When your business is small, most tasks are done manually. Employees often are doing work outside of their role, which can lead to periods of burnout and low performance from your team. But as your business expands and you gain more people, you will likely become more literate in business technology and begin to see the value of automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
But the question still remains, is your business ready to add automation? If it is, what processes should you automate? Below are a few more questions to ask yourself before implementing automated tools into your business
Why Do You Want to Automate?
Just about every aspect of your business can be automated if you want it to be. But just because everything can be automated doesn’t mean that everything should be. You should first determine what problems you need to solve for your business, and then decide if automation is the best solution to the problem.
For example, let’s say that you notice an issue with the quality of your customer service. Customers are waiting too long to speak to a representative when trying to connect using your contact center, which is leading to frustrated customers and fewer conversions. You could potentially solve this problem using contact center software that is completely automated. This would help manage customer interactions and take some of the burdens off of your employees.
Keep in mind that automating a task or department will not guarantee its success. Automating your entire contact center could actually negatively impact the effectiveness of your customer service department if done incorrectly. Your customers may find interacting with your business to be impersonal, or the technology may malfunction— leaving you with an unsatisfied and dwindling customer base. This would suggest that you might have only had minor issues that needed to be solved, rather than needing to replace your entire customer service experience with an automated system.
It’s important to study all of the possible solutions that are available to you, and assess whether they are the best choice for your company. Take the time to get to the root of the problem that you’re trying to solve, and decide if there is an automated solution that aligns with your business goals.
Is Your Business Growing Quickly?
As your business expands, it will need more resources to sustain operations. This means hiring more employees, acquiring more hardware, and finding new ways to make tasks more efficient. You likely know that using technology in your growth strategy can help you achieve your goals faster and easier. But, as you continue to grow you want to make sure that the tools you use are able to grow with you.
As you think about adding automated tools to your business, look for options that can easily be integrated with any current or future technology you may use. Also, your employees will be the ones using these new products. If the products are too complex or have too steep of a learning curve, the products can lead to more trouble than they are worth. Make sure that the products you are investing in fit the needs of your company.
Automation is also useful for growing businesses because it provides access to large numbers of data that can be used to help scale the company. Tools such as project management solutions, customer service systems, and HR software can provide unique insights into both how your audience interacts with your business and the efficiency of your workforce. The information you gain from this data can be a huge asset in making decisions on how to scale the business— making automation a must.
Can You Afford It?
Upgrading your company’s technology is an important aspect of growth, but it can be a costly expense that some businesses simply cannot afford. On average, small businesses can spend upwards of $49,000 on technology, with half of them feeling as though they should be spending more.
Adding automation to your business is a huge financial commitment. You have to pay for the equipment upfront, have the money to pay for potential updates and maintenance, and possibly pay to train employees on how to use the equipment. These expenses may be a barrier if you have a smaller business, or if your budget is somewhat tight.
However, there are options available to you if you feel as though your technology needs a boost, but you don’t have the capital on hand to fund your project. It might be useful to look into acquiring a small business loan to help offset some of the financial burdens associated with automating your business. Online lenders provide simple application processes and quick approval times making it easier to get started on improving your business technology in a timely manner.
Are Your Competitors Using Automation?
Without competition, your business would be much worse than it is now. Your competitors push your business to be better as you are always trying to provide a better product, service, or experience over them. While you don’t have to copy everything your competitors do, you want to make sure that you’re using the necessary tools to give your buyers the best experience possible. If your competitors are using automation tools, then it might be a good indication that you should be as well.
However, if your lack of automation is giving you some sort of edge over your competitors, then it might be best to refrain from adding it into your business. Perhaps your customer service has a human element that would be lost with automation, or your products perform better because they are made manually. Either way, you want to make sure that you don’t lose your unique value proposition by trying to copy what everyone else is doing. This will help ensure that the decision you make is the best for the company.
Automation is one of the many ways that small businesses can improve their operations, but there are multiple factors to consider before deciding to add it to your business operations. Take the time to research what technology is available to your company, and assess if it’s the right move to incorporate it into your business.
Have you recently started using automated technology for your business? Let us know in the comments your experience with it and what pushed you to make the decision!
MP Staff Writer
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