Automated customer service has a bad rep for a reason. Most consumers prefer speaking to a real person when they need help. Many brands are clueless and try to pass automated messages as if they were personal. Even if machines aren’t likely to replace human customer service representatives anytime soon, you need to consider automating parts of your operation to take the customer experience to the next level. Here are a few reasons why automating customer service is a good idea and 5 tips to help you maintain a personal style of communication in automated messaging. Why automate customer service? Automation can help brands in many ways: Thanks to automated systems of communication, you can be sure that the right customer service representative is notified about issues as soon as they come in; Automation improves customer conversion and retention by helping customers maximize their benefits from your product and boosting their support experience; Automation allows to address customer concerns and problems before they arise by distributing relevant information resources (manuals, walkthroughs and tutorials) to create tight-knit user communities; Automating support helps to resolve issues quickly, before they cause frustration or disappointment. So how do you automate your customer service and keep communications personal? #1. Decide what to automate If you plan to use automation in order to avoid interacting with customers directly and save time, you’re making a huge mistake. Your goal should be to provide the best support service and experience possible. Having your customer’s best interest at heart, you should think how automation could help you achieve all that in the most efficient way. That’s why it’s smart to use automated messaging with the aim of encouraging human-to-human communication. Reach out to your customers when they’re considering a purchase or just bought your product and might need some guidance. Automated messaging works well after a downtime or error, once the consumer indicates dissatisfaction, or during a period of inactivity. Automation is there to help you start the conversation – when a customer replies, a human representative will take over the communication and solve the issue before customers grow frustrated enough to notify the team on their own. #2. Gather contextual data automatically Automation can help make your customer service messages even more personalized. It’s simple – nothing helps you to answer a customer’s message more accurately than context. If you know who they are, what their relationship with your brand is, and what their main pain points are, you can consider yourself well-equipped to answering their message. Instead of digging around for that information – reading archived emails, checking support documentation, and hunting them down on social media – you can save time and automatically gather all context data in a single place. Automation tools will help you build customer profiles – with information about their role, online accounts, and all past communications with your team. Together with a smart database of relevant support resources, that kind of automation solution will help your team deliver better and more timely support. #3. How to write an automated message to get replies Consumers can smell an automated email from a mile. We all consider that type of correspondence unimportant. If it was important, a human would have sent it, right? Now, you don’t want to trick anyone into thinking that you’ve got an army of reps scribbling personalized messages to every single customer each week. Instead, be upfront about your use of automation tools. Also, be explicit about how you handle communications with customers. For example, when a customer makes a purchase, send them an email stating ‘This is the first message you get from us after signing up to our service’. The customer will now be aware that these automated messages serve as a bridge between them and human support. Emphasize that all customer replies will be read by real people to make the communication more personal. Set up a friendly email address as well. Emails from ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ will be ignored. Make sure to keep your automated emails short. That’s how you get a reply. Make your point and then ask an open-ended question. Remember to communicate brand personality in these emails. Use humor and write in a relaxed tone to humanize your company. It will remind customers that a real person wrote that email. #4. Automate responses to interest data Your marketing and sales team probably collects data about your customers – why they seek your product and what their interests are. To make communications with these customers even more meaningful, use an automated tool that will divide these customers into segments and provide a curated selection of resources for these customers. For example, if a customer is tagged as ‘Interested in marketing’, your tool will personalize the emails sent to the customer to include resources that align with their profile. Use conditional content to create tags that will power your automated email sequence that delivers information that customers need. #5. Get in touch with customers who view your help documentation Another way an automated tool can help your support team deliver an even better service is by setting it up to detect customers who are repeatedly visiting the same help document. That kind of behavior clearly indicates that they’re unable to resolve the problem on their own. They might be growing frustrated every second. And it’s not certain that they’ll reach out to your support team – they might simply give up and dismiss your product as too complicated or buggy. On top of that, they might spread their opinion further, building a cloud of negativity around your brand. Reach out to them first in a short automated message. Even if the customer doesn’t respond, they’ll know that you’re a responsible brand that wants to deliver the best experience. Appearing responsive and transparent builds a strong brand, and reaching out to customers exactly when they need help is a smart move. The goal of customer service is building a great relationship with your customer base. Automation can help you do that if you use it for behind-the-scenes work, and not in place of customer communication. These tips will help you to leverage automation for your internal performance, helping your support team to learn more about customers, decrease their response time, and encourage communication.