In the modern business ecosystem, it’s important that your company is able to function effectively for both customers and employees. One of the most efficient ways to do so is through automation, which can reduce internal stressors and make your company more agile in responding to customer needs and market changes.
Workflow automation can be implemented across all aspects of business, from streamlining internal processes to addressing customer-facing problems to proactively identifying and implementing broad-level insights.
In implementing these automated processes, you can effectively service and retain customers while also creating a more cohesive and comfortable working environment for your employees.
The question then isn’t if automations can benefit your business—it’s how you go about implementing them. We’ll help you brainstorm potential use cases by covering several examples.
Workflow automation examples
- Onboarding new hires
- Procuring equipment
- Submitting employee referrals
- Escalating incidents
- Enriching leads
- Providing competitive intelligence
- Supporting remote new hires
- Scheduling office visits
- Activating intent data
Set new hires up for success by streamlining employee onboarding
According to a Gallup poll, just 12 percent of employees are satisfied with their onboarding experiences, and for many, the process may be impersonal, inefficient, and incomplete when it comes to integrating them into the company at large.
Automation can minimize these problems by providing new employees with important documents, automatically scheduling meetings with mentors and other employees, following up with surveys that ask about their early experiences, and a whole lot more.
Take, for example, the following automation:
1. Once a candidate is marked as hired in an app like Greenhouse, the workflow gets triggered.
2. Accounts for the new hire can auto-populate in HR, finance, and planning systems as well as in an access management software like Okta.
3. The new hire automatically receives a welcome email containing further instructions about technical details, such as tax and banking information, benefit plans, and employment eligibility verification.
4. The new hire’s progress in completing onboarding tasks is automatically tracked through an IT service management software or ticketing system like ServiceNow, ensuring that they don’t get gummed up in the process and instead see this initial workflow through to the end.
Related: A framework for automating manual processes
Simplify and enhance your procurement workflows and IT service desk
Without automation, the relationship between IT and other employees can be contentious, with IT being bogged down by inefficient, manual operations and multiple tickets for similar, easily-resolvable problems; all the while, employees are left frustrated due to slow response times and an inability to access the tools they need to resolve issues themselves.
By implementing workflow automations in IT service desks and procurement pipelines, you can minimize the hours spent on redundant troubleshooting as well as rote manual data entry, freeing up your employees and allowing them to focus their efforts on more complex problems and processes.
Automation in this arena can involve a chatbot that can communicate between your business communications platform (e.g. Slack) and the rest of your applications.
For example, you can handle equipment provisioning by providing easily configurable request templates in your business communications platform, where employees can request specific items. Once an employee selects the items, the chatbot creates a ticket in an ITSM tool with the request and routes it to the appropriate approver via a message in the business communications platform. The approver can approve or reject the request with the click of a button, and once they have, the chatbot messages the initial requestor via the business communications platform, notifying them of the approver’s decision.
Scale your recruiting efforts by automating the employee referral process
The hiring process can often be a drawn-out, frustrating experience for all involved, and complicated scheduling, slow movement, and piecemeal distribution of information can result in your company missing out on potentially great hires.
Automation can help by streamlining the hiring and referrals process in a number of ways. Examples include sharing job postings with employees, automating resume screening, scheduling interviews automatically, etc. Taken together, these automations can help create a hiring routine that saves time, amplifies efforts, delights everyone involved, and even results in a less biased candidate pool.
To give you an idea of how recruitment automation can work, let’s cover the process of employees submitting referrals.
1. Using a chatbot that works as described previously, employees can fill out a form with the name and information of the prospective new hire in their business communications platform.
2. Using the information provided in the form, the chatbot adds the candidate and their information to an applicant tracking system like Greenhouse.
3. The chatbot notifies the recruiter who’s hiring for the role via a message in the business communications platform. Within the message, the recruiter can review the candidate’s information, click into their profile in Greenhouse, and forward the candidate to the hiring manager with the click of a button.
4. As the recruiter manages the candidate, the referrer gets updated every step of the way via messages from the chatbot.
Resolve customer complaints quickly by automating incident management escalations
Mistakes are an inevitable part of any business. With an automated incident management system, though, the processes of finding, addressing, and preventing mistakes can be made easier and less stressful. Moreover, automation can provide a streamlined way to resolve minor and repetitive issues, provide service team members with a way to automatically update and track problem resolution, and also give them the breathing room to tackle complex problems.
To help illustrate these points, let’s cover the situation of using automation to streamline incident management escalations.
1. When an incident arises, you use a chatbot to create a ticket in your business communications platform. This includes providing a broad summary of the issue, the customer’s name, and the level of urgency for resolving it.
2. The bot can then prompt the user to escalate the ticket with the click of a button. If clicked, the chatbot creates a ticket in the platform engineering uses to manage incidents. In addition, the chatbot posts the issue to a specific channel in your business communications platform that your escalation team monitors (e.g. #escalated_tickets).
3. Within the message in the escalation channel, a member can create a separate channel for resolving the issue with the click of a button (they’d be prompted to name the channel and invite the appropriate stakeholders).
4. Within the newly-created channel that’s geared towards resolving the issue, members can find the relevant tickets and can work together on addressing the problem without leaving the channel—up until the issue’s resolution.
Convert more leads into clients by employing intelligent lead enrichment
Earning new business is a complicated and delicate process, but automation can help smooth out the more technical details to ensure that potential leads are converted at a higher rate.
In the case of automating lead enrichment, reps are provided with rich, contextual data, allowing them to discern whether a lead is worth pursuing. It also allows them to personalize their outreach, which can help sway a prospective lead to your business successfully.
