How to use workflow automation in customer service Customer by MATT KEENER June 14, 2021Customers expect excellent service every time that they interact with your company.And, although specific teams may deal with complaints, technical issues, and general troubleshooting, customer service (CS) is the responsibility of everyone within an organization—from sales to support to marketing and even accounts receivable.Companies small and large are looking for innovative ways to elevate and streamline customer service. One way to eliminate time-consuming tasks and free up staff to focus on engagement is to use workflow automation. Here are a few workflow automation tips for improving the customer experience.1. Identify your customer service automation goalsBefore building your first automated workflow for CS, it’s wise to agree on a shared set of goals. Here’s how to identify your workflow automation objectives:Set goals that are aligned with your customer service metricsStart by discussing how workflow automation will help you deliver better customer service. What problems are you trying to solve? How do you plan to measure the achievement of your goals? Be specific and connect desired business outcomes to metrics that you already track, such as your churn rate, customer satisfaction (CSAT), or average customer wait time.Be realisticIt’s tempting to overcompensate and try to do too many things at once with automation, especially if you learn that customers are waiting for hours or days to get an initial response. Slashing customer wait time from hours to seconds sounds great on paper, but how realistic is it? Setting incremental goals is a better approach. Think in terms of percentages—improving by just 10% per month will lead to an exponential improvement within one year. Play the long game and don’t overwhelm the system.Use data to establish benchmarks for accurate goal trackingLet’s assume that customers routinely complain about how long it takes your company to get back to them. Using workflow automation to reduce first response time seems like a logical use case. Just be sure to use reliable data as a benchmark for measuring progress. If you use a third-party ticketing system to track customer inquiries, check to see what types of reports are available. With a few clicks, you may be able to establish a baseline for your team’s existing responsiveness. This will serve as a key data point as you implement automated workflows that close the gap.2. Go for quick, high-impact workflow automation victoriesGoals in hand, it’s time to get to work. What’s the one thing that you can easily automate to make the biggest impact on the customer experience? If your primary goal involves increasing engagement through enhanced communication, then enabling an automated confirmation email might be a good place to start. Simply telling customers that you’ve received their request could make a noticeable impact. Keep it simple and gain momentum toward achieving your ultimate goal. Resist the temptation to tackle the most complicated workflow on day one.3. Avoid automating broken processesAutomated workflows are not a fix-all for every service-related problem. Trying to automate convoluted systems is a recipe for failure, and doing so will likely cause stakeholders to lose confidence in your automation strategy. Fix the underlying process first, then automate part or all of it. Workflow automation, when properly implemented, should make efficient CS-related systems run even more efficiently. Don’t waste time automating broken processes.4. Plan, test, launch, test, repeatYou need a scalable system to ensure your automated workflows are actually working and are not in conflict with other automations. To do that, follow these action steps: plan, test, launch, test, and repeat.Start by planning what you want to automate in the context of your existing automations. Does this project actually require a new workflow, or could it be added to an existing workflow? Will the automation require additional training for staff? Think through questions like these and develop a game plan. Once you’ve got your plan, build and test the workflow in a limited environment (if possible). Do you have the flexibility to apply the workflow to a segment of records rather than your entire database? Taking a measured approach could reduce the risk of business interruption. When the automated workflow is performing as expected in a limited capacity, you can consider expanding its reach to a larger use case. After fully enabling it, be sure to test for and resolve any unexpected issues. Repeat this process as needed.5. Use data to measure progressCheck to see if your customer service platforms offer any built-in reports and dashboards to support the ongoing monitoring of your automated workflows. For example, if you’re automating CS-related tasks with Insightly, check out Insightly’s Guide to Dashboards to learn how you can visualize real-time data, measure progress, and share reports with your team.Examples of customer service and support automationAutomated customer service workflows can vary greatly depending on your goals, business model, industry, ICP, and personas. Not sure what to automate? Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:Prospective customersSend an automated email after a prospect submits a formAssign a task for the sales rep to follow up within a predefined number of daysRemind your sales manager to personally check in on any deals greater than $5,000New customersAuto-convert closed deals into projects for your operations team to work onAdd new customers into a welcome email series that provides helpful training linksSet a task for accounting staff to ensure that new customer payment details are obtainedExisting customersSend customers an automated satisfaction survey within five minutes of a logged callPrompt customers to schedule account reviews within 3 months of contract renewalRemind sales reps to send out swag two weeks after a contract is renewedUse automation to provide better service to customersExcellent customer service can be a competitive advantage in an increasingly crowded marketplace. Strategically leveraging automated workflows for CS can help your organization deliver better service, engage customers more effectively, and, ultimately, develop healthier, lasting customer relationships. Customer Experience | Customer retention | Project management MATT KEENERMatt Keener is a digital marketer and President of Keener Marketing Solutions, LLC. In addition to consulting for Insightly and other SaaS clients, Matt enjoys blogging about remote work. Get Matt’s top-rated book or connect with him on LinkedIn.