Business automation is one of the most important tools a company can use to profitably scale and grow. As a result of automating tasks and processes, businesses can free up their employees to focus on more strategic efforts. We are going to discuss our 20 best business automation tips gathered over more than 20 years.
There are many different tactics and strategies we can use to drive automation in your business. We are going to cover a number of ideas and tips. However, the areas with the biggest automation payback are typically sales pipeline management, customer experience, and decision support.
Click a section below to go directly that one of the business automation tips.
1) Create a Repetitive Task Inventory
Creating an inventory of your repetitive tasks and processes is a great place to start. This will help you identify which tasks have the highest ROI. You will need to create a spreadsheet of your repetitive tasks. Record how often the task is performed and how long it takes each time.
- Calculate the total time per year for each task.
- Estimate the complexity of the task (high, medium, low).
- Prioritize tasks by lowest complexity and highest total time.
2) I Can't Pick a Task to Automate!
If you are anything like me, you tend to overanalyze a problem. Continue reading if you are having a hard time deciding where to start your automation journey. Ask yourself the following question, "what area of my business has the most impact on our customer experience?" Afterward, pick the task from your inventory spreadsheet that has the biggest impact on your customer. It's just that simple.
3) Obsess Over Documentation. Keep It Simple.
It will be very tempting to jump right in and start automating. However, you will find that automating requires you fully understand a task and all of the edge cases. So, spend some time writing down the steps of the task, the inputs, and the desired outcomes. This documentation will prove very valuable when you actually start the business automation work.
Similarly, I can't stress enough how important it is to keep things simple. Start small, get some wins, and iterate the automation over time. For instance, if your task takes 1 hour per week to perform, set a goal to reduce the time to 45 minutes per week. Then improve that over a few weeks until it is fully automated. In conclusion, this approach will be more enjoyable and far less frustrating.
Sales - Business Automation Tips
4) Sales Pipeline Management
Auto-assigned inbound sales lead to a sales representative. After that, you have a greater chance of nurturing those leads and moving them along your sales pipeline process. Additionally, you need to create automated pipeline review processes to ensure your sales teams are effectively managing your opportunities. Above all, a good CRM is critical to managing your sales pipeline.
5) Proposal Preparation
Investigate tools like Pandadoc or RFPIO to help you improve and automate your proposal processes. This is an area that is critical to successfully scaling a sales organization. For instance, sales teams can't win new business if they are stuck filling our Excel proposal forms.
6) Client Onboarding
You can start this effort by simply asking yourself, "how can I maximize the customer experience and minimize friction." In other words, if you keep the customer in mind it will be obvious what parts of the onboarding process should have priority.
MARKETING - BUSINESS AUTOMATION TIPS
7) Email Marketing
Nurture your leads and turn them into paying customers. Email marketing is uniquely tailored to keep your customers and leads engaged with your business. Likewise, automated email campaigns can be configured to support a lead or customer as they progress along the customer journey. To sum up, consider using tools like Mailchimp, Drip, MailerLite, or ConvertKit to help with your email marketing automation.
8) Social Media Management
Expand your reach and save time while doing it. Therefore, we want to leverage tools such as HootSuite, SocialPilot, and Buzzsumo. Each tool allows a business to increase its social media effectiveness while reducing the administrative burden. In addition, these tools can help you publish content to multiple platforms, analyze viewer interactions, monitor platforms for mentions, and assist with ad placement.
9) Customer Email Autoresponders
You really need to respond immediately to customer-initiated communications. If a customer opens a support case or requests a contact you need to reply to them within 30 minutes or less. Using a CRM or even an autoresponder on an Office 365 mailbox is better than a customer thinking you are ignoring them.
Customer Service - Business Automation Tips
10) Order Processing and Status Inquiry
We can improve the customer experience by automating order processing and order status inquiry. Likewise, we can dramatically increase the speed by which we solve the customer's problems. Companies can set up automated systems that send customers order status updates.
For example, we can update a customer every time their order has been processed, moved from processing to shipping, or canceled. Additionally, chatbots have become very good at facilitating order questions for the customer.
