What to Consider Before Implementing Communication Automation
September 30, 2020
Efficiency and cost savings are never more important than during difficult economic times. The coronavirus pandemic — and the resulting economic crisis — are forcing businesses to look at new ways to minimize manual tasks and free up staff for more valuable activities, including communications automation.
This form of automation, like any process, is susceptible to error such as when deceased people were sent economic stimulus letters by the U.S. government this spring. These mistakes illustrate why it’s vital to get it right every time.
Here are four key considerations when you’re thinking about how automated communications could benefit your business:
1. Cost Savings
Organizations can minimize time spent on data entry with automated communications, allowing them to improve both quality and speed of customer service. The automation reduces the need for proofreading, paper handling, document loading, storage, distribution, postage and shipping. By introducing automation, businesses reduce risks associated with human error.
2. Inbound Communications
Businesses need to consider whether they’re looking at automating inbound or outbound communications (or both). There are a number of checks and balances to put in place before an organization can consider its inbound communications truly automated. Inbound communications need to be collected from a multitude of different channels. Once collected, communications must be prepared and processed, with the contents understood and the very intent of the communication determined. Finally, the appropriate data can be extracted. This data needs to be enriched, in all likelihood by a human, before it can enter the system.
3. Outbound Communications
Outbound communications automation requires a real focus on checking the accuracy and intent of data before anything is sent out to customers. A thorough validation of any proposed communications by a human is crucial in ensuring that what goes out won’t have a negative impact on the company’s reputation.
4. Balancing Automation with Human Interaction
Even with automated communications, there still needs to be some level of human interaction. Just how much human interaction is needed is entirely dependent on the organization, with regulated industries under particular pressure to ensure accuracy of customer communications.
The types of systems already in place within the business play a key role in implementation. Automated communications processes need to be able to conform to existing workflows, integrating with what’s already there instead of adding another level of complexity. Intuitive complaint management systems can help, with drop-down menus suggesting next courses of action or specifying what data is needed in the correct format, to ensure consistency and accuracy of any automated communications.
The most intuitive systems facilitate human intervention only when absolutely necessary. For example, the need for intervention will only be flagged when a user with a low competency for a particular skill or skillset is attempting to send outbound communications. If competency across skills is high, then human intervention wouldn’t be required.
The right systems ensure that all relevant customer information is available at any time, with one true picture of the customer providing automated communications with all the details required to ensure the right information is going out to the right customer at the right time. It’s all too easy for disparate systems and spreadsheets to deliver fragmented information, something which will only serve to undermine any efforts to increase efficiencies and enhance customer experience.
While automated communications undoubtedly represents a way to speed up interactions and improve overall customer experience, it shouldn’t be seen as the ultimate solution for all communication problems. But, with the right processes in place underpinned by the right systems and the proper level of human interaction, it’s a valuable tool for any organization to have under its belt.
For more information on how Aptean Respond can facilitate the effective use of communications automation within your business contact us. We’d love to talk.