Written by Rob Binns Reviewed by James Macey Updated on June 23, 2023 On this page Introduction to Customer Service Automation & CRM What is Customer Service Automation? Customer Service Automation: Features and Benefits Issue Management Capabilities Customer Interaction Tracking Customer Loyalty Tracking Customer History Customer Service Automation: Challenges Future Trends in Customer Service Automation Customer Service CRM: Top Suppliers for US Businesses Verdict FAQs Expand Our site is reader-supported – by clicking our links, we can match you with a potential supplier, and we may earn a small commission for this referral. Customer service automation is when businesses use technology to reduce human involvement in solving custom inquiries. This is done by using self-service resources, proactive messaging, or simulated chat conversations.Automated support systems offer several advantages over human representatives – unlike humans, they’re available round-the-clock, every day of the year, ensuring uninterrupted assistance for customers. Automated customer service is also more cost-effective than managing a team of human customer support agents, because these systems effectively handle simple and repetitive tasks while routing tickets to the relevant departments. As a result, this lightens the burden on your customer support teams, allowing your employees to focus on customers who actually need assistance from a human employee.This page will explain exactly how customer service automation works, highlighting its features and benefits. We’ll also show you the best systems for customer service automation to look out for. What is Customer Service Automation?Customer service automation is how businesses automate key manual tasks when it comes to customer support. Automation isn’t about replacing your human service agents – it’s about helping them to do their job. Customer service automation is both a process and a tool.If you’ve ever used a chatbot to set up a direct line with a company – or accessed a business’s online knowledge base to solve an issue, rather than speak to an agent – then you’ve experienced customer service automation first-handWhy is customer service automation important?For customer service teams, automated customer service is important for three main reasons:Quicker response timesPrompt responses are crucial in customer service, because slow response times can create a negative impression and drive customers to competitors. Research shows that 83% of consumers say they feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints.More convenient customer experiencesCustomers expect to communicate through their preferred channels, whether that’s phone calls, social media, or email. They also want seamless transitions between channels without repeating information to different people. Automated customer support systems address these expectations by deploying across multiple channels and integrating with CRM platforms, giving your team a comprehensive view of customer interactions.More autonomy for your customersMany customers prefer self-service options over relying on others. Automated customer service empowers customers to independently resolve simple issues, eliminating middle-players and allowing them to address problems at their convenience. By allowing customers to solve solutions themselves, you can’t get a much quicker or easier customer experience.What are the customer service automation technologies?The most common examples of automated customer service solutions include:Automated workflowsInteractive Voice Response (IVR)Email automationChatbotsSelf-service portalsFrequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Customer Service Automation: Features and BenefitsLet’s take a look at the features all top customer service CRM systems do well – and how these can help your business grow. Issue Management CapabilitiesWhen customer service issues arise – and no business is perfect, so rest assured they will – you’ve got to respond with speed and professionalism.And, with customer service CRM, you can do just that. CRM software allows you to create ‘tickets’, with which you can record, organize, and track any issues that have been reported to your team. Using a simple drag-and-drop queue, you can keep tabs on the status of each issue, and easily spot links between different cases.You can also prioritize issues, and assign team members to specific ones – thus increasing the accountability of your team, and ensuring that cases are resolved with greater efficiency. Customer Interaction TrackingAs with CRM for sales and marketing – where tracking customer interactions helps you sell to them – CRM for customer service allows you to monitor how and where your client base is interacting with your brand.Is that through social media? Do your customers prefer to get in touch via email, or would they rather pick up the phone and give you a call? Tracking your customers’ interactions with your brand helps you understand their preferences, and empowers you to tailor how – and when – you deliver your service going forward. Customer Loyalty TrackingAcquiring new customers is important… but the real business is in retaining them.It’s cheaper, for one. Plus, statistics show that your probability of converting an existing customer is around 60% to 70% – with new customers, that figure is as low as 5%.Given this, engendering customer loyalty to your brand and services becomes even more crucial – as does being able to accurately track it.CRM allows you to gain invaluable insights into your brand and industry, courtesy of your customers themselves. From directly within the CRM, you can reach out to your client base with surveys and feedback requests – allowing you to better understand your business’s NPS (Net Promoter Score), and how it’s impacting on your bottom line. Customer HistoryA key benefit of a customer service automation tool is being able to build up a rich, detailed history of each interaction you have with your customers.Having a comprehensive record of what conversations you’ve had – and whether they took place via phone, email, or social media – allows you to better understand the customer, and where they are in their journey with your business.Plus, when your team grows beyond a certain size, having a customer history database isn’t just a plus – it’s a necessity.When one service agent picks up the phone, it won’t always be the same one that the caller dealt with last time – so it’s important that they have all the info they need to handle the new enquiry, right at their fingertips. Customer Service Automation: The ChallengesJust like any business technology, there are some drawbacks to consider. For your business to provide optimal customer service, it’s important that you recognize these disadvantages and strike a balance between automation and human interaction.Disadvantages of automated customer services include:Lack of Human TouchIn complex or sensitive situations where understanding and emotional support are vital, automated customer services may fall short. The absence of human interaction can hinder effective resolution