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Marketing Insights for Entrepreneurs

The Best Thing to Happen to Your Business? Automation

This is a guest post by Lena Requist, COO of ONTRAPORT.

In our 24/7 techie world, it seems like everything is automated. We use plastic cards when we need to spend money. We talk to computers instead of people when we call customer service. Even our paychecks are usually deposited directly into the bank — no paper required.

Some businesses, however, still fight the automation wave. Maybe they feel unable to master the technology, or they worry their business will lose that personal touch.

No matter the reason, it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to consider ways to automate their processes.

Automation Keeps All the Balls in the Air

It’s easy to think you can keep running your business the way you always have, but the world is moving faster and faster, and sometimes, you just can’t afford to keep doing things by hand. There are plenty of situations in which automation would help your business run more smoothly.

  1. Sales leads: Even the most conscientious salesperson can lose track of all the leads out there, and that means the loss of valuable business. We’ve all contacted a plumber or landscaper who just never calls back. It’s not that they don’t want the business; it’s simply that they don’t have the capacity to keep up with leads.
  2. Customer service: Perhaps you make a promise to a valuable customer, but the message never reaches the customer service folks. At best, there’s a headache for the customer as he waits for the employee to get permission. At worst, your employee doesn’t follow through on the promise, and you lose a valuable customer.
  3. Invoicing: Sometimes clients forget to pay bills, which can lead to uncomfortable conversations you may not want to have. A simple email reminder, though, could solve all the problems and make sure you get paid.
  4. Hiring: This may seem like a hands-on part of business. But, actually, it’s easy to lose great candidates in the flood of paperwork. Automated systems for handling résumés, callbacks, and interview notes can guarantee you locate the best people for the job.

Keep the Personal Touch

There are two kinds of people who resist automation in their work. One type feels technically challenged. They want it, but they don’t believe they’re capable. These people are easy to teach, and automation will be a great fit for them.

The other type resists automation because they feel like their business needs a highly personal touch. The great thing about automation tools is that they can be used to supplement customer interaction, not take away from it. There’s annoying busywork in any company. Automate that stuff so you can focus on the rest.

For example: Let’s say you’re a veterinarian. If you have a customer who has only dogs and no cats, you can group him in your system with other dog owners. Then, you can send emails with specific information about dogs, leaving out the generic pet stuff. You can even go so far as to group customers by breed so they receive very personalized information about their pets. This kind of automation helps add a personal touch, rather than dilute it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day workings of our businesses. Sometimes, we forget to continue to look for ways we can improve. Automating systems can help you find great people, deliver great customer service, and get paid on time — all things you need to run an efficient and memorable business.

Lena Requist established herself as a powerful force in business before joining ONTRAPORT as COO in 2009. Lena has a passion for helping female entrepreneurs and is the founder of a virtual Women in Business group, where empowered women can share their strengths, struggles, and triumphs with each other.