Businesses should always be looking for easily accessible ways to save time and money, and with the wide variety of automation tools currently available, there’s likely to be a solution for professionals looking to turn time-consuming, repetitive or manual processes into automatic actions.
Implementing new operations and diving into a new software might seem daunting, but the reality is that there are currently plenty of user-friendly and effective automated tools that can greatly simplify employee workloads and create a more efficient workforce.
Most companies will find that they can benefit from instituting some type of automated system, whether they’re trying to improve their marketing and advertising outreach, save resources being spent on customer support, or gain a clearer view of their data.
#1 Less Time Collecting Data, More Analysis
You might be spending too much time dealing with invoicing or still entering crucial data manually, but with useful data automation tools, you can increase efficiency and save your team from painstaking, repetitive tasks by automating parts of your data collection and processing.
By identifying your most time-consuming data entry tasks, you’ll have a better idea of what data automation software you should take advantage of. There are a wide variety of tools that use machine learning and artificial intelligence to process and update data on your behalf so that you can focus on strategy and value-add initiatives.
One of the most popular ways businesses implements data automation is through a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that allows for more organized customer data collection and analysis. Use this type of software to ensure you’re always up to date on client accounts, host all of your client information in one easily accessible place and receive regular notifications so you never miss a deadline.
Another way that data automation can improve the efficiency of your business is by providing more accuracy when it comes to data collection and reporting. Using automated tools to help organize and record large amounts of data can help cut down on human error with data reporting so that you can maintain an accurate look at your business’s progress and areas of improvement.
Using some type of automated tool to hold all of your clients’ information in one place will also help your team create a detailed schedule and plan for client communications and meetings. It also helps to know that your company and client data is backed up in one place, which data automation can also help address. Knowing that all of your important lead information and customer data is being automatically saved to a CRM or cloud computing service can help protect your company’s data and prevent the loss of valuable client information.
#2 Keep an Eye on Your Competition
While data automation can help you manage your own important metrics, it can also be an effective way of staying on top of your competition by instantly pulling competitor information such as pricing, customer feedback and web changes.
Tools like Sprout Social and Phlanx can help you track your competitors’ social media presence and Pricewatch is a useful data monitoring tool that provides insights into competitor pricing. You can also automatically track website changes on competitor pages in order to gain some insights into their strategy and get regular emails based on important web alterations.
It’s always a good idea to stay in the know regarding your competitors’ movements and data automation is an efficient way to collect this information quickly and save yourself from having to search multiple pages and manually enter everything you find. For any savvy marketing professional interested in keeping a keen eye on their competitor’s outreach and web metrics, digital tools such as SEMRush automatically provide detailed competitor analytics and metrics on competitor sites so business owners can keep track of their competitor’s online growth and identify any missed opportunities to capitalize on.
Businesses can also use similar tools to keep track of their online mentions compared to their competition’s so they know what opportunities for increased exposure to their offering exist and also know how public response to similar offerings differs. They can also try to manage online conversations regarding their company by keeping track of where their company is being mentioned and monitoring the context of the discussion.
#3 Streamline Your Lead Generation
Automation isn’t just a great way to import helpful data. It can also be leveraged for innovative outreach and marketing purposes that will keep your lead pipeline flowing through lead qualification, automatic emailing and advertising campaign management.
Automated lead qualification can help businesses accelerate their marketing and sales teams at the same time. Teams can designate lead scoring and prospect qualifications ahead of time so that only prospects that meet certain criteria are passed over to the sales team.
Utilizing a system that can sort leads, follow-up accordingly, and maintain a clean database is essential to your workforce. Creating an automated process of streamlining your lead generation can carve time for other important duties. When your prospects are being handled the way you personally would the outcome is overall more productive. You can personalize your outreach, follow-up with certain cadences, and segment your audience all within one place. An automated system isn’t only an extra pair of hands, it’s almost another brain to help you sort and maintain.
A key feature any company can benefit from is laying out a prospecting campaign then streamlining your lead generation. When you prospect for a campaign and you’re able to segment a custom audience, streamlining lead generation becomes a breeze. Start by automating your prospecting campaign and collect the necessary information to conduct outreach. Then streamline your lead generation with a clear focus on who is interested in your business. Automation can boost your marketing capabilities and improve time efficiency.
These same teams can also use email automation to connect with prospects, help guide them down the sales funnel and handle queries promptly. Marketers can plan an automatic email schedule ahead of time to stay in touch with prospects and ensure follow-ups are sent right on time. Automated lead generation is likely to be one of the most impactful ways for a business to take advantage of this technology.
#4 Scale Your Team with Better Hiring
While there are a variety of ways automation tools can be used to help grow your business’s sales numbers, similar tools can also be leveraged to grow your team with improved hiring processes.
In the same way, leads are qualified automatically before connecting with your sales team, businesses can automate parts of their hiring process by instituting qualifying questions and skill demonstrations so their confident that applicants have relevant knowledge before meeting your hiring team.
Companies can also use pre-employment screening software to cut down the time it takes to call different governmental agencies and request background checks. Reviewing applicant resumes can be one of the most time-consuming tasks for your recruiting team to handle, so using automated tools to vet incoming resumes and screen potential new hires might be the best way to help your team save time on hiring.
Many companies have implemented automated interviews as an initial phase in their hiring process. This often provides applicants with the opportunity to review their responses and explain their experience in a more detailed way without having to travel for a face-to-face meeting that might alleviate some of the pressure that comes with an initial in-person interview.
Employers can also get a better idea about an applicant’s personality and whether they’d be a good culture fit through an automated interview. It will still take your recruiting team some time to review these automated interviews, but by having them stored for later, teams might be enabled to schedule their time more efficiently rather than having to schedule around an applicant’s availability.
