What really is automation?
When we think of automation, we often think of robots, factory workers being replaced by self-operating machinery, self-checkouts, and the like. While there are many truths in this image of automation – it certainly can and does put people out of manufacturing and retail jobs – a more symbiotic relationship can be had in the world of online commerce and software as service (SaS).
The current workday of any business today is often filled with many repetitive activities: data entry, emails, and scheduling, just to name a few. These activities are often secondary to one’s core job duties. These menial tasks not only take up valuable time, but are prone to human errors. In fact, no matter what task a worker is performing, the average worker makes 3-6 errors per hour, regardless of experience. These human errors can add up to a serious cost for a business in terms of time and money.
Automation is a solution to human error, allowing workers to focus on the critical human elements of their job and less on repetitive, time-consuming tasks, which ultimately increases efficiency, morale, and productivity. Scripts and programs can automatically fill out forms and spreadsheets, schedule meetings, offer customer support, and much more. Automation can also save money and time when it comes to creating scalable processes and eliminating paper resources.
Who is using automation today?
Amazon along with most every ecommerce site uses some form of a chatbot to perform simple customer support functions such as processing returns, guiding visitors to the right page, changing their account information, and much more. There are no wait times and there is no labor cost for customers who use this support chatbot. Best of all, it’s infinitely scalable. One bot can serve as many customers as needed whereas customer support agents can only support so many customers in one shift. If there’s a problem that can’t be dealt with by the bot, it automatically calls up an available agent to help out.
In the entertainment space, Netflix uses automation for testing purposes to ensure compatibility and portability across multiple devices, resulting in a great deal of time saved. By automating the testing and debugging process, human error is reduced and bugs are more easily recorded and reproduced.
Many restaurants, from regional favorites to national chains, send out automated SMS marketing messages. Often, they’ll contain a coupon or a discount to encourage the customer to come back, planting the idea of the restaurant in their mind and offering an incentive to return. This form of automated marketing resurged in popularity during COVID.
Four types of automation that can help businesses thrive
If you’re not backing up your files by now, you definitely should be. Not only can it provide you legal protection and save dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours of work in the event of a system crash, it’s EASY. By using a cloud storage service, you can set up an automated system of creating file backups.
By using a scheduling software that shares your calendar with employees, they can see when you’re busy and schedule a meeting accordingly, saving you the hassle of back-and-forth communication. Additionally, reminders for meetings, to-do lists, and deadlines can be delivered automatically.
You can set up an automated chatbot or tooltips on your website to resolve common customer support issues. Help-desk tickets should be issued, allocated, and tracked automatically to save time and spare the customer support department unneeded hassle, especially if a ticket has to be transferred to a different employee.
Emails, though often small individually, can add up to a big chunk of your day. By automating what you can, you can save yourself so much time! Automated sales confirmation, check-in, and lead closing emails are just a few ideas. If you want to be more personal, set up a template for all the common emails you send and when it’s time to send them out, customize them with the customer’s information.
Services like Loomly, Trello, and SproutSocial allow you to plan social media and blog posts in advance. When the scheduled date and time arrive, the service will automatically post whatever item you have in the queue.
You can automate and compile brand mentions through Google Alerts – every time someone googles your company or a keyword, it will compile in real time or into a daily or weekly email you can skim through.
Quickchat automates inbound marketing tools to help meet with leads faster. As soon as a lead comes in through any digital channel, it’s distributed to a team member whose calendar is immediately shared with the lead. With just a click, the lead can select a time for a meeting.
Set up invoice reminders, payroll, and bills to be sent out or paid automatically to save you precious minutes. Over the course of time, those minutes will add up to hours and those hours to days. At scale, with a bigger company with more personnel, even more so!
In today’s world, automation is one of the most important aspects of business strategy that helps companies grow sustainably. The same automation tools you use with 10 customers will serve you just the same with 10,000. Software and services that automate key administrative, financial, customer support, and marketing tasks will save you time and money so you and your employees can focus on what really matters.