Featured Image for the blog: How to Use Automation Tools Like IVR and Chatbots to Give Your Customer Service a Boost

Customers want less friction in their experiences. They want to pick up their phone or type on their keyboard and get instant help from your agents. They don’t want pushback on the channel they use to reach out. And they certainly don’t want to get caught in the never-ending loop of a confusing IVR with no hope of reaching a live agent.

To deliver on the amazing CX your customers want, get rid of pain points in your customer journey.

But with a sky-high list of priorities and one million and two tasks to check off, you, contact center manager, might be asking how to make this seamless experience happen for your customers?

The answer: Efficiency.

Automate more processes in your contact center to free up some of your agents’ time, and your own.

With nearly 25 hours of your week sucked up by admin tasks, and schedules so tight your agents struggle finding enough time for a bathroom break, you’d think there has to be a solution. Turns out, friendly robots and investments in automation technology make contact center jobs more efficient.

Use technology, coupled with a sound strategy and the help of your people, to reduce customer effort in your CX. Choose contact center tools that automate menial tasks freeing up your agents to handle the hard stuff, and boosting customer satisfaction.

Here’s how the right set of automation tools can help.

Omni-Channel IVR: A commonplace tool in contact centers, updated for the modern customer.

One of the most popular automation tools used in contact centers is an IVR. If you’re not using one at your company now, you’ve at least been the customer on the other end of an IVR. It’s the self-service menu you navigate through when you call a company’s customer service line.

IVRs offer up a pool of options to customers, so the contact center can get more information about the reason for the call and route the customer accordingly. Without IVRs, you’d have agents answering every call and transferring customers to the right department or person. That’s a frustrating and inefficient experience for both customers and agents.

At first glance, IVRs seem simple. Answer a call, and route them to the right place. But today’s customer needs more. They need logic to answer any sort of interaction. And they need to be flexible and scalable. That’s where the omni-channel IVR comes in.

With an omni-channel IVR (like ours) phone calls aren’t the only interactions you can route into a queue for your agents. Whether your customers reach out via web chat, SMS, video, or social media, they’ll have the same experience reaching an agent or getting a quick answer from a bot.

How can it work in my contact center?

When your IVR works intuitively with your other tools, like your CRM and chatbots, it reduces customer effort even more. Your IVR can recognize repeat customers and pull data from your CRM to hand off to the agent who gets the interaction. Or, if your customer comes in through webchat and clicks the option, “reset my password,” your IVR can trigger a bot to handle the simple task, only routing to a human as needed to keep your interaction volume in check.

Your customers get better, faster help, and your agents aren’t bogged down with transactional tasks. When choosing an IVR tool, be sure to account for regular changes in your customer journey paths, too. Choose a system that lets you create new routes and shape your customer journey without tagging in a third-party vendor. If your routing gets too complex or confuses customers, you want the ability to re-align in a pinch. Visual tools with drag-and-drop paths let contact center managers change workflows for their agents and customers, at any time.

See what an intuitive, omni-channel IVR can do for your customer journey. Ask about Sharpen Logic.

Chatbots: Automated bots that take some tasks off your agents’ plates.

Chatbots work hand-in-hand with your IVR to streamline simple customer inquiries and give your agents specific, contextual intelligence for more complex interactions.

What was once a clunky, unpredictable contact center tool now uses data and predetermined parameters to handle interactions and tasks in a smarter way.

Much like IVRs, chatbots serve up self-service options to customers. But chatbots go further than guiding customers through a menu. With access to intelligent customer information and connections to your contact center systems, chatbots (and more advanced bots like Sharpen Actions) can solve full problems for your customers.

How can it work in my contact center?

If a customer reaches out via chat and asks about the status of a shipment, bots work behind-the-scenes to crawl your databases and connected systems for shipping information. Then, they relay the correct details to the customer. Your agents only have to step in when your customer requests to speak to a human, or if the interaction gets too complex.

And when synced up with your knowledge base, bots can even send customers self-help articles, how-to guides, and resources to help them solve their own problem. Always create an escape route for your customers to bypass a bot and reach a live agent. But, today, more than 60 percent of customers actually prefer to problem solve on their own by skimming through relevant information.

Another use case for chatbots: Collecting customer data to deliver to your agents. Sometimes, your product or service is too complicated for a bot to solve customer problems. But that doesn’t mean you have to forgo chatbots completely.

Instead, when a customer initiates a chat, the chatbot asks simple, account-related questions to collect relevant information for your agent. That way your agent can wrap up one interaction and head into the next one with the correct account information and customer history, ready to pick up where the chatbot left off. All while your customer gets closer to a resolution rather than listening to elevator music and waiting helplessly for the next available agent.

See how bots can even work beyond webchat to power better experiences for your customers. Ask about Sharpen Actions.

Automation helps you keep up with the fluid demands of today’s customers.

Whether it’s IVR, chatbots, or both working together, using automation helps keeps pace with the evolving needs of customers. And it does so without sacrificing your agents’ sanity. You remove friction from your customer experience and take time-consuming, simple tasks off your agents’ plates. Investing in automated tools shows your customers, and your agents, that you value their time.

See how Sharpen Actions infuses every stage of the customer journey with automatic, bot-driven actions.

We originally published this post on April 19, 2017, and we updated it for new insight on April 1, 2019.