Customers want things fast — whether it’s to pay for products, have them delivered, or get a response from customer service.
Considering that your business is booming, there are only so many requests or inquiries human customer service reps can handle — and that’s where customer service automation comes in.
Every second a customer has to wait for your support team is another second closer to that customer switching to a faster competitor.
Automated customer service tools save your reps time and make them more efficient, ultimately helping you improve the customer experience.
This post will explain automated customer service and the best automation tools available for your team.
Table of Contents
- What is customer service automation?
- Automated Tech Support
- The Best Automated Customer Service Software in 2023
What is customer service automation?
Customer service automation involves resolving customer queries with limited or no interaction with human customer service reps.
Teams using automated customer service empower themselves by integrating automation tools into their workflows. These tools simplify or complete a rep's role responsibilities, saving them time and improving customer service.
How to Automate Customer Service
If you want to automate customer service, start with CS software (we'll review some options below). Automated customer service software runs 24/7 while completing time-consuming and redundant (yet critical) responsibilities for reps.
Rather than hiring employees to work late-night shifts or requiring them to spend time on tedious tasks like data entry, CS automation technology — such as chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) — manages incoming service requests during the company's off-hours.
Automation tools lessen the pressure on your reps and allow them to focus on relationship-building with customers. Instead of writing emails or creating tickets, reps troubleshoot for customers and find solutions that benefit them in the long run.
Example of Customer Service Automation
There are several examples of how reps use customer service automation. However, let's cover a use case to help you better understand what automated customer service may look like.
Say you decide to implement a customer service help desk and ticketing tool, like HubSpot. With this tool, your reps can record, organize, and track every customer ticket (or issue) in a single dashboard.
This dashboard is accessible to the entire team. You can also create a help desk by adding routing and automation to your tickets.
For instance, when a customer interacts with your business (e.g. submits a form, reaches out via live chat, or sends you an email), HubSpot automatically creates a ticket. The ticket includes details about who it's from, the source of the message, and the right person on your team (if there is one) that the ticket should be directed to.
Then, as a result of your rep successfully assisting the customer, HubSpot automatically compiles and provides data for that ticket — this includes information like ticket volume or response time.
With this insight, your customer service team can determine which areas they need to improve upon in order to offer a more delightful customer experience.
Automated Tech Support
Automated tech support refers to automated systems that provide customer support, like chatbots, help desks, ticketing software, customer feedback surveys, and workflows.
Here are some of the most common examples:
Chatbots automate customer support — they create tickets, handle one-on-one conversations, answer FAQs, book meetings, qualify leads, and guide customers to self-support resources to resolve their challenges.
Help Desk & Ticketing Software
Help desk and ticketing software automatically combine all rep-to-customer conversations in a one-on-one communication inbox.
Automation and bots work together to route, assign, and respond to tickets for reps. Then, reports are automatically created so support teams can iterate as needed to improve the customer experience.
Customer Feedback Surveys
Set up automatic customer feedback surveys — NPS, CSAT, CES — to collect the information needed to improve the customer experience. You can automate the timing of these surveys so customers can fill them out after completing specific actions (e.g., making a purchase, speaking with a rep over the phone, etc.).
With service-focused workflows, you can automate processes to ensure no tasks fall through the cracks — for example, set criteria to enroll records and take action on contacts, tickets, and more.
You can also use workflows to rotate ticket owners (or notify service reps if a ticket needs an owner), create email reminders for tickets that have been waiting for support, escalate high-priority tickets, auto-reply to customers, or mark customers with the NPS score that they gave you so you can follow up when necessary.
If you want to learn more, all of these automated systems are available within HubSpot’s Service Hub.
Next, let's check out some automated customer service software to help you get started.
The Best Automated Customer Service Software in 2023
If you're looking for the best tools to automate your customer service, take a look at some of the software options we have listed below.
HubSpot’s Service Hub is a service management software that enables you to conduct seamless onboarding, flexible customer support, and expand customer relationships. Service Hub delivers efficient and end-to-end service that delights customers at scale.
This tool activates and automates your omnichannel support strategy. It also lets you to:
- Offer self-service support (e.g., live chat, knowledge base, and customer portal).
- Create customer service KPIs.
- Get the customer service analytics and data to improve your strategy.
- Obtain customer feedback (e.g., create and share surveys).
Service Hub makes it easy to conduct team-wide and cross-team collaboration. The software comes with agent permissions, status, and availability across your team so you can manage all service requests efficiently.
The Conversations Inbox makes it easy to connect communication channels (e.g., email, live chat, Facebook Messenger) in a single inbox — this way, your entire team can view, manage, reply to, and collaborate in one place.
