How to Create an Effective Customer Service Workflow

Keerthana Nithyakumar

February 1, 20246 min read

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No matter how large or competent your customer service team is, there comes a time when they need automation to operationalize daily tasks and attain service levels without breaking a sweat. That's where customer service workflows enter the picture and add efficiency, scalability and speed to the customer service operation.

With mundane tasks broken down into repeatable workflows with specific outcomes, your customer service team's workload becomes streamlined and manageable. From addressing concerns to gathering feedback, there are workflows for every outcome and they can be configured to work autonomously in the background, ensuring consistent excellence.

In this guide, we'll break down the concept of customer service workflows, their types, components and implementation in detail. Let's get started.

Table of Contents

What is a customer service workflow?

A customer service workflow is a repeatable and automated sequence of steps designed to address various customer service issues promptly and efficiently. Being standardized, workflows ensure service consistency across the board and which helps foster customer trust in the long term.

Imagine the workflow as a structured flow chart that simplifies the tasks of customer agents by providing them with a consistent, well-defined sequence to follow. This process guarantees efficiency while minimizing errors in query handling.

Every business has different workflow requirements. However, some common customer service scenarios can be automated by using workflows, such as:

  1. Submit and resolve technical support issues promptly

  2. Check and receive updates on order status

  3. Initiate and track product returns or exchanges

  4. Schedule and manage appointments

  5. Effortlessly reset passwords

The importance of building customer service workflows

Customer service workflows or customer-facing guided workflows are central to customer satisfaction, retention and overall business success. Let's discuss these benefits in detail:

  • Improved productivity: Customer service workflow increases your customer service team's productivity by streamlining communication between different business platforms, reducing data re-entry and automating repetitive manual tasks.

  • Streamlined task delegation: Automation can help in auto-assigning tasks, monitoring calls, setting reminders and automating follow-ups, simplifying task delegation and workforce management (WFM) for customer support managers.

  • Established accountability: Customer service workflows establish accountability by assigning clear ownership of support tickets and SLAs. For instance, a customer support workflow can automatically assign a technical issue to a technically proficient agent using skill-based routing. This ensures that one person is responsible for resolving the issue, reducing the likelihood of tasks falling through the cracks and minimizing the need for follow-up.

  • Tight integration: Customer service workflows break down silos by integrating communication platforms, allowing seamless information sharing between inbound and outbound call centers and contact centers.

    For example, a unified system enables a service agent handling an inbound query to view recent outbound communication history, ensuring a holistic understanding of the customer's needs and avoiding redundant interactions.

  • Quick response: By integrating systems and teams, including calling software, chat solutions, email solutions, CRM and helpdesk, seamless coordination and timely responses across various channels are guaranteed.

  • Minimized human error: Customer support agents can be provided with user interfaces that require minimal post-call data entry. This not only speeds up processes but also minimizes the risk of errors. Accurate customer service reports can be generated in a few clicks, saving errors that would invariably creep in with manual monitoring and statistical analysis.

  • A unified view on performance: Integrated dashboards and reports on customer service analytics are made possible by workflow automation. They can be filtered to provide a unified view of performance across channels, teams, products and regions. Using these unified and granular insights, contact center leaders and decision-makers can assess their team's and contact center's performance, reducing the time and effort required to compile reports.

Agent performance scorecard - customer service workflow

Read More: Balancing Human Touch and Automation: The Role of Guided Workflows

Steps to build a customer service workflow

Building an effective customer service workflow is a strategic process involving careful analysis, thoughtful planning and continuous improvement. Let's break down the key steps to build a customer service workflow and illustrate each point with practical examples.

