40 ways to automate your business
If little things mean a lot, then why do we hate doing them so much?
We’re talking about things like putting data into a spreadsheet. Copying and pasting emails into a CRM. Replying to FAQ. Transferring phone calls to the right colleague.
Those little tasks can be annoying, to put it mildly. And even worse, they tend to take up way too much of our time.
In fact, according to a recent survey, we only spend 45% of our time on primary job duties. The other 55% of the time, we’re tied up with secondary things like emails, meetings, admin and general ‘interruptions.’ But as bothersome as they are, those things are all pretty important.
This presents quite the pickle. While you can’t afford not to do the little things, they’re getting in the way of the bigger, more important tasks you have to tackle. So, if 55% of the working day isn’t spent on core duties, how can we all avoid the pandemic that is the wasted work day?
The wasted work day
More caffeine and strict toilet break constraints won’t solve your productivity problems. Nor will a scary robot workforce.
The answer lies in smart software. Or more specifically, smart business process automation software that can work behind the scenes as an administrator for everyone in the entire company.
With the right software, you can automate all those little jobs that hog your time. (And more often than not, that bore you to tears too.)
If you can think it, you can probably automate it
There are thousands of ways you can use software to automate your business. Seriously, thousands. According to a McKinsey study:
- Work that occupies 45% of employee time could be automated by adapting currently available or demonstrated technology
- For 60% of existing jobs, 30% or more of current work activities can be automated by available or announced technologies
- Just less than 5% of jobs could be fully automated — meaning that supporting employees, not swapping them with machines, is what’s needed
Now, we’d be here all day if we were to list the many thousands of things automation can do to help your operations. So we’ve reined it in and picked 40 instead.
With that in mind, here are 40 ways you can use automation software to save time, resource, and stress, all courtesy of our very own ThinkAutomation.
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can automate the movement of all the data pouring in from emails.
1. Email to database
Copying key data from your emails and pasting it into your database is a both a chore and a bore, right? Well, it needn’t be.
A single piece of software could monitor all your inbound messages, extract the info and migrate it across to your database – all so you don’t have to.
2. Email to SharePoint
Stop wasting time sharing data with SharePoint. Get it synced automatically, instead.
Whether it’s from an email, a tweet, a new database record or any other incoming source, all the necessary parsing and extraction work can be done for you. Then, before you’ve even finished reading, those key details can be zipped across to SharePoint.
3. Email to CRM
CRM updates are perhaps the most evil and most necessary of all necessary evils. But the good news is, they needn’t be manual anymore.
With email automation software, you can get your exchanges with customers in their rightful CRM place, all seamlessly and near instantly.
4. Email to PDF
You should be able to get your emails converted in a click. And fortunately, you can.
The right piece of kit will let you render your emails into PDF files automatically, save them to any destination and attach them to outgoing messages – fuss-free.
5. Email to Autotask
Wouldn’t it be easy if you could automatically create AutoTask tickets straight from your emails? ThinkAutomation can help.
You could have your inbound messages monitored to match against specific criteria, parsed, and converted into correctly formatted XML tickets. No more wasting time needlessly.
6. Email to spreadsheet
Using the data extracted from emails and completed form fields, your spreadsheets can be updated automatically. (And not just a basic data dump, either – we’re talking intelligent migration into properly separated fields.)
Imagine a working life without any mind-numbing spreadsheet data entry.
7. Email to Dropbox
Data is increasingly moving to cloud storage. Now, your emails can move there too. Automatically.
With a touch of automation, your inbound messages can be expertly parsed, and pushed over to the relevant destination in DropBox, Azure, or any other cloud service. You get seamless integration, seamless sharing.
8. Email to any chosen language
Not all your emails will be sent in English. You can’t expect your team to speak multiple languages, and copying and pasting text into translation services is a time-drain.
Just get your translations automated instead. Smart software can translate text into your language of choice, for quick, clear communication, 100% of the time.
Happy so far? You’ll be even happier when you see all the ways you can automate your responses to those incoming emails.
9. Automated confirmation messages
Getting back to every single customer who’s made a purchase, who’s requested support, who’s ordered a trial, who’s submitted content, who’s downloaded a file, etc., etc., etc. – well, it’s no mean feat.
Why not get it automated? All those responses can be sent via software, and even better, they’ll be personalised, accurate, and instant.
10. Automated keep in touch messages
You’ve got lots of customers. That’s fantastic, but it means there’s also lots of customer care to provide.
With ThinkAutomation, much of that care could be taken out of your hands. At periodic intervals, bespoke keep in touch emails can be issued to your customers – leaving nobody neglected.