Lastly, Service Hub integrates with your CRM platform — meaning your entire customer and contact data are automatically tracked and recorded in your CRM. This creates one source of truth for your business regarding everything related to your customers.
Price: Free plans are available. Starter plans cost $45 a month. Professional plans cost $360 a month. Enterprise plans cost $1,200 a month.
HubSpot's free Help Desk and Ticketing Software tracks all of your customer requests to help reps stay organized, prioritize work, and efficiently identify the right solutions for each customer.
With HubSpot, you can record, organize, and track customer communications and issues in a single dashboard so your entire team can access each interaction and ticket. You can also track, view, and share customer support metrics in your dashboard, including queue wait time and ticket volume.
Use the tool's automation features to add ticket routing and automation to your reps' workflows, empowering them to provide effective support faster. HubSpot also makes assigning and prioritizing tickets easy to ensure every customer gets the support they need.
Front provides a strong, collaborative inbox that supports email, SMS, chat, social media, and other forms of communication with customers. This improves the customer experience because it ensures every service rep has access to the same information.
Additionally, you can automatically assign conversations to certain employees to avoid sending multiple responses to customers or having incoming emails slip through unnoticed.
What we love: This tool also helps you respond to customers through collaborative drafts and comments, rather than having to continuously forward emails and wait for coworker edits.
Price: Growth plans cost $59 a month. Scale plans cost $99 a month. Premier plans cost $229 a month.
Freshdesk's intuitive customer service software prides itself on features that organize your helpdesk, plan for future events, eliminate repetitive tasks, and manage new tickets. You can also streamline conversations across various channels and collaborate with the rest of your team on complex cases.
While your team's responses are automated and will be sent out faster, quicker options are available for customers who need more immediate solutions.
Pro tip: With Freshdesk, you can build a knowledge base for your product with tutorials and DIY guides and even foster user communities to encourage your customers to work together.
Price: Free plans are available. Growth plans cost $15 a month. Pro plans cost $49 a month. Enterprise plans cost $79 a month.
5. NICE CXone
NICE is an AI-powered tool that helps businesses increase customer success. Its “Omnichannel Routing” feature helps employees streamline conversations across several support channels, and its analytics turns important customer insights into actionable results.
The "Workforce Optimization" tool maximizes your team's potential by helping employees provide proactive customer service in their support cases. Automation and AI manage automatic actions that re-prioritize agents' time away from menial tasks and increase the speed of responses.
What we love: Other features that help you meet your customers' needs include interactive voice response, proactive outbound calls, AI chatbots, customer satisfaction surveys, quality management, CRM integrations, reporting, and many more.
Price: Pricing is available upon request.
This customer service software is ideal for B2B companies. It encourages more communication between team members by allowing multiple agents to collaborate on the same tickets, products, customers, or solutions.
TeamSupport helps customers take charge of their own service experience. The customizable, flexible interface lets customers chat with agents, search for answers and solutions, and check on the status of their open cases.
Pro tip: You can gain important insights about your customer interactions through its reporting and analytics.
Price: Essential support plans cost $49 a month. Enterprise support plans cost $69 a month. The complete customer support suite costs $119 a month.
Creatio is a CRM and low-code automation system with a service product that works as a full-cycle service management system — meaning this product allows for easy management of your omnichannel communications.
Its interface helps your agents concentrate by only showing the data they need to compile the task at hand.
Additionally, there are many other helpful features, such as customer segmentation — grouping customers by certain parameters to help automate responses within segments — social media integrations, knowledge bases, data synchronization, and more.
What we love: Pre-defined processes help agents stay on track and continuously deliver excellent customer service.
Price: Customer center plans cost $45 a month. Service enterprise plans cost $60 a month.
8. Zoho Desk
Zoho Desk helps your reps better prioritize their workload by automatically sorting tickets based on due dates, status, and need for attention. Reps can easily access previous customer conversations, so they don't have to waste time searching for information about the customer.
Based on keywords in the ticket, the product automatically pulls up articles from the internal knowledge base so you can quickly copy and paste solutions.
What we love: As with some of the other products on this list, the product allows for team collaborations, user communities, and helpful analytics.
Price: Standard plans cost $12 a month. Professional plans cost $20 a month. Enterprise plans cost $45 a month.
Automate Customer Service Tasks
You can save time on redundant tasks by automating your team's customer service tasks and rep responsibilities. And then refocus saved time on the customers who need more hands-on assistance.
In addition to saving time, these tools will improve your accuracy and allow your team to offer delightful experiences that make customers loyal to your brand.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.