There are two main reasons you do not more commonly see automation projects in the workplace. Firstly, there is a perception that the utilization of automation could lead to individuals’ jobs becoming redundant, and therefore a risk of unemployment. This is not the case at all, and automation should be viewed as tool to work alongside individuals. The reality is that automation can improve the efficiency of individuals and teams. It very rarely completely replaces an individual.
Secondly, even if a company is fully on board with the concept of automation, they often do not know where to start and what they could, or should, automate. Of course, every single business is different, and therefore it is difficult to give broad examples of automation for everyone. However, this post should spark some ideas in your mind of the capabilities of automation.
Another important differentiation as well is what CAN be automated, and what SHOULD be automated. When you first dip your toes into the world of automation, it can be easy to go on a spree and try to automate everything. There are certain tasks which lend themselves well to automation, while there are others which can be a bit complex, and susceptible to mistakes and errors when automated.
Monitoring Twitter Feeds for your Brand
Manually logging into the company social media platforms and checking feeds for updates can be a pretty mundane part of an employees job. You can set up an automated workflow that will notify you upon posting of any specific topic. For example, I could set up a notification for whenever anyone uses the #Solutionyst tag, so that I can quickly go and check what has been said.
Rules can be set up to load all of these mentions into a spreadsheet as/when they occur. This way a member of staff can check all of these mentions throughout the day to see if any of these tweets need to be actioned.
Alternatively, you could set up a workflow to save all of the mentions in the predetermined trigger into a list. This list can then be distributed to the team at a predetermined time each day. Or, if you use another system, such as ClickUp, all of the findings can be loaded into a the ClickUp task management tool.
Primarily, this would benefit a social media manager within a company and improve the efficiency of their brand monitoring. Staring at a screen waiting to see if anybody is tweeting about the company is not a valuable use of anybody’s time. Therefore, this allows the monitoring process to be far more streamlined.
The above example has specifically focused on Twitter as an example. However, you could do this for a whole host of applications, from Reddit to Google, to Instagram.
Post Customer Feedback to the Team
Somewhat similar to the monitoring of social media. You can set up an automated workflow to inform the team whenever a review or news has been posted about the company online. This means that the relevant team can assess the situation and make an informed decision quickly. Often when negative feedback is posted, customers just want to feel as though someone is listening to them. Therefore having a process which enables getting a response back to the customer quickly is essential.
Send a Weekly Newsletter
Whether you are within the marketing team of a large company, or you’re an entrepreneur who needs to send updates to your customers on a weekly basis. An automated process to distribute your weekly newsletter will save you a lot of time and hassle.
This can be combined with other automated processes mentioned within this article. For example, let’s say you have a weekly newsletter which sends useful products to your email list every Friday evening. Well, Monday through Friday, you could use an automated process to add products you find helpful/interesting into a spreadsheet. Then, when the specified time on Friday evening hits, the process will extract those items from the spreadsheet, and incorporate them into your weekly newsletter template. To everyone else, it will seem like you manually curated the list. But in reality, you’ll have saved yourself a tonne of time!
Share Articles Automatically
It is possible to create a simple automated application which ties into your browser, which allows you to quickly and easily share interesting articles to your social media, or email list.
Let’s say you are a Plastic Surgeon and you have a large following on LinkedIn, as you’re known for posting interesting articles about your field. You can set up an automated process which allows you to specify your hashtags, and text while on an interesting article. Then with the click of a button, the automated process will post that article to your LinkedIn alongside the specific text and hashtags. As simple as that. You don’t even need to open up LinkedIn to post it yourself manually. This can be handy for individuals who like to quickly share tidbits to their communities.
You could go even further than this and post to all of your social media channels instantaneously at the same time. You can even alter each post slightly so that it fits with each of the social media platform’s unique posting requirements (EG Twitter’s character count). What if the post is suitable for Twitter and Facebook, but not professional enough for LinkedIn? Well, set a custom option where you can specify whether you want to post that particular article to LinkedIn as well.
Share Data from a Spreadsheet
There are many uses for automating a data distribution. You could email a group of people a stat every week, or post something into a Facebook group, or post a piece of data to social media.
For example, in the finance world, there are often data points which need to be distributed to team members on a weekly basis. You could set this data point up in an excel sheet or Google Sheets document, and then every Friday at 6pm, this data point will be released to the team on an automated basis. Depending on the data point, you may even be able to access this automatically and have the whole process run without human interaction.
Automated Reminders/Incentives/Customer Queries/Follow-Ups
One of the most tedious jobs you can face as a business owner is having to follow up with customers, or remember to ask them for feedback etc. This can be automated easily. For example, you could specify that after 5 days of an order, an email is sent. This email will be sent to the individual who made a purchase 5 days prior. They will be asked if they could fill in a survey which asks for some customer feedback. You could incentivise the customer to fill this in with a predetermined discount code.
Alternatively, let’s say your product has a 30 day trial before becoming a paid service. You could set up an automated email process to go out as soon as someone cancels their trial. This email will query why they didn’t decide to continue with the paid version. This may lead to a handful of customers actually deciding they want to go ahead with the paid version of your service. Automating these small customer service emails can lead to a reduction in time spent. However, it can more importantly lead to an increase in revenue when implemented correctly.
Website Downtime Alerts
This automated monitoring can be a lifesaver. Especially for eCommerce based businesses, where any downtime can quite literally result in massive amounts of lost revenue. This automated process will check the availability of your website on a predetermined time schedule and let you know if there is any time where the website is not loading smoothly. This means that you will be notified straight away, and be able to take action.