Transmitting empathy in automation strategies

The speed of innovation the world has experienced over the past few years would not have been possible without automation. Many industries have reaped the bountiful benefits of automating their processes. 

Customer service, for example, was revolutionized with new technologies. Automated phone calls, instant messaging services, and chatbots have become standard practice in customer service strategies– helping to alleviate their staff from easily solvable and repeated inquiries so that they can focus their efforts where they’re most needed. 

While these strategies have been fruitful, they have focused, for the most part, on scaling processes, forgetting an essential component to effective communication: empathy. Though scale is important, it is not enough. To successfully implement automation strategies in a customer service department, it is crucial to transmit empathy in the interactions with the client. 

Choosing to ignore this aspect of automation may run companies the risk of coming off as an impersonal brand or not satisfying customers’ needs, leaving them unhappy. This lack of emotion commonly found in bot interactions could result in detriment to customer loyalty.

The key is to find a balance between the human touch while leveraging the transformative power of technology and automation. 

Empathy-driven solutions

It is extremely difficult to deliver outstanding customer service without analyzing how to connect emotionally with clients. Before delving into the ways technology can help scale empathy, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of customer needs. Customer empathy maps are simple tools used to understand a customer’s mindset– that is, how they think, feel and behave– when using a product or service.

This exercise allows teams to get a snapshot of what a customer’s needs are and how to target and eliminate the pain points that might come in the way of a positive experience. These insights are invaluable to better train the automated solutions that are incorporated in customer service strategies.

The good versus the bad bots

If implemented correctly, automation can help streamline the customer support journey; thereby increasing satisfaction for customers and companies alike. The problem isn’t the reliance on bots for customer service. Instead, it’s the loss of empathy that derives from using generic bots as opposed to choosing a service provider that tailors the experience to the customer’s needs. 

Chatbots – either text or voice– are built on decision-tree logic, responding to specific keywords that they have identified in a customer’s input. In the most basic versions of chatbots, these interactions can come across as impersonal. In some industries where the customer support departments deal with sensitive issues like healthcare or debt collection, this type of exchange can damage the customer journey.

To avoid making this mistake, it is pivotal that the bot service provider and the client company work together to train bots to transmit empathy through customized interactions. Machines can be trained to implement Natural Language Processing models and Sentiment Analysis. These technologies allow them to comprehend the natural and complex speech of a human to determine a customer’s intent, sentiments and even understand a sense of humor.

In customer service, this means that bots can understand the subtext of what a customer is trying to ask or communicate and better address their needs. 

In response, conversational AI can be implemented in bots or voice assistants to provide a unique and human-like interaction at scale. For example, Vozy’s voice AI assistant Lili uses 

Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to understand and speak eight different Spanish accents from across Latin America. Lili also takes into consideration how a brand communicates messages to the customers to provide a consistent and personalized experience. 

Through these technologies, companies and organizations can interact with their customers in a more empathetic way.

The power of delegation

Though there are many benefits to using bots and voice assistants, effective implementation will depend on their ability to seamlessly transition to a human agent when needed. Bots can typically only handle simple queries like FAQs, therefore humans are an essential part of customer service. Finding this balance of interactions with humans and robots is the key to creating an empathetic experience at scale.

For instance, if the bot decides to delegate an inquiry to a human agent in the middle of a customer interaction, it is going to provide the customer with contextual information on what is about to happen and why. The bot can also keep a register of all the information provided by the customer to pass on to the right human agent so that the customer doesn’t have to waste time repeating the inquiry several times. After all, understanding the value of a customer’s precious time is also a way to transmit empathy.

Creating empathy at scale

Using automated strategies does not mean losing empathy in the customer journey. The advantages of automation like streamlined processes and quicker response times contribute to an overall improved customer experience. These solutions also allow human agents to connect with the customers that need their attention the most. 

The majority of our connections and interactions today are digital, automated, and in some cases, impersonal.  Automation in customer service has often resulted in the use of generic robots, but this is not enough. Finetuning solutions with the appropriate conversational skills to create a hyper-personalized experience as well as the ability to delegate is key to achieving empathy at scale and having a customer service strategy that stands out among the competition.

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