In simple words, customer service automation refers to replacing human activities, completely or partially, with standalone process using hardware and/or software, thereby reducing activity time to provide faster service, minimizing human errors, and providing greater customer satisfaction. Almost invariably, automation increases customer service efficiency in terms of speed, thus reducing the longer waiting time. If complete automation is done, without involvement of human hands in the delivery (for example, automated phone banking, sms money transfer, automated bill payment, etc.), then the improvement is beyond doubt. However, when customer service is partially automated (which may be the case in majority of automated services), for example, automatically generated waiting slip for staff assisted services at desk, automated phone queue to be answered by customer service representatives, or automated tickets to be sold by the counter staff – all these require an extra dimension beyond automation – the human factor in automation. Here is the question: what is the use of automatically generated waiting slip if I face the same discourteous employee up in the counter? What is the use of automatically generated tickets sold by whining sales clerks? Where is the improvement in automation if an automated queued call is answered by a rude service representative? Mere automation is not the answer to the question of improving customer service. It requires an ever needed inclusion of a human face among all these hardware and software. After all, machines can’t smile, if they do, we don’t believe this.
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