In the present day, nearly everything around us is automated, whether it’s cooking food, doing business or even reserving a table at a restaurant. In this scenario, it’s hard for customer service industry to evade automation. Especially, when it offers numerous advantages to both businesses and customers such as reducing customer wait time, lowering operational expenses and improving overall quality etc. In spite of these advantages, many business owners are still reluctant to adapt automated customer service.
Therefore, deciding on whether to opt for electronic self-service or the traditional approach has left many businesses confused. To help companies sort this problem, here is an analysis of advantages and disadvantages of automated customer service that will enable them in determining whether automation is good or bad for their business.
The best thing about automated customer service is that its cost drops over the period of time because unlike employees, companies won’t have to keep paying the machines. Furthermore, by replacing workers it allows businesses to reduce its hiring cost too. The self-service support system also helps customer support team decrease its load, as customers resolve their problems themselves rather than queuing up to get in touch with the company. This significantly lowers the ticket volume and ultimately cost, as support agents won’t have to answer similar questions again and again. Organizations can further bring their expenses down by opting for cloud technology as it eliminates the purchasing and maintenance cost of hardware.
The primary benefit of automated checkouts and self-service assistance is that it allows customers who are in a hurry to make fast checkouts. The proficient payment system of this service has enabled customers to escape long queues, especially during peak service hours and holiday season, when the influx of shoppers increases exponentially. That is why today a wide majority of consumers wants to see more automated stations at stores. In fact, a Convergys’ study has revealed that the number of consumers, who prefer to use automated self-service, has doubled to 55 percent in past five years. Therefore, successful retailers that are looking to decrease customer wait time and checkout lines are installing more self-service kiosks at their stores.
With automation or self-service capability, companies can improve their revenue stream too, since it allows them to have less employees to pay. In addition, when a faster automated kiosk or support replaces sluggish manual processes, existing customers of a business can order products or services at a much faster pace. Additionally, this enable companies to lure new customers more easily and once the client base increases, sales will go up naturally. This in turn will give organizations more revenue and satisfied customers because nothing makes a consumer happier than a quick service or response.
Automation is not just a way to reduce cost and increase revenue. It also proves quite valuable for a company when it is looking to enhance customer retention. Swift service makes it lot easier for customers to order a product or service, which significantly boosts their satisfaction. And a satisfied consumer never feels the need to go to another company to buy a product or service.
Despite numerous advantages, many customers are still not quite pleased with automated or self-service. One major reason behind it, is that people are unable to emotionally connect with the machine. They do not get any personal attention and they cannot have a brief conversation with the machine as they enjoy with customer service representatives. As a result, the relationship between machines and customers remains limited, which in some cases gives people a reason to take their business to another firm. Data provided by Gartner shows that “By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.”
A common problem with the automated service is that mostly tech savvy customers can use them easily. People, who have no idea of using a self-service kiosk, can face a lot of difficulty. Especially, when they require assistance or when bar codes are not scanning properly. Though, majority of the automated support and self-service kiosks have relatively easy to use navigation menu, backed with audio instructions, but still it can be a frustrating experience for some customers. Particularly, if they are uncomfortable using the navigation menu or they simply don’t like the idea of checking out themselves.
The worst thing about employing automation service is that it cannot resolve complex issues for customers. For instance, if there is a charge on customer’s credit card they will remain unaware of it. Most of all, it’s not possible for employees to keep a close eye on every customer transaction on self-checkouts, which increases the chances of theft. For example, customers can take an item without scanning it or replace the bar codes of a high priced product with a low priced item. Even if someone catches them it is likely that they would blame faulty equipment for it or simply plead ignorance. That is why companies which have incorporated automated system are still unable to achieve 100 percent results.
Lastly, the installation of automated system is very costly. Business owners with limited budgets cannot even think about installing such equipment because apart from installation expense they also have to bear the cost of organizing a training programme for employees, or else employees won’t be able to handle the machine properly. The list of expenses just doesn’t end here, as business owners also have to bear the toll of regular maintenance charges, once the automated system is put into place.
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