You might not realize it, but automation is all around us. Your credit card and utility bills that arrive every month on time were generated automatically. The route the courier followed to hand-deliver the bills was probably optimized by software. Most of the marketing emails in your inbox were automated, including the process for signing up for a mailing list. It’s hard to think of a business process that hasn’t been touched by automation.
When people talk about automation, they usually mean factories, robotics, and specialists like jhfoster.com. However, software automation exists as well. People and businesses rely on automated processes all the time, from scheduling emails to creatintg reminders to cold-calling potential customers. Anything repetitive can be automated, and we get to focus on the things that matter.
Small businesses, in particular, can benefit from automating processes. Here are a few tasks you can start automating:
One of the most annoying things about dealing with clients and partners is finding a common time to meet. Whether it’s for a business proposal or a doctor’s appointment, we’re all familiar with the back and forth involved to schedule a meeting. Luckily, there are now tools you can use to take care of the process on your end.
Let’s say you want to meet with a client to talk about project updates. You send them an email with a link to a calendar that allows them to choose from different time options. Once they’ve chosen an option, the meeting is automatically saved in your calendar, and all the attendees have been informed through email. All you have to do is to show up.
I’m sure you’ve read countless books and articles about the importance of making a good impression, especially on new and prospective customers. If you use email marketing for your business, you’re already familiar with platforms that allow you to schedule and automate sending. You can go one step further by creating automated welcome emails to new subscribers.
Every time a new customer buys something from your store or subscribes to your mailing list, they will receive an email welcoming them to your business. You can offer helpful tips, exclusive deals, or even just a short heartfelt message thanking them for supporting your business. Customers appreciate the gesture and will feel more invested in your brand.
Bills and payment notices
Many employees report feeling tired and burned out from work, often due to the heavy workload. One way to combat burnout is to automate repetitive tasks. That way, employees can focus their energies on tasks that challenge them.
Let’s say your sales team spends way too much time chasing after unpaid invoices. Instead of manually writing to each client, you selected a platform to automate bills or payment notices to your client list. You can even send a reminder before and on the day of the due date. All your team has to do is to follow up.
When working with different vendors and partners, you have to contend with multiple file formats. The result is an assortment of PDFs and other documents. It might not seem like a big problem at first, but if you have to extract data or edit the file, you have no choice but to check each file individually. One quick way to streamline your work is to use a tool to batch convert different files into your desired format.
This is incredibly helpful when you have to pull numbers for transfer to a spreadsheet. By keeping to the same file format, you can create a script that will extract and transfer the data for tinkering or analysis.
Social media seems easy at first, but a lot of work goes into building an online presence. If you want to develop and maintain a presence on multiple platforms, you must consider things such as content planning, audience segmentation, and timing. You also have to coordinate posts between different platforms. All of that can eat up your time.
You can automate certain aspects of social media management, such as content publication, to focus on other things such as responding to customer messages and creating content.
These are just some ways you can improve your business process through automation. As you can see, you don’t have to rebuild your business from scratch. You’re just making tweaks here and there so you can make the most of what you already have.