Automating Customer Service With a Human Touch

min read
Automating Customer Service With a Human Touch

Automation makes your customer support more efficient, providing a faster and more effective service to customers. However, simply replacing live agents with automated processes can result in a cold and impersonal customer experience. The personal touch is just as important a part of customer support as speed and efficiency.

So how can businesses find the right balance to take advantage of automation without losing that human touch?

Automate the Basics First

Frequent queries and basic requests are prime targets for automation. These make up the bulk of customer contacts for most businesses. As a result, they can be a major drain on live support resources. Furthermore, they often offer little room for live agents to elevate the customer experience. 

All of these factors mean these contacts can be effectively automated without losing anything from your customer experience. In fact, automating them can improve the customer experience. 

For instance, when you sign up new customers you may want to offer them a pre-recorded on-demand webinar to help them get a full introduction to your platform.  If you use a webinar platform, you can automate this entire workflow after successfully recording your webinar content. 

Automating ticket management

In addition to giving customers instant responses to simple requests, automation also frees up your live agents’ time by reducing their workload. That means they can focus their time and skills on contacts where they can make a difference to customers. Furthermore, creating automation rules for incoming messages and texts can help you manage customer service tickets. 

For example, incoming text message automation can place subscribers into different mailing lists according to their message. This can be used both to continue automated support, and also to put them in contact with the right customer service team for their issue.

Automating call routing

This approach works for voice calls as well as text messages. For example, VITAS Healthcare uses Invoca to automatically categorize incoming calls according to patient needs, helping the business understand what callers needed from each contact. By intelligently routing calls straight to the right person along with an indication of what the caller needed, they were able to reduce the average hold time by 3 minutes.

Popular Invoca intelligent routing configurations

In addition, fully automated conversations for basic queries such as checking appointment times can provide a perfectly consistent experience every time, without getting bored of simple, repetitive tasks. Sparing your customer service agents from answering the same basic questions all day every day is one of the major improvements AI can make to customer service, as it can have a big impact on their motivation and focus throughout the day.

Natural Language Processing

At the most basic level, NLP means people can talk normally to automated systems. It can be applied to a wide range of communication channels, including:

  • Voice calls
  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Instant messaging apps
  • Live chat
  • Support ticket threads
  • Voice-activated IVR

Instead of being limited to selecting responses from a list or communicating through keywords, people can speak in full sentences the same way they would to a live agent. Furthermore, speech analytics can allow chatbots to respond to the customer’s tone and emotive language appropriately, making the conversation feel more natural.

Make automated systems more human

Being able to talk more naturally to an automated system helps avoid those conversations feeling inhuman, but it also makes the transition between chatbots and live agents more seamless. Analyzing conversations in this way can provide live agents with more information when issues are escalated. 

Equip live agents with better information

It is estimated that 75% of the time a customer service contact takes is spent by the live agent researching the issue they are tackling. AI analysis of a chatbot conversation can not only tell a live agent about a customer’s issue before their conversation starts, but also assist the agent by providing them with additional resources such as links to relevant knowledge base entries or customer service workflows. 

In addition, customer service agents can use Invoca to get information about caller intent. Before each call comes through, Invoca automatically sends support agents a screenpop that contains the caller’s name, geographic location, as well as the webpage or search keyword they called from.  This digital journey data allows agents to focus more on reassuring your customers and less on finding the correct information or process to follow.

Recognize the Limits of AI

In situations where your business has let a customer down, you can usually keep the customer and even earn their loyalty if you handle it the right way. According to Salesforce research, 78% of customers will continue to buy from a business after a mistake if they receive excellent customer service to correct it. Although these situations need the attention of a live agent, automation can still help provide your customer with a better service. 

 Conversation intelligence software can recognize customer experience issues, and bring these to the attention of a live agent. However, only a human can provide empathy, an apology, and assurance that you will fix the problem. 

Spot unhappy customers automatically

AI-powered conversation intelligence can help to spot situations where a customer is upset or frustrated and flag the issue to an appropriate live agent. This means that customers do not need to take any action for their conversation to be escalated. For example, Invoca can automatically route calls from cancellation pages to retention agents to decrease churn.

As a result, this can help your customer service agents reduce the number of customers who disengage from trying to resolve their issues, giving your business another chance to prevent customers from leaving dissatisfied. Improving your capability to handle upset customers is vital for modern contact centers, with Forrester research showing that businesses are seeing a 70% increase in emotionally charged conversations with their customers.

Track Contact Outcomes

Some processes benefit more than others from the efficiency of full automation. Others need more human involvement to create the best experience for your customers. Finding the right mixture of automated processes and live agent interactions requires a detailed analysis of your customer contacts to assess the outcomes of each process and adjust accordingly. 

Tracking the outcomes of each contact gives you the data you need to create more effective automated workflows for each type of customer service interaction, addressing sticking points that create dissatisfaction or slow down the process.

It can also help organizations track and manage a situation as it unfolds. For example, Spectrum Retirement Communities used Invoca Signal AI to understand how residents and their families were discussing the pandemic as it unfolded, enabling them to respond more directly to their patients’ concerns.

Automated call listening and analysis can also help identify new problems and gaps in your customer service processes. For example, when rolling out a new product, you could use an AI-powered call listening package like Signal AI to automatically categorize contacts by any number of factors, such as:

  • Product features the customer discussed 
  • Processes the customer encountered issues with
  • The intent behind each contact

This can give you valuable insights into where your customers frequently need help. Besides enabling you to create customer service workflows and better self-service resources to aid customers who encounter those issues more effectively, it is also a useful source of feedback that can help improve the design of the product itself. You can learn more about Signal AI here.

Involve Human Supervisors in Automated Workflows

Even where customer interactions can be fully automated, they can still benefit from oversight by a customer service agent. For example, Uber uses AI to assess the intent behind a customer’s message and provide their live agent with a list of ranked options for how to proceed. Simply by giving the customer service agent a set of relevant template responses to select from and edit, the company cut its average complaint resolution time by around 10%.

Automated customer service workflows should include sending important automated messages for approval and personalization by a live agent. This can help ensure that critical messages are sent containing all of the correct details, but also provides an opportunity to add a personal touch to messages while still benefitting from the efficiency of automation.


The human touch will always be a vital factor in customer support. Because of this, automated customer service processes should still involve your live agents. Similarly, automation can continue to support customer service agents before and during live interactions, giving them more information about a situation to help them address it more effectively.

Want to learn more about how Invoca can help you automate your contact center? Download our Ultimate Guide to Conversation Intelligence.

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