“Whatever we do must be in accord with human nature. We cannot drive people; we must direct their development,” – Henry Gantt.
The idea of workflows has been around for decades and presently pops up everywhere in commerce. Henry Gantt, an American mechanical engineer and pioneer of the “Gantt Chart” was possibly the first to spark the idea of a project management schedule during the industrial revolution – which has since become a workflow.
Overall, the Gantt Chart was about increasing efficiency and that aim has transferred to how the consumer experience is managed today within multiple business models.
Workflows are about automating the business process using technology for peak performance and easy communication between brand and buyer.
In a heavily populated digital ecosystem consumer service is more programmed than ever and sometimes these automated interactions do little to maintain loyalty with a consumer base. Human beings are the sum total of their experiences and that notion should transfer to how they exist online as well.
A notable complaint of many callers is being trapped in the IVR abyss and then being shuffled around from department to department like a pack of cards with very little empathy in place. Well placed workflows have a knack for making sure no conversation is lost in the din of call centres and chat queues.
How do they do this?
Anyone on the internet is just a blob of data there to be captured, harsh but true. Forming that mass of binary into something useful (and compliant) is now the job of brands more than ever.
Workflows that include granular targeting can help boost efficiency and make callers feel a sense of personalisation even if they’re merely one of many. Granular targeting uses granular data which is malleable and highly useful information that, “can be aggregated and disaggregated to meet the needs of different situations,” says Technopedia.
Considering the fact that millions are at stake for every ad campaign, building a strategy based on specific consumer details derived from granular data can help make every penny count and put brands on the right side of a gamble. This is good if a company needs, “to prove a theory,” according to Hawke Media. A theory as simple as, “this is what our audience needs.”
It’s all down to the elements of what motivates or defines a caller/buyer/consumer. There are multiple reasons why someone is reaching out to a company and workflows including call routing take these things into account when managing a pool in call centres, dealerships or any consumer-facing business. Call routing workflows prioritise inbound calls based on factors such as geolocation, pages visited, phone number and device. Intelligent call routing can enhance the consumer experience by segmenting this data into profiles that take them to those answers they need.
Another way workflows add to a positive consumer experience is by using automation like notifications. One person will often reach out to a company via an arsenal of mobile technology, i.e., tablet, smartphone, laptop – in this day and age they’re used to speedy searches and easy satisfaction. Luckily, workflows can be triggered into different actions like sending an automated feedback email after a call or SMS reminders to agents if a call is missed. “Workflows make it easy to keep track of these important changes, so you know which of your leads are warmest, and can act on that information immediately,” says Hubspot.
Beyond the fact that actionable workflows aid in efficiency behind the scenes, they really help with consumer engagement too – once used holistically of course. A holistic approach points to custom building a digital interaction that acknowledges the needs of the receiver. Great CX has a basis in consistency and automated workflows are nothing if not dependable. With consistency comes trust and eventually, loyalty. “Trust-building and engagement are what notifications are all about. And it’s why thinking about notifications should be a key part of any CX plan,” notes Brent Sleeper for Marketing Land.
The human touch
Automation, notifications and granular details. Now that we’ve covered the technical intricacies of why workflows should be in every businesses’ toolkit, its time to consider what Gantt mentioned – keeping in line with human nature. Despite hiding behind numerous modes of communication thanks to advances in technology, human beings still need to feel that personal touch. The buzzword of the moment in consumer service seems to be AI thanks to Alexa, Google Home, Siri and other voice-activated robot assistants on the market. However, developers are still struggling with embedding empathy into their systems and this can be problematic, especially in consumer-facing industries, where dropped calls and lost leads are becoming more frequent.
“We’re now surrounded by hyper-connected smart devices that are autonomous, conversational, and relational, but they’re completely devoid of any ability to tell how annoyed or happy or depressed we are. And that’s a problem,” says Rana. We’re further away from excluding humans completely than we realise. We may be biased, but workflows should be considered a happy medium while we wait for those robot agents with emotional intelligence to take over.
Until then, they will connect a human agent and a human consumer quickly and proactively by considering the technical context of how and why they got there. It’s this symbiosis that works, for now. “There’s going to be a learning curve with automated customer service, and everyone will get on the bandwagon in their own good time. Don’t force it, and introduce any big changes slowly. Your customers will thank you for the “toe dip” approach rather than being pushed into the deep end,” preaches Salesforce.
Workflows are a toe dip we can definitely live with.