Step 1: Review your current processes

Start by mapping out how your team handles different support tasks and categorize your daily tasks into four broad buckets:

  • Synchronous support: Real-time handling of inquiries like phone calls or live chat

  • Asynchronous support: Addressing email inquiries that don't need immediate responses

  • Low cognitive tasks: Routine administrative tasks

  • High-cognitive creative tasks: Focused work, such as creating support videos or blog posts

Having established these task categories, automate these tasks first:

Time-consuming tasks: If your team spends a significant amount of time manually gathering customer information, consider automating this process. For instance, leveraging AI-powered customer service (tools like chatbots) to ask standard questions and collect necessary details.

Keyword detection and skill based routing - customer service workflow

Repetitive tasks: Automation can also be strategically applied to commonplace queries. Set up auto-replies for frequently asked questions to provide instant responses and save time.

Collaborative tasks: In instances where tasks involve the collaboration of multiple team members or stakeholders, streamline communication channels. Implement collaborative tools such as shared platforms or project management software.

Step 2: Leverage automation tools

Implement tools to automate repetitive tasks, like sorting and categorizing tickets based on priority. Helpdesk software, for instance, can collate, tag and manage all incoming tickets, keeping account of ticket priorities and turnaround times and sending auto-reminders for at-risk cases.

Consider tools like browser recordings for remote assistance, reducing the time spent connecting to customers' computers. For instance, if your team struggles with manual ticket sorting, explore ticketing systems with automated sorting capabilities based on priority or agent specialization.

Also Read: Customer Service Automation - Definition + 5 Optimization Tips

Step 3: Streamline ticket sorting and routing

Efficient ticket sorting is critical and comprises the following steps:

  • Identify star reps: Recognize top-performing agents and route high-priority tickets to them. This motivates the team to improve and creates a tiered support structure.

  • Tailor ticket routing: Acknowledge that each agent may excel in different support aspects. Route tickets based on individual strengths, such as assigning phone support to those proficient in it. An agent adept at handling technical queries might be entrusted with tickets related to software issues, while another excelling in interpersonal communication might be assigned inquiries that demand generous customer empathy.

    This granular approach not only expedites resolution times but also enhances agent productivity and morale by allowing agents to do what they do best.

Step 4: Test and refine iteratively

Regularly review and refine your customer support flows. Seek areas for enhancement and adapt to changing customer needs. You can schedule monthly or quarterly reviews of your workflows, considering feedback from both customers and support staff. Then, refine the workflow based on customer service key performance indicators (KPIs). This ensures your processes stay aligned with evolving requirements.

Customer service perfomance metric setting - customer service workflow

Want to dive deeper? Check out Tips for Designing Effective Guided Workflows

Types of customer service workflows

As stated, there are several types of customer service workflows, each designed to address specific aspects of the customer journey. Here they are:

1. Customer support workflow 

When we think of customer service, our immediate association is with handling customer complaints. It's the critical process of customers reaching out to find resolutions to their issues. Regardless of your industry, the non-negotiable here is providing timely and satisfactory solutions.

A typical customer support workflow includes these key steps:

  • The customer initiates contact with their issue.

  • A support ticket is automatically generated and its severity level is determined.

  • The ticket is routed to a support agent.

  • The agent engages with the customer to understand the issue.

  • The agent aims for first contact resolution (FCR) by attempting to resolve the issue during the initial interaction. If impossible, they outline the next steps or direct the customer to the relevant department.

  • Once the issue is resolved and the customer is satisfied, the ticket is closed and a feedback form is sent to the customer.

This workflow is the foundational framework, irrespective of the communication channel used for addressing customer complaints.

2. Customer onboarding workflow

The customer onboarding process is crucial for customer retention and product adoption. It involves learning about your customers' aspirations from your product and then ensuring their experience with the product is the best it can be.

Consider the typical customer onboarding workflow for a SaaS company:

  • An initial welcome email is dispatched, laden with valuable resources such as how-to guides and product FAQs.

  • The customer embarks on their first interaction with your product.

  • A product walkthrough is offered to the customer, easing them into the product's functionalities.

  • Approximately 2-3 weeks after the customer's initial engagement, reach out to them to understand how they find the product and if they need any assistance.

