customer Service Works

Many companies use customer service automation to boost their support team’s productivity and assist customers with fewer human interactions. It’s a great way to handle high call volumes, speed things up, and reduce errors.

But here’s the thing — automation isn’t perfect. It lacks that personal touch and may not be best for handling complex issues. So, how do you know whether and how to use it for your business?

If you decide to give automation a go, the trick is to balance efficiency and human interaction. In this article, we’ll walk you through customer service automation and how you can benefit from it while giving your customers the human connection they appreciate.

What Is Customer Service Automation?

Customer service automation refers to the use of technology, such as chatbots, AI, and self-service portals, to handle customer inquiries and support tasks without human intervention.

Traditionally, companies have relied on customer service agents to handle issues through various communication channels such as phone calls and email. However, as a company grows, the need for additional support staff increases, leading to higher expenses.

Customer service automation offers a cost-effective solution to scale customer service while maintaining quality. It enables businesses to provide efficient, round-the-clock customer support and boosts customer engagement.

Implementing automated systems helps businesses reduce response times, improve customer satisfaction, and free human agents to focus on complex and high-value tasks, better-allocating resources and increasing efficiency.

What Are Some Examples of Automated Customer Support?

How does customer service automation work? Here are some key examples of automated customer service systems to help you understand the key functions:

examples of customer service automation

Benefits of Automated Customer Service

Automating customer service processes comes with a host of benefits. Besides lower costs, let’s dive in to learn why more businesses are automating their customer service.

1. Improve efficiency and reduce workload

Automation is a game-changer when improving efficiency and reducing workload for customer service reps. It streamlines workflows and gives support agents more time to deliver personalized service for complex issues.

Instead of worrying about hitting daily call metrics, they can concentrate on actually satisfying customers. Automated tools boost collaboration, make sure no tickets slip through the net, and even suggest helpful knowledge-base articles.

2. Offer 24/7 support

Another big plus is that automated customer care is always on, 24/7. No more waiting around for office hours to get help.

Chatbots can handle common queries any time of day or night, which is a real win for customer satisfaction. And it’s not just about service — clever chatbots can even gather leads outside of business hours and make sure sales teams follow up ASAP.

3. Speed up resolution times

When it comes to speed, automation is the way to go.

Addressing straightforward issues quickly, automation saves reps from getting stuck into trickier problems. This means faster resolutions all around.

Key customer service metrics like first contact resolution or average handle time should see a real boost from implementing automation.

best cx metrics

4. Reduce customer service costs

Automation is way cheaper than using live agents for every interaction. Some estimates reckon businesses could slash service costs by up to 40% by introducing automation and other tech.

It also means you don’t have to keep hiring more reps as you grow. Bonus: automated service could even bump up customer lifetime value.

5. Focus better on complex issues

Automation lets your human experts shine.

With basic tasks taken care of, reps can focus their brainpower on delivering the kind of empathetic, personal service that’s especially important at key moments — like when a customer’s making a big, complex purchase.

Automation also helps you cater to younger, tech-savvy customers who are all about self-service options like FAQs and virtual assistants. This keeps them happy while freeing up your team to knock the more complicated issues out of the park.

Modern customer service preferences

6) Establish a uniform tone and voice

Automation allows your team to provide customer experiences that are on-brand for your company. For instance, if your brand uses a certain phrase, you can program a chatbot or auto-attendant to stay on-brand.

Your team can set up on-hold music and messages in your business phone system to align with your brand.

What Are Some Cons of Automating Customer Service?

While automation in customer service has its benefits, it also comes with risks and drawbacks:

Automated customer support can handle many routine tasks efficiently, but it’s essential to have human support available for more complex issues that require empathy, critical thinking, and personalized solutions.

How To Automate Customer Service (4 Simple Steps)

1. Use self-service options

One of the most effective ways to automate customer service is to provide self-service options. These include:

Screenshot of the Nextiva Support knowledgebase.
An example of a knowledge base

Offering a robust set of self-service options empowers customers to find solutions independently, reducing the burden on your customer service team.

2. Leverage chatbots and virtual assistants

Chatbots and virtual assistants can operate 24/7, providing customers with immediate assistance and reducing wait times. They can handle a variety of tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions, guiding customers through troubleshooting steps, collecting customer information, and routing inquiries.

Make sure to train your chatbot to recognize and respond to common customer queries, providing instant answers and reducing the need for human intervention. It should be able to walk customers through basic processes, such as resetting a password or updating account information.

