Automation is key for business owners for one chief reason: it frees up more of your time to do what you do best. Whether you’re a wizard on the strategy front, with communications, or you’re the bright creative mind behind your operation, your energy should be reserved for the special sauce you bring to the business, which means you can’t be effective if you are handling small tasks repetitively.
Many business owners get into a rut because their current operations are going well, but they don’t consider how they can free up more of their creative time by automating. Automation is critical for scaling. A McKinsey report found that 45% of today’s paid work could be automated by technology.
That’s almost half, folks.
Automation can also refer to outsourcing tasks to your team by using technology to streamline communication and to-do’s. If you’re not sure if you could be automating more in your business, here are three areas you can automate right now.
3 Things You Should Automate Now | Stephanie Burns
1. Cold Outreach
This depends on how big your business currently is. If it’s just you, you probably will be handling the cold calls and emails for a bit upfront. But, if you’re bringing in many new clients and customers, it may be time to hand over control to a VA or prospecting technology that can handle the cold messages on LinkedIn, cold emails, and cold calls. James Dhillon, CEO of Automaters, advises that a good way to begin the outsource of prospecting, is to hire someone on a pay-for-performance basis. “If the sales agent doesn’t close a sale, then they won’t get paid,” Dillon explains. “It’s important to stop overwhelming yourself and trying to be the jack of all trades.”
Create a commission basis you feel comfortable with, and pay a percentage of every sale that’s actually made to your sales agent. Additionally, take advantage of sales trackers and CRMs so you know when to follow up with which prospect. Or better yet, automate that follow up.
2. Customer Queries
When a customer has a question, complaint, or request, are you the first on the job? I get it – customer or client relations create the core of the business, and it can be hard to give up the reins and entrust a VA, someone else on your team, or a canned response to settle the matter. The average person sends or receives upwards of 620 emails per week. That number will continue to rise as you sign on new customers and clients, and if you take control of answering their questions or solving their problems, the number of minutes spent on each email will start to add up significantly.
Sneha Mittel, marketing and customer service manager, recommends automating by first creating a centralized place where your team members can find all relevant customer and client information. “Adopt a centralized online customer management system (CMS) where all your teams can access customer data and leave additional information for other teams if required,” she writes. “Adopt a system that is accessible across devices so it’s convenient for you and your staff members to find and access customer information anytime. This will not only empower your team but also create delightful customer experiences, and therefore, help you grow your business.” Invest time upfront building this CMS, and additionally, add email scripts for a host of different customer questions or concerns so you feel a bit more comfortable letting other team members handle it.
Simply adding an FAQ where your customers and clients can find it will help lessen the load as well.
3. Nurturing Previous Customers
A common mistake made by business owners is solely focusing on services for current customers and prospecting new ones. Then, a major opportunity is lost: to sell again to current or past customers. One way to do this is by creating an email campaign with a series of marketing emails, automated to send out automatically on a pre-planned schedule. This way, marketing is going on in the background while other business operations are continuing.
Sasha Brown recommends adopting this “batch process” with email marketing tools such as MailChimp, Vision 6, and A Weber. “Email marketing can keep people aware of your business activities, which you can automate by creating autoresponders—a scheduled sequence of emails sent out automatically—this will keep your customers engaged for as long as you have set up,” she writes.
Automation is a must-add to your business because it frees up creative time, contributes to better customer services, and allows you to scale. If you’ve recognized a potential area where you can add automation, create a pocket of time to build out the proper processes or hire the proper people to make it happen. It’s a time investment that will show great returns.