Bulletproof Customer Service with Workflow Automation: a Brief Guide

Luke Walker
April 20, 2023


For the vast majority of free market economies, top-notch customer service has always been a major component of business success. With limited exception, customer service impacts customer experience and retention in virtually every industry. As customer expectations continue to rise, the centricity of customer service in leading business strategies will continue to increase.

There are very good reasons for this. On either side of the coin, you see evidence championing the ROI of good customer service, and lambasting the consequences of poor customer service. The following may or may not come as a surprise.

Here are a few statistics to show just how positive the impact of good customer service is on business outcomes:

While, on the flip side of the equation:

Not surprisingly, most companies are searching for ways to enhance their customer service operations. Those avoiding the investment have unfortunately buried their heads in the sand. 

One effective solution is workflow automation, which can streamline support processes, reduce errors, eliminate double work, and save crucial “customer-focus” time for customer service teams. In this guide, we'll explore the benefits of customer service workflow automation, the steps to implement it, and frequently asked questions on the topic. Our goal is to help inform you if your customer service team is ready for workflow automation.

What is customer service workflow automation?

Customer service workflow automation refers to the systematic and strategic implementation of technology and software tools in order to optimize and streamline customer support processes.

This approach aims to increase efficiency, reduce manual workload, increase customer satisfaction, and drive overall business growth. By automating repetitive tasks and standardizing workflows, businesses can effectively manage and respond to customer inquiries, concerns, and requests, resulting – ideally – in an improved customer experience.

Key Components of Customer Service Workflow Automation

Ticketing Systems 

A ticketing system is a centralized platform that tracks, manages, and organizes customer support requests. By automating routing of the ticketing process, businesses can ensure that customer inquiries are routed to the appropriate support agents, prioritize urgent issues, and monitor resolution progress.

Chatbots and AI Assistants

Chatbots and AI assistants serve as virtual customer service agents, responding to customer queries in real-time. These intelligent tools can provide instant support, answer frequently asked questions, and guide customers through processes, thereby reducing the burden on human support agents.

Knowledge Base Integration 

A well-organized knowledge base serves as a repository of information that support agents can easily access to address customer issues. By integrating this resource with customer service workflow automation tools, agents can quickly retrieve relevant information, resulting in faster resolution times and increased customer satisfaction.

Automatic Routing and Escalation 

Automated routing ensures that support requests are directed to the right support team members based on their areas of expertise and availability. Furthermore, escalation protocols automatically identify high-priority or complex issues, alerting supervisors and subject matter experts to provide prompt assistance.

No more shared inboxes. Automated, conditional routing is an essential component of customer service workflow automation.

Performance Analytics

Workflow automation tools often include performance analytics features, which enable businesses to monitor KPIs such as average resolution time, customer satisfaction scores, and agent productivity. By analyzing these metrics, businesses can identify areas for improvement and make data-driven decisions to enhance their customer service operations.

The Benefits of Customer Service Workflow Automation

Empathy and understanding lie at the heart of excellent customer service. Workflow automation can help you provide these qualities by offering the following benefits:

  1. Increased customer focus: By automating repetitive tasks, your customer service team can spend more time focusing on providing personalized assistance and resolving complex issues.
  2. Improved accuracy: Automated workflows reduce the likelihood of human error, ensuring that information is accurate and up-to-date, which ultimately leads to better customer experiences.
  3. Faster response times: With automated workflows, customer service teams can respond to customer inquiries more quickly, ensuring that no one is left waiting for a resolution.
  4. Scalability: Workflow automation makes it easier to scale your customer service operations as your business grows, ensuring that you can continue to provide excellent support without overburdening your team.

Steps to Implement Customer Service Workflow Automation

To reap the benefits of workflow automation, it's essential to follow these steps:

Step 1: Assess your current customer service operations

Before implementing automation, you’ll need to evaluate your existing customer service operations to identify areas where automation can have the most significant impact.

Do these operations have clear definitions, owners, and have they been documented? For known processes – e.g., complaints handling – do you spot a clear improvement metric? Could response time be an issue, or is your customer satisfaction score lagging for a particular support issue? 

Before taking a step further, talk to your customer service team members, listen carefully, and be specific about which problems you’ll need to solve. Document those.

Step 2: Set clear goals 

Determine specifically what you want to achieve with workflow automation, whether it's heightened efficiency, greater retention, improved NPS scores, etc.

Note: these goals must absolutely be connected to traceable, measurable data points. Using KPIs meaningfully (or better yet, operational OKRs) is a vital part of accountability and ROI. Do not make the mistake of assuming that introducing automation will just make things work “better”. Be specific about the changes you want to see and tie them to quantifiable metrics.

