Updated Dec 7 2020 :: by Mercer Smith-Looper

Change can be scary. When you get comfortable and familiar with a particular process, it can feel strange to move beyond what you’re used to. While certainly different from the older way of doing things, automation creates a better experience for your team and your customers alike.

Did you know that 90% of buyers use your company’s customer experience as a factor in deciding whether to do business with you? When you automate away specific tasks, you free your customer support and success teams to focus on meaningful projects to create better long-term experiences for your customer base. Instead of working on refund requests or sending out documentation, they can build out new functionality and work to resolve meaningful, meaty problems. The time adds up when you are working on scores of tedious tickets over and over every week.

Here are a few ways to save your team some time and create a quicker, more satisfying resolution for your customers.

Remind your team about overdue tickets

Even the most well-oiled machines can use a little help now and then. Your customers don’t want to wait: 88% of customers expect a response from your business within 60 minutes. You can use automation to move your response time closer to their expectations and make it easier for your team to get there.

Set a reminder that triggers when there is a ticket in your inbox for longer than you would like it to be. Send a message to your Slack or email a group alias to let anyone know that a ticket has been waiting for a bit too long. If you’re not quite ready to set the timer at an hour, use your helpdesk’s data to understand what your current benchmark is. For there, you can set reasonable goals for where you’re at and work with your trigger to help your team achieve them.

Assign your tickets

Have you ever had a customer service interaction where you got bounced between at least three different people or departments before finally getting to the person who was able to resolve your inquiry? When you use automation to assign tickets automatically to the people they should be going to, you save time for your customers and your team. Instead of playing an endless game of tag, the tickets go straight to the best-equipped person to help.

There are a few ways to do this:

  • Automatically scan tickets for certain words or phrases, and assign them based on that.
  • Allow the user to select a specific topic, feature, or issue when filling out your contact form and automatically route conversations based on that.
  • Sort flows based on tags that have been added by your team or automatically.
  • Direct tickets to individual teams based on where your customer sent them. For instance, tickets submitted from your billing page go automatically to renewals or sales.

Humans are, by nature, fallible. When you automatically route tickets to where they need to go, you cut out the option for things getting lost in translation, your customers ending up frustrated, and issues getting unnecessarily escalated.

Respond to chats

Almost every time I’ve spoken to a customer service representative over chat, I’ve ended up needing to provide them additional information. Smart companies use a bot to listen to the inquiry that the user has typed and then send a specific autoresponder reminding them of information that the team will need to resolve the issue. Some typical questions might be:

  • What was your order number?
  • Can you verify the last four digits of the card used to purchase?
  • What’s the name associated with the order?
  • What was the email address associated with the account?
  • How long ago was this purchase made?
  • Which product are you running into trouble with?

Millennials prefer live chat over any other communication channel when it comes to customer service. With that type of volume, even if your team is super fast at responding to conversations, there’s going to be a bit of lag time between when the customer first reaches out and when you get to them. Use an autoresponder to send them the questions that you will ask anyway and save a little bit of time and effort for everyone.

Send appropriate documentation

Auto replies are useful, both in chat like the above or via email. Many companies choose to use auto replies to let customers know their team’s regular working hours, useful information that can help debug issues or link to the documentation. That said, with a little bit of automation, you can go above and beyond.

Instead of sending the same autoreply to everyone, use automation to scan through the customer’s inquiry, and send a customized response with documentation that may be specifically helpful to them based on their question. For instance, consider if a customer sends in a ticket that includes the word “refund.” Instead of sending the regular message that you’d send to everyone, send a response that explains what the refund process looks like (if there is one) and what information they’ll need to be able to provide to get one. It will feel like magic to them.

Escalate responses

It doesn’t feel good to be the one asking to speak to the manager. Usually, once the conversation has devolved to that point, the customer feels discouraged and frustrated. The person helping them is exhausted, and the relationship may be too far gone to salvage. By understanding customer sentiment or specific keywords, you can train your helpdesk can automatically escalate tickets to a team lead, support engineer, or manager, depending on the instance.

Look for words and phrases like:

  • Frustrated
  • Angry
  • “I’m shocked…”
  • Discouraged
  • Disappointed/disappointing
  • Irritating
  • Ridiculous
  • “That makes no sense.”

Email is the most commonly used channel for customer service: 54% of customers used it last year! With it making up that much of your volume, it wouldn’t be surprising if some things slipped through the cracks. Using automation for escalation takes one more thing off of your team’s plate.

I, for one, welcome our robot overlords

Robots and automation don’t need to be scary. Instead of acting like the Terminator, most automation in Support is more like Rosie from the Jetsons. Instead of automating everything at once, take time to figure out where the most significant opportunities are for your team, and implement one bit at a time. That way, you can monitor how it’s working out and make tweaks as needed. Look into automating reminders for your team about overdue tickets and escalating tickets as required. You can even use helpdesk automation for ticket assignment, taking the weight off of your team leads, and individual team members.

Responses can also be automated: ask customers for relevant information in response to their chat or email inquiries, and surface documentation that may be useful for them based on their request. Think about all of the extra time even just one of these automations will free up!


'5 Great Ways to use Helpdesk Automation' was written by Mercer Smith-Looper
Mercer Smith-Looper
Mercer is the VP of Customer Experience at Appcues, a yoga fanatic, and strives to make the world a little bit happier one customer at a time. You can find her on Twitter at @mercenator


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