First, what is a workflow? A workflow is the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. The effort to automate workflows is nothing new, it has been going on for several decades. For instance, think about the pneumatic tube systems that some banks still use to support their workflows of moving money between the customer, cashier, approver, and vault.

You could say that digitalisation is automated workflow on steroids: snappy user interfaces, chatbots, smooth back-office integrations, user experience design, new kinds of services – and all of it boosted by AI and what have you. But, where earlier a workflow could get interrupted because of some mechanical issue in the pneumatic tube, today you yourself can get stuck in the workflow of a digital service.

Blockages in workflow pipelines

A stoppage can happen when you do not fit 90% of the use cases the workflow was designed for. We enter the 10% domain of the “it-does-not-work-flow” – or better “how to alienate some of your customers.”

You can get stuck in the workflow of a digital service for trivial reasons such as:

  • The web form requires compulsory input, although you do not have or do not want to give this information
  • An input field allows only 10 digits for a phone number, but your foreign number happens to have 11 digits
  • You speak with a foreign accent and the voice recognition software does not like that
  • Or your postal code format is not supported

Are you aware of the possibilities of customer workflows? Read why our experts think they are full of opportunities. 

How to unclog your workflows

In the bygone days a plumber could fix your workflow problem in the tube system. Today when you get stuck, it is not as simple. If the webform does not apply, the chatbot cannot help, the toll-free phone number cannot be accessed from abroad, and if an email address is not provided, there is not much you can do besides getting upset.

The people who get stuck in a digital workflow represent unhappy customers, missed sales opportunities, and possible publicity issues when the negative customer experience gets shared on social media.

So, digitise your workflows by all means, but please put in the work to keep them 100% flowing by, for example:

  • Making sure your web forms only gather absolutely necessary information
  • Checking there are several ways customers can reach you
  • Gathering information about how your customers – or employees – use a service and tailoring it accordingly
  • Keeping an ear to the ground in case of possible blockages (feedback, feedback, feedback!)

Are customers leaving you because of poor digital services? Here’s how to make them stay.

Menno Huijben is a Senior Executive at Sofigate and a concept owner of Business Technology Transformations and Data Leadership. Menno is interested in the realm of decision-making in business, especially where a data-driven mindset meets intuition and experience. His motto is ”Don’t forget the Human Factor!”

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