Beyond Order Entry: How Customer Service Reps Can Reclaim Their Identity with the Help of AI-Driven Automation

A strong sense of identity is essential to all of us. It’s the thing that makes you, you — personally, professionally and perhaps even spiritually.

But as empowering as identity is, it can be equally restricting due to the boundaries we (and others) so often construct around ourselves, either consciously or unconsciously.

Think about it like this: While it’s true that a stick is just a stick, its real identity is far more boundless than some narrow label. As children are so apt to teach us unimaginative adults, sticks can actually be a large spectrum of things: snowman’s arm, magic wand, makeshift fishing pole, something for a dog to fetch … you get the idea.

The point is, it never hurts to reexamine and reconstruct the concept of identity. Too often, we trick ourselves into limiting what something can or cannot be.

Data entry or customer service?

There’s a similar identity crisis happening in the world of customer service right now. In many organizations, Customer Service Reps (CSRs) — often the voice and face of the company as far as the customer is concerned — are relied on more as order processors and data enterers than what they actually could or should be doing.

This isn’t always the case depending on the company and industry but it’s safe to assume that if your order management practices are inefficient, your CSRs are not fulfilling their potential. Global research and advisory firm, Gartner, recently found in a 2018 study that: “the majority of companies touch between 30% to 60% of orders, but there are some companies that touch 90% to 100% of orders.”1

While systems like ERP, CRM and EDI are effective in their own way, they fail to relieve customer service reps of the repetitive tasks that sap so much of their time (e.g., manually keying in data, identifying and correcting exceptions, etc.). These touch points offer little to no value to the customer experience or the company’s bottom line and can also open the door to:

  • Costly errors that affect downstream efficiency and timely order fulfillment
  • An aloof CSR staff with little to no opportunities for career-pathing
  • Customers feeling undervalued and underappreciated
  • Lost business and fewer opportunities

A sales force hidden in plain sight

Automated solutions driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer a rather elegant solution to this problem. Acting as a centralized platform for all orders that come into an organization, these solutions use AI technology like machine learning to automatically extract data from incoming orders and disseminate it to the appropriate downstream teams and systems — eliminating the need for manual order entry. This, along with tools like dashboards and portals for tracking metrics, prioritizing urgent orders, and facilitating issue management all free up CSRs to do what they do best: serve customers.

But it’s more than that.

As the front-line people who personify the company brand, customers place a lot of trust in CSRs. A good CSR makes a customer feel like they’re being taken care of — not sold to. In other words, the more time CSRs have to play the role of “relationship builder,” the more opportunities they have to add another wrinkle to their identity: revenue generator.

The identity of customer service reps is far more robust than many businesses, and possibly some CSRs themselves, realize. From my vantage point, it’s a combination of relationship builder, revenue generator and all around problem solver — anything but paper pusher or data enterer. However you define it, with solutions like AI-driven automation available to businesses of all sizes, there’s no debating that the future of customer service will be infinitely more fulfilling and valuable to everyone it touches.

Learn more

If you care to learn more about Esker’s AI-driven order management solution and its impact on CSR teams, check out our recent whitepaper with APQC: Transform Customer Service and Operations Through Order Automation. It’s highly interesting and totally free. Enjoy!

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