Time is money. And with the latest technological developments, companies are getting more opportunities to save time. Moving a good part of their business operations to the digital realm has opened more room for automating all kinds of tasks and processes.
This goes for companies of all sizes. Automating solutions and software are getting more affordable every year, which naturally makes them more accessible to small businesses. And in the case of small organizations, saving a minute here and there can really give you an important competitive advantage. Let’s see which areas of business are most convenient and useful to automate.
Probably the biggest benefit that your sales team can have from automation is getting the sales pipeline organized. If you define the stages in the customer journey well enough, the automation software can recognize movements inside the sales funnel and let your sales reps know. It can even automatically make some of the simpler moves itself without waiting for the salesperson to react.
Automation can also help with more accurate lead scoring. The software can recognize your hottest prospects based on their personal info, online behavior, or previous communication with your company. This lets your sales team focus on the most profitable leads and send the right messages to prospects based on their level of interest.
Apart from helping the sales team do their job, good automation software can also boost the efficiency of your whole organization by automating the entire workflow. Automatic delegation of tasks, streamlining and coordinating communication, setting up appointments and reminders, as well as taking all sorts of automatic actions based on tons of customer and employee data can all benefit your business in many ways.
This goes for multiple areas of your business – your sales team, marketing team, customer support, or business operations. You’ll also see improvements in cooperation between different departments since breaks and noise in communication will become much more uncommon.
More and more companies use automation to help them plan and execute their marketing campaigns. One of the most used marketing automation techniques is email automation at 64%.
Given that email marketing is still the most profitable type of digital marketing, having appropriate tools that will assist you in building and maintaining the email list can be of huge importance.
For the success of your email campaigns, it’s crucial that you segment your email list based on a wide range of demographic and economic criteria. The software can automatically add each new contact to the appropriate segment and send tailor-made messages to each person on the list. This works best if you decide to integrate CRM with marketing automation, as a good CRM system will provide you with the most insightful customer data needed for this task.
When it comes to reaching out to your customers, you should go beyond sending your prospects and customers a scheduled email once in a while. You should also include follow-up calls or messages triggered by specific customer behavior.
Naturally, doing these follow-ups can be tiresome and seemingly hopeless for a human sales rep. Namely, 45% of salespeople give up after just one follow-up attempt.
Obviously, automation software can’t get tired, exhausted, or discouraged. Furthermore, they can analyze customer behavior in real-time and pick the perfect timing to send the perfect pre-made message. Getting in touch with prospects in the exact moments when they are most likely to buy, such as while they’re browsing your website or just after they’ve abandoned the cart, can boost your numbers significantly.
A strong social media presence has become a must for any serious business. And while automation can’t help you too much with creating original content, it can help you with publishing and distribution.
One of the essentials of a successful social media strategy is regular posting. With automation tools, you can prepare and schedule posts in advance and post them on multiple networks with just one click or tap. This can save some of your precious time, and it’s especially useful for small company owners that manage their business profiles on their own.
Benefits of automation for your customer support are numerous. For instance, it can help prioritize customers according to their needs, types of problems they’re experiencing, or their service level agreements. It can also automatically assign a customer to a customer support rep that has the needed knowledge and skills or has already dealt with the particular customer.
You can go a step further and introduce chatbots, at least for the most basic of interactions. However, this technology still has its problems with understanding and processing natural language.
Moreover, overall acceptance of chatbots is not particularly high among consumers, as 66% of them would be either “unhappy” or “extremely unhappy” if chatbots replaced all customer service interactions in the future. Chatbots can be quite useful, but you can’t just let them do all the work. At least for now.
With client onboarding, it’s quite similar to customer support. It can and should be automated, but only to a certain extent. It’s perfectly ok to fully automate some simple tutorials and education programs that can be carried out without human involvement. If everything about your product or service is simple and straightforward, there’s no need to waste time and resources on customer support reps at this stage.
Nevertheless, this is rarely the case. Automatic onboarding programs can be extremely helpful when introducing your customers to basic concepts and functionalities — but having a just-in-case human rep waiting to provide additional support if needed is still critical.
Most organizations today have at least partly automated their financial operations. With the emergence of e-banking and e-accounting, it goes without saying that automation in this area is a must, both in business and in personal life.
You can automate all sorts of financial activities like paying bills, invoicing, or handling receipts and payrolls. You can even go beyond that and remind people who have their cards expiring soon that they should renew them, thus avoiding to have their upcoming payment canceled or late. All this will save you time, money, and make your organization more efficient.
Backing up files
With basically every important segment of business being digitized, having appropriate backups for all your files is invaluable. Losing all the customer, employee, and financial data related to your business can be an absolute disaster.
Hence you should automate the process of backing up to avoid any human errors. Luckily, even the simplest file storage services usually have this functionality, so this won’t be much of a hassle to you. Just make sure you have enough storage room to fulfill your future needs, and you’re all set.
In order to get to know your customers, study your market and find out what people are saying about your brand, you should employ some social listening tools. They help you track mentions of your company and your products across numerous channels and get some feedback on how people feel about what you do.
It’s very useful to automate a part of this process by setting the software to send you regular reports. Of course, you can always take your time and do in-depth manual research if you feel it’s necessary. Nevertheless, having a concise weekly or monthly report based on the parameters that you set is also a great starting point for this kind of research.
Yes, we get it. Automation saves time, resources, and boosts the efficiency of your business in a number of different areas. Still, it doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful about it.
Some tasks still demand a human touch. Things like content creation, building relationships, or customer support can’t be fully automated yet, if ever. But for those tasks that your employees find tiresome, repetitive, and dull, there’s a good chance these can be done by a machine, opening more room for your employees to deal with creative, spontaneous, human-like work activities. You are going to need some investments to get crucial areas of your business sufficiently automated, but it will surely pay off.
About the Author: Daniel Bishop
"I started off my career in digital marketing working for a few local marketing companies. After a year or two of learning different aspects of the job, I moved on and worked for DesignRush as a content advisor. Right now I'm working for ReallySimpleSystems as an assistant editor and marketing consultant. Other than that I enjoy good coffee and Otis Redding."