How to Automate Customer Support?

Luis Manjarrez
by Luis Manjarrez

Most people reading this article probably have had poor interactions with automated customer support services. Many are badly designed or try to delegate a lot of the work to bots and other forms of automated support. True artificial intelligence is still non-existent and inferior levels of it are very costly to develop. So, how do you fully automate customer support?

Well, you probably shouldn't. At least not entirely. You should aim to automate repetitive and predictable tasks, and leave the tricky stuff to humans.

By doing so, customers will be happier and employees too, since we all know repetitive work is the worst part of most jobs and it's also what machines excel at.

Customer support automation done right

Here are five ways that will help you scale customer support without compromising the customer experience.

1. Use canned responses

Canned responses or templates help you write and reply to emails faster with pre-written snippets. This alleviates the stress of having to type the same text multiple times per day. Employees can start replying to a customer with a customized message and insert blocks of canned responses.

This is probably the most efficient semi-automation method. As far as the customer knows, they got a personalized answer to their question.

It is important to properly name canned responses and be familiarized with the contents. Otherwise this method easily backfires on you if you send unrelated information.

With Missive you can share canned responses with everyone in the company or specific teams! This reduces the danger of sending sales related info to a technical support enquiry.

Adding a response to a draft is really easy with the search option.

We also support variables. With them you can easily customize response with dynamic content like your recipient's name.

For example:

Hi {{ recipient.first_name | default: 'there' }},

… if it matches a recipient.first_name would render something like this

Hi Philippe,

… and if it didn't match anything something like this:

Hi there,

2. Triage support queries automatically

Routing messages to the most appropriate responder or team can be time consuming. This is why you should automate this. The sooner the customer's question is received by a competent team member, the sooner it will be replied to.

It requires some initial work, but after you've finely tuned the parameters, your team won't be wasting time sorting out queries.

In Missive this can be achieved with the creation of Rules. Here are a few of examples of automated routing:

Job inquiries should be directed to HR.

Refunds should be directed to John at the Finance team. He should process all refund requests within 24 hours of reception.

Shipping issues should be directed to Customer Support and show shipper's phone number.

Create a robust knowledge base

This is your first line of defense. You should build an extensive repository of frequently asked questions and tutorials on your website. Ideally you can solve 80% or more of the customer's questions by simply directing them to the knowledge base.

At first you will need to think of these questions, but soon it will become user-generated. People will be fast to let you know they can't find this or that in the knowledge base. You simply need to label these conversations and upload new content to the FAQ sections once or twice per month.

In Missive you can label things in a matter of seconds, thanks to user actions. For example, whenever you spot a potential FAQ, simply type "#faq" in the comment bar and the conversation will be labeled "FAQ".

Get customer feedback

The best way to improve customer support is by gauging your support experience. This can be easily done by adding a simple satisfaction survey in your email signature.

Missive offers a powerful signature management system. With it, you can easily add customer satisfaction surveys to each of your teammates' signatures in just minutes.

The dynamic data comes from your team's editable member profiles. Some survey collection companies let you generate embeddable HTML code. In this case, you can copy the code and paste it into the managed signature editor.

Simplesat's quirky customer satisfaction survey icons
Simplesat's quirky survey icons!

You can also add custom field variables like in the example above. Learn more about managed signatures.

Auto-reply customers with relevant information

Let's face it, customers aren't patient, most want immediate responses. While big companies can offer 24/7 support, most businesses can't. This doesn't mean you have to leave your customer flying in the dark. Auto-replies can reduce customer anxiety and sometimes solve issues without human interaction.

Outside business hours + link to knowledge base

Let people know they've sent an email outside of business hours. It's the best way to manage expectations and let the customer know they won't receive an immediate or same-day response.

You should also include a link to your knowledge base. People might find an answer by themselves.

Outside business hours + suggested articles

If you want to up your level a little, you could create multiple auto-reply responses that trigger with different keywords.

Luis Manjarrez

Growth at Missive
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