10 Ways Your Business Can Survive the Onslaught of Automation
The speed at which automation is taking over jobs is increasing everyday. Not long ago I strayed away from self-checkout lines, unfamiliar with checking out my own items. I now go straight for it at CVS and other places that I am only purchasing a few items.
Over the next two decades 47% of US employment is at risk of being automated according to a study by the University of Oxford.
I personally think this could actually be an understatement with how automation builds on itself. As robots, self check out systems, and other automated systems become more advanced their applications also become more creative.
Take Lyft and Uber for instance. How long will it take for the days of hailing an ordinary taxi to be long gone when you can get one with the click of a button on your phone? The answer is not as long as we might think. 20 years ago the Internet barely existed, now software is eating the world, and Internet based software especially.
I am personally surprised that fast food chains have not begun to automate as much as they probably could. I think this will be a trend you see emerging towards the end of the decade. It might not be too long before you have machines making and serving your food, not people.
With more and more industries and jobs being automated everyday, it is time to start thinking about the longevity of your business. If you are a smaller company you may find it increasingly difficult to compete with larger companies who automate processes and use economy of scale to undercut smaller businesses.
Here are a few ways to automate or utilize technology; minimizing the chance your business will be at risk of losing customers or market share to automation.
You might not think about eCommerce as automation but it is actually automating the transaction process of your business. It has many benefits including:
- Automate transactions
- Increase user friendliness to customers
- Increase efficiency
- Larger reach for sales
- Better for SEO (more content and keywords)
2) InBound Marketing / Marketing Automation
Inbound marketing and marketing automation can allow you to generate sales without cold calling or reaching out to potential customers. Think of it as the new word of mouth. Word of mouth is a great way to grow your business but it is very limited and will not scale your business beyond a certain point.
Customers can find you via social media, email marketing, search engines, and other various methods of inbound marketing on the internet. The upfront work to build up your SEO is incredibly time consuming but once you have a consistent methodology of blogging and other SEO strategies the free organic traffic you generate should greatly out way the cost of time spent.
Marketing automation can help you speed up or automate elements of your in bound marketing strategy so the two really go hand in hand. Inbound leads cost far less than outbound leads and developing a strong inbound marketing strategy will be crucial to staying in business as marketing moves to automation and inbound strategies.
Having an inventory management system keep track of stock and purchases will help you understand what products or services are effective and which ones are not. This is essential to automating your inventory and sales tracking. If you have an eCommerce website you must integrate this in to become even more efficient and automated.
A crm can greatly improve your sales efficiency. There are tons of CRM’s out there like Zoho, Salesforce, SugarCRM, and Infusion Soft that will help you automate your sales process. There are many ways to use a CRM to automate the sales process like integrating it into your website capturing the lead information of a form into your CRM automatically without any manual data entry. You can also setup auto tasks such as when you create a new lead or account in your CRM, you can tell your CRM to automatically create a “call” task or some other tasks or parts of the sales process automatically.
Every company has a different sales process, especially if you are a B2B vs a B2C company. A good way to implement a CRM and its automation capabilities properly would be to work with your sales and operations team to develop the automatic processes within the CRM that allow for as minimal data entry for your sales team as possible. This will help your sales team to focus more on the actual sales process of calling and talking to cilents or customers rather than entering the data about that sale.
5) Social Media
Platforms like Hootsuite can help you to generate a large following across the major social media platforms with little time and effort. Social media can generate a huge influence on thousands and even millions of people for your business. There are tons of social media automation tools out there such as Buffer and other posting platforms.
6) Email Marketing
Companies like Mailchimp and Constant Contact allow you to send out emails to thousands of people at an incredibly low rate. Writing an email might only take a few hours, and if you hire a great web design firm to design an awesome email with your content you can send it out to thousands of people at a very low cost per person you are reaching.
Email marketing can generate huge returns because when you break down the cost even if you spend a couple thousand a month on custom email designs with an agency and a few hundred on a mailchimp or constant contact platform per month you are reaching thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people which often breaks down to around $1 or less per person reached.
7) Project Management
There are many project management software platforms available. We use Jira but there are other platforms like Basecamp that can help you manage your projects more efficiently. The software may not completely automate the project management process but it is a step in the right direction. A project management software will allow you to manage the complexity of many different projects and clients with a large number of employees working on them. This would be nearly impossible without a project management software because trying to keep track of all this on paper or with some sort of excel sheet will not achieve the efficiencey that a project management software can deliver if used properly.
8) Support Tickets
Platforms like Zendesk and other customer support software allow you to spend far less time responding and spending time on customer service inquiries. There are plenty of platforms out there so if you do the research you should be able to find one that may save you a boatload of customer services time by automating part or even all of your customer service process.
9) Accounting / Payroll
Quickbooks and other accounting software are always adding new features that can be synced with your bank account or merchant services. There are many different accounting solutions out there so do the research to find one that can at least be partially automated so you do not have to manually enter every detail of all your transactions.
Companies like ADP and Paychex can help you automate your payroll process saving your thousands of dollars in time and hassle. Automating payroll is a great way to keep your employees happy without spending too much time on accounting.
Having your customers schedule appointments on your website is a great way to automate parts of a service based company. A service based company may find it more difficult to automate transactions than a product based company that can build a traditional eCommerce website but there are ways around it.
It is not unaffordable to hire a good web design or development agency to build a scheduling feature on your website that allows customers to sign up and pay for your services online. This could wind up saving you a boatload of customer service time throughout the course of your business.
Is your business efficient? Talk to an expert at Trellis today to see how we can help automate your business.