In all professional environments, from mid-sized businesses to large corporations, seeking methods that enhance workflow efficiency is crucial. A continuous influx of requests and inquiries can feel overwhelming when each has to be addressed manually.
Furthermore, with constant transitions between diverse tools and applications required to manage different work aspects, every task that can be automated represents a time-saving opportunity. This is especially significant in customer service, where prompt responses are key.
This is where Slack workflows prove to be incredibly valuable. They automate various tasks and processes, making customer service operations more streamlined and efficient. This article is designed to walk you through using Slack workflows effectively to optimize your customer support efforts and ultimately enhance your team's productivity.
What Is a Slack Workflow?
A Slack workflow is a feature within the communication platform that enables you to automate recurring tasks and use a series of specified triggers and actions to form an automated process. For example, every time an event (the trigger) occurs, such as a new customer support ticket being filed, a specific action is initiated, like sending a notification to the support team.
This functionality allows consistent, prompt responses and reduces manual effort for routine tasks, streamlining business operations and enhancing productivity.
How to Create a Workflow in Slack?
Creating a workflow in Slack is simple — here's how to do it:
Ultimately, you have control over granting collaboration permissions, access, and usage of the workflows you create. When the workflow's up and running, you can check how the team uses it through the Workflow Activity log. Pretty straightforward, right?
How Do You Use Workflows for Customer Operations?
Workflows are fundamental to Customer Support and Helpdesks. Here's an example of an end to end workflow relevant for Customer Support.
Diving deeper - Support can leverage many workflows, as described below:
1. Ticket Triage and Assignment:
Creating an automated workflow for triaging support tickets can tremendously improve your team's efficiency and response time. Here's a simple example of how it can be done:
- Trigger: The trigger would be when a support ticket is received. It could be through a form submission, email, or a message in a Slack Connect channel.
- Sorting: Next, the incoming webhook can analyze ticket factors, such as request type, priority level, customer account, etc., to categorize the ticket.
- Assigning: Based on the sorting criteria, the action would automatically assign tickets to particular support agents or teams. This could be achieved based on the specific channel or thread. For example:
- If the ticket category is "Billing," the ticket gets assigned to the Billing Support or Finance team.
- If the ticket priority level is "high," it's assigned to the support agents who handle critical issues.
- If an agent has a lighter load or is specifically available at the time, the ticket can be directed their way.
- Notification: After the ticket assignment, the agent or team gets notified about the new ticket through Slack. This message would include the ticket details so the agent can start working on it promptly.
2. Automated Responses:
Setting up workflows for automated responses to common inquiries can offer immediate acknowledgment to customers, thus enhancing their experience. Here's a general outline of how to set it up in Slack:
- Trigger Setup: First, establish the trigger which initiates the workflow. Usually, for customer inquiries, this would be a form submission or a message in a dedicated Slack channel.
- Message Analysis: Next, set up a step to analyze the customer's requests to identify common questions. This could involve simple keyword recognition to identify common topics.
- Automated Response: Based on the identified inquiries, set the actions as automated responses. For instance:
- If a client queries about a subscription, an automated response could recognize and affirm their question, direct them to the pricing terms, or provide a status update on their purchase.
- If a customer asks about cancellation, an automated response should acknowledge the message and advise them on the refund process.
- Ticket Creation: In addition to the response, create a ticket using any integrated platforms, like Intercom, Zendesk, etc., for any follow-up required by the customer service team.
Sidenote: Take a deep dive to learn how ClearFeed’s GPT-Powered Answers feature aids businesses by responding to frequent customer inquiries and utilizing data from Slack, various documentation, wikis, and knowledge bases.
3. Escalation and Prioritization:
Implementing an automatic escalation strategy using Slack workflows ensures that urgent issues are promptly addressed. Here's how you can set it up:
- Trigger Setup: This is usually when a support ticket or message in a specific Slack channel is tagged urgent or high priority or contains certain keywords representing an emergency or a sensitive issue.
- Escalation Criteria: Define the criteria in the workflow. When the criteria are met, it triggers an automatic escalation sequence. For example, if a ticket is marked 'Urgent' unresolved for over an hour, the workflow could be programmed to escalate it.
- Automatic Notification: Once the pre-set condition is triggered, an automatic message is sent to the higher-level support or engineering team. The message can contain the issue's details and a link to the unresolved ticket. This can be achieved by creating a mention or sending a direct message to the concerned individual or a private Slack channel where all escalations land.
- Ticket Status Update: Post escalation, your ticket management system can automatically update the ticket status. This keeps track of the specific issue that has been escalated and needs immediate attention.
- Follow-up Reminders: Schedule automated reminders if the escalated concern is not resolved within a specific time. This ensures that the issue remains in focus until resolved to avoid SLA violations.
