3 Practical Ways Small Businesses Can Benefit From Automation
If you run a business, it’s likely that you spend at least some of your time trying to figure out how to balance your professional life with your personal life. If you’re strapped for time and feeling stressed, you should consider automating some of your business processes to save time and even money. In this article we’ll share some practical tips for how you can use automation to benefit your business.
Understanding The Automation Trend
According to HubSpot, 64 percent of marketers began to see benefits six months after implementing automation techniques. This impressive statistic shows how powerful a few simple changes can be for just one aspect of a company.
There’s no reason to focus on a single channel, though. McKinsey and Company reports that 60 percent of all industries should be able to automate at least one-third of common activities. Imagine how being free from one-third of your daily workload could transform your business. Statistics also show that benefits from automation increase over time, meaning the returns you see today should continue to compound in the coming years.
This is one reason why options for integration continue to expand and so many companies are embracing cloud-based systems. Your business has the potential to become one of the many success stories behind the statistics if you take steps to implement a strategy for automation.
3 Major Benefits From Small Business Automation
Cloud computing and other emerging trends in marketing, technology and customer relations have transformed the way small businesses operate and increased the number of tasks business owners have to perform every day. Although these trends have brought great improvements, they also threaten to overwhelm small companies with excessive “busy work” and can hold you back from achieving your business goals.
Automation allows you to move forward without neglecting the myriad little jobs necessary to keep the wheels turning in the modern business machine. The benefits become immediately apparent when you consider budget, productivity and customer relations, three of the biggest concerns in the small business realm.
- Save Time and Money
Why bother wasting time filling in the same forms, sending the same emails and searching for the same documents over and over again? When you automate these actions, the repetitive tedium of entering information is transformed into a smooth flow of data from outside channels to interior departments. All data is collected, organized and delivered without the need for micromanagement.
With everything humming along in the background, you have much more time to focus on the larger aspects of doing business. The time you and your employees spend on administration and service is put to better use and can generate a much higher ROI for every hour worked. If you do need to locate and send information manually, the user-friendly dashboards offered by automation software make it much easier to transfer the necessary data.
- Minimize Errors to Improve Efficiency
Mistakes are a normal part of running a business, and even if you haven’t made a mistake you could still be on the receiving end of a lawsuit, which is why you should protect your business with liability insurance.
Repeatedly copying information by hand inevitably leads to errors. Automation improves accuracy by taking data directly from an input source, such as a customer filling out a quote request form, and delivering it to the right department within your small business without alteration. This not only ensures data integrity but also minimizes the confusion caused by the accidental creation of duplicate records.
For example, if you’re a wedding planner you might use a wedding planner software for client collaboration. If your client has an ever-changing guest list, you could use the software to ensure that any updates to a guest list also correspond to a change in meal counts and table settings.
Greater accuracy provides an additional boost to your ROI by increasing productivity.
- Improve Customer Service
Happy customers are loyal customers, and loyalty supports continued growth. Automation makes it easy to connect with your audience through personalized marketing messages and targeted social media updates. Information from lead generation tools, past orders and even social engagement comes together in one place and is accessible by everyone on your service team. When a customer contacts you with a question or complaint, the availability of basic information makes it possible to get right to the heart of the matter instead of spending time gathering routine data.
Many businesses now use chat bots on their websites to handle frequent questions so that neither customers nor team members have to spend extra time on the phone resolving simple issues. Customers get the answers they need right away, leaving your service team free to deal with more complex inquiries.
6 Practical Tips for Implementing Automation in Your Business
Enjoying the “big three” perks of automation doesn’t require a lot of work on your part. Free and low-cost tools and services are available to allow daily tasks to take care of themselves while you pay attention to running your company.
If you’re willing to do some research and get comfortable with the cloud, it shouldn’t take long to find the best options and get rolling with an automation plan. Consider these options for handling the jobs currently occupying the majority of your day:
- Adopt the use of time tracking and scheduling apps to help your team stay on target.
- Automate social media using HubSpot, Buffer or IFTTT.
- Embrace the website chatbot trend to provide immediate answers to customers’ common questions.
- Integrate all data channels with ERP, CRM, bookkeeping, invoicing and inventory solutions.
- Manage projects with Trello, Basecamp or another cloud-based tool.
- Look for email marketing software with autoresponders, remarketing tools and custom email scheduling.
Automating the tasks responsible for taking up valuable time every day can turn your business into a lean, mean efficiency machine and give you an edge over the competition. When you embrace automation, you can stop feeling bogged down by administrative responsibilities and pour more energy into growing your business. More available resources, fewer errors and a resourceful approach to customer service all combine to create big paybacks in terms of time and money, giving you the tools to reach your goals and make your business thrive the way you’ve always dreamed.