The human touch is a vital component of contact center interactions. Customers appreciate when they interact with a real person who understands their needs and can empathize with their situation.
However, agent intervention, though desirable in customer support, tends to be subjective, error-prone and costly. The solution? Automated workflows that aid contact center agents with solving routine tasks, especially those that don’t warrant a human touch. Automation of any kind adds agility, efficiency and scalability to a business, yielding high cost and time savings.
This article is meant for you if you are behind the automation curve. In it, we will dig into the basics of contact center workflows - definition, key components and the start-to-finish building process. We will wrap up the article with effective optimization tips and tools to help you get started. Read on.
What is a contact center workflow?
A contact center workflow is a predefined set of processes that guides agents to handle customer interactions efficiently with minimal human effort. Workflows leverage automation and contact center AI to handle customer inquiries and accomplish basic and repetitive tasks encompassing:
inbound call routing
reporting and analytics
By lending scale and speed to customer service, contact center workflows ensure timely resolutions and enhance agent productivity by allowing agents to invest in complex cases that require a human touch. In short, if used strategically, workflows can be instrumental in boosting your contact center customer experience.
Learn more about Guided Workflows in Customer Support
Top reasons why contact centers need workflow
Contact center workflows ensure smooth operations between cross-functional teams and simplified reporting. They also reduce operational costs associated with human effort. Let's discuss the benefits of incorporating workflows for managing your contact center operations, in detail here:
1. Increased efficiency
A workflow outlines steps a contact center agent needs to follow while assisting a customer, removing ambiguity from the process.
A structured approach ensures that every customer interaction is handled on auto-pilot, which helps brands meet- and exceed - customer expectations efficiently.
Here is an example to lend more clarity. Product return requests abound in e-commerce-oriented contact centers where a workflow can guide the handling agents through the steps of verification of purchase, initiation of request and resolution.
Suggested Reading: Types of Contact Centers & Their Applications
2. Enforced accountability
A workflow can establish clear roles and responsibilities for each team member. With clear visibility, each team member understands their role in achieving performance targets and contributing to overall customer satisfaction. There is a set KPI, turnaround time and metric that each participant strives for, which ensures your service level agreements are always met.
Need an example?
Here goes: A workflow with multiple stakeholders could specify that the agent will respond to customer inquiries, troubleshoot issues and provide solutions. They will strive to optimize the relevant customer service metrics customer support such as first-call resolution and average handle time (AHT). Moreover, they will document customer interactions and escalate complex issues to higher-tier support if necessary.
3. 360-degree task and performance visibility
A workflow can ensure 360-degree visibility of tasks, blockers and tickets.
For example, if a high-priority ticket is pending for too long without resolution, the concerned agent and their supervisor are notified immediately.
The supervisor can then log into the contact center analytics dashboard and see real-time updates on open tickets, average resolution times and ongoing task status. They can generate reports to track the performance of individual agents and identify areas for process improvement.
This org-wide visibility enables better collaboration, faster issue resolution and overall improved performance.
4. Reduced agent training time
Workflows can reduce agent training time by providing clear step-by-step guidance for handling customer interactions.
Say a customer calls to inquire about a product exchange. Without a defined workflow, the agent might struggle to locate the exchange policy or determine the customer's eligibility, stretching the hold time and risk of potential frustration.
However, with a well-defined workflow, the rookie agent will have immediate access to the policy, step-by-step instructions on verifying eligibility and a clear script for communicating the same to the customer. This structured approach minimizes the need for extensive training sessions.
5. Reduced human errors
Workflows can minimize human errors by automating repetitive tasks, providing real-time guidance and implementing approval checks.
Imagine an agent manually entering vast customer information datasets into a system. There's a high risk of typos or incorrect data entry that could lead to delays or inaccurate reporting or even escalations.
With an automated workflow, the customer's information can be pre-populated from the interaction channel. Interactive web forms can ensure agents collect accurate and complete information.
This ensures consistency and accuracy in customer interactions, reducing the likelihood of errors that could lead to customer dissatisfaction and revenue loss.
6. Lowered operational and labor costs
Relying solely on human agents in contact centers can be expensive, from recruitment and training to salaries and benefits.
Moreover, an agent spending considerable time manually processing transactions can lower productivity and lead to fatigue and poor morale. In worse cases, agent burnout and churn are a huge possibility.
By arming your contact center agents with workflows, you can reduce the time agents spend on non-cognitive tasks and allow them to focus on resolving customer issues more efficiently. This leads to increased productivity, lower agent turnover and overall labor costs.
7. Consistent service delivery
A workflow establishes standardized procedures so that agents maintain a uniform level of service across all interactions.
Imagine a customer calling to inquire about a product feature. Without a well-defined workflow, the agent's response depends on their knowledge and experience. Customers could receive conflicting information due to differences in communication styles or interpretations. This leads to varying levels of detail, confusion and dissatisfaction.
However, in a workflow-based approach, the agent selects the relevant product feature from a structured menu. The workflow comprehensively explains the feature, including its purpose, functionality and usage instructions.
This ensures that agents provide consistent information and guidance regardless of their experience level. Consistency fosters customer trust, enhances brand reputation and enhances overall customer satisfaction.
Additional benefits of contact center workflow
Simplified task delegation
Workflows enable businesses to assign tasks based on agent expertise. This ensures customers are directed to the most qualified personnel.
Workflows can also be dynamically adapted to accommodate evolving business needs. As new product lines or regions are introduced to the contact center's operations, workflow builders allow customing the flow, ensuring uninterrupted task delegation and consistent service delivery.
