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Balancing Automation & Personalization in Customer Support

By February 25th, 2024No Comments
balancing your customer support

Automation in customer service is idealized around “one-to-many mapping,” like tackling FAQs.

On the other hand, personalization has an “all-to-one” approach, using all the resources to make service better for one.

Further, personalization aims to follow the pattern for “all the customers.”

While automation “sweats off” to make your support system efficient at scale, personalization works on fine-grained customer interests and preferences.

We know that automation and personalization is a powerful duo that can steer your business towards sustainable growth.

But, when they are so different, how can you strike a perfect balance between them? 

Let us find out!

What is personalization in customer service?

Personalization in customer service refers to applying context to individual customers and their circumstances. Personalization is used to select, tailor, and deliver product recommendations, offers, content, and service via digital channels. The personalization definition takes on various forms depending on three use cases – customer experience, digital commerce, and marketing. 

Apart from directly increasing conversion rates and eCommerce revenues, personalization allows you to align your business and brand offerings with every customer. 

Personalization is your way to compensate for the lack of physical salespeople in the online shopping scenario, stemming from customer insights driven by thorough data analytics. So, right from messages to recommendations and mode of support to payment method – personalization is ambient in every business scenario. 

Personalization customer service allows your customers to find your support system or staff via a platform or channel they prefer. It also allows them to seek better support or take the self-service route if they feel comfortable with it. 

While this might seem lucrative enough to embrace right away, implementing personalization at scale comes with challenges. You have to take on the challenges of technology and business in tandem and compile a killer C-suite to make sense of data mountains!

Then, is personalization worth the effort? Can it fuel your business growth as expected? 

Up next, we discuss the answer!

5 Benefits you gain from personalization in automated customer service

Given below are some results from the Forbes Personalization Survey that show how beneficial it is:

how personalization creates business results

Personalization is just like Midas Touch: sales, customer lifetime value, transaction frequency, market share, brand equity, and strategic support. No matter which business aspect we consider, it has a positive outcome for each one of them. 

Below, we share five concrete benefits of implementing personalization in automated customer service.

1. Brand Differentiator

Delivering personalized customer experiences allow you to stand apart in the crowd with your customer-oriented offerings. You can prevent your customers from defecting to your competitors by personalizing the customer journeys and support. 

Also, successful personalization produces more engaged customers, which are highly crucial for business growth. 77% of customers have recommended, chosen, and paid more for a brand offering personalized experiences. 

Finally, when your customers can find support on the channels they prefer, in a way they want and whenever they want, your support becomes a hit!

Hence, personalization is one of the key brand differentiators!

2. Customer Trust and Loyalty

You can win lifelong customers and create brand advocates by delivering seamless experiences across all touchpoints. Personalizing the support and providing the right service or brand offering to meet customer needs delight your customers throughout their brand journeys.

As you have loyal customers, you can nurture them into brand advocates with sterling personalized deliverables. When you show your customers that you “care, listen, learn and adapt” in response to their interactions, they feel valued. This, in turn, raises customer satisfaction levels and keeps them happy. 

Happy customers never look for your substitutes or never stop doing business with you. 

3. Customer Service Becomes Economical

Traditional customer service is essentially the same for all customers. Most businesses have standard solutions and responses for all dissatisfied or troubled customers. However, when you offer personalized support, you know your customers individually. Based on your understanding of them, you can tailor your solutions to meet these individual customer needs. 

You don’t have to rely on “pacifying solutions,” like compensation, as you better understand your customers. You can apologize and deal with the issue at hand fairly and squarely.

Further, you have to spend less time digging up the customer’s history to determine his preferences and behavior. 

You are always ready with contextual information at all times, which saves you a lot of time and effort, and in turn, expenses

4. Boosting Your Revenue Streams

Leveraging individual customer profiles enables you to practice needs-based selling. You no longer have to rely on the standard one-size-fits-all approach, such as Credit Card offers to random people that don’t need one! 

You can dig through the customer data and curate highly personalized offers based on their purchase history and shopping behavior. For example, they are offering discounts on the product categories they usually shop from.