  • Subsequent emails continue to provide tips, updates and personalized recommendations.

Client onboarding customer service workflow

3. Cart abandonment workflow 

We've all been there as customers, adding items to our online shopping carts but abandoning the purchase for some reason or the other. Cart abandonment poses a significant challenge for online businesses and having a dedicated workflow to address this challenge can help recover potential lost sales.

The cart abandonment workflow involves these steps:

  • The customer browses your website and adds a product to the cart.

  • The customer reaches the final checkout page but abandons the cart.

  • An email and/or SMS are sent to inform the customer about their incomplete purchase or items left in the cart.

  • The prospects are provided with alternative cost-effective options or special offers.

  • In case the customer completes the purchase, collect feedback on their buying process for improvement.

Implementing a shopping cart abandonment workflow can help reduce the number of potential customers abandoning their carts. Collecting feedback after the purchase offers valuable insights for optimizing the buying process.

Abandoned cart customer service workflow

Read More: How to Reduce Shopping Cart Abandonment with Live Chat

4. Customer order workflow 

The customer order workflow is pivotal in shaping the purchase experience. Ensuring a smooth buying process prevents customer frustration.

The customer order workflow typically includes the following steps:

  • The customer places an order, which is received by an order management system.

  • An email/SMS confirming the order is sent to the customer.

  • The order information is relayed to the accounting software and the warehouse.

  • The product is dispatched to the customer.

  • A tracking number is generated and shared with the customer.

  • The customer receives the product and the order is marked as completed.

5. Product feedback workflow 

The product feedback workflow focuses on collecting and documenting feedback from

customers while emphasizing the value of their opinions.

The process in this workflow is straightforward:

Best practices for creating customer service workflows

Whether your role primarily involves continuous support or a combination of support and creative tasks, these insights will assist you in establishing and maintaining a well-organized customer service workflow.

1. Craft customer-centric design: Base your workflow on the needs of your customers. Understand their preferences and pain points through customer surveys and feedback. Tailor your workflows to enhance the overall customer experience.

2. Regularly review and update the workflows: Keep your workflows dynamic by regularly reviewing and updating them. Use performance data and analytics to identify areas for improvement. For example, automate steps that experience high inquiry volumes.

3. Empower and educate your team: Equip your customer service agents with training, resources and coaching to handle inquiries effectively. Conduct regular training sessions to keep them up-to-date with the latest customer service trends.

Incorporating these best practices into your customer service workflows will help enhance the overall customer experience, improve efficiency and ensure your teams are well-prepared to meet your customers' needs. Remember that your workflows should evolve to adapt to changing customer expectations and business requirements.

Wrapping up

In conclusion, while manual creation and maintenance of customer service workflows can be time-consuming and challenging, Sprinklr Service offers a transformative solution with its automated guided workflows. Sprinklr's approach stands out in several key ways:

  • Tailored automation: Sprinklr allows businesses to identify and automate specific processes unique to their industry, addressing common, demanded and challenging topics for enhanced efficiency.

  • Decision point integration: The platform excels in identifying decision points within workflows, enabling the creation of branching logic for efficient problem-solving and standardized processes.

  • Comprehensive process mapping: Sprinklr emphasizes the importance of mapping out processes comprehensively, breaking down workflows into clear steps and utilizing visual aids to guide agents effectively.

  • Intent-driven workflows: The integration of natural language processing and machine learning algorithms enables Sprinklr to map customer intents with guided workflows, suggesting relevant solutions to agents based on the nature of the inquiry.

  • Iterative testing and refinement: The platform encourages a continuous improvement cycle by advocating for testing, monitoring and refining guided workflows. Conducting pilot programs and analyzing performance metrics ensures ongoing optimization for better results.

    In essence, Sprinklr's guided workflows offer a user-friendly and dynamic solution for contact center managers, empowering them to streamline operations without coding expertise. Care to take it on a free spin? Take the trial today.

Frequently Asked Questions

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