11. Automated delivery updates
A customer want to know when their order will be arriving? No need to check the CRM and send them an email in response – automation software has it covered.
Not only will the software pick the message up right away, it will also use its details to cross-reference your systems, find the order in question and reply with a custom response.
12. Automated post-sales support
Excellent: a customer has purchased your product. Naturally, you want to make sure that they’re happy with their purchase.
Automation software could check in with the customer a week later, following up on the product’s success. The next week, it could get in touch to find out if the customer needed any further assistance. A month later, it could send a feedback survey. You haven’t had to lift a finger.
It’s not just emails taking up your time in the office. It’s phones, too. So, you’ll be pleased to know that automation software can also lend a hand in that department.
13. Contact list creation
Creating call lists can be laborious. You’ve got a lot of extracting and compiling to do before you can get to the main task of calling.
So, get that process automated. For another job crossed off the list, ThinkAutomation can extract custom call lists using automated database pulls.
14. Call routing
No customer likes sitting on hold. Nor do they like being transferred from person to person. Fortunately, effective call routing can solve that.
Whenever a customer is waiting to speak to an agent, automation software can respond to input values which trigger an appropriate transcript and then connect the call to the relevant employee – giving better service, quicker.
15. Make scheduled calls
Sometimes, an automatic dialler would be handy. ThinkAutomation can help you by making automated outbound calls on schedule.
It can even speak on your behalf, playing a recorded message when a call is answered. It’s like having your own PA.
16. Call to CRM
A CRM record of your phone calls would come in handy, right? ThinkAutomation can record your calls, then sync the recording to CRM.
You get all your conversations together and on file, without the manual typing.
17. Click to call
Connect with online customers quickly. With an automated “Click to call” option on your website, you can take calls directly from your website.
The visitor simply submits a web form complete with their a phone number, and ThinkAutomation bridges the call on your behalf.
18. Call connections
Instant follow-up with prospects or current customers should be attainable. With automated call connections, it can be.
Using intelligent triggers, automation software can take the lead or customer contact number, take the number of the relevant employee, and perform an instant two-way dial-up. Service has never been so speedy.
Telephone automation is all well and good, but what about mobile? Well, the right package can cover your mobile needs, too.
19. Customer support SMS
SMS is direct, it has great open rates, and it’s a quick way to communicate with your customers.
So, why not invest in automation software that can send bespoke SMS text messages in response to incoming emails? (Like ours, that offers a self-hosted email to SMS system.) Seriously, make mobile customer service easy.
20. Marketing campaigns
The smartphone market is growing at breakneck speed, creating a growing population of text-ready consumers. A golden opportunity to market your business, right?
Well, the good news is that automation software can help you capitalise on that opportunity. With the right software, you can push out large-scale SMS marketing campaigns – effortlessly and automatically.
21. Two-factor authentication
Online security is serious business. And naturally, automation software can help with that too.
With an SMS integrated solution, two-factor authentication can be processed in seconds. Your customers can validate their identity using a unique code received through automated SMS, and all the following admin work can be taken out of your hands.
22. Urgent support notifications
You can’t be on the alert 24/7/365. But your automation solution can.
Smart software can pick up any critical support requests, any serious complaints or anything detrimentally negative being said about your brand on social media. From there, it can automatically push an SMS alert to an employee number – so that your business never misses a beat.
23. Competition hotline
Competitions are great engagement campaigns… and they can also be a lot of work.
You could just get all that underlying administration automated. Whenever competition entrants text in answers to the registered hotline number, software can step in to monitor, process, collate and respond.
24. SMS reporting system
Turn texts into business tools. With a touch of automation, SMS messaging can become a sophisticated reporting system.
Here’s an example we used for Bluedrop Services. Say you run a fleet, and a driver finds a vehicle defect. They could then text a registered number to record this defect. Automation software would receive the message and push out an SMS to your nearest available mechanic. All automatically, and all clearly logged in your systems.
25. SMS to CRM
All these SMS messages need logging in your CRM, and we’ve already expressed our opinions on the joys of manual CRM entry.
Fortunately, automation software can update your CRM with all customer SMS interactions, putting fresh data into the relevant record. Save yourself from a mammoth copy and paste session.
All this communication automation, and we haven’t even touched on social media yet. Here are some ways you can get a helping hand with that, too.
26. Social monitoring
How’d you like all your social messages picked up and parsed? What about if those messages were processed into your CRM or database against customer profiles?
Not a problem with business process automation. Working round the clock all day, every day, ThinkAutomation can make sure you never miss a message.
27. Competitor analysis
Let’s look beyond your company’s social media accounts for a second. You can have your competitors’ channels monitored, as well.
