As artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning take over the world, automation is becoming more accessible to business owners each day. Many automation technologies that were once costly and advanced are now the standard across industries, and they’re easier to implement than ever.
While automating business processes always requires thoughtful planning — such as choosing solutions that will actually boost your company’s productivity — automation can dramatically improve your efficiency and bottom line when applied well. It frees up your team’s time and allows your employees to focus on high-level strategies instead of wasting time on repetitive tasks.
We’ll explore five processes that can be automated in many modern businesses. Using these ideas, you can start crafting your own automation plan.
1. Shipping and Logistics
E-commerce is thriving in our modern world. As a result, many companies are shipping products day in and day out. Shipping can involve many repetitive processes, such as packing, labeling, and loading trucks. When you implement industrial robots for these processes, it can lead to more productive operations. Your team members can focus on continually improving its shipping processes instead of spending an abundance of time on the same tasks every day.
Automation can help automate more strategic processes, too. AI solutions are helping many companies get insights from their data, including suggestions for shipping route optimization and inventory management. This use of automation doesn’t just save you time. It can also help you plan your logistics with greater accuracy.
2. Customer Support
Automation solutions don’t have to be as expensive or complex to set up as robotics. Workflow automation — which is all about automating the flow of digital tasks and information within and outside of your organization — is equally as important. Companies with workflow automation strategies can actually increase sales by 77%.
One area of business that can greatly benefit from automation is customer service, which can take up a significant amount of resources since it requires one-on-one interactions with clients. When you implement chatbots on your website and on social media, this automation tool can answer common questions on your behalf, so your team only needs to have dedicated conversations with clients who have complex needs. This can improve the customer experience by helping you reduce wait times and making support feel less rushed.
3. Meeting Management
Meetings are a part of daily life for most employees, but if you aren’t automating your meeting management processes, you (or your assistant) are probably losing out on time. If you’re manually creating calendar invites or having back-and-forth conversations to settle on a meeting time, you’re not maximizing your efficiency.
To enhance your productivity, you can use automation tools like Calendly or OnceHub, which can link directly to your calendar app to determine your availability. When you’re ready to schedule a meeting, all you need to do is send a link for your guests to choose their own time and receive an automated invite and Zoom link.
Accounting is rarely the first field that business owners think of when they hear the word “automation.” However, automation can make bookkeeping a largely hands-free process. Major accounting software providers allow you to link your business credit cards and bank accounts to your system, so you don’t have to manually track where you’re spending or how much you’re earning. Your accounting software can also instantly generate important documentation, such as cash flow statements and income statements.
Another accounting process that can be automated is invoicing. Tools like PayPal and Zoho Invoice support automated recurring invoices, as well as automated payment reminders so you don’t have to manually chase down late payments.
5. Social Media Marketing
Social media is one of the most commonly automated marketing channels, in part because it’s one of the easiest channels to automate. With tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, scheduling posts to automatically post can be 100% free and as simple as uploading content and setting posting dates and times. This way, you can spend more time creating effective content and posting strategies, instead of worrying about manual posts.
When you automate social media, you gain more time for meaningful engagement with your audience, too. For instance, you can respond to more comments, quickly respond to DMs, and proactively engage with potential customers who aren’t following your brand yet. This can improve your relationship with your followers and your customer base, so you can develop greater brand loyalty.
Save Time Through Automation
No matter what processes you’re automating, you can benefit from a major financial impact. As your team focuses on more high-level processes like strategy development, your team members can each play a role in helping your company perform better, instead of just checking off tasks. Get started with automation by investing in digital workflow automation, which tends to be more affordable and necessary for most modern businesses. Then, consider investing in more expensive tools like robotics to see the greatest changes in efficiency.