When you’re looking to grow your business in a competitive niche, you’ll know how hard it can be to ensure you’re using your time as efficiently as possible.
Like any passionate entrepreneur, you probably have a lot of grand visions about where you’d like to see your business go in the future and the big leaps forward that are needed to get you there. However, basic, routine tasks tend to chip away at the hours you have in the day and prevent you from tackling the bold and more innovative projects that will set you apart from the competition.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the best way for businesses to approach automation and some of the key processes that businesses should automate to maximize efficiencies and fulfill their potential.
Why Automate Processes
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably bombarded by ads from automation tools promising huge, life-changing efficiencies which will solve your problems like magic. Obviously, with all the noise around automation, it can be easy to wave it off and hold on to manual processes, but entrepreneurs who do this often run the risk of creating bottlenecks that will limit their ability to scale.
Before we look at the practical applications of automation, here are some key benefits it can offer your business.
Like any good business owner, you already understand the importance of SOPs which keep your processes uniform, whether that’s drafting and processing invoices, managing ad campaigns, onboarding a new employee, or anything else.
When these routine, yet essential processes are handled manually, it can make room for human error and create more work needed to keep these processes standardized. This, in turn, takes time away from more pressing projects and forces you to correct mistakes or amend SOPs.
By embracing automation, you can remove this risk factor and standardize key processes across your business, promising more consistent and predictable outcomes and significantly reducing the time needed for manual input.
Like with many businesses, there’s a high chance that a lot of your employees’ working days are being used up by tasks that could be automated. This even extends to more senior workers at a business, with this report by WorkMarket showing that 70% of business leaders reported that “10% to nearly 40% of their time is devoted to tasks that are mundane and not core to their job description.”
By automating these kinds of mundane, routine tasks, you’ll give workers across your organization greater freedom to focus on the areas of their work where they’re really needed and flex the skills and knowledge that make them a unique asset to the company.
When employees are recognized for the skills they were hired for, rather than routine admin tasks that can be delegated to software, it will boost overall productivity and help you nurture a more engaged and enthusiastic workforce.
Automation can also promise a significant increase in transparency in the processes it’s applied to, and make them much easier to understand when problems arise, and managers need to review what went wrong.
When employees are performing every task in their working day manually, monitoring those actions will depend on two-way communication and explanations that can be filtered through various workers’ personal perspectives.
Many automation tools, on the other hand, promise real-time visibility of the processes that they’re used for, giving managers a detailed breakdown of every task presented in an accessible way and enabling more informed and effective management.
5 Processes That Can Be Automated
Now that we know some of the key advantages that automation can offer businesses like yours, let’s take a look at five processes that can be automated for greater efficiency.
1. Rescuing Abandoned Carts
If you’re running an eCommerce business, then you’ll know how frustrating a high cart abandonment rate can be. Recent studies by the Baymard Institute exhibit an average cart abandonment rate of almost 70%, alluding to a huge amount of lost business for eCommerce operations of all sizes and specialties.
Cart abandonment can come from a wide variety of causes. Where a site visitor isn’t quite sure about making a purchase, or they were ready to buy and simply got distracted, you’ll need to take a more proactive approach to avoid letting the revenue slip through your fingers.
Fortunately, there’s now plenty of automation software that can be used to follow up on abandoned carts with triggers that can be adjusted for the behaviors of your target audience. With this automation solution in place, you’ll be able to extract value from more recoverable carts and circumvent the demanding manual work that cart recovery would require otherwise.
2. Helping Customers with Common Queries
When customers and clients need help with something, and they can’t find the solution on your site, nothing will frustrate them more than having to navigate a lot of barriers to ask a simple question.
With the rising demand for personalization, all businesses must work hard to exceed customer service expectations in every interaction and avoid losing customers to easily avoidable frustrations.
One of the best ways to automate interactions with customers and help them resolve common queries is through the use of chatbots — conversational programs that can simulate one-on-one query resolutions without the need for a real person on the chat platform.
With a range of customization options, chatbot programs will allow you to tailor the experience to your customers’ most common queries and concerns. Many platforms also allow omnichannel messaging, ensuring a smooth experience across all touchpoints, regardless of the human resources you have available.
3. Focusing on your Most Promising Leads
Typical sales pipelines exhibit countless opportunities for automation, but the proliferation of automation in sales has sadly been very slow to catch on. In fact, leading sales software provider Sopro reported last year that “more than a third (37%) of sales professionals don’t use any technology or automation tools when prospecting.”
Sales automation is brimming with opportunity. If you’re worried that your pipeline isn’t fulfilling its potential, one of the best ways to seize it is to use sales automation tools to prioritize your leads.
Drawing from a rich data set covering things like response times and other engagement signals, there are many tools on the market that will prioritize leads based on their estimated level of interest in your proposition.
Embracing this kind of technology will free up time that would otherwise be spent assessing leads manually, and make it easy to invest your resources in the most engaged contacts, instead of wasting time on those that are going cold.
4. Nurture Prospects at the Right Pace
Anyone who’s worked in the B2B sphere will know that not every lead is raring to become a paying client or customer. Your leads need to be moved along the pipeline at a pace that’s right for them, in a way that allows you to cultivate trust in your product and brand.
Another great way that automation can be used to optimize your sales process is to apply it to lead nurturing. In this scenario, automation tools can be applied to track engagement signals and lead qualification, then use these signals to trigger email follow-ups at logical intervals.
Manual lead nurturing is a tough balancing act between overwhelming contacts with too much communication and letting prospects go cold due to a lack of proactive engagement. By supporting this work with automated check-ins made at a healthy pace, you’ll relieve the burden of having to analyze prospect relationships and create more positive and frictionless customer journeys.
5. Gauge Satisfaction and Improve your Service
Understanding how satisfied your customers are is imperative to continually improve your standards and ensure your business reaches its full potential. However, with all the other demands placed on modern business leaders, it can be easy to let gathering and actioning customer feedback fall by the wayside.
If you know that you’re not doing enough when it comes to gauging your customers’ satisfaction, but you can’t seem to find the time to address this, then seeking out the right automation software suites could be the perfect solution.
Automation tools designed to improve customer satisfaction will make it easy to follow up on purchases and other interactions that will help gather actionable feedback on how your customers see your brand. This can be as basic as a simple “rate your satisfaction” email triggered by purchases or as complex as a full survey covering multiple facets of the customer experience.
Furthermore, customer satisfaction suites can be configured to identify negative feedback and trigger reminders for follow-up communications so that you can better understand the roots of customer dissatisfaction and how it can be avoided in the future.
These customer satisfaction solutions and more will feed you a constant source of information on how to optimize your customer experience without you ever having to manually chase your customers for feedback.
Though automation can be a daunting prospect when you’re first beginning to adopt it, the rewards that can come out of a modest initial investment are huge.
As you begin to explore automation solutions for your business, we hope this article has helped you form a clearer picture of what automation could mean for you.