You can also use chatbots to gather essential customer data, such as their name, order number, or issue type, and then route the inquiry to the appropriate support agent or department.

Intelligent virtual agents are even a step ahead. You can use advanced AI and NLP to simulate human conversations and personalize your customer service.

Chatbot vs IVA

3. Bank on automated ticketing systems

Implementing an automated ticketing and help desk system streamlines your customer service processes. These systems help by:

CRM integrations

4. Use email automation

Email automation is another powerful tool for enhancing customer service. You can easily send personalized welcome messages and order confirmations after a purchase, including important information, such as account details, or order tracking numbers.

Set up automated email campaigns that trigger based on specific customer actions, such as abandoning a shopping cart, completing a purchase, or requesting a product demo. These timely emails can help re-engage customers and provide relevant information.

Don’t forget to create email templates that address common customer problems and include step-by-step solutions. When a customer reaches out with a specific issue, the system can automatically send the appropriate email template, potentially resolving the issue without a support agent’s intervention.

Best Practices To Effectively Implement Customer Service Automation

🔎 Identify opportunities for automation

The first step is to identify opportunities within your existing processes.

Look at your customer service workflows and pinpoint areas where automation could streamline tasks, reduce response times, or improve efficiency. This could include automating common inquiries, routing tickets to the right agents, or providing self-service options for customers.

✅ Choose the right tools and technologies

Once you’ve identified these opportunities, choose the right customer service tools and technologies that align with your specific needs. Consider scalability, integration capabilities, and user-friendliness when evaluating different automation solutions.

Get a cloud-based call center or contact center software to handle a volume of calls, plugged with rich automation features. The tools you select should handle your customer service volume, integrate smoothly with your existing systems, and be easy for your team to adopt and use.

Intelligent customer service automation

⚙️Integrate automation with existing workflows

Integrating automation into your existing workflows is another key aspect of effective implementation. Automated processes should blend seamlessly with your current operations, rather than creating silos or disruptions.

This may involve mapping out your customer journey, defining clear handoff points between automated and human service interactions, and providing adequate training to your team on working alongside automated systems.

📝 Establish clear guidelines for human intervention

While automation can handle many tasks, some situations might require human intervention. Establishing clear guidelines for when to escalate issues to human agents is essential.

This could include complex customer requests, sensitive situations, or cases where automated responses fail to resolve the customer’s problem satisfactorily. Setting these guidelines helps you offer customers the right level of support while enjoying the benefits of automation.

📈 Continuously monitor and optimize automated processes

Implementing customer service automation is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor and optimize your automated processes so they perform optimally.

Track key call metrics, use call analytics, gather customer feedback, and make data-driven decisions to refine your automation strategies over time. Regularly assessing and improving your automated processes enhances the customer service experience and drives better results.

Contact center metrics

Balancing Automation With Personalization

Customer service automation should complement, not replace, human interaction. Clear escalation paths to human agents are crucial for addressing complex issues.

Human agents play a vital role in building customer relationships, fostering loyalty, and creating emotional connections. By balancing automation and personalization, businesses can deliver exceptional customer experiences that combine technological convenience with human expertise and empathy.

Start with using the right business phone system. Try Nextiva’s customer service tools to eliminate busy work and let your team serve customers across many channels without distractions. For the ultimate in customer service automation, our advanced IVR solves customer concerns without any live agents needed.

Learn More About Customer Service Automation (FAQs)

What types of tasks can be automated in customer service? 

Common tasks that can be automated include:
– Answering frequently asked questions
– Providing product information
– Tracking order status
– Processing returns or exchanges
– Collecting customer feedback
– Routing inquiries to the appropriate department

Will customer service automation replace human agents?

While automation can handle many routine tasks, human agents are still needed for complex issues, emotional support, and exceptional cases. Automation is meant to complement human efforts, not replace them entirely.

How can I ensure that customer service automation provides a positive customer experience?

Here are some simple steps you can follow:
– Make automation transparent (let customers know they’re interacting with a bot).
– Offer clear and easy-to-understand instructions.
– Provide a seamless transition to human agents for complex issues.
– Gather customer feedback to improve automation.

Alina Benny


Alina Benny

Alina Benny was the Senior Content SEO Lead at Nextiva. Her B2B marketing career has taken her all over the place — from branding and copywriting to product marketing, SEO, and SaaS content marketing. She also uses her keen eye for great copy, action bias, and search discoverability as a mentor with First Round Capital…

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