Ready to start automating customer service workflows today? Download our 72-page Automation Playbook, roll up your sleeves, and get going!

Step 3: Choose the right tool 

Research and select workflow automation software that aligns with your goals and integrates seamlessly with your existing customer service tools. Make sure to watch for these key workflow automation features in each of the solutions that you benchmark. 

Look as well for end-to-end workflow automation – meaning, each customer service workflow should be able to be captured by the solution in its entirety. That includes all coordination steps, documentation, database updating, decision, communication with the customer, and all relevant integrations. 

Step 4: Map out workflows

Collaboratively design workflows together with your customer service team to ensure that the indicated workflows will clearly work toward hitting your goals. Try to connect that to your named metrics from Step 2.

It’s important to remember that at this point, you should be designing the target state of your workflows, not reflecting the current state. The tendency is often to think within the confines of the current process, and use workflow automation to create a more streamlined version of that. Avoid this tendency, and instead, think of the most efficient way to achieve the same functional outcomes, but bring yourself closer to your goals. That’s the workflow you should be mapping.

You can also follow the mapping process outlined in our workflow automation playbook  here.

Step 5: Implement and test

Once you’ve set up your first workflow and integrated your systems, it’s time to roll out your first use case in a controlled setting to test the effectiveness, and make any necessary adjustments based on feedback from your team and customers. Approach this step with careful consideration – up to 70% of automation initiatives fail somewhere between implementation and adoption.

It is recommended that you involve all process stakeholders (to the extent possible) from day 1. That way, the initial testing phase does not come as a surprise or abrupt change, and there is greater buy-in from team members or departments that may be resistant to change.

You can follow a step-by-step guide to implementation here.

Above all, keep in mind your goals, but also remember that you will need customer service team members to work with your workflow solution on a daily basis. It is in your best interest to ensure that they are satisfied with the usability of your chosen solution, and manage to incorporate it into their daily workflows. Some workflow solution providers include onboarding and training support as in their SaaS subscription model.

Step 6: Monitor and optimize

Continuously monitor the performance of your automated workflows and make improvements as needed to ensure they continue to meet your goals. 

In addition to your ticketing system and manually tracked metrics, your workflow solution should offer performance analytics for your newly built workflows. That means, you should be able to track operational performance and throughput metrics over time, and look at things like workflow steps, process performance, and team performance. 

Workflow automation systems enable team-based, workflow-based, and step-based analytics, enables customer service teams to identify performance gains (or losses).

You’ll also be able to learn more about your customers using automated follow-ups and surveys, which you can build right into your automated workflows.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Will automating customer service workflows lead to job losses for my customer service team?

While it's true that automation can replace some repetitive tasks, the primary goal of workflow automation is to enhance efficiency and allow customer service representatives to focus on more complex and valuable tasks – specifically, those involving the “human connection” with customers.  As a result of greater automation, your team can spend more time on activities that require empathy, critical thinking, and problem-solving, ultimately leading to more meaningful customer interactions and improved job satisfaction.

Q2: How can I ensure the workflow automation tools I choose integrate well with my existing customer service tools?

It's essential to select workflow automation software that offers seamless integration with your current customer service tools. Research the software's compatibility with your existing systems and look for tools that offer flexible APIs. Additionally, take advantage of product demos and trials/pilots to test the integration compatibility.

Q3: How do I maintain a human touch in customer service interactions when using workflow automation?

Workflow automation is designed to enhance human interactions, not replace them. By automating repetitive tasks, your customer service team can devote more time to providing personalized assistance and empathetic support. To maintain a human touch, ensure that your automated workflows are designed to facilitate meaningful interactions and allow your team to step in when necessary.

Q4: How can I measure the success of my customer service workflow automation efforts?

To evaluate the effectiveness of your workflow automation, establish clear goals and performance metrics. KPIs such as response times, resolution times, customer satisfaction scores, and employee engagement levels. Regularly review these metrics to identify areas for improvement and optimize your workflows accordingly.

Q5: What if my team members are resistant to adopting workflow automation?

Change can be challenging, and it's natural for some team members to be hesitant about adopting new technologies. To address this concern, involve your customer service team in the planning and implementation process, ensuring they understand the benefits and their role in the new workflows. Provide comprehensive training and ongoing support to help them adapt and build confidence in using the new tools.


Embracing customer service workflow automation can significantly improve your business's overall efficiency and help you provide empathetic, personalized support. By implementing the steps outlined in this guide, you'll be well on your way to enhancing your customer service operations and delivering memorable experiences for your customers.



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About the author
Luke Walker is the Product Marketing Manager at Next Matter. He is a longtime process hacker, and writes about marketing, business digitization, leadership, and work-life balance. When he's not at work, you can find him listening to records or climbing rocks.

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