Business automation can save you both time and money, and it can help you expand your business. Automation doesn't have to be a mystery. Here are three simple ways that you can automate business processes in your company today.
Small Business Automation Tips
1. Automate customer and vendor contacts
Set up auto-responders to acknowledge customer emails and orders. Use templates to respond to common questions or requests. Use invoice processing software to manage accounts payable.
You may have to spend a little money on a quality CRM (customer relationship management) or invoicing software, but it can be money well spent if you are able to free-up valuable time and energy that you can re-direct to other income-producing efforts. SalesForce, Zoho and SugarCRM are popular options, but be sure to do your own research to find the right fit for your business.
2. Coordinate software and schedule automatic services
Businesses often lose time and money by duplicating efforts. Something as simple as making sure that all your employees are on the same calendar system goes a long way to help your business work more efficiently. Consider cloud services that can sync calendars with multiple devices for a seamless work experience.
In addition, create an automatic schedule for essential tasks such as virus scans and data back-ups. Not only does automating these tasks save time, it also guards against a catastrophic loss of data. Norton and Trend Micro are two companies that offer automated security and storage solutions.
3. Make marketing automatic
There are numerous ways to automate your marketing efforts. AWeber and Constant Contact can launch email and social media marketing campaigns as well as manage email newsletters and auto-responders. In addition, you can use social media dashboards such as HootSuite to schedule postings on multiple platforms.
While automation can have its benefits, be careful not to overdo it. For example, there is speculation that Facebook postings made via a third-party dashboard are less likely to make it into fan news feeds than those manually entered. The best approach may be to balance some regular postings through a dashboard with status updates entered onsite.
Be sure you don't automate your business to the point where it loses its personal touch. There are certainly times when a slower customer-service experience is preferable for both your customers and your business.
Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.
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