Top 10 Automation themes and learnings

Over many years, we have had the privilege of working with, and talking to, hundreds of service providers. Along the way, combined with a few years of practical experience, we have come to understand some behaviours that distinguish those that are thriving, from those that are merely surviving, when it comes to automation. For your business to be a survivor:

1. Be clear on what you want to achieve

Automation can: improve customer experience; provide a point of differentiation; improve consistency; speed up service; or achieve cost reduction – or all of these. Knowing which one is the key driver for automation in your business helps you prioritise projects – but more, it is fundamental to success because it keeps you focused on the things that matter.

2. Think holistically about the business outcome

The rate at which automation solutions are evolving offers huge potential for transformation but can be confusing because there are so many options. Understand the end-state from the business’s point of view – rather than the tech you will choose – and you are likely to find that several alternatives will equally meet your needs. Getting stuck on the fine detail does not help you.

3. But act incrementally

The adage “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bit at a time” is apt for automation. When it all seems daunting or overwhelming, break it down and set simple goals at each stage – but whatever you do, keep moving.

4. “What gets measured gets done”

Senior leaders need to be aligned with a clear focus on business outcomes. Communicate the goals and be clear what success looks like. Then track progress – both holding the team to account and importantly encouraging them to continue progressing.

5. And be prepared to learn as you go

Begin with small but useful and simple improvements while keeping an eye on the end goal. Carry those lessons forward, taking an incremental approach, and maximize your gains – while preparing yourself for bigger projects.

6. Make time for it and it will give you back time

How often have you heard that someone just does not have the time to think about, let alone do, the things that will save time? Any improvement programme needs to balance simple time-saving initiatives with strategic initiatives – because if you don’t do time-savings stuff – you never have time for anything else.

7. Don’t do what grandma did

Like the child who was taught to cook a roast by cutting it in two, because their great grandmother had an oven too small to fit a full roast – remember that the reason something is done the way it is may no longer be relevant. Look at the process before you automate it.

8. Use ready-made solutions and components

While we all want to be unique, you are probably not the first person ever to attempt a given automation task; especially if you have looked critically at the process. The faster you automate the sooner you benefit from it. Building it yourself takes time. So, leverage as many ready-made solutions as you can – and keep progressing.

9. Do not underestimate the soft – or indirect – benefits of automation

Consider the benefits of strategic insights gained from better understanding the different patterns of service that assist resource allocation and focus. We find that customers realise additional revenue from better insights gained by analysing the automated transactions. Further, agents freed up from low-value tasks are happier, but they also have more time to focus on the things that matter to your customers.

10. Don’t sacrifice the human touch

When automating customer service, remember that automation is a tool, not a substitute for human support. This is perhaps the most important practice to remember when optimising customer service with automation. Customers still need empathy, respect, and flexibility when they reach out to your team. Automation can’t provide that – but it can make sure your customer gets the right information or gets to the right person faster.

So where should you look?

While opportunities for automation are everywhere, the following represent a few examples we have seen, where simple automation steps can result in material improvements in efficiency or customer experience.

  • monitoring email boxes to work out what needs to be ticketed and what doesn’t
  • copying and pasting content from an email into CRM or ticketing systems
  • filtering and deleting tickets that have been created by spam mail
  • scrolling through multiple copies of the same email (fw:fw:fw) to locate the most relevant content
  • providing updates on the status of existing requests
  • prioritizing events to ensure they get actioned in an appropriate time
  • associating inbound requests with the right customer
  • categorizing requests automatically into different resolver queues
  • dealing with frequently recurring common email events
  • dealing with automatically generated communications between trading partner systems
  • responding to requests that can be easily self-answered with knowledge
  • responding to gather more information around common transactions
  • automatically initiating a business process around a common type of enquiry
  • logging and forwarding requests to 3rd party or customer resolver groups

We would love the opportunity to discuss what challenges your organisation are currently facing with their email channel and how artificial intelligence and InboxAgent can help. Reach out to our team and one of our experts will be in touch.

By Scott Green (Aportio CEO)