Such tailored outreach at the right time with the right offering has higher acceptance rates and boosts your revenue streams.

5. Reduced Need to Call

Personalization customer service identifies the preferred support medium and delivers across the same. If a customer prefers self-service, you can directly take him to the modules and community portal for resolution-seeking. On the other hand, if a customer has a history of getting support via email, you can opt for the email-based support process. 

Further, personalization in automated customer support systems allows you to proactively reach out to the customers and ask for any troubles.

All in all, your query calls get reduced, and your agents can focus on more critical tasks. 

By now, you might have realized how personalization can deliver fantastic results. However, the exemplary implementation also matters!

While too much personalization can come up with scaling and budgeting concerns, too much automation in customer service eliminates the human aspects of your business.

Likewise, over-the-top automation makes it hard to develop robust brand loyalty and value-driven customer relationships. Also, over-personalization makes it hard to offer immediate responses.

Hence, reaching a balance between the two is crucial!

10 Ways to Balance Automation and Personalization in Customer Service

Using technology to increase efficiency in personalized support is somewhere you can start, in your pursuits of balancing both – personalization and automation. Balanced customer experiences maintain the human aspect of your brand, minimize friction, and maximize your efficiency in delivering tailored experiences.

Below, we share ten unique ways to balance automation and personalization in customer service. 

1. Audience-Based Personalization 

Audience-based or rule-based personalization allows you to tailor CX based on multiple fine-grained criteria, such as:

  • The browser or device type
  • Nature of visitors (new, returning, or existing)
  • Brand affinity
  • Purchase and support history

You can also create your own personalization rules to cater to your customers across different touchpoints. 

This matters because no two customers are the same or have the same interests or support preferences.

Rule-based or audience-based personalization makes it easy to tailor experiences as per the diverse and unique touchpoints. Also, you can personalize faster, in a more accurate manner with a unified customer profile.

This also spearheads your targeting, and you can deliver sterling personalized experiences, no matter where your customers are or what channel they’re on.

2. Personalization-Based Audience Segmentation

When you segment your audience for personalization, you have to keep their specific personalization needs in mind. For example, you can have customer segments based on:

  • Personalized offers
  • Personalized product recommendations
  • Personalized support 
  • Personalized newsletters

This practice is perfect for businesses that prioritize personalization over automation because of their business requirements. Centralizing your customer segmentation based on your personalization needs allows you to make the most of automation in customer service. You can leverage insights from automation to figure out the different levels of personalization you need and create audience segments.

3. Processes Stay Automated, but Content Is Personalized

Another way to balance automation and personalization in customer service is to automate the processes but personalize the content. 

With automated processes for your support personalization efforts, you can resolve queries and concerns in a personalized manner, based on the customer support history or purchase history.

You can personalize the CX with tailor-made content based on time spent by your customers on specific types of content. 

So, you are using automation to allocate agents or asking for self-service modules and are offering personalized support based on your customer data. 

4. Exercise Limits on Automated Customer Service

Heavy and over-the-top automation makes your support system just like an interactive voice response (IVR). Your customers get assigned tickets, allotted chatbots, offered a pre-recorded set of options and resources to resolve their queries. 

However, this will reduce customer satisfaction over time, and they start to look for your replacements. Hence, it is essential to have reasonable automation in customer service

Some of the tips that you can follow:

  • Automate the FAQs and have a clear understanding of what is an FAQ and what is not.
  • Employ predictive analysis for learning about customer behavior. It will help you know what kind of help and support they prefer.
  • Keep the channel between automation and human agents open, seamless, and effortless.
  • Keep a knowledge base, update it and adapt it based on customer interactions.

5. Define What to Automate and What Not to

Incorrect automation drains your time and resources and spurs confusion for both the agents and customers. Hence, you must automate, keeping efficiency, resource consumption, and customer intelligence in mind. 

Your customers inevitably feel alienated when they cannot get support from a human agent, and your automated customer service is not equipped to help them. Further, never have long phone trees that make a customer support call stretch for ages.

