Getting work done in a contact center isn’t as simple as you think. The average worker spends 28% of their work week on admin tasks alone, such as replying to emails or organizing cases in a workflow management system. If you’ve ever asked a contact center agent how long it takes to clear out their inbox after a long weekend, the answer you got was probably “far too long.”
Most workflows are operated by a simple “if this, then that” function, which is typically planned and executed by a human – but they don’t have to be. Today there’s a whole host of software that automates these simple, routine processes. Freeing up your agents’ time empowers them to focus on more important tasks rather than losing time and productivity trying to wade through their day-to-day admin work.
Benefits of workflow automation
Cutting duplicative, repetitive work out of the equation frees up individual agents’ time to work on more important tasks. Those benefits translate directly to big business impact – nobody ever said no to better employee productivity. These benefits include:
- Error reduction: Automating your workflows saves time and reduces the risk for potential errors – both of which are tied directly to business and overhead costs.
- Improved employee engagement: Repetitive, basic tasks can drain morale and leave your employees feeling like zombies. Freeing them up to concentrate on work that takes better advantage of their full abilities allows for gains in engagement and job satisfaction.
- Streamlined processes: Boiling down agent involvement to just the necessary touchpoints help your contact center team better prioritize tasks and focus on what’s truly important. Simplified processes mean duplicative work and redundancies are cut out.
- Better team communication and collaboration: By automating tasks such as follow-ups or project updates, your agents no longer need to remember to send status reports to the rest of the team.
Your goal should be to reduce the time your team spends doing predictable, day-to-day work. Asking specific questions about where your team’s time is actually going and clearly defining roles and responsibilities may even shed light on potential friction points that you may not have noticed before.
Which workflow automation software is best for your contact center?
According to a study from McKinsey, 45% of day-to-day admin tasks could be automated – including logging calls, sending customer follow-ups, and reviewing and approving paperwork.
Contact centers of all sizes suffer from the same problem: there are always more tasks to be done than people to do them. While increasing headcount is always an option, it doesn’t solve the problem at hand and it’s certainly not scalable. The benefits of automation are undeniable, but how do you know which software to choose?
An important feature to look for in automation software includes being able to connect your apps in one place, without ever having to write a single line of code. You would also want that software to have a variety of possible integrations to ensure your business will always have the apps they need to automate workflows.
A contact center would want to be able to trigger actions within one application with these integrations. For example, if you hooked up your CRM with a customer communication tool like live chat, your automation software should automatically create a lead using data gathered during a chat, or trigger an automatic follow-up, or even trigger an SMS thank-you message when the chat ends.
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How your contact center can get started with workflow automation
Always start small. When you begin to map out your workflows, your contact center team will benefit from a deeper understanding of how to work better together.
As you look for ways to optimize, keep an eye out for these low-hanging fruits:
- Workflows that cause the most friction or delay
- Straightforward workflows that operate on ‘if this, then that’
- Duplicative tasks, like copy-pasting from one system to another
- Repetitive tasks that may have different owners depending on the project
A great starting point could be identifying when a different department has replied back to an internally-referred customer query. Instead of relying on a human to pick up the communication from a mailbox, attach it to the correct case in your workflow management system, and reactivate the query ready for an agent to respond to the customer, an automation system should be able to handle all of this.
Once you’ve identified a process to automate, here are four steps to bring your plan to life:
- Identify owners: This should be the key people with permissions to change or modify endpoints in your contact center.
- Set up the automation: With tens of thousands of out-of-the-box integrations, there are many different ways to put your software to work. If you need a custom workflow, good automation software should allow you to do create your own.
- Test the automation: Always run a quality assurance test internally to make sure workflows are sending data to the right systems and/or people. Run test and real-life scenarios with different stakeholders to train them on the new process and make sure everybody understands how data will flow.
- Go live: Hit the go live button – then sit back and enjoy your new, automated processes, knowing that you’ve been freed up to better focus on work that really matters.
When your data flows seamlessly and effortlessly between different key systems, your contact center team will be more informed, productive and collaborative. Not to mention happier – nobody likes feeling like their work doesn’t take advantage of the best of their abilities. For agents who thrive on challenge and strive for more, automating routine tasks gives them the ability to apply their time and effort to help more customers, more effectively.
A quality automation software can help eliminate previously painful redundancies, immediately boosting your team’s productivity and your contact center’s velocity. In turn, you’ll become more competitive, more effective, and better focused on the bigger challenges you face.
Rather than adding, businesses need to start thinking about reducing – namely reducing repetitive work, reducing unnecessary workflows, and reducing the time it takes for their team to get information. Automation software makes this happen by tapping in your existing tech stack, working quietly in the background and managing the push and pull of data. No extra effort required, just working smarter.
A version of this post originally appeared here.
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