Business automation uses technology to automate tasks. Chances are you already use some automation in small or large business, and you know increased use could bring benefits. But what would that look like in your business? Without a clear idea of how automation could fuel your unique vision of success, it can be difficult to determine next steps.
First, find your pain points and sources of joy.
Start with identifying problems or areas of improvement. Which tasks feel too time-consuming? Which tasks do you and your staff enjoy the least? Where do you think you might be losing money through inefficiency or errors? These are the areas crying out for automation – and there’s likely a turnkey solution out there that can give you near-instant improvement.
It’s also important to look at the other side: What are your favourite tasks? Where do your employees really shine and add value to your customers? What would you like to do more? Automation can streamline other parts of the job so you have more time to focus on these areas.
Whatever your ideal state, it likely requires improvements that help you save time, improve revenue, cut down on effort and increase accuracy. And it almost certainly involves three key areas: loyal customers, happy employees and a bright financial picture. Here’s what successful business automation can look like through those three lenses.
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1. Keeping your customers coming back
Making customers feel special is important. If they feel they’re only dealing with an impersonal computer system and can’t get real human service, it can be a frustrating and negative experience. But they’re not averse to automation: Implementing automation that makes things easier for customers shows you’re paying attention to them and tailoring your offerings to their needs. For instance, when customers can schedule appointments, place food orders, or make dining reservations online and receive automatic text and email reminders, doing business with you feels effortless. It’s a win-win for your business and the customer.
Businesses need to establish relationships with their customers to be successful and communication is a vital component. Marketing automation tools can help you plan and schedule email campaigns in advance. They can also simplify personalised customer outreach, such as reminders about abandoned baskets, birthday greetings or notifications of upcoming sales, which help keep your business at the front of customers’ minds.
Automation streamlines time-consuming tasks so business owners and staff can get back to the work they do best.
By letting automation handle simpler customer needs, you have more time for big-picture planning, and your employees have more time to spend on the interactions that benefit from personal contact, such as problem-solving and fulfilling special requests.
Customers don’t come to you for a generic experience. They want what only your business can deliver. The reason you employ real people is because customers are people too, and those interactions are priceless.
2. Helping your employees be happy and productive
Automation can increase staff satisfaction too, because employees aren’t stuck doing repetitive tasks and can focus on more interesting, fulfilling parts of their jobs. If staff are happy, your customers will be happier, and that impacts your bottom line.
A simple example: Automating table reservations and takeaway orders gives restaurant customers an easier way to make sure their request was accurate versus a phone call. Fewer phone calls mean restaurant staff don’t feel rushed on each call. Plus, they have fewer interruptions when helping other customers in person at the restaurant.
Business automation lets staff make website updates, enter dine-in orders and see table seating quickly. They can edit online menu items, view and download reports, and access customer data across multiple locations easily. The right software integration can help pull third-party delivery orders into the POS automatically. Automated ordering and payments can save staff members hours each week.
Automation also dramatically cuts down on errors, making both customers and owners happy. It’s easier to hold on to employees when everyday processes such as access management and scheduling are streamlined. With a user-friendly dashboard, you can adjust user roles and permissions easily, making sure employees can’t alter planned leave without management approval. This can reduce the risk of mistakes or miscommunication.
Your team is your most valuable asset. Automation can free them up to create, to innovate and to provide customer experiences that only humans can deliver.
3. Achieving your definition of success
Your business and life goals determine what successful business automation looks like. Thinking about your unique situation can help you decide your automation priorities.
Would you like to spend more time cultivating your high-value clients but feel bogged down with back-end tasks? Automated tools significantly reduce the burden of accounting by ensuring accurate and secure payments to vendors. That holds true for invoicing, where automation can help you request and receive payments from anywhere. It can also minimise errors in payroll calculations and timekeeping, helping you ensure that every employee is paid accurately and on time.
Are you driven to grow as fast as possible? Business success relies on recognising what’s working and doing more of it. Seeing at a glance which products or services sell well, who returns which products and which items don’t get a second look guides smarter decisions. Having everything in one seamless ecosystem lets you track and compare multiple retail locations more easily 24/7.
Maybe you find yourself always dealing with last-minute supply chain crises and want to reduce stress in your workday so you can enjoy nights and weekends more fully. Automated inventory management can help retail stores stay on top of inventory and can auto-generate purchase orders to restock popular items. Businesses of all kinds can save time, stay ahead of product shortages and save money by avoiding last-minute rush fulfilment of inventory gaps. Imagine a bakery known for its pain au chocolates. Business automation can let them know when they’re running out of ingredients in time to restock so their loyal customers and business reputation don’t suffer.
If you’re in a line of business that relies on stable, consistent sales from repeat buyers, such as a coffee shop, tracking customer behaviour with automation can enable you to make your store part of customers’ daily lives. Whether it’s using auto-generated reports to see what sells best or mining loyalty programmes for customer insights, automation tools help businesses understand customer habits.
Say you run a spa that offers massage treatments and sells health and beauty products. An automated loyalty programme can tell you how your customers interact with different areas of the business. Do they just come for services or are they leaving with products every time? As you try different promotional tactics, you can gauge their impact on customer activity.
Getting started with automation
Growing a business is hard work and the idea of automation may seem daunting. But making the switch is easier than you might expect with the right strategies and technologies. Adopting automation doesn’t just simplify everyday tasks – it enhances efficiency, fosters business growth and upgrades the experience for customers and employees alike.
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