What image does the word automation conjure up for you?
Do you think of a dystopian future filled with robot workers? Perhaps the replicants from Blade Runner or Skynet from The Terminator?
So, it’s time to shake off those thoughts of an eerie, malevolent artificial intelligence network and think more about how automation can help your business.
Why Use Automation?
Business automation software aims to streamline processes, making them more rapid, cost-efficient, error-proof and transparent.
The benefit that small businesses have over large corporations is that they offer a unique and more personalised service. There’s no faceless or impenetrable chain of command.
This leads to a friendlier experience and higher customer service.
There’s no denying that paperwork, email chains and keeping on top of social media takes up time. Automation can really streamline your process, leaving more time for working on more important business issues - strategy, innovation, development and the pinnacle of small business success, customer service.
Not only is automation cost and time-efficient, it provides a clear and consistent service that leaves customers feeling happy and secure.
One of the biggest benefits of turning to automation is availability.
In an age where people have the internet at their fingertips, they expect quick service. For a small business it just isn’t viable to have 24-hour manpower. By turning to automation you can provide speedy and helpful customer service, schedule your social media or send marketing emails without having to be constantly on the clock.
What Can You Automate?
We’ve covered why you should automate, but how about what?
While burger-slamming robots may be a thing of the future to most, we bet most of you are familiar with at least some of the apps we’re going to talk about. If not, why not check out Social INK’s Marketing For Small Businesses 101: Productivity Apps?
Marketing should be at the forefront of any small business. With a recent study by Trustpilot showing that organisations with an active social media presence are seen as more ‘human’, it’s more important than ever to adopt social media as a brand.
So how can automation help you market?
Apps like Hootsuite, Later and Buffer allow you to browse all of your social media in one place, schedule posts and keep an eye on the interactions they receive. By scheduling tweets you can give your brand a 24-hour presence, while still managing a healthy work-life balance.
And it’s not just social media.
Mailchimp can help you deliver a personal newsletter, straight into your customers’ inbox. No competition for visibility. Just a direct line between your business and the consumer. And with a 2015 study by Convince & Convert showing that 44% of email subscribers made at least one purchase based on a promotional email, it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.
Analytics monitoring is hugely important as a small business, knowing how your customers interact with your brand can hold the key to a successful business. Rounding up data that is scattered across different platforms can be time-consuming and confusing. So, why not turn to Cyfe?
Cyfe is a cross-platform dashboard that gathers data from online services like Google Analytics and Salesforce and puts it in one, convenient place for you.
We all know that for a small business, good customer service is everything.
The internet is a goldmine of information for consumers. Before entering a relationship with a brand they will usually research, and find, reviews.
A bad review can really impact a small business. Quality customer service can help boost your good reviews and make you stand out from the crowd. People value human interaction and as a small business that can often be one of your USPs.
Is there a way to automate customer service without losing the friendly, human face?
In short, yes. Integrated customer care can provide clear, consistent service to your customers. Zendesk offers a flexible customer service and engagement platform that pulls together your customer interactions across phone, chat, email, social media.
Feel like that’s a lot to manage?
If This Then That also known as IFTTT, is a free web-based service to create chains of simple conditional statements, known as applets. By connecting your services you can automate a series of commands that can benefit your business in seconds.
Whether you want to connect your smart lighting system to turn on whenever you’re mentioned on Twitter or automatically email readers when they comment on your blog. IFTTT can help you do it.
From the weird and wonderful requests to the infinitely useful, you can do it.
Automation For The People
Automation is the key to help move your business into the future.
There are no robots, just simple time and money-saving apps that will allow you to provide swift, accurate and high-quality service to your customer base.
By integrating and automating, you are saving valuable time to drive back into the important aspects of your business - customer service, innovation and development.
And a happy customer, is a loyal customer.
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