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Customer Service Automation: Set the customer experience wheels in motion

Vivek Dhayalan
   

Not too long ago, it was not at all easy for consumers to express their opinion about products or services, especially when dissatisfied. If you had purchased a product from a brick-and-mortar store and the product was defective or did not perform as promised, you would have to visit the store to return the product or get it replaced. Also, it was not a sure bet that your feedback or opinion would be appreciated or taken into consideration.

Another factor was the lack of platforms for consumers to lend voice to their opinions. Bad customer experiences were usually communicated within a small circle of friends and family. Consumers were also unable to seek out other consumers who might have had the same experience. ‘Cocooned’ would be the apt way to describe the entire customer experience.

Customers are in complete control

Digitization and technology have made consumers the axis, around which all companies now revolve. Instead of just focusing on arbitrary product enhancements, businesses now build and nurture their products on the basis of the complete customer experience journey.

Customers now have the ability to instantaneously shower both brickbats and bouquets on the products and services they use. This is due to the multitude of product choices online, ability to make product comparisons, seek opinions of other consumers, and share their stories through multiple social media and web channels.

Till the mid to late 90’s, the only form of direct communication with customer service departments was through the phone. However, today it is now the very last option that customers think of. With the vast amount of data generated on a daily basis and the multiple channels that customers use to communicate with brands, the next logical and inevitable step for organizations to take is customer service automation.

Multiple ways to connect and understand your customers

Automated customer service is a way to communicate and interact with your customers through an automated system and with minimal or no human interference.

It helps organizations to gain real-time insights from different customer channels, enhance customer service agent availability and wait times, automate the escalation process through predictive analytics, aid the delivery of information to customers through automated workflows, provide personalized customer experiences, and so much more.

Huge amounts of CRM data can also be analyzed and the data translated into easily understandable reports. Business stakeholders find it faster and uncomplicated to understand vital information about their target audiences. This type of data is much more reliable, compared to information obtained, processed, and scrutinized through human intervention. Also, business stakeholders can use their valuable time to make key business decisions, instead of trying to make sense of the customer data.

Case in point

Networks, computers, and other related IT systems produce a substantial number of audit trail records or logs that provide information about system-related activities. Log analysis is performed by IT customer service personnel to aid in the identification and mitigation of IT risks or anomalies. Log analysis can help customer service teams to:

  • Adhere to internal security standards and external regulations
  • Comprehend data breaches and security issues and respond accordingly
  • Troubleshoot IT systems, networks, and computers
  • Understand user behaviour and patterns
  • Manage IT infrastructure and applications

The amount of generated logs is huge and covers a wide spectrum, right from database queries, CDN traffic, server errors, and so on. Log analysis tools can help customer support teams to retrieve data from the logs and identify trends and patterns to help in the investigation and resolution of IT related issues.

One of our clients, a leader in the enterprise data unification space, approached us to develop a solution that could simplify their existing customer support workflow. The support team had to handle a number of customer service requests that cover a wide range of issues of varying severity. The entire process, from raising a customer support request to manually collecting and transferring necessary debug information, was time-consuming and inefficient.

Imaginea came up with the idea to develop a utility to manage the requirements of all the involved stakeholders – customers, field engineering team, and the development team. The requirements covered a wide range of tasks, right from ticket creation, automated diagnostic data collection, to capturing of product log information, indexing of the product logs, and so on.

The utility was shipped with the client’s core product. The utility consists of two key components:

  • Collector: The CLI is used by customers to collect all the necessary information, such as application information, system information, as well as the contact information of the users who have accessed the utility through a running product core instance.
  • Processor: This service performs a number of tasks, including agent/CLI authentication, creation and linking of support tickets, data indexing in the log management server, sending of alerts, and providing a signed URL to upload data into storage locations.

The following image illustrates the architecture of the utility:

Also, we used the Loggly tool to index the logs collected from the customer and tag them to the respective ticket number. Our solution was able to substantially reduce the workload of the field engineering team and automate a majority of customer support tasks.

Another important outcome was that we were able to drastically reduce the client’s operational costs. The solution was built on the basis of serverless architecture, which meant that it was not running constantly and only when required. This translated to the extremely low cost of just 7$ per 100,000 customer service requests.

Final takeaway

Customer experience and customer support automation complement each other and must coexist harmoniously. Customers feel the need to communicate with brands or companies through the same channels that they use to converse with friends and family. According to a Zendesk report, less than 30% of companies or brands provide self-service, live chat, social messaging, in-app messaging, or peer-to-peer communities.

It is no longer an option; companies must leverage customer data and explore opportunities to create personalized customer experiences. Identify the areas within your organization that are ripe for disruption via customer service automation. It can make life easy for your customer service personnel and create a loyal army of followers for your product or service.

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