The Balance Between Automation and Manual Customer Service Responses

In Strategy by Christ Reid

Approaching a high volume of customer service inquiries can be a daunting task, whether you’re a business who is scaling up to a larger customer base or an established brand looking to minimize the amount of time and money spent on managing traditional social channels such as Facebook and Twitter. You’ll often find people will champion one of two approaches – automated or manual responses. Here at Raidious we think it’s important to strike a balance between the two, but let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each method.

Automation, Serving the Nation

The ability to automate a lot of regular processes is the backbone of an efficient business model. When it comes to responding to people reaching out for customer service through social, the temptation to set up a series of replies and head off to focus on other avenues is strong. It’s fantastic for high message volumes, low on cost, and ensures no one feels ignored – especially when you can list a series of resources in a pre-formatted response that appears immediately, much faster than a phone-based equivalent.

However, the risk with automating every single step of your customer’s journey toward resolving an issue with your offerings is that it’s less bespoke, and can sometimes feel a little inhuman. It also risks failing customers who have very specific, unusual issues; extending your response scripts from single messages to advanced bots can often overwhelm customers with a wall of text.

Learning to Drive Stick

Writing responses to customers yourself is a quick way to earn a reputation as a caring brand that tailors its approach to each customer individually. Handling niche problem cases is a breeze; having a person behind a keyboard makes it easier to ask follow-up questions, review screenshots and escalate with a concise note to another staff member.

That’s all well and good until you start receiving a thousand messages a week. Then it becomes a very costly, sometimes impossible volume of work to scale to. You may find that it soaks up most of your community/customer service team’s time, as typing is always slower than instantly-sent automated responses.

Linking Perks: Hybrid Theory

The solution here is combining the two approaches. Your automated service should form the immediate response, similar to the first wave of questions when you call a hotline. You can then build resources that cover off most scenarios, from an FAQ to a return form, and still benefit from the vast majority of your customers feeling satisfied with their experience.

That smaller percentage who need a personal touch can be escalated to a team who now has far more time to take care of each customer. It used to be a lot trickier to create a funnel toward escalation to a real person on social, but with the arrival of Facebook chatbot APIs, it’s no longer a pipe dream.

If you’d like to talk to us about managing your social presence and what we can offer in terms of customer service solutions, reach out to us here.