automation tools
Blog Post

Essential Automation Tools For Small Businesses

Do you ever find yourself spiraling in a vortex of wasted time, flitting through files of paper trying to locate a particular document? Are you still manually sending the same emails, following up on client invoices and processing payments? Do you spend endless time trying to manage and communicate with clients? Business owners often spend hours (collectively) doing menial tasks like these that require time-eating manual processes. These kinds of tasks result in significant opportunity costs and cut into precious productivity. Managing your business’ tasks should be like sitting in a control room of a well-oiled machine, where few manual inputs (e.g. clicking a button) automates a series of outputs (e.g. creating and sending an invoice).

Business Process Automation

“Using technology to simplify and streamline a business process by eliminating inefficient or unnecessary steps.”

Rather than becoming a slave to completing menial tasks, why not use automation tools that will do the work for you? You will find yourself with more time to strategically plan, innovate, and close that deal by using the business process automation tools below:

Productivity Software

Office 365 and G Suite are staples in office productivity software that you are almost certainly  familiar with. From an automation standpoint, these tools are by far the most widely supported and provide the foundation for many possibilities. In addition to all of the integration possibilities, both Office 365 and G Suite both have a large number of add-ons which can be easily added to help automate various tasks. If you aren’t already using one of these two tools to manage your email, documents and calendar you should seriously considering making the switch.

Tools to try:

Some automation opportunities:

  • Kissflow – drag and drop business process management software
  • Calendly – automate the process of scheduling appointments
  • Boomerang – automatic reminders, scheduling and more for email
  • MeisterTask – automatically convert emails into tasks

Client Communications and Email Marketing

The days of manually sending out repetitive emails to clients or leads you have are over. Email applications exist now to auto-respond on your behalf, help you manage your mailing lists, blast your content at predetermined triggers, and the list goes on. While you may be familiar with these tools already for sending simple newsletters, much of their potential power comes from features like MailChimp’s Marketing Automation features or Constant Contact’s Autoresponders.

Tools to try:

Some automation opportunities:

  • Auto-responding to new inquiries
  • Auto-releasing sales campaigns at different times in your sales funnel
  • Auto-releasing content campaigns to nurture your leads
  • Auto-releasing newsletter at predetermined times to keep your clients and leads informed

Billing

Manually creating and issuing invoices to every client you have is a painstaking process, especially if your business is scaling. Cloud accounting applications now not only allow you to automate your invoicing, they can also keep tabs on late payments, have your customers pay directly online, and so much more. Tired of manually creating your expense reports? Shoeboxed is an application that can automate your data entry into your expense reports by pulling numbers from receipts and more!

Tools to try:

Some automation opportunities:

  • Auto-creation and issuance of invoices
  • Auto-notifications for payment reminders and late payments
  • Auto-processing of payments made via credit card
  • Auto-creation of expense reports

Customer Support

Manually tracking customer support requests, overseeing their accounts, and relying on disorganized email threads are a thing of the past. Helpdesk software exists that allows you to engage with your customers in a timely manner, helps ensure that all customer support requests are tracked, and allows you to define custom workflows and actions to automate portions of the support process.

Tools to try:

Some automation opportunities:

  • Automatically send templated responses to customers
  • Automatically suggest potential solutions based on the text of the customer’s request
  • Provide an intelligent self-service knowledge base for customers
  • Keep all customer interactions in one place
  • Auto-escalate customer requests and follow-up on custom request through ticket system

Making Everything Work Together

If you want to achieve peak DIY automation, Zapier is a dedicated automation tool that makes applications work together to have you lift your fingers even less. Zapier’s endless applications will be further elaborated in a future submission.

Tools to Try:

Some automation opportunities:

  • Auto-transfer data from GSuite documents into other forms and reports
  • Auto-transfer segmented contacts into mailing lists
  • Auto-create customer support follow up tickets for each submitted inquiry

And there you have it, the tools to make your business into more efficient, well-oiled machine. Stay tuned for how to integrate these apps into one platform for even more streamlined processes.

About Klaudine Esperat

Klaudine Esperat is an enthusiast of tech and even more recently of Latin dance. When she’s not heating up the dance floor with her team, traveling and staying up to date with Vancity’s local startup and entrepreneurship scene, she writes original content and conducts business development for Gravit-e Technologies. If you would like to have inside information on Vancouver’s foremost web application development resources, she is your girl to contact!”

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