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WORKPLACE / NOV. 26, 2016
version 7, draft 7

How to Use Automation in Your Business

The debate surrounding automation is one that has persisted since the industrial revolution. It was at this time that employers began to become conscious of the link between time, money and productivity, causing them to automate systems and processes to drive efficiency. Such a concept has been streamlined and diversified in the modern age, with automation now a key driver of disciplines such as manufacturing, architectural design and even email marketing.

The debate surrounding automation revolves around its impact on human workers, and whether it denies opportunities to job seekers across the globe. While some will argue that 47% of all jobs will be automated by 2034 and that this is fundamentally wrong, for example, others will claim that this creates new opportunities for employees to refine their roles and helps to make operational processes more efficient.

As with any emotive and polarising debate, the exact truth sits somewhere between these two points of view. It is important to recognise this as an employer, as it will help you to identify the ways in which automation can be used to drive your business further, without compromising on the morale, well-being or deployment of human resources.

With this in mind, here are three ways you can use automation to drive your businesses growth.

1. Automate Your Emails to Optimise Your Marketing ROI

While many thought that it would be left behind in the digital age, email marketing has emerged as one of the most effective promotional tactics and one that has a reported ROI of 3800% (yes, that's a staggering $38 or every $1 spent).

The efficient and data-orientated nature of automated emails has contributed heavily to the growing effectiveness of this medium. Not only is this figure impressive, but it also offers the perfect example of how automation can be used to improve business efficiency while also helping human employees to achieve better results within their existing roles.

So, the question that remains is how to effectively leverage automated email marketing? The most important thing to focus on is the depth and the accessibility of the data that you possess, as your email marketing campaign will only ever be as effective as the accuracy of the information that underpins your content.

With this in mind, it is important to delve beyond basic data such as demographic and geographic information, as figures relating to email metrics, search preferences and click-through rates offer a deeper insight into consumer behaviour and the type of content that they crave. Using this approach also gives you a competitive edge over your rivals.

Similarly, centralising this data for easy access is also crucial, as it saves considerable amounts of time and allows information to be viewed and shared in real-time.

2. Use Smart, Automated Utility Metres to Reduce Business Costs

While automated emails can help to create a more engaging and lucrative marketing campaign, it is important to remember that a healthy profit margin also relies on stringent cost management techniques. This is especially true when it comes to non-strategic, operational costs, which can all too easily grow out of control as you begin to scale your venture in line with rising demand.

When it comes to reducing your energy consumption and expenditure, however, you can now leverage automated technology to increase your annual profit margin. This is largely thanks to the development of smart, automated metres, which are designed to send usage data to energy suppliers and firms on a half-hourly basis. Compulsory in some industries, they can be used by any type of business and provide actionable, real

This allows you to monitor your daily levels of electricity and gas consumption, creating more accurate bills, lower quarterly costs and the opportunity to create more efficient operational processes.

While the financial impact that this will have within your business will depend on your usual usage patterns, this type of automation can potentially save firms an average of £24,000 per annum. This is a staggering saving, and one that does not come at the expense of the human resources department.

3. Automate the Routine Elements of Customer Service

Historically, customer service has been viewed as more of a reactive than a proactive business discipline, even in competitive sectors such as the travel industry (which accounts for a staggering 9.8% of the world's GDP). As a result of this, businesses have been loath to invest in the customer service that they deliver and tend to view it a non-strategic cost.

This outdated perception has changed during the last five years, with business moguls such as Seth Godin reinventing customer service as a proactive marketing technique. Referring to customer service as 'a scalable way to delight', Godin claimed that brands should leverage the talent within this department to interact with customers when they are at their most engaged point in the funnel.

This essentially refers to a reorganisation of the attitudes and economics that surround customer service, and a willingness to turn your representatives into marketers.

But, if you are to embrace this and successfully scale your customer service, you must strive to automate its most simple and routine elements. After all, representatives must be afforded the time to engage customers and build rapport, which in turn drives organic conversations and marketing opportunities. If employees are preoccupied with handling basic enquiries and meeting arbitrary targets, this becomes an impossible goal.

Instead, you should use a centralised automation tool such as ZenDesk to manage fundamental support tasks, as this helps to reduce staff hours and streamline the roles of customer service representatives. Leveraging a central dashboard, this type of tool includes a help desk feature which stores customer data and makes it accessible throughout the business.

It also creates automatic workflows, minimising the need for human management and supervision.

As we can see, automation is now a core business tool that can be deployed across numerous departments and disciplines. Leveraging requires both knowledge and understanding, as you consider its main applications and utilise it in a way that reduces costs, drives profitability and improves the consumer (and employee) journey.

Have you used any of the methods mentioned above to streamline your business? Let us know in the comments section below…

See Also: Will Your Job Be Automated? This Calculator Has The Answer

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