In our last post, 6 Strategies To Streamline Your Business Today!, we recommended replacing manual labour with automated ones. Here are some quick and easy things you could do to achieve this objective:
1) Email auto responders
Email auto-responders are designed to automatically send emails to your existing clients and prospects. For instance, if you have a custom support email address, you can easily set up an auto-responder to ask senders/visitors to ensure that they have provided you with accurate and adequate information needed in order for you to effectively help them. Additionally, you could also use auto-responders as a great marketing tool for your business through sending bulk personalized emails outlining your products, services, new offers, or upcoming events. This functionality allows you to promote your business on a mass scale, with just a click of a button. Follow up emails, also known as confirmation or welcome emails, can also be configured and sent, upon customers’ subscription or purchase of a product from your site. Through such methods and procedures, you can build stronger and longer term relationships with your clients; reassuring them that you are a trustable business. In general, by opting for an auto-responder you can increase efficiencies, reduce frustration, build customer loyalty, and save valuable time.
2) Add a self-serve knowledge base to your website
We have all been a consumer at one point or another and know how frustrating it is when our most simplest and basic questions cannot be answered promptly. Most often than not, when customers encounter such inconvenience, they either pick up the phone and call your support line, or they will leave and visit your competitors’ sites. Either situation is a case of bad business bureau. This is why a simple Q&A section on your corporate website can be so beneficial. By allowing customers to search and find their own answers, tremendous amount of manual labour can be reduced from having personnels reply to customer service calls, mails and/or emails. At the same time, this self-service customer care empowers your clients by enabling them to effectively access specific, targeted content at their fingertips–24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
3) Use CRM software
Customer relationship management software is designed to sustain and strengthen customer-employee interactions through enabling an understanding of your clients’ behaviours and needs. This is important because you can now keep track of all correspondence with clients so that in cases where one or more of your employees is away or unavailable, another staff member will have no problem getting up to speed and helping out clients, whom they may have never interacted with. Without CRM, both your time and your customers’ time can be wasted as preliminary questions and conversations will all need to be repeated. Another benefit to using CRM is that cross-selling and up-selling is made easier; CRM can gather and store valuable information for you such as your clients’ order histories, their contact details, as well as, identify new revenue opportunities. At the end of the day what you get from CRM is a centralized database (which can include rich content on your sales, marketing, and finance) that can be made instantaneously available to all of your employees–helping increase your company’s efficiency, and decrease its administrative costs.
Spending a lot of time doing something that isn’t core to your business? Consider outsourcing to a company that specializes in that task. One great example is payroll, where manually calculating deductions and making remittances can be a huge waste of time and money. On the other hand, for a very nominal fee, services such as Ceridian or ADP will calculate your payroll, create and electronically distribute pay stubs, deposit funds directly into your employees bank accounts, and submit tax withholdings to the government. Now, doesn’t that sound great? Now accounting isn’t the only service that can be outsourced; other examples of outsourcing arrangements can include legal work, IT support, and manufacturing of components. These are the leading areas that could be outsourced, as they offer the greatest opportunities for small-mid sized firms to save time, energy and money; while gaining access to industry-leading resources at a fraction of a cost.
Almost any of your company’s processes can be creatively automated to operate more easier, smoother, quicker, and cost-effectively. That includes even billing and credit-card transactions. As briefly outlined in our 6 Strategies To Streamline Your Business Today! post, e-commerce is one of the most effective way to save time and replace unnecessary manual labour. E-commerce consists of all sorts of electronic business procedures that occur over the internet rather than in person and involve the digital rather than physical interchange of information such as automated billing systems and online payment processing. So how can e-commerce better your business? By eliminating any obstacles posed by time or distance–as any customer can purchase any product at any time from any place without a need for your presence–you can grow your business without putting any strain on your resources and reduce your overall costs e.g. cashier wages.
As you have just witnessed, automating processes can produce many advantages for your business including improving efficiencies, shorter cycle times, enhancing productivity, increasing flexibility, as well as, strengthening customer service and relations. Tell us how you plan to automate your processes and if you have already incorporated one or more of these suggestions in your business.