If your small business is ready to take the next step, then automation tools could be the answer! As well as positioning your business to expand, they can help many of your systems to run more efficiently – and therefore more cost-effectively – too!
Automation can be used to farm out many repetitive, time-consuming tasks, freeing up your workforce to get on with other things. It’s also a great way to minimize the risk of human error and guard against annoying mistakes slipping through the net and causing chaos. Innovative, intuitive tech solutions mean that automation no longer ‘depersonalizes’ processes. In fact, automation tools can often be deployed to offer your clients more bespoke services tailored closely to their needs
From project management software to chatbots, here are the automation tools to consider bringing on board to help your business change gears.
1. Merchant Service Account
You probably already deploy third-party software and systems to enable your business to take payments online – but is your merchant account offering you the additional features and tools you need?
For example, you’ll find great providers among these best merchant services, which offer users the ability to build eCommerce stores and create a custom check-out process. You may also wish to look for an option that provides many integration opportunities to link and automate other business functions, such as those relating to inventorying or marketing campaigns.
Choosing a merchant service account that will give you access to advanced analytical tools will also allow you to keep a close eye on best-selling products and the success of your promotional efforts.
2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platforms
In the early days of your business, you may not have needed CRM software. Still, at this juncture, there’s a good chance that incorporating some CRM wizardry into your processes will increase efficiency and productivity and ensure you’re ready to scale.
Your CRM keeps all your customer details and their interactions with your company in one place, so staff have this info at their fingertips. This is great for retaining customers, who will be impressed by how speedily their customer service inquiry is dealt with.
A CRM platform also offers plenty of cross-functional insights and reporting opportunities; you can easily track patterns of online customer behavior and target marketing campaigns effectively. Plus, it provides excellent customer-centered automation tools, such as those for setting up and scheduling a series of targeted emails or designing and managing drip campaigns to be used throughout the entire sales funnel.
3. Project Management Software
As your business prepares to grow, this could become one of the most invaluable tools in your digital arsenal. Project management software can help every part of a task or project run more smoothly, from the initial concept to analyzing its effectiveness in wrapping-up time.
This software features loads of time-saving automation tools for scheduling, communication, and reporting. Also, it helps your team work collaboratively, even across time zones or with outside agencies, so it also amps up productivity.
The detailed reports you can view throughout and at the project’s culmination are really useful for showing what went well and where changes could be made next time.
4. HR and Payroll Software
While your business was in its start-up stage, you were probably managing HR and payroll tasks yourself. However, now you’re ready to take the next step, it’s time to start thinking about freeing up your time for other tasks by bringing on board some handy HR software.
HR processes can be incredibly time-consuming, involving lots of repetitive admin work; automating the process with HR software is a win-win situation, as deploying this tool also negates the risk of human error or slip-ups that could have annoying penalties and non-compliance ramifications.
HR and payroll automation software can typically take care of tasks such as calculating staff pay, tax, and employee holiday entitlement, and usually incorporates document management tools as well as absence trigger points, to give you a reminder regarding when and how to process, for example, staff sickness absence.
Chatbots are the ultimate automation tool; plus, they could save you up to 30% on your customer support costs, which is vital if you’re expanding and want to make your new and improved operation as slick and cost-effective as possible.
Most businesses that use chatbots find that these AI-powered virtual staff members can answer around 80% of customer queries – imagine what your business could do with all that freed-up time! As well as troubleshooting problems and answering questions, chatbots can also be set to provide complete information about your range of products and services, including guides and how-to details.
6. Social Media Marketing
To support your scaling plans, you likely want a stellar marketing machine that doesn’t cost the Earth. This is where social media marketing comes in – the might of social media platforms to influence and their reach and scope can’t be underestimated.
Use social media marketing automation tools to help you leverage the power of Facebook, Insta, and more by planning and scheduling your posts in advance so you never miss an opportunity to advertise and promote.
7. Lead Nurturing Tools
And last on our list: you know all those leads your newly expanded business is going to seek out? A tool to help you manage these leads and contacts, ensuring no potential client (or opportunity to engage with them) falls through the cracks, is vital.
Lead nurturing platforms help with this, allowing you to automate the process of sending personalized communications and giving you the ability to analyze the behavior of leads and existing clients, so you can focus on the steps that need to be taken to engage them.
Automation tools come in all shapes and sizes, so whether you’re a start-up ready to take its next step or an established enterprise considering expansion, you’ll find many solutions to suit your needs. To best identify the automation systems to bring on board, figure out the areas of your business where you could scale up efficiency, whether this is in terms of your HR or your marketing, to deploy the most suitable automation platform – and prepare for the next stage of your business’s adventure!