Automation simplifies operations and makes businesses more agile. From appointment scheduling to supply chain management, there are plenty of automation tools that can help small businesses speed up their processes, save money, and improve their efficiency.
In this article, company formation agent, Rapid Formations, highlights the 5 tasks that every small business should automate. They explain how integrating these automations can benefit companies and suggest key tools and software to help them get started. They will cover:
- Customer service
- Appointment scheduling
- Social media
- Supply chain management
Customer service automation
For maximum efficiency, you should be automating your customer service processes. One way to do this is through chatbots.
A chatbot’s primary functions include creating and filtering tickets, answering common questions, and guiding customers to self-help resources where human support may not be required.
But one of its main game-changing features is automatic responses. Whether it’s out of hours or your live agents are busy, chatbots respond to your customers immediately – around the clock, anywhere in the world.
Why is this important? Well, a study by the technology company, Podium, shows that conversion rates are 8 times higher in the first 5 minutes. What’s more, almost 90% of consumers expect a response within the first hour, but over 40% of companies feel that these expectations are overwhelming and unrealistic.
The longer someone waits to hear from you, the less likely they are to convert into a customer. However, chatbots are an automation tool that can bridge this gap, enable you to respond to more customers, and make more efficient use of your customer service team.
Zendesk is one of the most popular customer service software with a chatbot function. As well as proactive messages, it offers reporting, omnichannel integration (connect all your customer service channels like website and WhatsApp), and pre-written responses.
Similar options are LiveChat, Userlike, and Zoho.
Simple tasks like booking appointments and scheduling meetings can be automated to make your life as a business owner much easier. There’s no need to have back-and-forth conversations about availability or endlessly compare calendars to find a suitable time to have a meeting.
These routine tasks are easily automated to help you and your team stay organised and save time, freeing you up to focus on the things that matter. Automatic appointment scheduling also eliminates the need to hire administrative staff members, saving you substantial costs that can be better utilised in other ways to evolve your business.
By automating your calendar, you can enable:
- Scheduling links – Send a link to the recipient that shows them your availability, allowing them to book (or amend) a meeting with you at a time that suits both parties.
- Appointment reminders – Avoid forgotten meetings with automated reminders.
- App integration – Connect all your key apps to enable accurate, real-time scheduling through your website or social media channels.
- Connect your team – All team members can access the same, up-to-date calendar for maximum visibility and efficiency.
Calendar automation tools
Apps like Caldendly are a popular option for businesses. It allows you to create a scheduling link, send reminders and follow-ups, and automatically route meetings to the relevant people/team.
Other options to consider are Square and SimplyBook.
Social media automation
The fast-paced world of social media can be tough to keep up with. However, automating this part of your business can significantly free up your team and make social media management a breeze.
If you’re active on multiple social media platforms, automation allows you to create individual posts for each platform all in one place, schedule them ahead of time (this is particularly useful if you want to post outside of office hours), and manage messages and responses from your customers and followers – all without the need to log into each separate social media account.
On top of that, social media automation also allows you to easily view and manage your content calendar, track campaigns, and even use AI to help you curate the best content for your business.
As well as streamlining your content team, social media automation can increase your audience reach, grow your brand awareness across all social media channels, and boost your annual revenue.
Social media automation tools
One of the best and most popular software for social media automation is Hootsuite. Hootsuite allows you to connect all your social media channels to create more free time and schedule all your posts in one place.
It also includes analytics to help you track your social key performance indicators (KPIs), automated captions and hashtags, and allows you to view and respond to comments and messages.
Other great social media automation tools are monday marketer and Orlo.
Long gone are the days when you have to sift through hundreds of CVs that look the same. With the right automation tools, you can optimise your recruitment process and find the best candidates for your business quickly and efficiently.
An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that helps employers source and track candidates through the hiring process. It sorts through CVs for you to deliver top talent and help you hire suitable applicants quickly.
Before posting a vacancy, you’ll need to add certain keywords that you want an ATS to track in order to find the right candidates. For example, if you’re looking for a content writer, you might use keywords like ‘SEO’, ‘grammar’, and ‘research’.
Your keywords should span skills, experience, and education.The ATS then scans each CV that is submitted, searching for those essential skills, and picks out the candidates that best match your criteria.
By automating your recruiting process, you can avoid having to pay for a recruitment agency, save a significant amount of time on scanning CVs, and quickly find skilled employees.
Teamtailor is a top-rated recruitment software for small businesses. As well as an ATS, it also optimises the discoverability of your job ads through search engine optimisation (SEO), allows you to manage (edit, delete, and archive) jobs, and offers vacancy templates to help you create consistent job ads that match your brand image.
Other suitable ATS software for small businesses are Greenhouse and Pinpoint.
Supply chain management
Particularly since the pandemic, automating your supply chain processes can help protect your small business from uncertainty. Introducing technology to your supply chain can also be the next step to scaling your company, making it more agile, accurate, and productive.
Automating your supply chain processes includes:
- Inventory management – An automated inventory system means you can easily manage your stock control process. You’ll have a real-time view of the products coming in and going out, production, and cash flow. This is particularly helpful if you have more than one warehouse.
- Data entry – Significantly speed up processes by tracking orders as they travel through your supply chain without the need for manual data entry.
- Transport – Logistics software like GPS tracking, courier assignment, and automated alerts allow you optimise the way your products are delivered to customers.
- Finance – Automate invoice processing to speed up payments to and from your clients.
Supply chain automation software
Software like Netstock and Magaya are designed to help SMEs with the supply chain management. Their automation features include supply and demand planning, production planning, and data management.
You can also use comparison sites like Capterra to help you find the right automation software for your small business.
So, there you have the 5 key areas that every small business should automate: customer service, appointment scheduling, social media, recruitment, and supply chain management.
In today’s technology-heavy world, businesses should be using automation to their advantage, helping them evolve, grow, and compete with others. Integrating the right automation tools into your business is also essential to making a range of processes more efficient, productive, and cost-effective.
Rapid Formations makes company formation easy. With Rapid Formations, you can register a company, open a business bank account, and stay compliant – all in one place. They offer a comprehensive range of competitively priced packages to help you form your limited company, as well as manage it after corporation. To find out more, visit the Rapid Formations website.