Workflow automation can compensate for some significant barriers to organizational success. When businesses automate processes and repetitive tasks, they can increase accuracy, efficiency, and employee satisfaction. Automated solutions can also reduce workloads and cover staffing shortages.
Virtual agent software is one example of workflow automation. Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that send welcome emails to new customers without human intervention are another. With the right applications, organizations can automate processes related to IT help desk tickets, legal documents, invoices, and time-off requests.
Let’s take a detailed look at how each of these examples can improve internal practices.
Leveraging AI-Based Agents
Intelligent virtual agents use artificial intelligence to provide answers to basic questions. They can help collect payments, inform customers about account balances, and provide updates on service outages.
In many cases, virtual agents can go over information about service plans. Any organization that experiences high call volumes — from cable companies to public health agencies — can benefit from these types of self-service options.
Simple questions and tasks may be easy for humans to address, but they can make customer service jobs boring for live agents. Answering routine questions and handline minor requests takes time that could be better spent addressing problems that require a person. When staff are allowed to focus on complex issues, customers get faster service and experience less frustration.
This approach not only prevents negative reviews and customer churn; it also saves labor costs. Virtual agents only cost a fraction of what live agents do. They save managers from having to recruit new hires — temporary or permanent — during call surges. Retention and employee development costs aren’t factors with AI agents either.
Giving your live support staff more meaning and challenge in their jobs can increase worker satisfaction. When humans are happier with the work they do, there tends to be less turnover. Employees with the expertise and customer service abilities your patrons deserve won’t constantly be walking out the door.
Managing CRM Communications
Communicating with customers and leads can be time-consuming. If you have multiple customer touchpoints at specific milestones, preparing and sending all those emails can be taxing. That’s where the built-in workflow automation capabilities of CRM applications can come in.
Want to send a survey to each new or existing customer when they make a purchase? You can design and write up a standard email that serves as a template. Save time by creating the email once and not having to manually specify whom to send it to.
With workflow automation rules, your CRM can send an email to each contact when the application detects a new purchase. The software can check for new purchases each day. Survey invitations can be sent out shortly after customers buy something, increasing feedback accuracy.
Automating the gathering and storage of contact data is also possible with CRM software. When prospects or customers fill out a website contact form, that information can be routed directly to your database. The workflow rules can verify whether the contact already exists, needs to be added, or needs to be updated.
The contact form can trigger confirmation emails built from a template and forward the person’s data to select employees. A good example is a contact who wants to pre-order merchandise. Based on the individual’s location, representatives from the nearest store can get the information needed to close the sale.
Creating and Assigning Help Desk Tickets
Writing up help desk tickets while trying to listen to users’ IT woes can be distracting, even for seasoned reps. Help desk software can generate tickets from emails sent to a designated address. For internal IT departments, this cuts down on the number of calls to the service desk. If employees prefer to fill out a web-based form, this can also be set up to generate tickets.
Once the application creates the tickets, it can assign them to IT staff members based on predetermined criteria. These might include building location, the current workload of various technicians, or specific technicians’ expertise.
Automatic routing of tickets ensures the support team gets those tickets more quickly. Front-line supervisors no longer have to make manual assignment decisions. If a supervisor is out sick or on vacation, a bottleneck doesn’t form. Backup staff can stay focused on their tasks instead of dividing their time between responsibilities.
Drafting Legal Forms and Documents
Legal forms and documents can take a lot of time and attention to write. Many companies have agreements and documents that they send out every week. Property management businesses, for example, often have routine lease agreements and renewals for tenants. Instead of drafting each document manually, creating workflows with templates that have custom fields for tenant specifics is more efficient.
The workflow can populate the custom fields with individual tenant information from a database or form. Although assistants will have to look over the documents for accuracy, the business won’t waste hours rewriting the same information.
Sending Recurring Invoices
Does your accounts receivables department send out an identical invoice to the same supplier each month? An automated workflow can prevent accounting employees from having to create and send those invoices time and time again. Just enter the date you need the invoice sent, where to send it, and other details into the workflow. Each month, the supplier will receive the bill without your staff having to do nearly as much work.
If something changes, the workflow can always be temporarily turned off and edited. Maybe the supplier merged with another company and has a new name and billing address. Or now the invoice needs to be sent quarterly for a larger amount. The nice thing about automated workflows is that they’re not set in stone.
Handling Employee Requests
Managers often get bombarded with staffing requests, such as the need to take sick leave, vacation, or personal time. Hourly employees sometimes need to change shifts and must get supervisor approval. Applications that keep track of PTO or vacation and sick leave balances can route these requests to managers via email.
Some supervisors may prefer workflows that automatically grant approvals, especially for salaried employees. Others may want to keep manual approval procedures in place when a department has to maintain certain levels of coverage.
Once automatic or manual permission goes through, this information can sync with payroll, HR, and staffing applications. Using scheduling software, employees can see who’s taking time off when and whether shifts are available to trade. With these tech-enabled workflows in place, only minimal manager intervention may be necessary.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to possible workflows you could automate. Start by finding out what your team members find repetitive and boring about their jobs. Then break down the actions that are required to complete those tasks. With developers working on new automated solutions every day, there’s probably one out there that will optimize your human resources.