5 Processes SMBs must Automate to Stay Competitive
The era we live in is highly automated. At home, you may already have the doors that automatically lock once you leave the house, smart lights you can turn on/off using a single button, or an audio system you can control via your phone.
The same goes for your business. The beauty of today’s machine learning and AI-powered technology is that they give us the opportunity to make almost every aspect of our businesses simpler and faster. By investing in the right tools, you can get rid of boring, repetitive tasks and finally focus on those practices that can help you grow your business.
With this in mind, here are a few basic things every small business should automate.
1. Social Media Marketing
Today, social networks are the foundation of creating firm relationships with your customers and providing them with stellar customer support.
Your followers expect you to be active 24/7 and social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you here. They allow you to schedule, upload, and edit numerous posts at once, across different social networks. These tools also make the process of finding and curating industry-relevant content much simpler.
To tailor your marketing strategies to your target audience’s needs, you need to know what they think of you. And, social networks are a perfect place to start your search. You can use tools like Awario, Mention, Social Mention, Topsy or Talkwalker Alerts to stay on top of your customers’ discussions and provide them with instant, real-time feedback.
2. Search Engine Optimization
Statistics tell us that 93% of all online experiences start with search engines. This is why SEO is still an inevitable part of your digital marketing campaign. Now, to boost your rankings, you have two options- to hire an SEO agency or simply do your SEO on your own. If you go with the latter option, you will have to hire an in-house team of marketers and invest in the right tools to automate your marketing efforts.
You can use Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, KW Finder, or Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to target and optimize your site for relevant keywords.
There are numerous content marketing tools like BuzzSumo that will help you come up with relevant topics and create an awesome story around your keywords.
You can also invest in link building tools like Dibz to find relevant link building opportunities and drive quality traffic to your site.
3. Customer Relationship Management
Did you know that 86% of customers would pay more for a better customer support? Given these facts, it’s not surprising at all that customer relationship management (CRM) can make or break your business. Now, providing customer support is probably the most powerful way to connect with your customers and humanize your brand. This is why many businesses avoid to automate it.
However, there is nothing bad in today’s CRM automation. With the rise of AI, it has become more natural and it helps you do things you cannot do on your own.
First, the implementation of artificial intelligence makes your self-service content smarter. Modern chatbots are already able to impersonate real-life conversations and provide to-the-point and reliable answers to the questions asked.
Second, they allow you to offer exceptional customer support 24/7. Automated customer service helps you give real-time feedback and instantly address the problems your customers face.
Third, better customer support boosts customer experience, resulting in skyrocketing conversions and customer retention.
Finally, automating customer support helps you save money. Namely, statistics show that, compared to traditional call centers, AI-powered voice responsive services help you save up to 80%.
4. Office Management
Effective office management improves the overall workplace performance, encourages better collaboration, and saves you both time and money. Of course, automating your workplace doesn’t mean replacing people with machines.
Start with project management tools like Basecamp, Asana or Trello that will help your employees work on an important project simultaneously and leave comments, share documents, and download files instantly.
If scheduling meetings, finding the right time for everyone, and sending circular emails has become too tiresome to you, you should go with the tools like Doodle. With it, you can select stuff like dates, time, and places and invite your employees to vote. Once all votes are in, you just need to choose the option that works for everyone.
Use tools like Smashfly or BreezyHR to automate your hiring process instead of sifting through the mountains of job applications manually.
You can also invest in a smart bot like Spoke to answer repetitive internal questions for you. Your employees can ask you questions via email, Slack, and similar platforms and get the answers instantly. Most importantly, Spoke is based on AI, meaning that it collects insights from every conversation so it can reply to similar questions faster in the future.
5. Financial Management
To stay competitive, you need to know where your money flows or comes from. This means knowing to read your financial statements and monitoring a bunch of your invoices, taxes, bills on a monthly basis. And, if you don’t do it properly, you may put your business at risk.
If hiring an accountant is not an option for you, you can always consider investing in the right cloud-based accounting software such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Zoho Books, or Xero. These tools automate repetitive tasks, such as recurring invoices, bill payments, or payment reminders. They keep track of all your credit card transactions, classify all your expenditures, and help you monitor them in real-time. Most importantly, they can automate your financial report creation and offer regular data backups so you don’t have to worry about the safety of your sensitive data.
In the world of sophisticated technologies, not investing in your business automation means missing out on the opportunity to improve your customer satisfaction, save money, and boost your workplace performance. By leaving monotonous tasks to your software, you and your team can finally focus on some other, more creative aspects of your job.