It goes without saying, every online business relies on computers to do their work. The idea, originally, was that computers would do most of the work for us, allowing us to strike a greater work-life balance. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. Most of us now find ourselves at the end of a hard day of computing with a to-do list that only seems to be growing.
These things are not signs of computers failing us, however. Rather, they are a sign of us not using automation to its greatest advantage. It is actually possible to have computers do most of the work for you, enabling you to do the things you are passionate about, and to strike a better work-life balance. Simply put, automation done right saves time and money.
“Automation can save time, money and headaches — automation tools are more accessible than ever before.”
As a small business owner, you probably stay busy with da-yto-day things like updating subscriber lists, fulfilling orders, and answering correspondence. These are the bread and butter of your business, but because you focus on them so much, it’s hard to grow your business at the same time. To grow your business, you have to market it, and marketing takes time. Fortunately, marketing is also something that can be automated. By figuring out which elements of your business you can automate and setting it up properly, you’ll be free to complete your daily tasks, while at the same time see your business grow.
But automation is useful for more than marketing as well. It also allows you to improve your customer service, through a system known as “auto responders.” Autoresponders are emails that are automatically sent out by your email software in response to an action that your prospect takes, such as clicking on a link, opening your email, forwarding your email, etc. Using autoresponders in your online business means that you can:
- Essentially sell 24/7 which can increase your profits
- Improve your online reputation by being able to answer your customers rapidly
- Improve the chances of making a sale by having all questions answered immediately
- Build trust among your customers through instant order confirmation, thereby making it more likely for them to return
- Upsell any back end products you have, thereby further increasing your sales
The faster you can get on board with automating your business, the more quickly you will see your business grow. And, with the time it saves you, you can grow your business even further. In fact, you could increase your customer database by the thousands, without adding a single extra task to your daily routine.
How to Set Up Email Responders
A key element of online business automation is that of email responders. Auto responders ensure certain email accounts automatically send out a specific message. A good example, for instance, is that if a customer sends an inquiry, a confirmation message that the inquiry has been received can be sent out right away.
Interestingly, one auto responder is used by almost every professional: the out of office notice. What you need to learn to do, therefore, is use auto responders for as much communication as possible.
“No matter what time of the day someone signs up to your emails, or where they live, you can set up your emails to be delivered automatically to instantly start providing your subscribers with value. Emails provide you with a way to make a personal connection with each and every person who signs up to your list, instantly providing them with value.”
Setting up an auto responder is incredibly easy. While the exact process varies depending on your particular email program, you usually simply have to check the “auto responder” option in your menu.
You could, for instance, set an auto responder only for inquiries that have come directly from a customer inquiry form on your website. Or you could set it as a standard for every original email that comes into your inbox, or as sending a thank you confirmation after a purchase.
Many online marketers use autoresponders to provide opportunities to sell their customers additional products or services after the initial order has been received. This is called an upsell. Then there are additional autoresponders sent out based on the customer’s action toward the original autoresponder. With the right email provider, the opportunities are virtually endless.
Service Desk Automation
In today’s online office, automation goes incredibly deep and you would be surprised at just how much you can save with it. A second element you can automate is that of the service desk, whereby specific actions are triggered under specific conditions. For example, if someone creates a high priority issue, it could automatically be escalated to a specific inbox. Another example is that if an issue has been marked resolved, but a customer comments again, it is automatically reopened.
The benefits and time savings of service desk automation are tremendous.
“Many organizations already know the benefits of service desk automation – cost savings, improved efficiency and throughput, and increased customer satisfaction are all well documented outcomes of taking the time to automate.”
Setting up an automation rule is incredibly easy as well. Just as with the email autoresponder, there should be an automation setting within your service desk platform. There are usually a number of preset rules that you can use, or that you can tweak to ensure the action you want it to perform will become automatic. Make sure that you give each rule a logical name, so that you can edit and change things with ease should you ever need to. Make sure that you set all the conditions for when, if, and then, and be sure to test it thoroughly before turning it on.
Other Forms of Automation for Online Business
The above are the two main elements of automation that can really save you a lot of time and money. In addition, you can automate a whole lot more as well. Once you start learning just how much it can do, you will be quick to automate as much as possible.
“Automation is moving the needle of business efficiency and simplifying human lives in general. Businesses that have automated their processes cut price, save time, and employ their manual workforce to solve more intelligent problems. They let machines do the rote tasks, while eliminating the chances of human errors.”
These are just two of the primary uses for automation for most online entrepreneurs. There are more examples of other areas where you can use automation:
- Contact relationship management
- All-in-one solutions
- Shopping carts
Start with autoresponders and use your additional spare time to figure out other ways to automate your business.