Sure, we have all heard the age-old saying that "time is money" and, as business owners and managers can attest, it certainly is true. One of the biggest ways we see businesses waste money time and time again is from not automating tasks that can easily be automated. Why should you pay full-time staff to do tasks that can be handled more efficiently and for less than the price of salaries, benefits, and any other perk required to keep an in-house employee happy? Automation is the future and here's what you need to know to get started.
The Automation Machine
Automation is the way of the future and requires an investment in technology and software to handle time-consuming tasks. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) handles those repetitive tasks that software cannot replace such as internal and external communications. Automation does not replace jobs but allows organizations to focus on more important goals that will challenge them to further improve their operations.
What type of automation software is right for my business?
Obviously, the needs of businesses vary depending on the industry served. There are, however, a few areas of automation that can be implemented regardless of the types of products and services your company offers.
But, let's take password resets as an example. Our IT department became inundated with tickets and needed to find a solution to a common problem: automating password resets for the team. They discovered, ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus, which integrates with our systems and even allows our employees to pull up an FAQ should they have questions about how to use the portal. This software gives users the ability to reset passwords when they forget them or lock themselves out which frees up IT's time to focus on more pressing issues.
Gym franchises are another example of needing automation to improve administrative control. There are multiple locations which often need to be managed from one central location. This can create a lot of unnecessary and repetitive work.
A solution that many club owners use is Motionsoft, a management software that allows club owners to view billing information, see when employees have punched in, review membership agreements, and provide insight that will help improve the customer experience. Front-desk staff enjoys it because it eliminates the need for paper filing and frees up their time to focus on other tasks.
By automating various tasks, gym owners are able to benefit in multiple ways:
- Automate their phone or internet sign-up process
- Allow members to set appointments with trainers and book gym classes without wasting the time of their actual in-house gym employees
- Increase administrative control
- Unnecessary emails and phone calls are reduced
Management Software Limitations
While management software helps you reap the benefits of automation, any and all businesses utilize phones in one way or another. Whether it's to help foster new relationships, follow up with clients, or even just internally for employees to communicate, your clients and employees are going to make phone calls that require soft skills, something that automation cannot do. Any good salesperson will tell you that speaking with a live person is the best way build rapport with new clients.
One major way to hone in on and improve business processes involves taking a look at telecommunications usage for your company. Overall, this aspect takes up a lot of unnecessary time and manpower, which can be more expensive for the business owner to keep someone on staff. Automating your company's telecommunications wherever possible is a major key to saving time, money, and much needed manpower. Once you identify areas that can be automated, you can then outsource them resulting in an even larger bottom line for the company.
Specifically, how do I benefit from outsourcing?
Inbound Calls: You no longer need to hire a receptionist to answer phones for you and direct them to the right department when you have streamlined your operations. An outsourced answering service can handle this in two ways. With a Virtual Receptionist (if you prefer customers to speak with a live person) or with an IVR or Interactive Voice Response system where callers can direct themselves to the appropriate department.
Repetitive Tasks?: Scheduling appointments, as well as confirming them, is absolutely necessary. However, hiring someone full-time to do this is not necessary. Let your staff focus on more important issues rather than simple repetitive tasks.
New Hours of Operation: Your company instantly becomes a 24/7 operation. A live operator can take calls after hours, on the weekends, and any other time that you're not able to. Your clients will be more than happy to speak to a live person after hours rather than getting the voicemail they likely expected. Whether they are calling after-hours to actually place an order or to simply leave a message, it can all now be automated.
Employees: Let's say that you live in an area prone to natural disasters - strong thunderstorms, hurricanes, etc... - whenever an event occurs, you can avoid constant calls from employees asking if and when they should come to work. Set up an emergency line so they can call it instead, leaving more time for you and your managers to get the company back up in working order.
There are also benefits to outsourcing!
Once you are able to identify repetitive and time-consuming tasks that require human interaction, it is easy to outsource it to the experts and it typically comes at a fraction of the price of full-time staff.
The cycle is simple: Improve Operations > Automate > Outsource > Free Up Time
- Experts - When you outsource something, you are handing it over to be handled by staff that does this one area of work all day every day. They are experts in their fields. You, as a business owner or manager, often have to be a jack of all trades. Hand it over and trust the experts.
- Resources - Whenever a task is automated and then outsourced, this frees up time for you to work on the bigger picture and get back to focusing on the core values of your company.
- It's not permanent - Software automation and Business Process Outsourcing are not permanent. You are not signing your life away by agreeing to seek outside help from the experts...especially when that contract is flexible. If it doesn't work out, you can always go back to your old way of doing this.
This is our secret formula to free up organizations' time with little interruption.