Moreover, workflows help in queue management. By automatically distributing tasks and balancing agent workloads, workflows prevent bottlenecks and ensure no query goes unattended.
Furthermore, workflows facilitate seamless escalation management by providing clear guidelines for transferring tasks to appropriate agents or teams when necessary. This minimizes delays and ensures timely resolution of complex issues.
Workflows generate valuable data that can be analyzed to identify trends and areas for improvement. Contact center workflows provide performance data on agent-customer interactions. Completed tasks versus scheduled tasks give managers insights into each agent's workloads and bandwidth, fostering informed workforce management decisions.
Moreover, agents can use customer insights from past workflows to deliver personalized interactions without the need for repetitive information requests, enhancing customer satisfaction.
Key features of contact center workflows
A well-designed contact center workflow is essential to ensure efficient and effective customer interactions. Here are 12 key features of a contact center workflow:
1. API integration with CRMs and databases
API integrations with contact center CRMs provide access to customer information and history, empowering agents with a holistic view of each customer. This enables personalized interactions, improves issue resolution and builds stronger customer relationships.
In addition, it fetches product and pricing information in real time. Agents can access current discounts, promotions and applicable taxes, enabling them to provide accurate quotes to customers without delays. They can seamlessly process customer orders, check inventory levels and suggest relevant product upgrades or cross-selling opportunities. This efficient handling of customer inquiries enhances customer satisfaction.
2. Knowledge database
A knowledge base (KB) is a centralized repository of information and resources. This includes how-to guides, best practices and frequently asked questions on the website, app or community experience. It collates, organizes and tags all of the information that customers and agents need to solve issues quickly.
At the same time, it helps reduce agent handling time by surfacing the most relevant knowledge articles directly on the unified interface. This helps resolve issues faster.
A script is a document that details what an agent should say when responding to a customer service scenario. They guide agents through interactions, ensuring response consistency and adherence to compliance requirements.
4. Interactive voice response
Interactive voice response or IVR plays a pivotal role in efficiently directing incoming calls. It is an automated phone system technology that allows customers to access information via pre-recorded messages or keypad selection. It helps customers select options that align with their needs. This not only reduces wait times but also ensures that inquiries are directed to the right agents.
5. Automatic call distribution
Automatic call distribution (ACD) is a telephony system that automatically routes calls to the most suitable agents. It optimizes agent workload, minimizes customer wait times and ensures that queries are handled by agents with the necessary skills.
Chatbots are computer programs designed to provide automated assistance for routine queries. They are available 24/7, offer quick responses and handle frequently asked questions. This reduces agent workload and enhances the overall customer experience.
7. Email automation
Email automation streamlines the management of customer emails. It categorizes and prioritizes incoming emails, assigns them to the right agents and can automate responses to common queries. This ensures that emails are handled efficiently and customers receive timely replies.
8. Call recording
Call recording is a quality assurance tool that is essential for monitoring and improving agent performance and settling legal disputes and compliance issues. They enable contact center managers to review calls, provide feedback and identify areas for improvement, ultimately maintaining a high standard of service quality.
Additionally, call recordings can also be used to gather real-time consumer insights on behaviors and trends.
Dig Deeper: Your Complete Guide to Call Management
9. Tasks and forms
Incorporating tasks in the workflow ensures that agents receive and complete assigned assignments efficiently. These tasks can range from follow-ups on customer issues to specific actions that help resolve inquiries. Agents can track all tasks—see how many are in progress, completed or remaining. This enhances agent productivity and enforces accountability.
Collecting customer feedback and consumer insights is crucial for continuous improvement. Automation tools can be used to distribute customer surveys and feedback forms post-interaction. This allows contact centers to gauge customer satisfaction, preferences and areas for enhancement.
10. Workflow designer
A workflow designer is a digital solution that helps admins create and modify workflows tailored to the specific needs of the contact center. With a drag-and-drop interface, it simplifies the steps involved in creating a new workflow and eases the tedious process.
11. Workflow automation
Workflow automation is a method that automates the movement of tasks, documents and data in support processes. It is crucial to ensure standardized processes are consistently followed during customer interactions. It streamlines operations, reduces manual efforts, minimizes errors and ensures each interaction is handled consistently.
12. Reports and dashboards
Reports and dashboards provide critical insights into key performance metrics. They allow contact center managers to monitor the effectiveness of workflows and interactions. This data-driven approach enables continuous optimization of processes and ensures a high level of service quality.
Level up with this detailed guide on customer service reports for managers and leaders.
In a world where customers seek immediate and efficient responses to their queries, the need for streamlined contact center workflows has never been more critical.
Sprinklr, a leading expert in customer service solutions, offers a powerful tool to meet this demand.
With Sprinklr Workforce Management, contact center managers can easily create, view and manage workflows that their agents can access through a self-service interface. The platform facilitates creating new workflows and making improvements to existing ones. No coding is required.
These workflows also provide agents with a clear sequence of steps to follow through calls and chat flows. That way, agents can focus on providing exceptional care with confidence. Sprinklr also comes with an integrated omni-search feature that seamlessly combines the knowledge base and guided workflows into one easy-to-use search experience.
Explore this powerful tool by getting a hands-on experience with our free trial.
Frequently Asked Questions
Contact center workflows can adapt to peak service hours by dynamically routing incoming queries to available agents, prioritizing urgent or high-value interactions and allocating additional resources such as extra agents during peak times to manage increased call volumes.