Automation is a buzzword right now, and there are plenty of companies in the industry who will tell you that it works for anyone, no matter what their size, sector or sales. 

We’re here to tell you… that’s not quite true! Sure, automation can deliver significant savings in time and money for a whole range of different businesses, but there are a few things that all automation-ready businesses have in common before getting started. 

We’ve listed 6 signs that you’re ready to add automation to your customer service function—plus 3 signs that you’re probably not!

1. You’ve already got a standard process in place for handling requests

If you have a standardized workflow in place for how inbound customer tickets are handled by your agents, for example, telephone scripts, flow charts for escalating issues, procedures for how a ticket should be closed out, then you’ll find it easier to implement an automated solution. This is particularly true where many of the requests are repetitive and require simple resolutions—e.g. package tracking, order status requests, checking booking details.  

2. You have some self-service provision available for customers

Ideally, you’ll already be offering your customers some level of self-service access, whether that’s via an FAQ on the website, or logging in to a portal to check order details. As long as this is in place, you can use automation to augment it, integrating with the relevant systems and finding the correct information on the customer’s behalf. This leads to quicker, more concise resolutions—and happier customers.

3. Your agents are struggling to handle the volume of tickets

If your customer service team is flooded with more tickets than it can handle, there’s a good chance it’s time to look at automation, to lighten the workload. Overworked agents are more likely to be stressed, inefficient, impatient with your customers and ultimately more likely to leave the job. Implementing an automated system to handle most of the repetitive, frustrating tickets frees them up to concentrate on more challenging and rewarding work.

4. Many of your tickets are simple, single-issue requests

The type of tickets you receive affects how much your business would benefit from introducing automation into the customer service function. If most of your inbound tickets are simple requests which can be resolved with a one-line reply, then you should look at automation. These are exactly the type of tickets that could be handled by a virtual customer support agent. 

5. You have significant variance in ticket volume

If you have substantial changes in ticket volume, it can be hard to ensure you have enough staff on hand. Usually, this means paying for more staff than you need or being unable to cope during peak times. The good news is that, once again, this is an ideal scenario for automation. Scaling is not an issue, your virtual assistant will be as happy solving 10,000 tickets as 100, and there’s no need to maintain extra staffing levels “just in case”. 

6. You’ve already got a database or CRM system in place

If you’re using something like Excel, or even offline records, to manage your helpdesk tickets, then getting automation to work might be a struggle. However, if you’re using a CRM, online database or ticketing system already, then it’s a simple task to integrate an automated support agent using an API. We’re able to support most commonly used helpdesk software out of the box and can create new custom integrations if the system you’re using isn’t yet on our list. 

Do these points apply to you?

If most of the points above apply to your business, then there’s a good chance you could benefit from introducing a virtual customer service agent, allowing you to automate much of the work of customer service, and save valuable time and money. If you’d like to find out how to get started, and calculate the likely ROI, check out this page. 

If not, then it’s probably a little early for you to really get value from automating your customer service provision. Here are three signs your business is probably not ready for automation, at least for the time being.

1. You don’t yet have a helpdesk function

If you don’t currently have a helpdesk, then your first step probably shouldn’t be automation. The best way forward is to find a helpdesk platform that works for you, and run it manually for a while, until you’ve figured out some of the points above. 

2. Your customer service team is still pretty small 

If you’ve got less than 5 customer service staff, and/or your daily ticket volumes are still pretty low, (e.g. in the 10s and 100s), then automation probably isn’t right for you either. While it could work in principle, it would be unlikely to deliver significant benefits on such a small scale, so you wouldn’t get a good ROI.

3. You don’t have a defined process in place 

If you’re not running a standardised service, e.g. you don’t have customer service scripts in place, there isn’t a defined workflow, and agents just handle tickets however they think is best in each individual case, then automation might not be for you right now. A virtual agent needs rules in place for how to handle requests, when to escalate them, etc. Until you’ve developed a standard procedure for dealing with common tickets, you’ll find it hard to automate them.

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