It is essential and right to have personalized customer service based on the insights you draw from customer data.

6. Automated Plus Personal Messaging

Balance automation customer service with human input by sending human or personal messages as well. While chatbots facilitate service and query resolution without agent intervention, pure automation induces customer query fatigue.

If they don’t get their issue resolved in the first attempt, they simply walk away because they don’t wish to indulge a chatbot with a long series of question-answers that are not fruitful.

So, balance the chatbot-powered chats with personalized human agent messages for better and more humanized support. 

While we talk about humanized customer support, you must know that anxious customers prefer human customer service instead of automation. Hence, always maintain automation and personal messaging in equilibrium. 

7. Leverage Automation for Guided Journey Progression

An ingenious way to strike the right balance between automation and personalization is to leverage automation for journey progression. 

Let us explore this with an example. Suppose a customer asks for warranty information for his laptop. He logs on to your website and finds the widget for live chat. He enters the query, and a chatbot asks about the model number and product key, etc. 

Suppose the customer doesn’t know where to find the product key. The chatbot continues to ask for the product key. The customer will eventually leave! 

The customer types “NO” or another similar phrase that indicates that he cannot find the key.

Now, in another scenario, once the customer enters something different from the product key, such as “Where do I find it?”, the chatbot will ask him for agent intervention. The customer will enter “Yes” and be directed to the human agent who can assist him.

The second scenario progressively guides the customer.

Some other examples of using automation for guided progression are:

  • Proactively onboarding visitors, asking them the purpose of visit, and showing the products
  • Showing the products, ratings, and reviews and helping the customer to place an order

A guided progression in the customer journey increases your sales and makes your customers fans of your personalized shopping experience!

8. Take Actions on Customer Feedback

Automate the feedback gathering processes, such as surveys, small pulse surveys, and proper feedback forms sent via email or chat. Once you have collected the customer feedback, leverage the data analytics to get core actionable insights into the customer data. 

Once you have the insights, get your human resources to start taking action on the feedback. Once you are done with the resolution or drafting the solutions, convey the results to all the customers based on the type of feedback they left.

This cycle of learning your customers’ pain points and delivering solutions proactively helps you build customer trust and strengthens your relationship with them.

9. Be Cool, Not Creepy

Endless data processing and tailored offerings ending up in your customers’ inboxes have spurred a wave of distrust in them. While your customers might like getting notifications about heavy discounts on the product categories they browsed this week, making a routine out of it is lethal!

If they keep on getting such offers or newsletters planned around their recent activities on your website, they feel they are being watched.

So, it is essential to present such offers with moderation to avoid being creepy in your customers’ eyes. 

10. Holistic Data Management Is the Key

Hyper automation and hyper-personalization stem from data analytics. Hence, if you can establish a strategy and well-thought process for contending with the data tsunami, you can balance automation and personalization in customer service.

Experts suggest adopting a holistic data management strategy that will increase the amount and kind of data required. This way, you will prepare and process customer data, ensure its validity, and get the necessary permissions for data use. 

Further, you must be aware that you might not necessarily have all the required data for personalization and automation at all times. You might have to use a customer’s recent online behavior to adapt your virtual agent prompts. 

Striking a balance: Keep Customers Front and Centre

When it comes to striking the right balance between automation and personalization, you must remember one thing – Customers are people

If you wish to deliver excellent customer service via personalization, you have to keep customers front and center constantly. Devise strategies for automated and personalized customer service keeping your customers in mind. 

Think about:

  • Customer pain points
  • Issues they face in contacting support
  • Communication channels they prefer while seeking support
  • Whether they find chatbots right or not
  • If provided, would they like to get self-service modules, etc

Always remember, when it comes to the best practices in customer experience and support, you learn as you go. Over the years, the best practices are honed, with constant experimentation and proactive betterment based on customer satisfaction. 

Begin your journey by following the tips shared here and strive towards leveraging automation and personalization in a perfect balance to achieve customer satisfaction. 

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J Olof Stefenson

Author J Olof Stefenson

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