It’s important for companies to consider how they use automated interviews and the type of message they’re sending by having this as the first point of contact for applicants. While some applicants might appreciate an initial interview that allows them more time to consider responses and less pressure, automated interviews can’t replace the human touch that many applicants may look for when deciding whether to continue pursuing a job.
Another great way for businesses to make use of automated tools is to implement them when having to manage and update large amounts of employee information to different systems. Several automation software tools will also allow companies to stay up to date on payroll and insurance so you can cut down on the time you spend amending spreadsheets and filing forms.
Using an automated tool to house all of your employees’ information in one place can also make an impact in your hiring process because you’ll have a better look at which employees were historically successful in their roles and why. Keeping employee data using these digital tools might make a big difference when it comes to how your recruiting team reviews applicants and decides what skillsets a qualified candidate should have.
#5 Improve Team Collaboration
While businesses can make practical use of automation in order to improve their hiring process, these tools can also be used to improve your team’s communication and collaboration with more detailed reporting and notifications. Because many data automation tools have the ability to house all of your client and internal communications with detailed notes and updates, teams can rest assured that they’ll have all the current information they need to succeed in their roles.
So, instead of using valuable time to address your team’s conversations in different places and pass along client notes, your team can use automation tools such as a CRM tool to improve the way they work together on client accounts. With regular notifications and precise notes on client accounts, your team will have a better idea of how they’d like to prioritize client accounts and delegate work.
While some team members might be hesitant to make a change that involves new software or digital tools, you might be able to address initial concerns by voicing how the opportunities resulting from better automation use can save your team time and enable the projects they find more rewarding.
If there are already some employees making use of an automated tool at your business, it might be a good idea to lean on these team members as added promotion and support of new automation initiatives. These employees should be in a good position to explain how using automation has benefited their efforts and freed them from manual tasks. They’ll also be able to aid the transition as processes change and automated tools are adopted so that the rest of your team feels comfortable switching processes.
Automation can also play a pivotal role in standardizing processes from shipping to client and new hire onboarding. Having consistent systems for your company’s different operations will help streamline your business and save large amounts of time on training new employees. Businesses can now use automated tools to complete orders on a detailed schedule as well as manage inventory and shipping. This is just another way that automation can give business owners a bird’s eye view at their future costs and how effectively they manage their budget.
#6 Take Your Customer Service to New Heights
One of the most popular reasons automation has been used by businesses is so that they can improve their customer service and cut costs. It’s more important than ever to have quick and reliable customer service and service automation is an effective way to enable responsive customer support.
You’ll find that many company websites make use of chatbots and automatic email and phone answering to handle a variety of customer queries. Instead of sending customers to a list of FAQ’s to read through, chatbots can usually manage a wide range of customer questions and requests so that your customers have less work to do and your employees save time.
Businesses can also regularly solicit customer feedback through automated surveys so that they can stay connected with their customers, improve their offerings and work based on consumer evidence. Whether you are a landlord with a busy schedule, an online e-commerce site with limited bandwidth or you’re simply newly emerging, automating your feedback works across all business industries. The more automated information you’re able to efficiently collect, the better response you’ll be able to provide.
By taking the time now to explore different ways automation can be included in resource-intensive processes, you’re likely to find areas where time, money and employee efforts can be used more efficiently while improving ways of monitoring customers, competitors and your own business all at once.
#7 Improve Your Health and Lower Stress
Many people in the work environment run on caffeine and late lunches, this may have a long-term toll on your health. Neglecting your health is a common habit if you have a demanding nine to five job.
Automating work processes can free up time for you to put your health first. You may not have to wake up in the morning and be fixated on answering all of your immediate emails. With automation you can handle routine tasks such as updating a database or following up with emails. Reduce your screen time by giving your eyes a break. Eye strain may lead to health problems associated with dizziness and headaches. Automating certain work can alleviate the time you spend straining your eyes.
Freeing up time to work on yourself and your well being can help progress your career. Focusing on the next tasks you have to complete and the certain steps you need to take for completing projects will catapult your career. Not only will your work benefit from you free time but the flexibility in your schedule will now allow you to pivot from different tasks.
Managers will see an improvement in the quality of your output when you are able to fine tune the details of your work. Being relieved of mundane tasks gives staff a higher sense of self-worth and develops unseen talents. Employees will take pride in their work and become a greater asset in the workplace. Automation can help differentiate staff members that are good at manual jobs and highlight those that have management abilities. When your staff feels happier at work it is proven that work environment and productivity goes up as well.
Reducing stress is simple when you don’t have to worry about a variety of tasks on your plate. Your staff will be happier to come into work and will be less consumed by the menial assignments.
When implemented correctly, automation can be a powerful way of freeing up your workforce from having to deal with common, laborious tasks so that they can be more creative, strategic and ultimately, effective in their roles. It’s important to note that while automating your workforce can help to increase productivity, leading to larger profit margins, improved customer experience, and satisfaction and even increased employee satisfaction, it’s important not to take too many risks with automation. Many tasks require the critical thinking skills that automation cannot provide and automating areas of your workforce that require those specific skill sets can end up hurting your business model. Make sure that you are analyzing both the long-term and short-term impacts of automating certain areas of your workforce and make careful consideration of how these tools can enable creativity.
Without examining how automation tools might be used to your business’s advantage, you may be missing out on a major opportunity to save huge amounts of time while growing your bottom line. With the wide variety of automation tools that can aid in outreach, data management and much more, there’s a good chance that investing some type of automated tool will result in substantial financial returns.
Samuel Kaye is a contributing editor for 365 Business Tips and writes about a variety of topics ranging from content marketing strategy to business development in order to help entrepreneurs and business owners grow their ventures.