The 21st century ushered in an era of information and technology and nobody can deny the huge effect it has on our everyday lives. From our smartphones to our smart fridge, we’re enslaved to technology and have grown accustomed to the comfort it provides in making our lives easier.
Likewise, when it comes to businesses, be it big or small, technology has changed the face of it. Technology, such as automation, has played a huge role in fast-tracking day to day tasks and, in the process, it’s saved an enormous amount of time and money.
Automation has been around for quite some time too. And not just for big companies, but smaller ones too. Automation is not just a fancy word used by corporations to replace human employees with robots, it’s a strategy that uses technology to optimize automated tools. And the best part is that you can have these tools at your disposal easily.
These gadgets can make your business agile.
And, in this rapidly-changing, fast-growing, dynamic business world, you lose out to your competitors if your business is not agile.
So, how can your business streamline operations with improved efficiency and productivity at a lower cost using automation? Here’s how...
- Business Process Automation
Repetitive business processes can be time-consuming and tedious. They can exhaust precious resources that can be used to create income elsewhere.
Actions such as invoicing, travel authorizations, and time-off requests are essential to be regulated and kept in track to streamline workflow and minimize cost.
But does it need a human touch? Not necessarily. To give you an example, a web platform such as Chipax can help you keep track of all your business income, expenses, salaries, taxes, etc. in an orderly and transparent way. This is an example of an ERP system that can be used for any business.
- Customer Data
Customer data is invaluable if you wish to provide a seamless service. Through marketing and e-commerce automation, any business can collect and process information about their targeted customers.
They can then use this information to generate the right message and the right service at the right time. This will warrant an effective customer retention plan.
Email automation, online surveys and polls, CRM systems and chatbots are some examples of the methods you can use to collect data.
Customer service can be one of the most important factors for your business’s growth. It sets you apart from your competitors. Chatbots can help you create the right impression for first-time customers or clients.
Having quick automatic responses with general FAQs is the first step of any great customer service plan. This instantaneous service will increase the efficiency in other departments too as they won’t be wasting time answering calls about mundane things.
The customer might already find the information they need from the FAQs, saving time and effort from both ends.
Chatbots are at a customer’s service 24/7 and the best part is that they’re an affordable solution for small businesses.
- Inventory Management
Inventory management automation can also be used to sync your inventory system with your supplier’s system.
This will automatically alter and adapt the amount of raw materials needed to be supplied or the number of products that have been sold. It can also transfer information about the products on the business’s website.
This will increase efficiency by minimizing backorders. If there are any canceled orders, it takes that into account and updates it accordingly. Therefore, real-time data is available at all times.
- Robotic Process Automation
Gone are the days when you need to hire an employee for repetitive and mundane tasks such as copy and pasting data, transferring files, and so on. These are non-value adding activities that do nothing but guzzle up company time and resources.
Robotic process automation minimizes human error and reduces labor costs.
We’ve talked about how important customer data is to understand your customer needs. Now, we’re going to go into detail about how analytics can help you.
The most common way to find out about your customers and use it for marketing is through Google Analytics.
Are a majority of your customers visiting your website through their mobile phones? If so, then you can invest in a mobile app to create a better experience for your customers. Google Analytics can help you answer questions like this. You can realize what your customer needs are through the traffic data.
You can also segment your customers based on certain factors e.g. geography and purchase patterns. Keeping that in mind, you can create value-adding marketing for that particular customer segment.
There are many other ways analytics can help you create a perfect marketing campaign for your customers needs. However, getting these numbers can be time-consuming.
There are automated platforms that can host multiple websites, social pages, and Google Analytics all together in a centralized all-in-one dashboard.
These platforms can also monitor other functions like finances, infrastructure, sales, etc. - basically, anything that needs to be monitored to build a custom database with real-time reports.
- Website Hosting
A website is one of the most important aspects of your business.
A website is your ultimate marketing machine that needs to be tended to and groomed regularly. It needs to handle all the traffic and convert it into results but this might be another non-value adding activity for you.
Managed hosting will provide your website with all the TLC it needs in addition to more security, updates, speedy responses, zero downtime, fast backups, and expert tech support.
Every business will have time-consuming, non-value adding but important tasks that need to be completed. To use human effort to complete these tasks is a waste of time, energy and talent.
If you wish to implement automation in your business, you need to be aware that it requires an initial heavy investment for set-up and training.
Training will standardize the processes among employees and help create a culture that embraces automation. Sooner or later, automation must be embraced because it is the future.