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What is Workflow Automation?

Learn the difference between workflow automation and process automation and everything in between.

Workflow automation is defined as taking an often tedious, manual task and converting it to a largely automated one. In a work-from-anywhere world, a workflow automation platform makes it easier and faster for employees to do work that’s enjoyable and high impact rather than repetitive and monotonous.

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What are examples of workflow automation?

One example of workflow automation is automating a single task, such as entering customer information, sending a reset password code, or verifying information.

Another example is automating a multistep task, such as applying for a mortgage, which requires collecting borrower information, military service, employment history, income, property details, declarations, and demographics — some of which may have subtasks of their own.

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How is workflow automation different from business process automation?

Business process automation (BPA), sometimes referred to as process automation, is the larger umbrella for all things automation, including workflow automation, robotic process automation (RPA), straight-through processing, and work routing.

BPA often encompasses an entire process made up of multiple workflows across different departments, users, and integrations.

An example of business process automation is client onboarding, which includes workflows across sales, finance, and service:

  • Sales Workflow 1: Initiate New Client Welcome (auto-launched)
  • Sales Workflow 2: Set Up Account
  • Service Workflow 3: Request Support
  • Finance Workflow 4: Set Up Auto Payments

Why does workflow automation matter for CRM?

A CRM (customer relationship management) system is the source of truth for every part of the company that interacts with customers, giving teams a 360-degree view of every customer. Workflow automation streamlines and enhances how employees use the CRM so they can be more productive and better serve customers.

This improves both the employee’s and the customer’s experience. Executives report that improved employee experience leads to improved customer experience, and can also impact revenueopens in a new window.

Automated workflows also help remove bottlenecks, serving up insights to the right employee at the right time, in context of what they’re working on. For example, an intelligent workflow can integrate CRM and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to deliver consumer buying insights to sales teams.

“Automation gives people the bandwidth and breathing room to do more interesting, more inspiring, and more valuable work that moves the business forward, such as building customer relationships or making hard decisions on what to do next.”

John Kucera, SVP Product Management, Salesforce

What are workflow automation examples for CRM?

Automating CRM workflows helps service teams scale customer experiences, enables sales teams to spend more time building and maintaining deep customer relationships, and enables businesses to increase the speed of work across every department, including human resources (HR), IT, and finance.

1. Automated workflows for service - Customer service teams need to deliver quality support and case management — quickly. To do so, they are using human-centric workflows designed to unify and streamline multiuser, multistep touchpoints across any device or department. If a service agent doesn’t have to spend time entering data at the beginning of a call, for example, that may translate to more quality time with the customer, ensuring their case is solved properly.

Examples of automated workflows for service:

  • Lapse in service notification workflow
  • Case creation workflow
  • Credit card dispute handling workflow
  • Customer ID verification workflow
  • Collector call preparation workflow

2. Automated workflows for sales - When customers feel understood and cared for, they’re more likely to buy. Automated workflows enable sales teams to reduce time-consuming administrative tasks and eliminate tedious data entry in order to close deals faster. This helps sales reps spend more time with customers to understand their business and provide more personalized solutions.

Examples of automated workflows for sales:

  • Quote creation workflow
  • Contract approvals workflow
  • New customer onboarding workflow
  • Follow-up reminder workflow
  • Renewal reminder workflow

3. Automated workflows for marketing - Automated workflows for marketing help teams inspire and create loyalty through more meaningful connections with prospects and customers.

Examples of automated workflows for marketing:

  • Social media scheduling workflow
  • Negative review response workflow
  • Customer opt-out workflow
  • Lead generation synthesis workflow
  • Engagement report workflow

4. Automated workflows for IT - Automated workflows make it easy for IT to quickly resolve support tickets and keep software and hardware secure and compliant, ensuring employees stay productive from anywhere.

Examples of automated workflows for IT:

  • Service request-handling workflow
  • Employee account setup workflow
  • Software and device request workflow
  • Project request workflow

5. Automated workflows for HR - Automated workflows make it easy for HR teams to streamline hiring and onboarding and deliver a connected employee experience that centralizes knowledge, support, and apps. This enables employees to find answers via self-service and ask questions through their preferred channel.

Examples of automated workflows for HR:

  • Employee onboarding workflow
  • Benefit enrollment workflow
  • Expense management workflow
  • Payroll, budget, or timesheets approval workflow
  • Performance review workflow

What are the benefits of workflow automation for CRM?

As more and more companies realize workflow automation is the key to digital transformation, the industry is seeing an increased demand for ways to measure it. The following statistics on workflow automation point to the value businesses can gain.

63 %
of the top problems executives are looking to solve with low code are streamlining internal workflows.*
71 %
of service decision makers are accelerating automation initiatives to help alleviate escalating workloads.**
Nearly 75 %
of technical leaders who have implemented automation see time savings equivalent to at least four hours per 40-hour week.**

In addition to industry trends, we’re also seeing customers attribute tangible value to workflow automation in CRM:

  • RBC Wealth Management-U.S. reduced client onboarding time from weeks to just 24 minutes on average by automating its case management workflows.
  • RecruitMilitary cut its event registration process from 30 minutes to 30 seconds for each exhibitor by using automated workflows. This improved the experience for exhibitors and also saved RecruitMilitary employees more than 4,000 hours of manual work over the course of the year.

How can you learn more about workflow automation for CRM?

With over 900 prebuilt, human-centric workflow solutions, Salesforce makes it easy to get started quickly and learn how to use low-code tools, deep integrations, and built-in intelligence to transform your business.