Every second a customer has to wait for your support team to respond is another second closer to that customer switching to a faster competitor.
In fact, research shows that 66% of adults believe that the most important thing a company can do is value their time during a service interaction.
That's why it's a smart move to invest in automated customer service tools to save your reps time and make them more efficient.
Ultimately, customer service automation can help you improve the customer experience.
Automating Customer Service
In this post, we'll break down what automated customer service is as well as the best automation tools available for your team.
Automated Customer Service
Customer service teams can empower themselves by integrating customer service (CS) automation tools into their workflows. These tools have the ability to simplify and/or complete a rep's role responsibilities, saving them time and improving the service they provide customers.
How to Automate Customer Service
If you want to automate customer service, you'll want to implement CS software (we'll review some options below). Automated customer service software can run 24/7 while completing time-consuming and redundant (yet critical) role responsibilities for reps.
Rather than hiring employees to work late-night shifts or requiring them to spend their time on tedious tasks such as contact data entry, CS automation technology — such as chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) — can manage incoming service requests during your company's off-hours.
Customer service automation tools lessen some of the pressure placed on your reps and allow them to focus on relationship-building with your customers. Instead of having to spend time writing emails or creating tickets, reps can be troubleshooting for customers and finding solutions that will benefit them in the long run.
Example of Customer Service Automation
There are many examples of how a rep may use customer service automation but let's cover a use case to give you a better understanding of what one of these examples 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, sends you an email), HubSpot automatically creates a ticket for you. 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 at hand, HubSpot automatically compiles and provides data for that ticket — this includes information about metrics 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.
Next, let's check out some automated customer service software to help you get started.
The Best Automated Customer Service Software in 2021
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.
1. HubSpot Service Hub
Price: Free, $45/mo (Starter), $360/mo (Professional), $1,200/mo (Enterprise)
HubSpot Service Hub is a service management software that enables you to conduct seamless onboarding, power flexible customer support, and expand customer relationships. Service Hub delivers efficient and end-to-end service that delights customers at scale.
Service Hub activates and automates your omnichannel support strategy. The tool allows you to: use help desk and ticketing software offer self-service support (e.g. live chat, knowledge base, and customer portal), create customer service KPIs, get the customer service analytics and data you need to improve your strategy, and obtain customer feedback (e.g. create and share surveys).
Custom objects store and customize the data that's necessary to support your customers while reporting dashboards consistently surface actionable data to improve areas of your service experience.
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 is able to view, manage, reply to, and collaborate in one place.
Lastly, Service Hub integrates with your CRM platform — meaning, all of your customer and contact data are automatically tracked and recorded in your CRM. This creates one source of truth for your business when it comes to everything related to your customers.
Pro Tip: Use HubSpot Service Hub to automate and scale customer support, unite your reps via an easy-to-use platform, and provide proactive service that makes customers loyal to your brand.
2. HubSpot Help Desk and Ticketing Software
HubSpot's free Help Desk and Ticketing Software allows you to track all of your customer requests to help your reps stay organized, prioritize their work, and efficiently identify the right solutions for each customer they work with.
With HubSpot, you can record, organize, and track all 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 — this will empower them to provide effective support faster. HubSpot also makes it easy to assign and prioritize tickets to ensure every customer is getting the support that they need.
Pro Tip: Get HubSpot's Free Help Desk and Ticketing Software to resolve customer issues faster and exceed their expectations with integrated service features and help desk tools.
Price: $19/mo (Starter), $49/mo (Prime), $99/mo (Enterprise)
Front App 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 customer service rep has access to the same information about the customer.
Additionally, you can automatically assign conversations to certain employees to avoid sending multiple responses to customers or having incoming emails slip through unnoticed. This platform also helps you respond to customers through collaborative drafts and comments, rather than having to continuously forward emails and await coworker edits.
Price: Free, $15/mo (Blossom), $35/mo (Garden), $49/mo (Estate), $99/mo (Forest)
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, there are also quicker options available for customers who need more immediate solutions.
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.
5. NICE CXone
Price: Contact NICE CXone for a quote.
NICE CXone includes a four-step journey to customer success. Its "Omnichannel Routing" feature helps employees streamline conversations across several support channels and its analytics turns important customer insights into actionable results.
NICE CXone's 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.
This call center software even includes a variety of features that help you meet your customers' needs: interactive voice response, proactive outbound calls, AI chatbots, customer satisfaction surveys, quality management, CRM integrations, reporting, and many more. These features make for a flexible, reliable, and valuable customer service experience.
Price: $50/mo (Support Desk), $69/mo (Enterprise)
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. You can also gain important insights about your customer interactions through its reporting and analytics.
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.
7. Creatio Service
Price: $45/mo (Customer Center), $60/mo (Service Enterprise)
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. Pre-defined processes help agents stay on track and continuously deliver excellent customer service.
8. Zoho Desk
Price: Free, $14/mo (Standard), $23/mo (Professional), $40/mo (Enterprise)
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. As with some of the other products on this list, the product allows for team collaborations, user communities, and helpful analytics.
Before we wrap up, let's take a moment to talk about a few tools specifically meant for automating tech support.
Automated Tech Support
When looking into the right customer service automation tool, you may hear about automated tech support — the tools that have been listed above all provide automated tech support.
Automated tech support refers to automated systems that allow you to provide customer support, such as chatbots, help desk and ticketing software, customer feedback surveys, and workflows — all of these are available within HubSpot Service Hub offers numerous types of automated tech support.
Chatbots automate customer support — they create tickets, handle one-on-one conversations, answer FAQs, book meetings, qualify leads, and guide customers to the self-support (e.g. knowledge base articles or community forum) they need to resolve their challenges.
2. Help Desk and Ticketing
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 customer support teams can iterate as needed in order to improve the customer experience.
3. Customer Feedback Surveys
Set up automatic customer feedback surveys — NPS, CSAT, CES — to collect the information you need to improve the customer experience. You can automate the time that these surveys are shared with customers so they 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're able to 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 a certain amount of time for support, escalate high priority tickets, auto-reply to customers once their tickets have been created, or mark customers with the NPS score that they gave you so you can follow up when necessary.
Automate Customer Service Tasks
By automating your team's customer service tasks and rep responsibilities, you'll be able to save time on redundant tasks — this time can then be refocused 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.