and empathy, which are crucial for certain customer needs.Limited Problem-Solving AbilitiesWhile automation excels in addressing routine and straightforward customer inquiries, it may struggle when faced with more intricate issues. Complex problems often require human judgment, critical thinking, and adaptability, which automated systems may lack. Let’s say a customer has searched your knowledge center for an answer, but can’t find due to the issue’s complexity – a less sophisticated chatbot or support system is likely to refer the customer back to the knowledge center because they’re unable to identify frustrated customers.Data Privacy and Security RisksAutomated customer services involve the collection and processing of customer data. Insufficient security measures pose risks such as data breaches or unauthorized access to sensitive information. Customers may be concerned about their privacy and the potential misuse of their personal data, which can prove costly to your reputation and bottom line. Future Trends in Customer Service AutomationWe predict that customer service automation will be defined by these future trends:Artificial Intelligence (AI) AdvancementsAI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are already popular, and we predict they’ll become increasingly sophisticated, capable of understanding and responding to customer inquiries in a more human-like manner. Voice-Activated Customer Service AutomationCustomers will be able to interact with automated systems using voice commands, making the experience more intuitive and hands-free, empowering customers to seek assistance, place orders, and resolve issues using natural language, enhancing convenience and accessibility.Omni-Channel Automation ExperiencesOmni-channel automation focuses on providing a seamless and consistent customer experience across multiple channels and touchpoints, such as social media, email and phone calls. This integration will ensure that customers can switch between channels without losing context, allowing your business to provide efficient and personalized support regardless of the communication channel. CRM with Customer Service Automation: Top Suppliers for US BusinessesWe've thoroughly tested seven of the best Helpdesk providers on the market, critically evaluating them in the key areas your business should be considering when looking to adopt a system. According to our testing, these providers offer customer automation builders, enabling you to automate manual processes, such as creating a new task each time a contact is added. Check out our table for a quick overview of the best systems… Swipe right to see more 0 out of 0 backward forward Zendesk Freshdesk Salesforce ManageEngine Best for Customizable customer service options Best for Communication channel features Best for Automation and analytics Best for Best value Price Range $19-$150 per user per month Price Range $0 to $119 per month, per user Price Range $25 – $75 per user per month Price Range $0 to $58 per month, per user Customer Automation Builder Customer Automation Builder Customer Automation Builder Customer Automation Builder Free Trial Free Trial Free Trial Free Trial Try Zendesk Try Freshdesk Try Salesforce Try ManageEngine The best CRM system for customer service automation is Zendesk, offering the best help and support and customization features of any platform we tested. For example, you can customize automations on all eight of its price plans, and you can create custom dashboards on the Suite Professional plan and upwards. Meanwhile, Zendesk provides a mix of free and paid courses to help your business hit the ground running when it comes to automated customer service.However, Freshdesk is better value for for money than Zendesk because it offers a free plan (Zendesk plans start from $25 per month, per user) that also comes with custom automation builders. That's why Freshdesk still scored highly in testing, gaining 4.6/5 compared to Zendesk's 4.7/5. Verdict Customer service automation offers numerous benefits for businesses seeking to enhance its customer support. By leveraging automation, your business can provide faster response times, ensuring higher customer satisfaction in today's fast-paced world. Automation also offers more convenience for your customers by offering support through various channels and allowing seamless transitions between them.Lastly, automated customer service systems free up your human agents to focus on complex inquiries, leading to more efficient problem-solving.Looking to the future, advancements in artificial intelligence and voice-activated automation hold promise for even more personalized and intuitive customer experiences. Embracing customer service automation is crucial for your business to stay competitive in the evolving landscape.To put your company’s best foot forward, it’s a good idea to consider using CRM platforms with automation features, such as Zendesk's comprehensive customer service automation solutions, designed to help your business to streamline operations and deliver exceptional support. FAQs What is customer service automation? Customer service automation is the use of technology and software systems to automate and streamline customer support processes, reducing human interaction with customer service issues. How does customer service automation benefit businesses? Customer service automation offers many benefits for businesses, including providing faster response times, cost-effectiveness, freeing up human agents for complex tasks, and improving overall customer satisfaction. What are some popular customer service automation tools? From our testing, we know that the best customer service automation tools include Zendesk, Salesforce Service Cloud, Freshdesk, and ManageEngine. Can customer service automation completely replace human agents? No, customer service automation can't completely replace human agents, because certain situations require human understanding, empathy, and problem-solving skills. How can companies maintain a balance between automation and human interaction? Your business can maintain a balance between automation and human interaction by identifying tasks suitable for automation (things like data entry or other straightforward tasks), leveraging self-service options, and providing channels for customers to escalate to human support when needed. What challenges can arise when implementing customer service automation? The key challenges usually include data privacy concerns, system integration complexities, ensuring accurate responses, and the need for continuous monitoring and updates to meet evolving customer needs. With automated customer service, you also lose the human touch that some complex customer issues need. Written by: Rob Binns Services Expert Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky. Reviewed by: James Macey Senior Business Software Researcher James thinks all businesses can improve if they use the right technology. At Expert Market, he utilises his 4+ years experience as a researcher to offer specialised advice on a wide range of categories from CRM to Fleet Management.