11) Self-Service Tools
Customers today are more self-reliant than ever before. They want to be able to do everything themselves. Therefore, to meet these needs, many companies have developed self-service tools that allow customers to access information and services without having to contact customer service.
One example of a self-service tool is a FAQ section on the company website. When users search for questions about a particular product or issue, the FAQ section will list all of the relevant answers in one place. Most importantly, this increases the speed and eliminates the need for customers to search through different websites or email customer service multiple times in hope of finding an answer.
12) Appointment Reminders
When customers make appointments with their favorite businesses, they expect a seamless customer experience. Unfortunately, many businesses forget to remind customers of their appointment. Automation can help businesses keep track of their appointments and ensure that customers are taken care of in a timely manner.
By using automation, businesses can easily send reminder emails and text messages to customers who have appointments scheduled with them. This ensures that customers know what is expected of them and that they do not have to worry about forgetting an important appointment.
13) Password Resets
Often, customers need assistance resetting their passwords, and this can lead to frustration and poor customer experience. Fortunately, there are ways to automate this process so that you can support your customers more effectively.
For example, you can create a web form that asks for the user's name, email address, and current password. Once you have this information, you can automatically generate a new password for the customer and send it over email.
Finance - Business Automation Tips
One way that we can drive efficiency is through invoicing automation. This is where software takes care of all the details related to billing and payments, freeing up managers to focus on more important tasks.
This can help improve the customer experience by making it easier for customers to pay and track their bills, as well as reducing the need for customer service reps. Additional opportunities can exist if you work to automate the processing of failed bill charges.
15) Past Due Accounts
Many small businesses rely on automated accounting systems to keep track of their past-due accounts. These systems can help businesses identify and correct financial issues early on, preventing them from becoming larger problems down the line. By automating these tasks, businesses can better focus on their core operations and improve customer experience and support along the way.
Decision Support - Business Automation Tips
16) Standard Operating Procedures
One of the key benefits of automation is the ability to scale and grow more efficiently. Having complete and up-to-date Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is an often overlooked key to scaling. SOPs are a common way to ensure that processes and procedures are followed in a consistent manner.
These documents are used when onboarding and training new employees. This can improve customer experience and ensure that customers receive quality support. SOPs will be one of the inputs when you begin automating a task or process. This is one of the most important ideas in this list of business automation tips.
17) Create RACI Matrix
A RACI matrix is a powerful tool for improving team effectiveness and efficiency. For any given function or task, the RACI matrix spells out exactly who is Responsible, who is Accountable, who should be consulted, and who should be informed. The benefits of using a RACI matrix include:
- Automation: By assigning responsibilities according to role, tasks are automatically completed more quickly and with fewer errors.
- Scale: With roles clearly defined, teams can grow without sacrificing effectiveness or efficiency.
- Leadership: A clear understanding of team roles leads to better decision making and improved communication.
Operations - Business Automation Tips
Payroll automation has become a staple in many organizations of all sizes. The benefits of automation are clear – scale and growth. Automation allows an organization to process more payroll transactions with less manpower, which can lead to cost savings.
Additionally, automating payroll allows leaders to focus on other important aspects of their business. With the right software, payroll can be managed easily from anywhere in the world. Some examples of firms doing very interesting work in this area are Gusto, Rippling, and Onpay.
Recruiting automation can help organizations scale and grow their talent pools. A good automation solution can help to streamline the recruiting process and reduce the time needed to find qualified candidates. Additionally, it can help to reduce the number of candidate interviews required, making the recruitment process more efficient. We recommend:
Outsourcing can provide many benefits for businesses. For example, outsourcing can scale a business by allowing it to hire more candidates who are qualified and have the skills that the business needs.
Additionally, outsourcing can help businesses grow because they can use outside talent to help them develop new products or services quickly. Finally, outsourcing can help businesses find the best candidates because they can place their job ads in multiple locations around the world. The best outsourcing tools are:
I hope this list of ideas was helpful. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any thoughts or comments.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Creating an Automated Business for more information.