Imagine a world where your business runs like a well-oiled machine, with tasks being completed quickly and accurately without any human intervention. Decades ago this would’ve sounded like something out of a science fiction novel, but with automation, it’s a reality for many companies.
Automation refers to the use of technology to perform tasks that humans would normally do, and it’s revolutionizing the way we do business.
In this blog, we’ll explore how automation can boost your business and provide some examples of the most popular automation tools on the market. So, if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, keep reading to learn more about the power of automation.
What is automation?
Unfortunately, the tasks that are most critical for the success of a business are often the most tedious and uninteresting, too. From manually scheduling meetings and calls, to inputting endless data into spreadsheets — these are the jobs that nobody wants, but somebody has to do.
This is aptly demonstrated by the 2021 Office Worker Survey, where respondents said they waste, on average, around four and a half hours a week on tasks they think could be automated. With this in mind, what is automation?
Automation refers to the use of technology to perform tasks that would otherwise be done by humans. In the past, automation would refer more to machinery — the kind used in mass production.
However, it’s a term increasingly applied to software, where automated tools can help with everything from simple tasks like sending emails and scheduling appointments to more complex processes like analyzing data or troubleshooting for customers.
To illustrate our point, let’s look at an example of automation in action: first, take a second to think about how much time a business might spend following up on all of its sales leads individually.
Usually, this would involve manually copying contact details across to a customer relationship management (CRM) system, drafting up an email, and sending it off to each lead — a time-intensive (and tedious) process.
With automation, however, you can set up an entire email follow-up series for your leads. All of these messages will be sent automatically, freeing up a significant amount of time in your daily schedule.
Just imagine how much more efficient and productive you could be if you didn’t have to manually send follow-up emails to each lead (or remember to do so in the first place). Automation makes this possible.
5 areas automation can help your business
From streamlining repetitive tasks to improving customer service and enhancing data security, automation can play a vital role in driving business success. Whether you are a small startup or a large corporation, automation can be tailored to fit your unique needs and help your business thrive. So, let’s take a look at five key areas where automation can make a difference.
1. Customer service interactions
Automation can greatly improve customer service by providing faster response times, improved accuracy, personalized interactions, and consistency in service levels.
For example, an automated chatbot can instantly respond to common customer enquiries, freeing up customer service agents to handle more complex issues.
Automation can also help businesses to reduce the risk of errors, such as misplacing orders or providing incorrect information, ensuring that customers receive accurate and consistent service.
Additionally, businesses can use data and analytics to personalize their marketing campaigns and customer service interactions with individual customers, providing a more tailored experience.
Finally, automation can help businesses to maintain consistent service levels, even during times of high demand or staff shortages, ensuring that customers receive the same level of service, regardless of the time of day or workload.
2. Workforce management
Workforce management tools can help businesses automatically schedule employees’ tasks based on factors such as availability, skills, and workload. This can save time and reduce the risk of scheduling conflicts or overloading employees with too much work.
Automation can also help to streamline communication between your team members and their departments. For example, Slack is an instant-messaging tool that is now widespread in the corporate world.
Not only does Slack come prepackaged with a selection of built-in automations (such as meeting reminders and triggered responses), but it also allows its users to create their own automations through its premium Workflow Builder feature.
Employee attendance and time off can also be tracked through automated tools such as Breathe. Breathe’s all-in-one HR package allows businesses to manage holiday requests, log and manage expenses, export payroll-ready data, and automatically generate HR insight reports.
3. Billing processes
The subscription-based business model is incredibly popular at the moment, but if you’re thinking of implementing a similar way of driving repeat revenue, you’ll need a reliable way of taking payments.
Attempting to manually process recurring payments may be simple enough when you’re only serving a few customers, but this isn’t a feasible long-term solution.
Automated billing software eliminates the need for businesses to manually process each recurring payment. This can save time and reduce the risk of errors, such as missed payments or incorrect billing amounts.
Chargebee’s automated billing software allows you to generate invoices and real-time reports in a matter of seconds, and its smart dunning system can retry failed payments automatically, meaning fewer angry customers contacting your support team due to mysterious transaction errors.
4. Social media
The world of social media moves at a lightning-fast pace. For maximum impact, your social media strategy must be proactive, and this is where automation can come in handy.
Tools such as Loomly allow you to schedule posts and ads in advance, allowing you to keep your content fresh with minimal hassle. This tool can also help you generate content ideas based on trending topics, RSS feeds, upcoming events, and social media best practices.
Automation is great for analyzing your company’s social media performance, too. Most social management platforms include some form of automation to track metrics such as likes, comments, and shares, and can provide insights on how to improve engagement in the future.
5. Event Management
Event management involves the planning and coordination of events such as conferences, meetings, trade shows, and weddings. It requires careful organization and attention to detail to ensure that the event runs smoothly and successfully.
There are a number of platforms like eventbrite which can help with tasks such as scheduling, budgeting, marketing and guest management.
Compliance — it’s one of the most important (and often confusing) parts of the business. Fall foul of industry regulations or government legislation and you’ll soon find your business is in a whole heap of trouble. Fortunately, automation can help with compliance too.
Let’s take GDPR as an example. According to GDPR, businesses must only keep customer information for as long as necessary and remove personal data from their systems when it’s no longer needed.
This can involve manually tracking each consumer, their interactions with the company, and how long their data has been on file.
Automated GDPR tools (such as Osano) can help by allowing you to automatically delete contact information after a specified period, so you don’t have to constantly review consumer data.
This ensures that your business is GDPR-compliant while also saving time and effort. Osano can also help with other areas of compliance, such as consent management and assessment tracking.
Every business must deal with certain repetitive, mundane, and tedious tasks, but thankfully, automation can help ease these burdens. Automation can increase efficiency, decrease errors, and provide huge savings in both time and money. And while some of these tools may require an initial investment and setup time, the long-term benefits are well worth the effort.
If you want to take your business to the next level, consider exploring the potential of automation. For more on digital business tools, check out our post on why software is an essential part of your business’s growth.