Oh, and your industry, any mentions of you or your products, or any keywords related to your business, too. Simply let ThinkAutomation know what you’d like it to look out for on social media, and it will be on the case ever after.
28. Automated updates
Social media management is a huge, never-ending, ever-expanding task. You deserve a hand.
Automation software can reply intelligently to social messages based on pre-set rules. It can post scheduled updates on your behalf. In short, it can be trusted to keep your accounts ticking over efficiently.
29. Sentiment analysis
Extracting meaning from millions of messages isn’t easy. So, get automation software on the case.
By analysing social media messages for positive or negative feelings about your business, ThinkAutomation can measure public opinion on your brand. Why not find out what your customers really think of you?
While we’re talking about online automation, we’d better mention your website, too. Digital automation trickery doesn’t just stop at social media.
30. Web form processing
If you’ve got a website, you’ve got data capture forms. They live on your site, quietly receiving data and collecting valuable information.
But you shouldn’t have to process that data. Let software monitor completed form fields, sync the data with your CRM and perform automated responsive actions – don’t do it yourself.
31. Post to a web page
Need information automatically pushed into an online form? ThinkAutomation can do that. Need automated HTTP posts to a web page at set intervals? It can do that too.
Since automation software can push data to almost any end destination, your website can stay updated with stats, counters and posts as necessary. Start upgrading your functionality.
32. Monitoring web page changes
You need to keep an eye on your competitor’s websites, but you don’t want to sit there checking them day in, day out for updates. And fortunately, there’s no need to.
Automation software will monitor any websites you tell it to, and alert you of any changes. You’re immediately in the loop – without having to scroll through page after page.
33. RSS monitoring
Interested in a particular topic? Don’t want to trawl the internet keeping up to date on it?
Well, automation software can do it for you. At predefined intervals, ThinkAutomation can read RSS feeds and check for new items – which can then be converted into messages to be parsed and processed. Convenient, right?
By now, you might be starting to think that business process automation is all about digital comms. You’d be wrong, as it helps with your documentation too.
34. Process email attachments
A lot of paperwork goes back and forth in email conversations. Keeping track of that paperwork, downloading it, saving it, syncing and sharing it are all mildly irritating, mildly time-consuming tasks.
Two words: automate it. Automation software can do all attachment aftercare for you, leaving you free to reply immediately.
35. File conversion
You don’t want to waste time on file formatting. Nobody does. And fortunately, nobody has to.
In one click, you can transform, copy and convert: rendering Word, Excel, and JPEG files into PDFs (or any other format, for that matter). It’s all courtesy of automation software, and it’s all designed to make your working day that bit quicker.
36. Document to database
Your company spreadsheets are home to lots of valuable data. Naturally, that data belongs within your database.
We know how long that can take, so how would you like all your spreadsheet data pushed across to the relevant database entry automatically? (Nope, this isn’t an idealistic dream, it’s all readily available with the right software.)
Still want more ways to automate? No problem – let’s look at automating your systems.
You want up to the minute insights on your business. You don’t want to do the monitoring and legwork yourself.
So, use automation software to quickly and quietly gather data on key business touchpoints. It could be number of daily emails received, what percentage of emails are sales enquiries, or average response times. Software does the reporting silently.
38. Run scripts
Want to run a pre-defined script? Not a problem.
With the right software, you can execute automation scripts on demand or schedule scripts to run on a recurring basis at a specific time – a scheduled script that performs long-running tasks when database activity is light, for example. Easy.
39. Run system processes
Need a program running at a certain time, or following a certain activity? Automation software can get that done for you.
To get your systems up and running efficiently, any Windows processes can be executed automatically and optionally passed parameters. Your operations run smoothly, without any running around.
40. Database maintenance
Maintaining your databases is a mammoth task. There are millions of messages to read, let alone respond to.
Well, automation software can lighten the load. It can check for new customers at regular intervals, and for every new customer record, it can automatically perform actions such as sending ‘welcome’ emails. Your life could be a whole lot easier.
Don’t make things difficult
It’s not just that your life could be easier… it’s that it should be, too.
What if we told you that all these automation efficiencies are readily available, all as part of a single solution? You could already be benefiting from a working life devoid of mind-numbing, petty admin tasks.
To paraphrase John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no admin, it’s easy if you try…”
Well, allow us to introduce you to ThinkAutomation. It’s the product that offers all the automation options in this article, plus countless hundreds more.
If 40 ways to up your game and work smarter, not harder haven’t convinced you to trial our product, then maybe you just like a difficult life. But if you would like to take a load off, start your free trial today.