7 Things Every Small Business Should Automate
Every company should strive to save time and money by automating their processes. And this is now more easy than ever, since most company processes will happen on computers rather than registers and notebooks.
And it isn’t just large corporations that can reap benefits from automation. Many small businesses are in a prime position to take advantage of automation. Things don’t have to work at scale in order to automate them. Automating small daily tasks can lead to huge improvements to efficiency overall.
In this post we’re going to take a look at common business processes that can be automated. These aren’t complex enough to need AI-driven automation, so anyone can do it.
1. Accounting and Invoicing
We get it, no one likes accounting and invoicing and business owners want to stay away from it as far as possible. Still, that does not diminish the importance of these processes in every company. Check out Doaccounts for more information.
Fast invoicing done the right way can optimize cash flows for your business, and keeps you from chasing clients afterwards. Forget about using Excel to create invoices and manage accounts. There are plenty of accounting software available to automate a great part of these processes.
Freshbooks is one such example, as it allows you to create invoices quickly. Accounts management is also taken care of, requiring minimal human input.
There are usually a lot of steps involved in the sales pipeline, and identifying the ones that take the most time and automating them can be hugely beneficial for your company.
Realistically, you can’t automate every process. For example, you can’t really automate calling prospective clients. However, if you’re doing cold emails you can certainly automate this part of the process.
There are many email campaign management tools out there that will automate a major portion of this process. Likewise, there are lead finder tools so you don’t have to scour search results looking for leads.
Good sales tools can also automatically mark leads to opportunities if they sense that the leads are interacting with your company’s outreach efforts.
An easy way to search for automation tools for the process you’d like to automate is to search Google for “process name + tool”.
3. Project Management
Tools like Teamwork make it very easy to assign tasks based on templates. There is no need to chase your employees to do a certain thing when you can just create a task in Teamwork with all the instructions included.
Tools like Teamwork are especially helpful since they completely eliminate the need to communicate repetitive tasks. They can automatically manage task workflow, notifying different team members when another team member assigned to the task has completed their work and now the task is open for them.
Project management tools also minimize the chances of miscommunication, as you just need to create a solid task template at the beginning and from there onwards any task created using that template will already have the workflow defined for team members.
4. Customer Engagement
Sending weekly newsletters is a good way to keep customers engaged with your business, but there are even better ways to do customer engagement these days.
If you offer a software as a service, you can ask for customer feedback and experience when they’ve used a feature for a specific amount of time. Or you can send them a tutorial when they try out a new feature.
These are great ways of letting the customer know that you care about their product experience, but the equally great thing is you don’t have to do it manually. Simply programming these emails beforehand to be sent out on specific event triggers can get the job done effectively.
This is all what automation is about - getting your business goals accomplished without much human intervention!
5. Customer Support
An increasing number of businesses offer automated support through chatbots. Chatbot technology has advanced significantly over the past few years.
For an ecommerce business for example, you can imagine most of the customer support inquiries will be for orders placed. You can program chatbots to handle this in an almost perfect manner.
You can also use chatbots to recommend products, send order / tracking details and so on.
Using customer support automation allows you to provide high quality customer support since most of your human operators won’t be preoccupied solving simple support issues that have been automated.
That being said, chatbots are not omnipotent, so don't fire all of your staff just yet. What you can do, however, is hire a virtual assistant to handle those customers who want to speak with an actual person.
6. Client Onboarding
Why have dedicated support reps for client onboarding when video tutorials and built-in software wizards can do the same thing? We’re not ruling out human involvement completely for client onboarding.
After all, there will be some things that are just done better by humans. But for simpler tasks video tutorials can do the job just as effectively, without using your human resources.
Automated onboarding can be very useful if you want to introduce the basic functionality of your program to new customers. And if they’re struggling even after going through the tutorials, they can always reach out to your support staff for better help.
7. File Backups
This goes without saying but, all of a business’s files should be backed up in a fail safe way. And this doesn’t require much effort these days, if at all. Opting for cloud storage and storing all of yours on the cloud accomplishes the same purpose.
Discourage employees from keeping files on local machines and offer them online file storage such as OneDrive and Google Drive. With cloud backups, there’s no need to worry about losing your business’s essential files.
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