Deciding what to automate in business is not easy. Some small business leaders pay too much attention to the tasks their competitors automate, letting those activities dictate their conclusions.
However, a better approach is to investigate where and how your company could save time and cut costs with automation. These six areas will give you some good ideas of where to start and why.
1. Email Management
If you’d describe email as often overwhelming but convenient, you’re not alone. Statistics indicate that people worldwide will send and receive an astounding 319.6 billion emails per day by 2021. Your company’s representatives might deal with so many incoming emails that they struggle to decide which ones to tackle first. Conversely, they may forget to reply to someone awaiting a response about a crucial matter.
Fortunately, there are tools that can automate many aspects of keeping a well-managed inbox. Some learn which kinds of messages are most important or which senders you interact with regularly. Others only show you batches of emails at predetermined times to minimize distractions.
Automating your email management makes sense to do sooner rather than later because it frees people up to do more valuable, rewarding tasks without letting communications lapse.
2. Social Media
Having a strong and consistent social media presence can help attract new customers while keeping current ones interested. Some people come across social media profiles before they see a company’s website. That reality emphasizes why you should keep that content current and relevant to the intended audience.
Maintaining your social media profiles often requires the work of several employees. It’s an ideal area to automate while reducing labor needs.
Business automation can make it easier to ensure that your social media pages get updated regularly with content. Free and paid tools are also available that use automation to help you analyze how each post performs or plan how frequently to release new material.
3. Sales Calls
Even the most skilled sales representatives who engage with potential customers by telephone get slowed down by tasks such as dialing phone numbers, waiting for people to answer and leaving voicemails when needed. However, some automated dialing tools let those professionals reach up to 80 leads per hour and spend more time communicating.
One of the best practices for deciding what to automate in business is to focus on the easiest processes before addressing the more complicated ones. Since automated tools can dial phone numbers, it makes sense to have them do it so that your representatives have more time to nurture leads.
Some products also provide filtering capabilities that let users see the most interested people. They can then use their time wisely by prioritizing the most promising contacts.
4. Data Entry
Another useful thing to do when pursuing business automation is to look for repetitive actions. When people take the same steps over and over for hours at a time, they’re more likely to become tired and possibly make errors. That’s why you should consider automating some data entry tasks. Doing it could bring more accuracy to your company’s processes while giving workers more time to do other things.
For example, some tools recognize details like names and addresses, then automatically import them into your desired platform.
Additionally, receipt-capture apps make expense tracking more straightforward by detecting the paper’s content and transforming it into a digital format. Automating your company’s data entry needs with specialized tools enables getting more done without expanding your workforce.
5. Supply Replenishment
Keeping enough supplies on hand is often a tough task. However, business automation can make it easier. For example, some resource planning platforms can provide automatic alerts and generate purchase orders once specific products get down to levels you set.
You can use those features to stay on top of items sold to customers, plus items used in general operations.
When you evaluate automating the replenishment of ongoing necessities — such as printer ink, reams of paper and printing supplies — consider enrolling in a refill plan where you receive those products regularly without placing ongoing orders. Many companies offer such services, and it’s often possible to pause or skip a delivery if your needs change.
Automating how you stock up is a smart move because it helps you avoid running out and provides peace of mind.
6. Simple Customer Service Questions
Determining what to automate in business often begins by identifying shortcomings. If your customer service representatives struggle with maintaining quick response times or often answer fact-based questions, chatbots could ease those challenges while keeping customers satisfied. They could also aid your company in understanding more about support trends.
They can answer questions like how someone can buy tickets to an attraction or how late your business stays open. You may also wish to pair the automated features of chatbots with the person-staffed option of a live chat portal. If a person asks a question too complex for the bot, the customer could get transferred to a human agent who immediately sees a record of the conversation so far.
Implement Business Automation Strategically
Automation is not a magic solution to all of the obstacles your small business faces. However, it can streamline your processes and put the business in an ideal position for growth when it’s used well.
As you review the suggestions here and look over your enterprise’s specific needs, remember that your automation plans may change as the organization evolves.
These six areas will get you off to a good start, but you should periodically review how you apply automated technologies to ensure they still make sense for your circumstances and goals.