What is Workflow Automation?

In simple words, it is anything that helps you automate your day-to-day tasks with the help of software.

The term "workflow" is used in many contexts, so it's important to define exactly what workflow automation is. Workflow automation refers to ways to automate repetitive tasks and processes (such as sending out sales emails to your customers) so that they are completed without human interaction once they are set up correctly.

Workflow automation makes things more efficient and can help you save time and money by reducing the number of hours you spend on menial tasks. For example, if you have a long list of contacts that need email, you can create a workflow that will send an email to each person in a matter of minutes. You don't have to sit there and manually click through each contact one by one.

Table of Contents

  1. When should you consider automating your workflow?
  2. Benefits of delegating work to computers
  3. Use Cases \ a. Marketing \ b. Sales \ c. Customer Support
  4. Key Takeaway

When should you consider automating your workflow?

Inc. wrote a very interesting piece titled “How to Become a Better CEO: Fire Yourself”. Entrepreneurs take on many hats and many jobs. The key to becoming a better CEO, the article argues, is to fire yourself from each ‘hat’ or job you are doing as soon as you can. As a nascent, growing company, you might have found yourself doing all of your marketing. But as soon as you can, you should get the right person on the job and move on to the next most important thing.

In a similar vein, the moment a task becomes repetitive, you should look to automate it. The more you “fire” those tasks – delegate them to computers – the more productive your company or work is likely to become, eventually making your business run like a well-oiled machine. Remember, how do you eat an elephant? One step at a time. Tackle smaller tasks first, and then look to move on once you’ve freed up your time.

An even bigger alarm is if there are tasks that you know your business should be doing, but because of a lack of resources, or simply because it is incredibly mundane, it is simply not getting done often enough. Or not getting done at all. This easily includes monitoring competitors, looking at various metrics important to your business, following up on colder leads, or even something simple as sending a happy birthday message to people on your CRM. 

Benefits of delegating work to computers

Save money on labor costs: The biggest advantage of workflow automation is that it reduces the need for manual labor. Whether you're automating employee-to-employee communications or creating a system that notifies customers when their orders ship, you'll save money on staff without sacrificing service. And a part of your business can run 24/7 – almost a requirement in today’s always-on digital world.

Improve productivity: Another benefit of workflow automation is increased productivity. When employees no longer have to manually enter data into multiple programs every day, they can stay focused on more productive work, like closing sales and building relationships with new customers. Not to mention the potentially huge amount of time saved by not having to do those tasks.

Just as important, automation also helps reduce mistakes by eliminating manual data entry and reducing the likelihood of overseeing an issue, a client email, etc.

Use Cases

If certain actions can be codified, that is, follow certain rules, repetitively, it can easily be automated. Workflow automation makes it easy for you to create a custom process for completing a task. Each step in the process is like a mini-application that runs on your desktop. A workflow can consist of any kind of application, but most are scripts, tools, or utilities running on your computer or in the cloud.

Workflows are flexible and can be used to complete many different tasks, such as making backup copies of files, sending out automatic updates to social media sites, and updating a sales report. Many services can be integrated into workflows as well. For example, you might use one workflow to schedule tweets from multiple Twitter accounts, another to post pictures to Flickr, and another to send invoice reminders to clients who are overdue.

Apart from helping with internal collaboration and shaving time of many actions performed by your employees, standardizing and letting computers carry out the work can be particularly beneficial in:

Marketing

Automated email campaigns are a powerful way to connect with your prospects at multiple stages of the buyer's journey. These automated email campaigns can be triggered by a number of events:

  • When someone downloads an eBook
  • When someone visits a certain page on your site
  • When someone purchases from you
  • When someone abandons their shopping cart

Sales

When someone reaches a certain stage in the buying process, you could set up an automated trigger that sends them an email or retargets them through ads, which nudges them closer to becoming a customer. For bigger ticket items or services, your workflow might automatically assign someone to follow up. You can simplify your lead generation, and ensure that prospects are not forgotten about due to human error or oversight. And little welcome, promotional, and even birthday emails are a nice chance to nudge a client towards a sale.

Customer Support

Although this can never replace good customer service, it can certainly ‘support’ it, if done well. Messages acknowledging receipt including useful information and timelines are a great example. If you have been unable to respond in time, letting them know you are aware, working on it, and sending a revised timeline can be a good touch and diminish dissatisfaction.

Moreover, it can help your team internally. Assigning tickets, collating customer information and past interactions, avoiding duplication of effort and even reporting metrics can all be very helpful, and relatively easy to set-up.

Key Takeaway

The truth is, almost any workflow can be automated. If it happens often enough, or should be happening often but isn’t due to friction, you will probably be better off taking the time to automate it. You are likely to see that it pays off very quickly. Not to mention not having to deal with a repetitive task anymore.

If you are interested in making your business run like a well-oiled machine, you can get in touch with one of our experts who can help you “fire” those tasks, delegating them to computers so that humans can focus on the work that only humans can do. Get in touch below.

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