Sidenote: Check out how ClearFeed enables engineering teams to manage escalations effectively on Slack and improve customer satisfaction.
4. Feedback and Satisfaction Surveys:
Using workflows to send satisfaction surveys automatically after customer support interaction is a great way to gather vital feedback. Here's how you can set it up:
- Trigger: The workflow would begin when a support ticket is marked as 'resolved' or 'closed.' This could involve integration with your support ticket system, such as Zendesk or Intercom.
- Feedback Request: Once the trigger condition is met, an automatic message is sent to the customer asking for feedback.
- Survey Link or Form: The message should contain a link to the feedback survey or an inline form. You can set up a form using Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, or similar services and embed the link in the message. Questions in the survey might include rating the support service, time to resolution, and an open feedback section for more detailed input.
Slack Workflows Aren't Flawless
With the increase in popularity of Slack, it's no surprise that Slack workflows have become increasingly popular. A lot of businesses are creating custom workflows to complete specific functions and essential operational tasks. But Slack workflows have a few limitations that keep many from adopting them as their sole method of automation, such as:
- Detecting new customer inquiries without relying on emoji triggers: Slack workflows can trigger actions based on certain predefined events, such as messages containing specific keywords or emojis. However, they lack the ability to discern and identify new customer requests made in a conversation without using such indicators. For example, if a new task or issue is mentioned in a message but without any specific keyword or emoji, the workflow would not recognize it as a new request.
- Recognize conversations that require priority attention: While Slack workflows can automate many responses or actions, they lack the ability to analyze and identify which conversations require urgent attention based on the content or context. They can't make subjective decisions based on sentiment analysis or importance. Such a judgment requires sophisticated AI-based tools or manual intervention.
- Automate Out of Office (OOO) responses synchronized with business calendar events: Slack workflows do not have out-of-box integration with personal or business schedules, which limits their capacity to send automated Out of Office responses based on these schedules. Although some manual or workaround solutions might be viable, seamless automated replies synced with your business or personal calendars -- like setting OOO replies during non-business hours -- are outside the scope of Slack workflows.
- Ability to implement asynchronous workflows: Slack provides the building blocks to trigger actions on specific events. But it's workflows lack the ability to take actions after some period of inactivity (in conjunction with other conditions). Examples include reminder workflows that should kick in after some amount of time - and may need to be repeated a few times.
In short, even though Slack workflows are simple and intuitive, they can struggle with complex automation and scalability needs as businesses expand.
Implementing Support Workflows in Slack with ClearFeed
As we have seen - workflows are fundamental to Customer Support - and Slack Workflows have some nifty capabilities. But they are also limited in their ability to implement realistic Support workflows in the context of Slack. This is where ClearFeed comes in. ClearFeed is a comprehensive Helpdesk solution, custom-built for Slack, that understands customers and agents in a Slack channel, new customer requests, request states and business schedules - and helps Support professionals craft advanced workflows integral to their jobs.
Here are some examples of common workflows implemented using ClearFeed:
SLA Alert Workflows in Slack using ClearFeed
These workflows alert agents and support teams of customer requests that maybe about to breach service SLAs. The image below shows an example of an alert notification from ClearFeed raised in a triage channel.
SLA alerts are very easy to setup in ClearFeed:
- Trigger: Admins can define customer messages that should trigger SLA alerts. They can filter messages down by specific Slack channels, request priority, new or followup requests and so on.
- Timer: Admins can define the expected timeframes for response after which the alert should be raised
- Action: Admins can define where the alert should be sent. A common option is to send it on the Triage channel which agents are monitoring (as shown above) - but the alert can be routed to any Slack channel, a specific user - or even to other Slack workspaces using Webhooks.
Out-of-Office response workflows in Slack using ClearFeed
Another common scenario, as we have seen, is provide automated responses to customers beyond business hours. The image below shows an automated response delivered to a request in Slack, when it is made outside business hours.
ClearFeed makes it easy to configure OOO message workflows. Admins can:
- Define Business Schedule
- Craft an OOO response
- Trigger: Identify the requests that should lead to OOO responses. As before - these can be filtered down to specific Slack channels, new or followup requests etc.
- Timer: Define a wait time before the the OOO response is posted as a reply. While this can be left at zero, a non-zero value can accommodate any agents available outside business hours to be able to post a response.
Other workflows possible in ClearFeed include:
- Automated Responses using Knowledge Bases and Documentation.
- Automated CSAT Surveys triggered after the closure of a Ticket.
- Escalation Workflows that escalated issues to systems like PagerDuty and OpsGenie using Webhooks.
Interested to see ClearFeed in action? Experience how it can revolutionize your business operations and supercharge your support team's productivity. Don't wait—schedule your demo today!