Automation isn’t just for large corporations, SME’s can leverage it to enjoy benefits as well. Both B2B and B2B companies can use automation to streamline business processes and reduce costs. Given most businesses are looking to do more with less, automation of business processes is rising in the enterprise ‘to do’ lists.
If your staff, management, and other personnel are required to do repetitive, multiple tasks to conduct operations, it’s an indication that automation opportunities exist. The potential for long-term savings and human error minimization further supports the case for automation for SMEs.
Here are some areas that can be automated to save time in execution and reduce expenses:
1. Customer follow-up
After a customer contacts you or makes a purchase it is essential to follow-up with them. The most common mode of communication is email. Even if the customer doesn’t convert, you should appreciate them by thanking them for their time and letting them know you are available to serve their future needs.
Tools like Promoter.io will help forward all your responses with comments to the customer’s email address. Zapier is also available to automate follow-up with Help Desk support. These will free up your time, and you can spend it on responding to feedback rather than parsing through them.
Invoice automation is needed to ensure ease of data entry and data accuracy. Whether flipped from a purchase order, submitted electronically or entered manually, automation will allow you to quickly accept and record all invoices and check requests across the company as well as reduce paper handling. Delivery of accurate invoice images and data will save time, money and man-hours that can be used elsewhere.
Tools like Chrome River will allow you greater control over expenses with pre-purchase authorization. Purchase orders can be created within such tools and electronically routed via workflow to become a part of invoice matching after approval. Apart from normal invoices, all your non-payroll spend can also be managed and tracked with advanced tools featuring robust capabilities.
There are several options to automate your small business marketing. For example, you can automate newsletter delivery and social media updates. Dashboards like HootSuite can be used to schedule tweets, post updates, and more. However, it is important to keep a balance with social media updates as automated updates are less likely to gain traction if a human face isn’t presented now and then.
Choose a marketing automation tool that integrates seamlessly with your CRM system such as Sales Force, so that you don’t have to manage multiple systems. Automating marketing will allow for quicker diagnosis of market gaps, and increased promotion and sales. But be sure to keep marketing automation to a point where your personal touch is still present.
4. Document recording
You don’t want to deal with a pile of documents by the end of the annual year. Automation can save you time by enabling you to electronically record and store receipts, photographs, statements, and business cards. After all documents are scanned, as done in most automation tools, they can be filed in the corresponding folder within a cloud account.
Tools like Shoeboxed can be used to convert records into data. Apart from organizing and storing receipts, it enables you to track mileage and file business cards. With such tools, users can also compile reports with scanned data that can be accessed from any device.