Best Practices to Add Human Elements to Your Automation Strategy

Think back to the last time you reached out to a business for customer service or received a message from a company. Did an actual human being greet you? Or did your experience involve several interactions with an automated response system? Communication in many aspects of customer service has become significantly less personalized as technology allows businesses to reduce costs and improve the productivity of call center and customer service employees.

Despite these technological advancements, today's business leaders are beginning to notice the overwhelming amount of data that shows how vital a quality customer experience is to company success. Research from organizations like PwC points out that 65 percent of U.S. customers find a positive experience with a company more influential than advertising.

The emergence of titles like chief experience officer and director of customer experience shows that more business leaders are taking action to ensure that customer experience is a top priority. However, the same studies that identify the importance of customer experience also bring attention to the fact that 59 percent of customers feel that companies have lost touch with the human element of customer service.

Businesses want to achieve an excellent customer experience. But it requires specific aspects of technology and humanity to accomplish this while operating at the highest efficiency level.

Below are a few actions that organizations can take to elevate their automated tools while delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Combine human personality with SMS and automation.

Many of us immediately tune out when greeted by an automated voice on a phone call or are easily annoyed when navigating an automated SMS conversation. In fact, a recent study by PWC found that 75 percent of customers will still choose to interact with a person, even as automated technology becomes more sophisticated. While there's no real way to avoid the inherent lack of personality and unaccommodating nature of automation, advancements in technology have allowed for vast improvements.

Despite this progress, business leaders should proceed with caution when making decisions to automate customer interactions. Platforms like telephone and SMS should be humanized as best as possible, either by using an actual team member's voice or personalizing automated texts.

Similarly, organizations should avoid sending automated text messages featuring identical information to every customer. Businesses should carefully select verbiage for SMS messages to generate a solid rapport. Simple steps like including the person's name or custom details in your copy will make it easier to connect with your customer base, especially the portion that detests computer interaction.

Personalize emails based on customers' online behavior.

Today's technology allows companies to send a personalized email to customers after a specific online action is taken. These messages can be transmitted in real time, based on factors like website visits, product use, purchases, and more.

When implementing behavior-triggered emails, companies should call out a few points of customer identification to make the message feel more personalized and spontaneous. This practice helps convert window shoppers into paying customers. However, optimal timing of the automated message needs to be considered for customers to be reminded of the value offering.

Taking advantage of personalized email makes it easier to win new business and keeps current customers engaged with the company. Connecting with customers through personalized communication fosters loyalty to the company long after the initial purchase.

Align with customer expectations.

Consumers are highly aware of the benefits that businesses reap from collecting their information and analyzing their spending habits. Because of this, there is an expectation that all brand communication will be highly personalized and even entertaining. To truly personalize a customer experience, data must be collected and studied before the effort to communicate is made. Organizations can begin the content creation process once they understand a customer's wants, needs, and purchasing behaviors.

Jason Smith is a sales engineer at CallTrackingMetrics.