A few decades ago, the idea of having AI take care of complex tasks seemed like something out of a science fiction novel. Today, however, we can safely say that the future has arrived. With readily available automation software and hardware that can support it, business owners can easily streamline their operations, without having to increase their workforce. And that is not all.
Automation has proven itself to be one of the main contributors to increased productivity. According to a 2017 KRC Report, 99% of business leaders saw automation as advantageous to their business. What is more, 52% reported that it reduced manual errors. 45% noticed that it improved product quality, and 43% saw it as a contributor to better efficiency. Additionally, it is predicted that approximately 30% of tasks could be automated in two-thirds of occupations. Overall, these statistics show that there are undisputed benefits to implementing automation solutions in most businesses’ workings.
But what about the downsides of AI?
According to the same KRC Report quoted above, 47% of business owners and 52% of employees feel like automation software sacrifices the personal touch. This is a particularly worrying statistic if you think about the fact that 82% of consumers actually want more human interaction.
So how do you fill the gap?
Is it possible for businesses to introduce automation and reap its benefits, without actually losing the human touch? Absolutely! However, this requires seamless integration.
The main thing to look out for when implementing a new solution is to make sure that any process contributes more than it takes away. As a business owner, you have to consider the financial pros and cons of any decision you make. But more importantly than that, you also need to have a clear idea of how a change in your organisation is going to impact customer and employee satisfaction.
So, introducing automation software is going to require detailed analysis and agile adjustments. If you’re ready for both, these are the top ways to advance your business, all the while ensuring that it retains the personalised touch that makes it stand out.
1. Positively Impact Sales
Let’s start with the best way automation can help your business: improving your bottom line.
According to a recent Really Simple Systems survey, 45% of small businesses still use manual systems (such as spreadsheets) to manage their sales and recruitment. And while some of these businesses get by just fine doing things the old-fashioned way, they could be doing much better with automatized customer relationship management or Talent Attraction Software.
CRM automation, for example, is an excellent way to scale your business for several reasons:
- It aids customer retention, which holds the potential of boosting your profits by 25% with just a 5% increase.
- It makes your marketing campaigns more efficient by automatically segmenting your audience, ensuring that your clients receive messages relevant to their position in the sales process.
- It allows you to identify common pain points as well as adjust the distribution of your workforce according to demand. This results in faster problem-solving and improves overall customer satisfaction.
As you can see, with the implementation of CRM automation, you’re not taking the human touch out of your operations. Instead, you’re adding to it. Take the guesswork out of analysing customer relationships. This way, you’ll boost productivity, minimise losses, and contribute to the overall scaling of your business.
2. Spend Less Time on Back-Office Tasks
Another way to introduce automation into your business is to apply it to back-office responsibilities.
Consider the fact that the average office worker spends about 552 hours a year on repetitive and administrative tasks. Looking at this data, it becomes clear that automation could lead to a considerable increase in employee productivity. And not just that. Well-applied automation solutions also hold the potential of providing your workforce with the drive and motivation to do exceptional work.
One of the primary causes of boredom at work is, in fact, repetitive labour. While it’s undoubtedly easier for people to do something they’ve done thousands of times already, it also a surefire way to become disengaged. But, by introducing automation, you’re creating room for your team to focus on more challenging, stimulating responsibilities.
For example, you can help your marketing team concentrate on creative solutions by providing them with a proofreading tool like Grammarly. Or, you can empower your HR team to focus on onboarding talent by saving time on CV ranking and grading. You could even see significant efficiency spikes if you automate the inventory management or shipping process.
There are numerous automation software solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. What’s certain is that early adoption flattens the learning curve. It minimises the risk of a messy implementation process. Even more, by eliminating at least a portion of your team’s mundane assignments, you’re allowing them to spend extra time on high skill level tasks. This way, they’ll have more energy for creative and innovative thinking.
3. Get Creative
Once you’ve streamlined your sales and back-office processes, and helped your team direct their efforts where they’re the most needed, you can start thinking about advanced ways to introduce automation into your everyday routine.
One of the best things about AI in 2020 is that it isn’t necessarily reserved for the technical aspects of your business. By getting creative, you can introduce a host of widely-available apps and gadgets. And, they’ll undoubtedly impact your employees’ work experience.
For example, if you’re committed to building a positive company culture (which you definitely should be considering its role in driving performance), you know how important communication is. So why not use automation to encourage your team to work together?
You can set up calendars that will automatically sync to let people on the same project know when everyone is available for a meeting. Or, you can use the scheduling feature in your email client to ensure your messages reach your team members at the ideal moment.
You can go even further with custom-built applications. If you know that the physical work environment plays a role in contributing to job satisfaction, then you can use coding apps like IFTTT to control some of the factors. You can program lighting, temperature, and even air quality to adapt to the time of day. They can even adapt to your team’s activities. For example, if someone’s using the meeting room TV to present, your preset routines can automatically dim the lights to ensure better visibility. Once the demonstration is over, the lights can come back on. Sure, the solution sounds like a gimmick. But think about all the little ways you can make your team’s day smarter with automation. The details add up, don’t they?
Making the Right Choices for Your Business
As you can see, there are numerous ways to introduce automation in your business operations. And, sure, some solutions may seem too robotic for your liking.
But, the great thing is, you don’t have to adopt every single solution out there. What is more, automation doesn’t even have to be about letting AI take over a job.
Instead, look at it as an opportunity to direct your attention to where it’s really needed – whether that’s customer service, creative thinking, product development, or HR. Having those repetitive and low-priority tasks taken care of can give you a great deal of time to focus on what truly matters. And that’s genuine relationships, teamwork, creativity, and innovation.
Written by Daniel Bishop – Assistant Editor & Marketing Consultant at ReallySimpleSystems