In all types of automated software, bugs and defects are both common and inevitable. As much as developers would like their creations to be entirely error-free, there are too many variables and inputs for this to happen. It’s why testing and maintenance are essential features of any successful digital implementation process. They weed out mistakes in an automated process and allow them to be corrected.
It might seem as though new automated processes only need to be tested and proven once – when they’re first implemented. In reality, they require your long-term attention. This is due to a variety of reasons, the most important of which we’ll cover below. However, above all else, automated processes need to be maintained for the foreseeable future because they can be improved and refined through intelligent leverage of the data they generate.
Data from automated processes is beneficial
If they’re to do their job efficiently, automated processes depend on customer data and . Fortunately, they generally harvest large amounts of customer data that can then be analysed and applied in order to improve services. For instance, automated services such as chatbots generate enormous amounts of customer data, which ranges from the frequency of certain types of problem to how long it takes for the chatbot to resolve an issue.
However, one of the key technologies embedded in chatbots – Natural Language Processing (NLP) – demonstrates just how important long-term development of automated technology is. NLP allows chatbots to better understand the intent behind language use and to identify trends. In turn, this allows it to create increasingly personal and complex responses to customers. If this process is overseen by an experienced software developer, it can result in remarkably powerful chatbots that replicate human conversation in increasingly realistic ways.
Automation is an investment
Like equipment or staff, automation processes are investments. They require you to spend money in order to save it in the future. All investments need to be protected and maximised if they’re to fulfil this function. An investment that isn’t protected will soon begin offering diminishing returns and may end up costing the business more than it saves.
The key way in which businesses can protect their investment is by establishing a maintenance routine that ensures you look after and maintain your automated processes over a long period of time. After all, you wouldn’t invest in an expensive piece of machinery and then just let it rust and seize up. The same goes for automated technologies.
Automated processes need to be reliable
One of the principal benefits of automated software is that it returns an accurate and reliable response time and time again. Compared to human agents, who will often return varied responses to the same input, automated processes can typically be depended on to return an identical answer until inputs are altered. However, this reliability can only be ensured if the processes are regularly checked, updated, and maintained.
Prevention of loss due to downtime
Preventative maintenance is always less painful and far cheaper than emergency support. One of the scariest eventualities for any business is having its digital systems taken offline due to poor performance or a major glitch. To prevent this, automated processes need to be situated within a digital support system that emphasises preventative maintenance.
While some companies have the resources and expertise to perform this type of maintenance in-house, the vast majority will benefit from employing the services of experienced professionals. System downtime is an expensive problem that can be extremely damaging to a business’ reputation – it should be avoided at all cost.
Avoid customer dissatisfaction
Customers often emphasise the fact that they would prefer to speak to a human agent than interact with automated processes. This means that businesses face a challenge when trying to develop automated technologies that satisfy consumers – they’re already up against an inherent bias and have to overcome customer prejudices.
When automating customer service processes, it’s essential that you ensure they function exactly as they should and that they operate in a way that is likely to satisfy customers. If they don’t, you’ll find that clients quickly become frustrated with the technology and will turn away from your business, citing a lack of quality customer support. This loss of custom can be prevented by constantly improving and refining the automation processes to ensure customer satisfaction.
Allows for a more holistic, omnichannel approach
Automated customer service technologies, such as chatbots and Interactive Voice Response systems, can no longer be thought of as individual communication channels that exist separate and apart from one another. Instead, they need to be perceived of as part of an interconnected whole, in which all channels are part of the same customer journey and between which customers, information and employees can move seamlessly.
Today, customers rarely complete an interaction with a business through one channel. They may start by browsing a company’s social media profiles, then move to a website chatbot, before ultimately resolving their issue over the phone. If automated processes are to remain responsive to shifting user behaviours and remain useful in an omnichannel system, they need to be regularly monitored, updated, and modified.
Automation doesn’t necessarily need YOUR attention
While automated processes do require attention over a long period of time, they don’t necessarily require YOUR attention. In fact, it’s highly likely that they’ll be better served by professionals with expertise and experience in automation. This is particularly true of analytics. Though automated technologies generate large amounts of data, understanding how to analyse and apply the lesson taken from the data can be incredibly complex. Organisations like Inform Comms have spent years developing this specialist knowledge and are in an excellent position to help your business.
Automated technologies can drive cost-cutting efficiencies and offer consumers improved customer service if they’re implemented well and improved over time. Like any work process, they are not perfect, will naturally contain defects, and will be able to be refined using the information they themselves gather. This makes a long-term maintenance programme an essential element of any successful implementation process and the only means of ensuring the technology continues to function as it should.