Should I Be Using Automation?
Does automating things like emails and incoming phone calls make doing business easier, or more difficult? That depends on who you’re asking.
Pose the question to a small business owner, and you’d probably get an emphatic “yes” in favor of automation. This is especially true for businesses that serve a large volume of clients or patients. Automation is a big time saver, which allows businesses to cut back on rote tasks and streamline more of their key processes.
But what about customers? If you ask a customer whether they’d prefer to talk to a machine or a person, for example, they’ll choose a real live human every time. Automated CRM or email marketing however will likely go unnoticed, presuming a business is using a high-quality automated system.
Making automation work for your business requires finding that perfect balance between your needs and the needs of your customers. With that in mind, let’s look deeper into the value of automations for small businesses, and most importantly, when it works and when it doesn’t.
What You Gain From Automation
Automation many potential benefits for small businesses, especially those that are juggling many clients.
Save Time and Money
Automation allows you to spend less money on staff time for tasks like data entry and answering incoming calls. Maximize this benefit by focusing on efficiency when setting up your automated systems. The more you can streamline through automation, the less time and money you’ll have to dedicate to manual labor.
Get More Out of Your Data
Having robots on your side can be a very good thing, especially when it comes to your data. Automated CRMs for example allow you to follow lead behavior more closely, providing insight that can help you generate more sales. Workflow automation, on the other hand, can decrease redundancies in your data entry and eliminate common human errors.
When Automation Fails
While a well-designed automated system might be great for business, a poorly-designed system could do you some real damage. Try to avoid these common mistakes that only serve to frustrate your clients and undermine your reputation.
Complicated Automated Calling Systems
There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than having to wait on the phone for several minutes listening to information they don’t need, or having to go through a maze of options to reach the department or person they’re looking for.
Streamline your automated calling system as much as possible so that the menu only includes the essentials and customers spend less, not more, time on the phone. Otherwise, customers might be annoyed by the time they reach a human, or they may hang up and call another business entirely.
Impersonal Email Marketing
Automated email marketing is not the same as batch-and-blast. Personalization still matters, even when emails are being sent out on the back-end with minimal human interference.
Fortunately, high-quality email marketing systems are designed for the age of personalized marketing. You’ll be able to set up a wide variety of messages that are triggered to go out when (and only when) they make sense. That means personalized recommendations, personalized promotions, and of course, personalized greetings. If your automated emails are missing the mark on one or more of these fronts, however, they’re going to need some tweaking to warrant the investment.
Process errors happen when you don’t fully understand the steps that you’re automating. Regardless of the specific type of automation that you’re using, you need to have a very clear visualization of what the process is, why it is, and how it functions. Without these critical pieces of information, you risk putting into place automation that complicates things instead of making them easier, or that requires human input when the system should just be operating on its own.
When it comes to making automation for your business, prevent all of these mistakes at the outset by doing your research and only purchasing high-quality systems. Take care to set them up the right way, putting in the time you need now to save time later. When you use them appropriately, automated systems can truly streamline the way organizations operates and save time and money for both businesses and customers alike.