Is Automated Customer Service the Way to Go?

John Krautzel
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Automated customer service does not enjoy a great reputation among consumers; this is at least in part because may people only remember bad experiences with such services. However, depending on its implementation, customer service automization can be a major benefit for businesses and customers. Before making the decision to switch to automated customer service, there are several important points you should consider to make sure it is the best solution for your current set-up.

Since it first appeared several decades ago, automated customer service has increased in popularity and sophistication. In fact, most customers now expect to encounter a certain amount of automization when they contact a company's customer service department. When used correctly, this can help streamline customer service calls, ensuring the customer talks to the right person and the service representative has enough information to accurately answer questions. However, when implemented poorly, automated customer service can lead to an annoying loop for the customer who is left with a question that takes much longer than necessary to answer.

Big businesses or businesses that deal with a disproportionately high number of customer service calls are usually the ones most in need of automated customer service. Time and overall costs are two major factors in determining whether or not automated customer service is necessary. While more customers prefer to talk to a real person when they have a question, if a customer service department is going to be dealing with a high volume of calls, or calls that come in 24 hours a day, automization may not only be preferable but also necessary. Smaller businesses may find customers prefer a personal touch whenever possible.

Before beginning to lay the groundwork for automated customer service, it is important to know the different types of automization that are available. Customer service conducted over the phone is the oldest and still most popular method, but there are several other options available. For example, automated online chat programs can be programmed to answer many common questions and to employ a data bank of keywords to direct customers to the right place in many other instances. This is a good choice if customers have to fill out forms or submit information online because it allows them to contact customer service without leaving the webpage they are working on.

Customer service automization is not the right move for every business. However, for companies with multiple departments that handle customer service calls or for customer service departments that frequently field similar requests, automated customer service can be useful in getting customers routed to the person who can best assist them. When used correctly, automization is also a great way to save money and reduce the amount of time representatives spend on each call.


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