When is the Right Time to Automate Business Communications?
Early in running your small business, you may find it easy to manage all of your communications, whether that’s on the phone, via email, or on social media. But over time, automating some of these channels can not only free you up to focus on other aspects of your business, but it can also help you drive more sales.
Here’s how to know when it’s time to automate your business communications.
You Have More Than a Handful of Customers
When you have just a few customers, you can provide that personal touch by emailing each one individually. But once you reach mass scale, that gets a lot harder. That’s when email marketing automation comes in handy.
Using email marketing software, you can send promotions, coupons, newsletters, and company updates to hundreds or thousands of people at once.
Pro Tip: Pay attention to your email open and clickthrough rates so you know which offers are driving sales and create similar promotions in the future.
You’re Wasting Time Answering the Phone
If too much of your day is spent answering phone calls — many of which are from people asking the same questions — it’s probably time to start looking for an auto attendant phone system.
A recorded message greets callers, maybe providing answers to common questions, like your store hours or location. From there, you have the option of routing people to different departments (even if they all lead back to you), which helps them zero in on exactly what they’re looking for.
Pro Tip: Look for a system that offers a mobile app so you can take calls even if you’re not in the office.
Social Media Has Become a Time-Suck
Social media is a necessary part of your marketing efforts, but you might find yourself wasting a lot of time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Rather than giving up on social media entirely, be smart about how you manage your time.
Social media management dashboards let you post and schedule updates to different social platforms so you don’t have to log into each site every time you want to post something. You can set notifications so that you get an alert any time someone sends a direct message (or mentions) your brand so you can respond promptly. You can also create feeds that monitor mentions of your brand or keywords related to your industry so you can stay on top of your brand reputation and reach out to other social users when appropriate.
Pro Tip: Spend an hour scheduling updates across platforms for the week to save yourself even more time. Because you’re not logged into the actual social site, you won’t get distracted by cute cat videos.
You Can’t Afford to Hire a Customer Service Department
Another way you can automate communications is through chatbots. Hiring one or more people to answer customer questions and process returns may be beyond your budget, but creating a tool that uses artificial intelligence to perform these same functions on messenger apps (think: Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp) can save you time and money.
Your chatbot can answer common questions, recommend a product on your site, process returns, or offer special discounts to your customers.
Pro Tip: Most chatbot extensions work within Facebook Messenger. It’s a smart move because most people already use Facebook, so they won’t have to download any software or an app to communicate with your brand.
Not every aspect of communications can be automated; you’ll still want to provide a personal touch when possible. But with tools like these, you can reach more people in less time and see an increase in revenue. What’s not to love?
Christine Soeun Choi is a digital marketing associate at Fit Small Business. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. Outside of work, Christine enjoys traveling and exploring art.