Customer Service Automation: Nail the Right Mix of Automation and Personal Touch

What does customer service automation mean for your business? Is it using a super-intelligent bot/computer that can do tasks, help customers, and remove the need for human agents altogether? Of course not.

Bot falling

The goal of customer service automation is to minimize the amount of human effort, improve customer satisfaction, increase agent efficiency, and augment, not replace human interactions in customer service!

Why is customer service automation important?

To answer this question let’s take a look at the result of one of the questions we asked in our webinar on “improving agent productivity”.

Customer service poll - Freshchat

As you can see, most of the tasks performed by agents are repetitive in nature. So automation is necessary to reduce the amount of time and resources spent on repetitive tasks in customer service. But relying completely on chatbots and leaving them unchecked can cause serious damage to your customer service. 

So, the best approach is to strike a balance between human effort and automation where bots will do the repeated, time-consuming tasks, letting your team help your customers!

Automating customer service where it counts

Since automation and bots can’t take care of all of your support, you have to carefully choose what is most useful for you to automate. Here are the top 7 ways to implement automation for great customer service.

1. Initiate a conversation with website visitors using chatbots – On average, only 2% of website visitors turn into customers. The other 98% simply move on without making a purchase. Customer support agents, already busy with existing chats, can’t afford to initiate the conversation with everybody who visits your website and that’s where chatbots come into the picture.

With Freshchat, chatbots can be implemented using a web-widget, which pops up once a user spends a certain amount of time on the page. With these web-widgets, you can proactively initiate a conversation with your website visitors and address the first set of queries using chatbots.

Based on where the customer is on your site the chatbot can answer customer queries or with smart intent detection, can assign the conversation to an agent. The popup trigger time, messages, and custom-flows for different situations can be customized within Freshchat.

  2. Use self-service to automate FAQs - 2. Use self-service to automate FAQs - 


2. Use self-service to automate FAQs – 

“ Across industries, 81% of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative.”¹

And because the majority of these questions are not unique or hard to solve and companies already have answers to these questions in the form of FAQs or some document. It’s easy to automate all the answers, using chat popups, bots, or even in-chat FAQs.

While self-service has been an integral part of customer service in the Covid era, it became a crucial part of the business continuity plan for a lot of companies. According to the Freshworks new CX mandate report, 44% of the customer service leaders said that self-service customer portals have played a critical role in maintaining service levels during the crisis.

With Freshchat, you can direct customers to your self-service portal or knowledge base right from the chat pop-up itself, relevant solution articles can be easily sent by an agent while replying to a customer, or can be implemented as a separate webpage altogether.

FAQ - Freshchat

3. Provide information to agents about customer touchpoints and activities for better context – During a customer interaction, having no context about the customer delivers a very bad customer service experience, and doing it manually or asking the customer can be time-consuming. And when the customer has to repeat themselves to different agents or customer service teams, things become even worse. 

So to avoid that, businesses should use automation features like “customer intel” available in Freshchat, which tracks all the customer data related to their activities or previous interactions with your brand. Freshchat can be easily integrated with your CRM or helpdesk which will help agents with all interactions or issues customers had in the past and have a meaningful conversation with the customers. Here’s a video that explains how tracking visitors and customers work in Freshchat with just a few clicks.


4. Automatically assign and prioritize chats for agents based on their bandwidth – Routing a conversation manually from one agent to another or to different teams can be a heavily manual and time-consuming process. These processes can be automated completely, freeing up a lot of time for agents to respond to more users. Freshchat has features like “IntelliAssign” and “Assignment rules” using which companies like Sens group were able to reduce their First Response Time to 30 secs.

Below are the top 3 features in Freshchat you can use today to automate the chat assignment and prioritization process.

  • Priority Inbox – With the priority inbox, you can automate the categorization of customer conversations based on their priority and expected SLAs. With this agents can focus on the most important conversations which need immediate attention.

Priority inbox - Freshchat


  • IntelliAssign – With IntelliAssign you can avoid the hassle of cherry-picking conversations and manually assigning them to team members. You can automatically assign incoming messages to team members or groups (teams) by configuring their skill level and conversation limit. 
  • Assignment rules – These are the advanced rules which can be mapped to a team member or a group based on user properties, topics, time of the day, and the content of the message. Here’s a video that explains the assignment rules in Freshchat.

5. Help your agents respond faster (even in different languages)- Even if your support agents are the world’s fastest typists, there will be times when they will need some help to respond faster.

Fast typing

In customer service, apart from the speed of responses, the content of response also matters a lot and therefore the answers should be well thought of and not just blindly typed. 

Canned Response is a feature that can help agents respond faster to repeated questions.  Using this, agents can create well-thought answers, give them a tag, and re-use them in their conversation by typing “/” in the chatbox.

Another time-consuming task for support agents is when they have to converse with a customer in a different language. At that time copying and pasting text in Google translate just takes a lot of time. Well, the good news is that it can be automated too. Freshchat’s live translate feature translates messages in real-time for over 100 languages. 

Live translate - Freshchat


6. Get insights about your customer service with a real-time dashboard – It doesn’t matter what kind of automation and techniques you apply to improve your customer service, if you cannot track what is working and where the gaps are, it’s missing a major part of the implementation process.

To get full control over your customer service you can’t afford to miss metrics like volumes of incoming chats, response rate and time, resolution rate and time, availability of agents, and most importantly CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) score. All of this and much more can be tracked in Freshchat’s live dashboard that can give you a clear picture of your customer service.


7. Automation with smart intent detection and agent handoff – While automation can certainly help get things started and can point customers in the right direction, you’re still going to need to figure out a handoff point between a bot and a human, for the cases that are better suited for agents.

The handoff point is going to be different depending on why the chat needs to go from bot to human. Here are three of the most common cases:

  1. If the question has no available automated response – Every now and then a customer will have a problem that hasn’t been encountered before or hasn’t cropped up with enough frequency for you to automate an answer or write a help doc on it. In these cases, the customer should be handed off to a human.
  2. If the question has multiple parts – Live chat automation is great for a one-part answer where customers can quickly be directed to policies or docs that resolve their queries. But when a question or a complaint has multiple parts, there’s a much smaller likelihood that a bot will be able to get a customer what they need, quickly. One way to hand off a customer with a multi-part question is by checking if they’re having problems with multiple systems (e.g., billing and account login). Another way is to provide a “talk to an agent” option along with other options in the workflow.
  3. If a customer gets frustrated – Sometimes dealing with a bot can be frustrating, especially for older customers or customers who are having a hard time describing their problem. One way to help get customers out of an automated system is to opt them into live support after a certain number of negative responses (e.g., “Did this help solve your problem?” “No.”). This will catch the customer before they become so frustrated they have to leave the chat to find another avenue of support.

Here’s an example where the bots understand that the customer is not willing to provide the desired input and felt the need for agent handoff.

Agent handoff - Freshchat

Because personalization can’t be faked

While bots can be cheerful and call people by their names, they can’t handle personal service or high-touch conversations. This is a limitation to automation, but it isn’t a failure in service. When you shift a customer from a bot to a person, you’re ensuring that the customer feels well-served by your live chat agent.

The key to making the switch from bot to human support is letting your customer service agents process all the information from the automated interaction before they start chatting with the customer. Because repeating problems over and over can frustrate customers hence getting a prior context on a customer’s problem can smooth over annoyances if any!

So a live chat software like Freshchat can help you nail the right mix of automation and human interaction with its round the clock engagement, artificial intelligence, bots, machine learning, agent facing automation tools and deliver a customer experience that is more human, fast, and memorable.