Customer Service Workflow Automation - What You Need to Know

How to plan, build, and refine workflow automation and the technology you need to do it

September 2021 | Time to read: 6 minutes

Customer service isn’t just the job of the service team. It takes the whole company. But putting the customer at the center is easier said than done when multiple departments, systems, and channels are involved.

This is where automation comes in to help. People’s interactions with your company are, at their core, a series of processes. And each process includes a series of steps — a workflow. Automation reduces the repetitive and manual steps in a workflow, and connects workflows across departments to deliver successful resolutions of issues and excellent customer experiences.

We recently launched “4 Steps to Easily Automate Your Customer Service Workflows” to explain how to use automation to support faster, more streamlined, and more human-centric customer service. Here’s what every service leader needs to know to get started with customer service automation.

Answer your most pressing questions about automating customer service workflows, including:


Start Your Customer Service Automation Process With These 5 Questions


Before You Automate, Create a Customer Service Process Map – Here’s How


You’ve Automated Your Customer Service Process – What’s Next?


Ready to automate your customer service workflows?

Follow our step-by-step guide to:

  • Decide which workflows to automate first
  • Create a customer service process map
  • Test, measure, and refine your automated processes
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Why is automation important to customer service?

Automation simplifies complicated processes, improves the customer experience, and helps your people do what they do best — provide amazing service. According to Salesforce’s Trends in Workflow Automation report, 95% of information technology and engineering leaders said workflow automation is a priority for their organizations, and 71% of service decision makers are accelerating automation initiatives.

Why? As routine, repetitive tasks shift from human to machine, service is streamlined. Employees have more time for strategic work. In fact, 74% of IT leaders who have implemented automation saved at least four hours per week, according to IT Leaders Fueling Productivity With Process Automation, a Salesforce and Pulse report. Your entire organization can mobilize faster to deliver proactive and empathetic customer service. The result is happier humans — customers and employees — and better business outcomes.

What Leaders Say About Automation for Customer Service



of IT and engineering leaders prioritize workflow automation



of service decision makers are accelerating automation initiatives



of IT leaders who have implemented automation report time savings of at least four hours per 40-hour week

How do I decide which customer service processes to automate?

Your process for automating customer service can build over time. You don’t need to tackle everything at once. Instead, you can automate a few steps that are causing the most headaches for your team to manage manually.

Start by looking at a process that involves multiple teams and steps. Which steps are the most repetitive? How much time are your service agents spending on this process? Are there costs you’re losing because of inefficiencies? If you automate this process, or part of the process, will it help to move the needle on your goals, like customer satisfaction (CSAT) or employee experience? Any process that is frustrating your employees or customers is a prime candidate for automation — and a great place to start!

How do I map out which customer service workflows to automate?

A typical service workflow rarely resembles a straight line. It’s more like a tree, with branches at every point where a decision needs to be made or a threshold met. Before you automate a workflow, you first need to understand it. And that calls for a map. Create a customer service process map to help you see all the critical connections in the workflow between decision points, people, data, and systems.

“You really have to think about what the end goal is. Mapping a process requires thinking through every component and multiple departments or teams to make sure that it’s all very well connected. That’s the foundation that needs to be laid.”

Alvin Stokes
Chief Customer Contact Officer, SmileDirectClub

How do I improve my customer service automation workflows?

Too often, automation efforts fall short because organizations don’t give enough attention to getting everyone on board. Avoid this mistake by testing your automated workflows and asking for feedback. Do people understand how to use the automated workflow? Does it work as planned? What was their experience? When you get buy-in early, it drives adoption.

Once you test, then measure any improvements to your customer service. Did you reduce the time it took to complete the process? By how much? Did it lead to a better employee experience? Possibly cost savings? If automation improved any of those metrics, congratulations! Communicate those results broadly. If you didn’t see the improvements you hoped for, you can always go back and investigate where to make adjustments.

What technology do I need to make workflow automation successful?

As market and business conditions shift, you’ll likely need to refine your processes – and you’ll need a flexible automation platform to make those changes easily. Look for these four customer service automation capabilities to make your customers happier and your customer service agents more efficient:

“OneUnited has been in the business of workforce optimization and business process optimization for years. We’ve been very effective at leveraging Salesforce’s low-code or no-code environment to automate workflows across many departments in the organization.”

Teri Williams
President and Chief Operating Officer, OneUnited Bank

Start automating your customer service workflows

Workflow automation puts your service operation on the path to a more efficient, flexible future. With automated customer service workflows, you can deliver the customer and employee experience that people want and expect today.

Learn more about customer service automation.


About the Author

Clara Shih
CEO of Service Cloud, Salesforce
Clara Shih is CEO of Salesforce Service Cloud, the world’s #1 customer service, digital service, and field service solution that powers 360-degree customer experience conversations. Clara is a member of the Starbucks board of directors and serves as Executive Chair of Hearsay Systems, a privately held digital software firm she founded in 2009. She graduated from Stanford University in computer science, where she also received an M.S. in computer science. She also holds an M.S. in internet studies from Oxford University, where she studied as a U.S. Marshall Scholar. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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