The digitally savvy customer of today has pushed the frontiers of customer service, forcing businesses to extend superior customer service anytime, anywhere. And contact centres are expected to adapt to the ever-increasing volumes of customer queries and complaints, efficiently and speedily. 

To deliver against these expectations, companies have been driving service automation through chatbots and virtual agents.   


Can service automation replace human service agents?

Automated alternatives are increasingly replacing human customer service representatives (CSRs). But not having the human agent on the frontline takes away the larger opportunity for businesses to personalise services, and thereby boost customer engagement and sales revenues in the long run. 

Chatbots, virtual agents, and integrated voice response (IVR) systems deliver a frontline customer experience with scripted responses. They help automate key processes and find answers to routine questions fast. Successful companies are transparent with their customers. They ensure that customers understand the difference between bots and humans. These companies understand the importance of human agents and empower agents with the right technology, so that agents can have more personal, consistent, and intelligent conversations with customers.

But this does not mean that the use of technology in customer service can be overlooked. For CSRs have their own challenges that only a robust, reliable service platform can address. 

Customer touchpoints now span multiple channels such as toll-free numbers, live chat, self-service portals, social media, and personal chat applications like WhatsApp. The lack of a single, unified view of customer data coming in from all these sources hampers the CSR’s ability to personalise conversations.

There’s also a sales-marketing-customer service disconnect. Imagine a dissatisfied customer with an unresolved problem receiving unsolicited marketing campaigns. This will only result in an irate customer who not only moves away from the brand but amplifies the unsatisfactory experience on social channels! 

The solution really lies in between: in the happy marriage of the tech and the human. 


Use technology to empower CSRs and build new revenue opportunities 

A recent Forrester report titled Human customer service: the overlooked opportunity for breakaway CX differentiation suggests a solution: Make customer experience impactful by equipping CSRs with the right tools and technology so they can evolve beyond their current, limited roles.  

Human-centred service can reinvent itself by leveraging technology that drives personalisation and customer-centricity. This calls for a multi-pronged approach to identify the challenges in your agent-ecosystem and remedy these using technology.   

Solutions such as Salesforce Service Cloud enable CSRs to offer personalised assistance to customers across channels, at scale. Here’s how contact centres can benefit from empowering their CSRs with solutions like these: 

  • Get a unified view of customer information across channels  for seamless and speedy omnichannel service capabilities:Salesforce Service Cloud provides a 360-degree view of customer interactions across multiple touchpoints and channels, integrated with critical customer data logged in by sales and marketing teams as well. This full visibility into customer interaction history helps service agents with the right context to resolve cases faster and smarter.
  • Supercharge agent productivity through a single knowledge repository: Using  Service Cloud Knowledge Base, companies can build a single, comprehensive repository which includes articles, FAQs, and ready references to products and services. Knowledge Base is embedded in the CSR’s console, so they can access it anytime, enabling them to give speedy, relevant responses to customer queries. 
  • Use technology to enable self-service and improve customer engagement: Businesses can review past service requests, and automate routine requests or queries, thus freeing up CSRs to focus on enhancing customer engagement. 
  • Offer non-disruptive services, irrespective of contingencies: Service Cloud is on the cloud! It enables customer service teams to transition seamlessly to remote working and continue to offer uninterrupted customer service.
  • Boost revenue by enabling CSRs  to  identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities: Equipping CSRs with full knowledge of the customers' journey and experiences with a product or service empowers them to better identify gaps and proactively address customer needs. 
  • Make CSRs an integral part of the customer mapping journey: When they are a part of the customer feedback loop, they can help you improve product design or service offerings.

It's important to recognise that contact centres are no longer cost centres. When the right technology combines with human intellect and empathy, contact centres can become opportunity centres, delivering personalised, efficient, and uninterrupted customer service at scale. 


Learn more about how Service Cloud helps you scale your customer service here.


This post originally appeared on the I.N.-version of the Salesforce blog.