Call center automation: How to improve your customer service

Madeline Jacobson

October 4, 2023

Of all the areas of your business, customer service may seem like the last thing you want to automate–at least if you want to keep customers happy. But demands on businesses to provide quality customer care have never been heavier, and combining automation with human input can help companies provide more efficient service and keep up with customer expectations.  

Automation and personal, quality care aren’t mutually exclusive. While we’d never recommend you replace your entire customer service team with an automation system, we do see tremendous benefits in automating some aspects of customer service. Call center automation technology can ensure customer issues don’t slip through the cracks, allow you to analyze your customer issues at scale, and measure how effectively your team responds to problems. 

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What is call center automation?

Call center automation is the process of using technology to perform repetitive tasks–speeding up the completion of these tasks while freeing employees up to focus on more complex, high-impact activities. For example, companies can automate their quality assurance (QA) process by using a conversation intelligence solution to listen to all of their calls and automatically complete a scorecard for each interaction. Because QA managers don’t need to listen to every call recording and complete the scorecard themselves, they have more time to focus on translating the insights from the scorecards into action.

When implemented thoughtfully, automation technology can increase your call center’s efficiency, reduce operational costs, and improve the employee and customer experience. We’ll take a closer look at some of the benefits below.

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Benefits of call center automation

Time savings

Call center automation reduces the time it takes to complete routine tasks like data entry, scheduling, and answering FAQs, potentially freeing up hours per day or week for employees to spend on value-added activities. 

Cost savings

With time savings come cost savings. Because automation helps call centers operate more efficiently, it reduces the need to staff up. Some automation technology, such as conversation intelligence software, can also help businesses uncover insights to improve metrics like average handle time and first-call resolution, ultimately reducing operating costs.

Resource optimization

Call center automation helps businesses allocate their resources where they’re most needed. For example, call routing software helps direct customers to the agents who are most qualified to assist them, while predictive analytics can help anticipate changes in contact volume so call centers can schedule their agents accordingly. 

Greater employee satisfaction

Automation reduces the need for customer service agents and managers to work on repetitive tasks that are necessary but (let’s face it) not particularly satisfying. Employees can instead spend more time on activities that deliver a greater sense of accomplishment, such as helping customers solve challenging problems. Some automation software also provides real-time insights and support, enabling agents to make better decisions and feel more confident while assisting customers.

Increased customer satisfaction

Automation software helps customers get assistance faster, whether they are calling your customer service line or using a self-service option like a chatbot. The right automation software can also deliver customer insights and additional context to live or virtual agents so they can deliver personalized experiences and ensure customers feel understood. By enabling positive, low-effort experiences, automation software can help businesses increase customer loyalty and strengthen their brand reputation. 

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Common types of call center automation

Graphic showing list of common types of call center automation

Conversation intelligence

Conversation intelligence, also sometimes called conversation analytics, is a category of software that extracts insights from customer conversations, helping contact centers identify opportunities to coach agents, fine-tune processes, and deliver the offers that best meet their customers’ needs. This type of software automatically categorizes specific events and utterances that occur on calls so businesses can automate their QA process, gain a deeper understanding of customer sentiment, and identify common issues or agent behaviors that are impacting key call center metrics.

Learn more about how a conversation intelligence platform like Tethr benefits customer service in this explainer.

Visualization of a call transcript in Tethr with key moments identified
Example of a transcript in Tethr with key moments identified


Chatbots are typically found on company websites or mobile apps and can handle routine customer inquiries. They can automate tasks such as answering FAQs, sharing recommended knowledge base articles, providing account information, or resetting customers’ passwords. As a self-service channel, they can help reduce the volume of customer calls or live chats, giving human agents more time to focus on resolving complex issues. 

Forecasting and scheduling automation

Forecasting automation software uses data-driven algorithms and historical call center performance metrics to predict future call volumes. This foresight allows for efficient staff scheduling, ensuring that the right number of agents are available when needed, minimizing wait times for customers, and optimizing operational costs.

Interactive voice response (IVR)

IVR systems use automated voice menus to route calls and provide basic information or services without the need for human intervention. Customers can use their keypad or voice commands to navigate through options. This helps call centers manage their virtual queues and route customers to the agents best suited to help them, reducing the need for transfers and repeat calls.

Automatic call distribution (ACD)

ACD software routes incoming calls to the most suitable agents based on predetermined criteria, such as caller information, agent availability, or skill level. It’s often used alongside IVR systems. An IVR system collects customer data, and ACD software uses that data to route the call to the best-fit agent. This helps reduce wait times and call transfers by efficiently connecting customers with an agent who has the knowledge and skills to resolve their issue.