Lead enrichment automation often utilizes a number of tools to ensure that leads are routed and converted properly. However, it also uses the least number of lookups necessary to gather the required information, allowing you to minimize your costs from using lead enrichment tools.
If, for example, a new lead comes in via a form completion, your workflow automation can work as follows:
- Your Enterprise Automation platform checks for first-party data first, and as shown above, it finds the lead’s email address.
- Your Enterprise Automation platform performs a lookup on the lead using your preferred enrichment tool—in this case, D&B—, and it finds the lead’s first and last names.
- This process continues up until all of the required fields are populated, at which point the lead would get routed to the appropriate sales rep.
Empower reps when they’re competing against rivals
As your reps engage with prospects, they might learn that a prospect is also considering a competitor(s). Whenever this happens, it’s critical that the rep gains access to the resources they need so that they can successfully communicate why your solution is a better fit than what your rival(s) offers.
To that end, you can build an automation where once a competitor’s name gets mentioned in a recorded call on an application like Gong, it triggers the following: a customized chatbot sends a battle card for that competitor to the rep, along with the names of reps who’ve recently won deals that required going head-to-head with that rival.
Help new hires navigate their first few days by pointing them to channels they should join
Any employee that works remotely—and even those that go into the office—will likely rely on your business communications platform to keep up with company news, collaborate on projects, socialize, and more. With this in mind, you can onboard remote team members more effectively by making them aware of all (or most of) the channels they should join at the beginning of their first day.
Here’s a chatbot automation that can bring this idea to life:
At the beginning of the new hire’s first day, they receive a message from a customized chatbot (e.g. “Welcome Bot”). The message welcomes the new hire and introduces them to company-wide, department-specific, and fun-filled channels they should consider joining.
You can even program the chatbot to send follow-up messages. For example, on the new hire’s second day, the chatbot can remind them to introduce themselves to a specific channel, point them to colleagues they can connect with for specific needs, and highlight websites for managing administrative tasks.
Related: A guide to using HR chatbots
Enable employees to schedule their office visits more strategically by showing them when others plan to come in
Employers that offer hybrid work (where team members can work at an office on some days and remotely on others) could help their employees pick out the best days to come in by showing them when others plan to. That way, employees aren’t by themselves in the office and don’t have to bother colleagues by asking if they plan to come in on a given day.
Here’s how the customized chatbot, “Office Assistant Bot”, can help:
Once an employee accesses Office Assistant Bot within their business communications platform, they can select specific colleagues to follow. The chatbot will then display up-to-date reservation schedules for those employees.
Activate intent data by sharing it directly with reps in near real-time
As your prospects evaluate your solution, they’re likely to visit your page and that of your competitors on 3rd-party review sites, like G2.
You can make reps aware of this whenever it happens, and help them respond intelligently and quickly, by implementing the following workflow automation:
1. Once a prospect visits your listing or a competitor’s in G2, the workflow gets triggered.
2. A customized chatbot enriches the prospect’s account via a tool like Clearbit and gathers 1st-party information from your CRM, marketing automation platform, etc. The chatbot then messages the assigned rep all of the critical information it finds.
3. Within the message, the rep can take action with the click of a button, whether that’s launching ads to the account, adding contacts to a specific nurture sequence via an app like Outreach, and so on.
With these workflow automations, your company can run more efficiently and effectively, allowing you to better service customers and create a healthy and positive working environment for your employees. And while the process for implementing these automations may sound complicated, it doesn’t have to be.
Given that workflow automation is a broad topic, it often invites a number of questions. In case any of yours haven’t been answered already, we’ll address a few frequently-asked questions below.
What are automated workflows?
It’s a type of workflow that uses business events (e.g. a lead submits a demo request) to trigger actions across your applications, data, and teams. It often relies on API-based connectivity so that the trigger and corresponding actions take place in, or near, real-time.
What are the benefits of using workflow automation?
The list is fairly exhaustive, but here are a few key benefits:
- Allows your workflows to operate more efficiently
- Empowers you to reimagine and transform your business processes
- Provides a single, consistent, unified, intuitive, and conversational UX for key stakeholders (e.g. employees)
- Improves the employee experience by allowing employees to avoid manual, time-consuming, and error-prone tasks
- Prevents human errors that can negatively impact the customer experience
- Lets you provide real-time notifications to employees
- Enables you to automate at scale (assuming you’re using a low-code/no-code tool)
Related: Why you should build workflow automations
How do you create an automated workflow?
While there’s no clear solution for every scenario, the following questions can guide you towards implementing high-performing workflow automations.
1. What business applications are involved? The answer to this question not only helps you gather the technology requirements but also identify the teams that need to get involved.
2. Is the process time sensitive? In other words, you’ll need to think through whether the process needs to operate in near real-time or can be performed in time-based intervals (e.g. once per day).
3. What are the business rules/logic? Perhaps the trigger event needs certain conditions to be met before it’s executed. Similarly, the action that takes place at a given point in the workflow might depend on a previous step.
To help illustrate these points, let’s say you’re looking to automate incident escalations by instantly creating a ticket in the platform your engineers use (e.g. Jira) once a case gets created by a customer-facing employee in your CRM. The trigger condition can be when a customer-facing employee marks a case as “High” priority. A conditional action step can also be applied in the workflow, where if the ticket already exists in JIRA, it gets updated with the latest changes, and if it doesn’t exist, it gets created.
4. What exceptions may occur? All kinds of errors can transpire while a workflow is running, from API outages to missing data. You’ll need to think through the potential issues your workflows can experience and, from there, create a plan for preventing and troubleshooting each.