If you could call it one, “time is money” can easily be the zeitgeist of the small business world. Being an entrepreneur is a huge responsibility. Making time or rather saving it can make a huge difference towards increasing efficiency and productivity. That’s where automating tasks can save the day for most business owners.
So, what exactly does automating your business tasks mean?
Automating tasks entails using an application or a service to take a load off of your hands. Imagine using a program or application that would automatically pay your bills, give you reports about business’ performance, can back-up all your data, or manage your customer reviews. Your time and effort is considerably reduced, giving you room to focus on other important matters.
But the question remains, if not for saving time, why should you automate your small business tasks?
Reduced Manual Errors
With the accuracy of an automated tool handling your tasks, you reduce manual errors. But, of course, that doesn’t make it foolproof. In case there are any errors, you can always retrace your steps through the historic data made available on most applications.
Streamlined Processes and Workflow
When task management is automated, employees will have a better sense of responsibility and accountability. With a system in place, you can keep track of tasks that are a work-in-progress, need collaborations, need approvals, have been rejected, etc. Tracking the process of the task can help you determine how much time you’ll need to spend on your other routine tasks.
It’s safe to say that leaving important notices on bulletin boards or using sticky notes to keep your employees in the loop is old school now. An automated communication process will ensure you that everyone in your team is notified about important matters. It even gives everyone a clear shot at reaching out to any line of hierarchy. Besides, you can have a unified office structure where all your departments can interact and collaborate with each other.
Enhancing Customer Experience
This is the best take-away from a well-automated task structure. You can enhance your customer’s experience by combining human interaction with a tool that creates an easier communication process. Imagine addressing bad reviews or complaints and resolving them in real-time. You will reap the benefits of consumer satisfaction and even reduce your churn rate. In addition to this, it can even help you reduce training costs, and aid your customers around the clock.
Now, it might be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. But in today’s world, there’s an online application or tool for almost everything. Here are eight common business tasks that you can (and must) automate with tools/software to enhance your productivity-
Automating Task Management
This is one of the most important things you can automate in your business. If you’re the type who likes creating to-do lists, you will enjoy using a task management tool. You can save time in meetings by creating tasks that need to be done, assigning it to your employees with deadlines and instructions. It’s that simple.
Tools: Asana, Trello, Quire
When you’re automating your finance related tasks you need tools that are fast, efficient and user-friendly. Automating billing and payment procedures comes with an efficiency that requires lesser effort.
Most of the high-functioning applications and tools out there are tailor-made to create customized invoice templates, generate performance reports, add multiple customer accounts, send reminders, calculate taxes, and make transactions in any currency. These tools will also allow you to export the documents you need in XML or CSV formats in case you need to re-purpose them. Tools like Quickbooks, Chargebee and Freshbooks are some good options to start with.
Tools: Quickbooks, Chargebee, Freshbooks
Automating Email Marketing
Nurturing customer relations is an integral part of running a business. Email marketing is a common practice that facilitates this. Although, you might ask, why would you need to automate your email marketing campaign if you have a Gmail account with all your customer email IDs on your contacts?
Email marketing tools provide you with templates you can create with the option of adding multimedia elements like images and videos. In addition to this, an email automation provides you with analytics. You can even track click-rates and the bounce-rates, the number of people who unsubscribe and measure the interactions. Tools like MailChimp can be useful in this case. In case you want to take your email marketing to the next level, you can opt for a service like Ninja Outreach. It helps you get in touch influencers and other authority figures in your field across several social media platforms.
Tools: Aweber, MailChimp
Automating Social Media Management
Social media management is an great way to market your business online. Using a social media management tool can help you save time. The best part of such tools is how you can post across several platforms at one shot. You can even get analytics on how well your posts are performing, measuring the engagement on the post. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer even allow you to schedule posts at time that is appropriate for you. You can even use tools like Mention to see who has, well, mentioned your business on their social media handles.
Tools: Hootsuite, Buffer, Mention
Automating In-house Communication
Automating your in-house communications is vital for businesses these days. It helps you set apart work-based communication from your personal communication channels. These tools provide you with direct message options, video calling, creating channels for specific projects, sharing multimedia files, employee contact details and much more. Applications like Slack have chatbots that prove to be very useful.
Tools: Slack, Fleep, Zoom
Automating Listings Management
Something that is vital for every business owner is making sure their business is found on the average consumer’s online search radar. For this purpose, having your business listed on all relevant online directories will ensure that your business appears on the SERPs (search engine results page). An ideal listings management service will get you listed on several online directories at a shot and give you access to managing them all from an integrated dashboard.
Tools: Synup, Advice Local
Automating Customer Service and Support
Automating customer support and service can enhance the reliability of your business. In which case, you need a software/tool that automates customer feedback and support, and support ticket tracking for your business. Ideally, you will even receive access to reporting and analytics to track your progress via to communities and forums. Though the best automation tool for your business is one that will help you build better relationships with your customers. Freshdesk is a good option to start with. Aside from this, you can even consider SalesAutoPilot and Zendesk.
Tools: SalesAutopilot, Freshdesk, Zendesk
Automating Review Management
Online reviews for a business makes all the difference to a customer. You can gain or lose a customer by one star or even half. Automating review management should be a priority for all business. You need a software/tool that allows you to respond to reviews and interact with customers who mention your business in any sense. Synup is a tool that allows you to respond to reviews in real time through social interactions online. Some alternative tools you can use are ReviewTrackers, GetFiveStars and G2 Crowd.
Tools: ReviewTrackers, GetFiveStars, G2 Crowd
Automation is a matter of creating a streamlined work environment that reduces a huge amount of clutter, and gives you the time to focus your efforts on running your business.