3 Aspects of your Business you can Automate
Automating operations within your business is a time-saving hack any entrepreneur can do for free or almost at least. The “sorry I missed your” message can be automated easily from your email provider. Automation just takes a huge weight from your shoulders. But if you think automation is only for bigger companies, you couldn’t be more wrong. The fact is that as a small business, you can use automation to capture leads, closing sales, and doing some routine tasks. Automating repetitive tasks, a small business can manage their time to focus on aspects of their business that really matter (like growing your business, introducing new products, or even creating an engaged community).
Here are some of the tasks you can easily automate, without breaking your pocket:
Whether you are answering emails from a new client or emailing after a consultation meeting, you can automate your mailing process. For my business, I have a few pre-made emails created for every common occasion. All you have to do is to scan your inbox and define which repetitive chores you completed recently, track the emails to understand what types you receive the most, and create a consistent process to deal with them. Some common things you can automate are:
- Frequently answered questions;
- Templated emails, e.g. sending a payment reminder to a client;
- Availability requests;
- Marketing emails;
- To-dos, etc.
Services like Gmail, offer built-in functionalities to help you manage your tasks. You can create labels to sort messages by subject, sender, and/or date. You can also set up more specific filtering, and set up as many labels as you need to organize your inbox.
You can also use filters to automatically forward and mark emails. You can use this to deal with irrelevant emails or requests that can be fulfilled without you. For example, if you receive an email informing you about a future meeting in the subject line, you can use filters to forward these notifications to your assistant.
Another way to automate your emails is to use canned responses to send pre-written responses. If you find yourself sending multiple identical emails, you probably write the same emails every single time. To save you some time, you can create several templates to answer the most common types of emails. To use pre-written emails in Gmail by enabling this option in your Settings.
Oh yes! Social media is something that can be automated as well! For me, the worst part of trying to build your brand is to remain constant. Consistency (I believe) is one of the pilar for succeeding online, and automating your socials media can be useful for developing a content plan.
But I must make a parenthesis. Automation in social media shouldn’t be used in dishonest or unethical ways. Automating likes or buying followers, for example, can hurt your account and reduce your engagement rate. But you can use it for scheduling content, reporting about your performance, and for content ideas. These tools are meant to free up time, so you can create stronger and better connections, engage with your followers, and to be authentic across your platform.
You can use social listening tools, to monitor what’s being said about your brand or industry across social media. Moreover, you can use this tool to monitor and follow what your competitors are doing. They are a great tool to discover new, fresh ideas for your social posts and even product development.
Chatbots, are also great automated tools to provide customer support through social media, also to improve the overall customer experience. You can use a chatbot to reply to simple questions such as your business hours, services, or even to let your clients know about when you’ll be getting back to them and provide resources.
Scheduling posts is definitely a time-consuming task that can be automated with different apps. Consistency in your posting schedule can help improve trust and build an online presence. With tools like Hootsuite and Tailwind, you can keep a steady queue of posts, plan ahead, and spend more time on creative tasks. Some software allows you to post in bulk to different social media profiles at the same time, reducing the amount of time you have to spend posting.
Send appointment reminders. Let’s face it, you probably remember those appointments when it’ already too late. Missed appointments translate into wasted money and time. And you can’t be chasing clients daily as their personal assistant.
Calendly is a great app I use on a daily basis to schedule and automate my appointments. All you need to do is send your link, and Calendly provides your clients with specific time slots available to book and sends automatic email reminders to you and your clients once the booking is done. It’s as easy as that. Usually, these kinds of apps prompts a sequence of emails, to confirm and remind your customers within the days or hours of their appointments. The best part is that many of these apps allow you to sync with your Google calendar.
Check on customer satisfaction. Another helpful tool I have been using lately is Google Forms. Google Forms allows you to create custom forms and surveys for your business. Easy to fill surveys, help you to find out important aspects of your business (this is absolutely invaluable). Are your clients happy? What went wrong or what can be done differently? Surveys can give you information to improve your business.
Using an automation software, you can email your survey link to clients who recently made a purchase. If their response was negative you can trigger a task to contact clients and prevent further damage. If their response was positive, you can send an automated thank you and ask if they’d like to tell you more about their experience.
Stories from happy clients are absolutely powerful and they convey better than anything else about the value of your product. This takes us to the next point, Asking clients for referrals, and yes, this can also be automated. Sometimes clients need some reminding and you can encourage them to take action offering a gift coupon, to show appreciation.