By Gabby Rolette

It’s automation nation! In the small business world, automation is your best friend, and your best employee. And, with so many business processes that can be automated, it’s not hard to achieve a super-sized ROI with an investment in automation.

If you’re just getting started with automation, I recommend these 5 things you can easily integrate into your current workflow to automate your business.

1. Share Your Calendar

For businesses that rely on appointments, giving your clients the ability to schedule themselves right on your calendar is a great way to save time for both you and your customers, and it’s a feature more and more businesses are leaning towards. Some examples of how your small business can implement an automated scheduling system include:

  • Allow clients to access your calendar right from your website so they can schedule on their own.
  • When texting and emailing your clients, include a link to your calendar they can easily access.
  • Use a web-based scheduling software like Google Calendar that can integrate with third-party businesses like an answering or scheduling service.

2. Bot Up Your Customer Service

If you have a helpdesk that includes a knowledgebase of articles and information, instead of having your customers search through hundreds of articles themselves, they can simply ask your chatbot the question, who will then search the articles for them in a matter of seconds, and respond accordingly.

Many helpdesk platforms come with a built-in chatbot, but there are stand-alone systems as well which can usually work in tandem with the software you are already using. If your customers have more advanced questions that your chatbot isn’t able to answer, you’ll also want to consider programming in a simple shortcut they can press to be connected to a live agent for further assistance.

3. Hire a Call Center

While receptionists are perfect for taking calls and greeting customers, many small business owners opt to handle those tasks themselves to avoid having to make room in the budget for another employee. However, as a small business owner, there’s a good chance you don’t have the time to handle all of those tasks yourself, which means your customers may feel the repercussions.

Instead of trying to juggle everything on your own, hire a call center that can automate the upscaling (or downscaling) of your live support team. Call centers are a more cost-effective alternative than hiring more staff, and they can handle most of the same tasks your in-house employees are already doing.

For example, the services that call centers can provide include everything from 24/7 live support and emergency dispatching, to answering basic questions, scheduling appointments, and making sales.  

4. Use No-Touch Email

Customers like to know they matter to your business. Whether it’s a simple birthday text or card in the mail from their dentist or a system checkup reminder from their HVAC guy, it’s the little things that make a difference. If you want to provide this service to your customers but the thought of sending out hundreds of texts, cards or emails is too daunting a task, don’t fret it – automate it!

With most modern-day systems, it’s pretty easy to set up triggers to send birthday messages, appointment reminders or subscription renewals to your customers and patients both automatically and periodically. Your customers will be grateful that you remembered them, and you’ll be grateful when your customers continue to patronize your business.

5. Know that Helpdesk Macros are Your Friend

If you use a helpdesk platform to manage customer tickets and cases, you probably also have the ability to create macros. A macro is a way to make tasks less repetitive and allows those tasks to be streamlined. For example, if a lot of customers reach out about how to reset a password, you can create a macro by typing up a universal answer, and then saving it for further use. So, the next time someone reaches out, you can simply plug in the macro instead of having to constantly type up the same response each time.

Before you start creating macros, it’s a good idea to get a feel for what customers are asking, so that you don’t waste time creating macros that aren’t necessarily needed. Macros can help cut down on the amount of time it takes to respond to and handle a case, which can help increase customer satisfaction. However, you’ll want to keep in mind that after a while macros can sound robotic, so you may want to customize the language every now and then to let your customers know they are still receiving live human support.

Featured photo credit: Depositphotos