Why do something manually when you can automate it. Instead of doing it yourself get a computer or a system to do it for you - automatically. Don't you love it when you don't have to work, because the work is just handled automatically!
Some simple examples that most people can implement in their life are:
- Synchronizing your computer calendar with your phone calendar.
- Putting your bills on auto-pay so you don't have to pay them manually.
- Template replies to emails where you have a similar type of email that comes up often.
Auto-responders - An auto-responder is a web site that can send out a series of emails at timed intervals. Sending out a sequence of automated email replies is very powerful and applies to many different types of businesses. For example, you own a florist shop, and you collect the emails of people that come into your shop. You put these people on an auto-responder, including their first name. It sends out messages in a sequence that you pre-define. For example, the next day after visiting your shop they get a message to thank them for their purchase. One week later you ask them how everything is going and tell them to drop by, letting them know about the different types of flowers in your shop and which type of flower is better for different occasions. One month later you send another message and so on. This way you can constantly keep in contact with your customers in an automated way. This takes none of your time (once the system is set up), but still has a great effect on your business. Some examples of auto-responders you can use are: GetResponse.com and Aweber.com.
Automate your recruitment process - If you are recruiting you can set up a system where a person applies online, submits their resume, does a series of tests and answers questions that you want answered. If they don't complete all the tests you can get the system to email them automatically to ask them to complete the remaining tests. You can get a system like this developed for under $1000 on outsourcing websites like VWorker.com. It does not even have to be this complex. You can use a more simple process such as getting all the candidates to download a word document on your website with a series of questions you want answered. You ask them to fill out the questions and send this to your email along with their resume and cover letter. This saves you a lot of time versus having to accept phone calls from hundreds of applicants.
Your online customer service - If you have a website, you can set up a system where the person types in a question and the system automatically searches through your web site to find the answer. Or if that is too expensive to set up you can use a very simple system such as the following. First, the person emails customer service. They immediately get a response (from an auto-responder email) with an email that includes the answers to the most commonly asked questions. At the bottom of the email it says: "If you did not find the answer that you are looking for please email us" (at another second email address). Your customer service staff reply to the second email from people who did not find the answer initially. This way you answer most of the questions in an automated way and your customer service person deals with only the exceptions that are not in the FAQ list.
Free 1800 recorded messages - You can use simple systems like a voice mail answering machine or a free 1800 recorded message to automate parts of your business. If you have a product that is delivered to your customer, a great thing to do is to call them and follow up, checking if they have received the product and the benefits of the product to them. This will decrease the returns of your product and increase your customer loyalty and referrals. You could call them individually, but that is very expensive. An alternative is to put a sticker on the product which asks your customers to call for a 1800 free recorded message before even opening the product. This message will explain to them again the benefits of the product. The customer can even perhaps leave a message and you can call them back if they have any issues with the product or items that they would like to discuss with you.
As you can see, there are a lot of things you can do. However, the main point is that you need to be constantly looking for ways to automate more processes in your business. In fact, if you don't do this, your competitors who do automate will be able to cut their prices and may outcompete you in the marketplace. Automation is becoming a necessity not a luxury.