Running a small and medium business is not as easy as it seams. In fact, owners need to run all the same processes, but with fewer people and resources on board. Business automation provides an excellent way to streamline processes for SMEs and, given the ever-increasing competition, seems indispensable for keeping a small enterprise afloat.
Consider the vital benefits of business automation and get a good idea of 5 things your SME should automate.
Why is it Vital for SMEs to Leverage Automation?
The use of automation technologies lowers operational costs, reduces delays and errors, improves employee engagement, and boosts customer satisfaction. Looks too good to be true? Here is a comprehensive explanation of how automation achieves major advantages for SMEs:
Optimize labor expenses
Many repetitive and time-consuming tasks can be successfully automated. This way, you need to hire fewer employees and may afford to hire better talent to focus on strategic tasks. Even if automation doesn’t reduce your overhead, it will make the employees more productive and engaged, which is directly linked to the increased profits.
Adapt to changing market demands
Many SMEs have a hard time managing seasonal spikes and troughs, and the amount of work completed in these periods varies dramatically. You may easily adapt to such market changes if you automate tasks instead of relying solely on human resources. Otherwise, you will either suffer from the lack of working hands or hire more staff that it is needed.
Get higher marketing ROI
Despite the small size of your enterprise, you need a sound marketing strategy that will include not only occasional discounts and paid advertising but also continuous social marketing and engagement of loyal customers. You may get outstanding results at minimal investment when you employ tools for marketing automation.
Businesses win when they have managers that inspire, lead, and develop a strategic vision for achieving SME sustainability, not just push everyone to get things done. Thankfully, the automation technology can successfully overtake this responsibility. Automation of schedules, automatic reminders of the upcoming tasks and deadlines, automation of payroll - all this promotes equal treatment, effective task management and workforce allocation, and ability to focus on strategic management.
Minimize human error and ensure compliance
Automation helps to improve the accuracy and security of corporate data. This happens when you automate the inclusion of the client data into a CRM system, invoicing or online payments, scheduling and order processing, inventory and payroll management.
Improve customer support
90% of modern customers expect an immediate response to their customer service request, 60% expect it to come within 10 minutes or less. It is impossible for SME to achieve such fast customer support without automation. Incorporating self-help solutions like searchable knowledge bases, online appointment scheduling, online tracking of the order status, etc., you not only free up the support team, you also promote customer satisfaction.
5 Things Every SME Should Automate
Orders and payments
To streamline business processes and tap into spontaneous buyers, it is vital to let people complete an order online. Many SME owners use a simple WordPress website for a basic online business presence and wrongly believe it is not suitable for e-commerce. This is especially so what concerns selling their offline services.
Even if you have just a basic one-page WordPress website, you can effectively automate service booking, payment, scheduling, follow-up notifications, and more with an appointment booking plugin. Thus, do not make excuses and let your customers order online anywhere and anytime.
Lead nurturing is about facilitating every step along the customer journey to convert a target audience into paying customers. While this may sound like rocket science to an SME owner, many kinds of such automation are quite easy to set up.
For example, you may think of a creative way to get a user’s email and send a series of automated emails to help the user learn more about your product or service and develop trust. Also, you can set up retargeting of users that express interest in your services: have landed on your services page or simply searched for a relevant service in your location.
Out of all the things that can be automated, automation of onboarding gets the least attention. Nonetheless, onboarding of both new customers and new employees is critical to business success, and automation of this process saves tons of time and resources.
Onboarding of new clients may take the form of an automated email that will:
- tell what order or appointment has been created
- explain what a customer should do or expect next and when
- guide clients to the list of FAQ where they can get answers to the questions they might have
- give contacts of the customer support or a dedicated representative to refer to if necessary
The creation of a database that would help onboard new employees might take more time. Still, it is well worth it, as you will no longer worry that some vital knowledge would be lost when an experienced employee who used to onboard newcomers leaves.
Customer relations management
Customer retention is a holy grail of sales, and it requires maintaining ongoing relations and communication with the clients. Thankfully, much can be automated here too. This can be as simple as sending an automated email congratulating your customer on his/her birthday or enquiring about the car performance one month after the repair services.
Another good idea for SME would be to automate a referral program. Do not make your clients carry all those paper customer cards with handwritten notes and feel frustrated for losing one. Embrace our digital age and let modern software do the job for you.
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