Workflow automation

Workflow automation software completes routine call center tasks by triggering specific actions after the right criteria are met. For example, criteria could be set up so that after a call ends, the recording and basic call data are added to a company’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform. This reduces administrative work for customer service agents, giving them more time to take calls.

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6 ways call center automation can improve customer service

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1. Streamline the QA process to improve agent performance

Conducting manual quality assurance checks on your customer service calls and chats is time-consuming–most call centers can only audit 1-3% of their total interactions. With such a small sample size, it’s hard for call centers to uncover meaningful customer insights and agent coaching opportunities that move the customer experience needle. 83% of agents say they don’t believe their call center’s QA program improves key metrics like customer satisfaction and first-call resolution. 

There’s an easier way than manual reviews. 

Conversation intelligence platforms like Tethr allow you to automate QA on every single call, without the need to manually listen to each one. Here’s how it works: all your calls (or chats) get automatically ingested by the conversation intelligence platform. They’re transcribed, analyzed, and checked for the QA metrics that matter to you.

You can create a custom dashboard for your QA analysis so you can see metrics by team, individual agent, and customer segment, or view everything. This information allows you to improve team training or one-on-one agent coaching so your team members can deliver better customer service.

You can still spot-check calls when needed, and listen to any call or read a transcript.  But you won’t have to conduct QA the old way–you’ll have a comprehensive view of your calls, without the need to hire dozens more QA analysts. 

Want to learn more about how customer service leaders are leveraging QA automation? 

Check out our recorded webinar: Transforming contact center QA with AI.

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2. Manage help desk tickets to ensure issue resolution

Customer service software, such as Zendesk, Hubspot, and Freshdesk, creates systems that automate your customer support requests, plan for upcoming issues, and monitor outstanding cases. 

These tools allow your agents to organize and track customer cases, and route issues to specific departments. You can often integrate these tickets with feedback requests and track metrics like cases resolved and average time to resolution.

Without these, your customers can fall through the cracks.

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3. Deliver personalized service

Two-thirds of customers don’t just want but expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, according to research from Salesforce. Call centers can deliver personalized customer service in a few ways with the help of automation.

By leveraging data and AI, some call center automation software can analyze customer history and behaviors, enabling agents to offer tailored solutions and recommendations. Some software solutions can even equip agents with real-time insights during interactions, allowing for more personalized and efficient service. This not only makes customers feel valued but also boosts loyalty and trust in your brand.

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4. Improve self-service with a chatbot

When your customers need assistance, automatic routing to the correct resources or a self-service channel significantly reduces the burden on your customer service team.

You can do this by adding a chatbot to your website, which can expedite service for some of the most common, straightforward reasons your customers contact you. Chatbots answer customers’ questions or direct them to helpful articles or how-to pages on your site. And with recent advances in generative AI and large language models (LLMs), we can expect to see chatbots become even better at recognizing the meaning behind customer queries and resolving more complex issues.   

For those issues that still require human input, a chatbot can seamlessly transfer customers to live chat support, allowing customers to continue using their customer service channel of choice.

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5. Automate customer experience analysis 

To get an accurate understanding of your comprehensive customer experience, you need to track the metrics that really matter.

Here’s another area conversation intelligence helps. By automatically analyzing your customer service conversations, a conversation intelligence platform can deliver insights that enable your call center to make improvements to the customer experience. For example, rather than just providing basic metrics like your first call resolution, a conversation intelligence platform can help you uncover the top reasons for repeat calls and what language agents are using that either increases or decreases the likelihood of a repeat contact. 

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6. Reduce customer churn with automated notifications

What happens when a customer has a bad service experience? Identifying which customers may be at risk of churning and intervening before they make that decision is essential–and that activity can be automated, too.

You’ll need to combine your platforms to do this. For example, if you use Tethr’s conversation intelligence platform, it can identify phrases customers use that suggest they are a churn risk, and integrate with a CRM like Salesforce to automatically send notifications about at-risk accounts to the appropriate teams.

Final takeaways

Automation hasn’t eliminated the need for the human touch in customer service, but it has transformed call center operations, reducing the time and resources required for rote tasks so that managers and frontline employees can focus on the work that they’re best at. By increasing operational efficiency, allowing call centers to thoughtfully allocate their resources, and giving agents the tools they need to be successful, automation-based technology helps businesses deliver positive, low-effort customer experiences. And with customer experience being a bigger differentiator than price and product, embracing call center automation isn’t just a smart move–it’s an essential one. 

This blog was originally published under the title "Can automation improve customer service? Here are 6 ways it can." It was most recently updated and expanded in April 2024.

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