Creating a seamless customer experience should be the ultimate goal for any business. Moving the customer easily from one point in the sales funnel to the next helps drive sales and increase efficiencies. It can even help employees have higher satisfaction rates and lower turnaround.
While the idea of customer service flow seems intuitive, it can be very difficult to create effectively. Even one weak link in the flow process can drive customers away and send them to your competition. Stepping back to see all potential entry and exit points from the customer’s perspective is invaluable in creating any service flow.
Starting with the Basics: What is Service Flow?
Service flow or customer service workflows are similar to the general customer sales funnel or customer journey mapping. However, service flows dive deeper into a specific type of service that your customer is receiving from your team. It also focuses on existing customer interactions rather than attracting new customers.
Instead of simply focusing on the buying process, examining a service flow reviews a specific service that your customer is seeking out. It also takes a hard look at how that customer receives the service. It includes an in-depth review of how your client perceives the service and how that service interacts with the overall experience that person has with your brand.
5 Quick Examples of Service Flow in Retail
There are a wide variety of service flows that appear in virtually every business context. Below are a few examples of customer flow that you might see in retail companies, service industries, and other businesses.
- Customer Onboarding
When you first obtain customer information, you can create a service flow or workflow for that particular new customer. This type of flow is triggered when a customer inputs their email address to start receiving email updates or promotions, or perhaps, they have already made their first purchase. If you do not connect with that customer after they have willingly provided you with information, you run the risk of losing them as a current or future customer.
A typical onboarding service flow where the customer has already made their first purchase might include:
- Some type of welcome email, text, or other communication that leads to
- Setting up an account or getting further information from your website that leads to
- Product tutorials or informative contacts that result in
- Continuing to send them promotional information a few days or a few weeks later.
At each step, you can track and measure how much the customer is engaging with your business based on whether they are opening emails or whether those emails are leading to revisiting your website. Based on their interaction with your company, you can classify these customers to be either engaged or not engaged to further target marketing efforts or future communications.
- Customer Complaints or Issue Resolution
Another common service flow deals with how your client has their complaints or questions addressed. Resolving issues is critical to maintaining good relationships with customers and keeping them coming back for your products or services.
In a common customer resolution service flow, you might see the following steps:
- Customer reports an issue through an email, call, or other communication, which leads to
- Generating a ticket that has a priority level or severity level assigned, which results in
- A customer service representative assignment, and then
- The customer service representative and the customer interact to address whatever the issue may be and, hopefully, resolving the complaint or problem.
This type of service flow can be even more in-depth if you set up specific methods for customer service representatives to interact with clients. For example, perhaps your team members are required to ask specific questions or greet customers in a certain way. Active listening and repeating the problem back to the customer are also common methods to address customer complaints.
Resolution of the issue might also trigger another service flow that requests feedback about “How We Did” or similar questions. It might also give the option to communicate with someone else if they feel that their issue was not fully addressed.
The same types of processes can be used anytime a customer needs attention, such as dealing with technical issues or requesting an individualized or specialized service.
- General Customer Engagement
You can even create a service flow for general customer engagement for current customers. In some cases, this type of service flow comes in the form of sending promotional materials and encouraging interaction based on that information. In other more simplistic forms, customer engagement can be as simple as asking clients if they need help looking for products when they are physically in a store.
Things like games, specials, or “inside information” about deals can all create customer engagement. Keep in mind, however, that customers are often even more satisfied with services when advertising or communication is personalized. Suggesting items that are relevant to your specific customer will often go a long way to generate sales.
- Client Billing and Orders
Financial communications with customers can be service flows as well. Examples of potential actions that would be included in this type of workflow might include:
- Payment confirmation information
- Terms and conditions information (often during or after the sale process is complete)
- Providing order numbers or service numbers
- Giving tracking information
On the internal side, the customer ordering a product will often generate service flows that the customer never sees. For example, ordering a product could trigger a message to accounting to process the payment. That processing might then set off events that lead to a shipment label being created and the product being packaged and dispatched. Once the client (or delivery company) confirms that the product has arrived, the order can be closed.
- The Return Process
When a client requests to return an item, that can also start a service flow. Consider an example:
- The client requests the return, which leads to
- An alert that your customer care team needs to determine eligibility, resulting in
- Communication to the customer about eligibility and how to return the item, and then
- The customer ships the item (or drops it off at your location), and finally
- The product returns to inventory, and the credit for the return is applied to the customer’s account.
The Integration of Back Office and Customer Service Flows
No matter what kind of flow you are creating, you should note that it will involve both the experience the client sees and “behind the scenes” processing and action. It is important that the client have a seamless experience that is easy to understand and follow, even if your back-office work is much more complicated than the client could fully understand.
The Benefits of Effective Service Flows
When your customer has a positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to return and recommend your services to others. This general statement is true no matter which service flow the client might be working through. For example, if a customer has a great ordering experience but has a terrible time getting their refund processed, they might be afraid to order anything else.
Customer satisfaction and loyalty is by far the most important benefit of effective service flows. However, there are several other pieces that make up that overall positive experience.
Decreased Wait Times
Customers do not have to go through long wait times or lengthy processing times when service flows are in place and work effectively. For example, one service flow might be to use queue management or virtual waiting rooms to process customer needs when clients come into your physical location. When the process works well, there should be far less waiting time compared to not having a process at all.
When you have more efficient processes, everyone is happy—including your books. When services can be processed faster and in a more efficient way, you not only have happy customers, but you have repeat customers that are more likely to increase their overall spending. The result is often a healthy increase in your bottom line.
Better Working Environments for Your Team
Service flows allow everyone on your team to know and understand what happens next when a particular situation arises. For example, if you have a specific service flow to deal with technical issues, your team knows exactly what to do when a customer comes in with a technical complaint that needs to be addressed. They do not need to ask permission to take action or talk to a manager about how they should handle the situation—they just know how to deal with it, and they take action to address the customer’s needs.
When employees are empowered to help customers, they are often more satisfied in their jobs, less likely to leave, and more likely to provide better service to their clients.
Using Ombori’s Technology to Create Automated Service Flows
Technology can be a huge resource to create seamless service flows. Ombori provides solutions that assist with a wide variety of customer service needs, from digital signage to queue management to online ordering and returns. Learn more about our services by visiting the Ombori website.