How to Automate Customer Interactions and Reduce Costs

In our previous post on automating customer interactions, we talked about market trends: the Work from Home Event and the AI Revolution. The simultaneous nature of these two events creates a perfect opportunity to automate customer contacts and reduce operating costs. As a premier CX Consultancy, this falls directly into our work.  We are currently helping companies find the best and right areas to focus on via the following approach:

Competitive Strategy

We begin by first understanding an organization’s competitive strategy, the types of interactions the organization has with its customers, and the organization’s customer experience strategy.  This helps us to best understand where to focus when automating interactions.  For example, Zappo’s has a higher-touch strategy than its parent company Amazon.  Zappos provides its toll-free number prominently on the top left side of its website rather than hiding it in the back pages.  Further, their IVR has one option, Press 5 if you’d like to hear the joke of the day else a customer service associate will be right with you.  This is part of their strategy so we would take care not to walk on this brand promise with a conflicting automation strategy.

Solution Design

With the competitive strategy understood, we then focus attention on the solution and look to determine ways to Automate, Eliminate, Streamline (make more efficient), or Inspire.

Customer Interaction Automation Process

Automate

With automation, the goal is to move a contact to an easier, preferred, and less costly self-service channel. This typically requires a review of data to identify contacts that can be serviced with an automated solution, developing a blueprint for self-help, robotics, and fraud opportunities.


A self-help strategy should span all customer channels and not just focus on digital. Interactions can easily be mitigated through the IVR, but caution should be used to ensure the design matches the brand promise. It’s easy to build sophisticated IVR options that end up frustrating customers and creating a negative off-brand experience.


Robotics and Fraud strategies can be used successfully in the back office and augmented with AI. With the numerous emerging technologies in this space, it’s important to align to the brand promise.  

Eliminate

In order to eliminate unnecessary or unwanted contacts by the company and the customer, it’s important to first identify touchpoints that are troublesome or “pain points” for the company and the customer. With some root cause analysis, it’s much easier to determine the source of the issue and the best way to proactively resolve the issue for the customer. This can include adjusting policy changes, fixing product and service issues, and improving communications in order to eliminate a specific contact.

Streamline

Streamlining customer contacts essentially makes the process much easier for the customer and more efficient for the company. Both the customer and company win here. This also requires some root cause analysis but typically also includes process changes/re-engineering. Many times training needs to be updated and front-line supporting tools need enhancements or complete replacement. All of this results in more efficient contacts with the customer.

Inspire

With the goodwill created with customers, it’s much easier to create brand advocacy and inspiration with the customer. This can be intentionally designed to be mutually beneficial and pleasant for both the company and the customer. It’s realized by cross-selling and creating greater advocacy and even inspiration for a brand.

 

So again, it’s time to aggressively pursue automation and cost reduction. If done well, can actually also improve your customer experience. If you agree and would like to discuss this approach in more detail please contact us at [email protected]

Jeff Lewandowski
Jeff Lewandowski

Jeff is the President of Andrew Reise Consulting. For more than 20 years, he has successfully helped Fortune 500 clients to achieve business goals and financial results. In working with clients, he has successfully implemented projects centered around: customer experience (CX), call center operations, voice of the customer (VoC), customer interaction automation, profitability improvement efforts, large-scale system implementations, innovation, and blockchain development.