By Barbara Jones, Small Business Automation

Automation is a great way to standardize and streamline work – maybe because it changes the work process.  That can be a really good and useful thing.

If you haven’t experienced much work automation yet you may be surprised at the particular ways automating work processes changes work tasks.  It provides different methods for doing some manual work tasks.  Most often that frees staff to do more meaningful work. Here are some examples:

 

Taking and Delivering Messages

The manual way of taking messages involves writing them down on paper.  Message pads tend to rely on the message taker to write details, or not.  It is an imprecise method because it relies on each message takers ideas of what is important in the message. Simple message pads (cheaper ones) allow recording done through a combination of text fields.   Expensive message pads (still not customized unless you pay for customized) add checkboxes next to general phrases like “Call Back”. 

A digital web form is an automated way of taking messages that requires typing and clicking instead of writing. 

  • The web form is highly customized to the needs of the business and even to specific areas of interest such as order follow-up.
  • It allows recording message details in specific fields known to be needed for specific responses.
  • It can include dropdown fields for clicking or radio buttons that force a choice of one response or follow-up type.
  • It can send copies to multiple people simultaneously and track when each one opens the message.

Digital forms turn a hand-writing task whose detail depends on the time available into a type-and-mostly-click task.  Paper messages must be hand delivered and receipt is often not possible to track.  The several tasks a digital message can perform all happen when the Submit button is clicked. 

Overall, the nature of a digital message web form makes it a standardized tool that reminds the user to ask the necessary questions all in one conversation.  It streamlines and improves the message process to better respond to the many needs it serves. 

 

Email Templates

Have you ever cringed when you saw a typed letter a staff member sent to a client?  Even providing expensive letterhead stationery cannot guarantee what will be written on it.  Telling a staff member he/she writes poorly is a landmine of a conversation we all wish to avoid.

Digital email templates standardize written communication while streamlining usage for staff members.

  • They are pre-set with things standard in business communication, like left justification (all lines of text are aligned along the left side of the email, instead of being centered).
  • They use preset paragraph structure and generally accepted business language.
  • An appropriate level of tact is built in.
  • If bad news must be delivered the email uses unambiguous but respectful language.

Many, many educated people do not learn to do these things in school.  Email templates teach these skills while staff use them. If some content must be added it is easy to copy from existing language to do the job well.

 

Appointment Reminders

Finally, a more general example:  Reminder campaigns relieve staff of the tedious and time-consuming task of sending reminders or making reminder calls.  Digital campaigns that send reminder emails and use digital timers to schedule multiple emails, often manage the task for staff entirely. 

Reminders that must be done manually often get overwhelmed by priorities of the day and so may or may not be done at all.  Consistent reminders support increased attendance at service appointments, phone calls, and all types of meetings.  Scheduling digital reminders – emails, text messages, or recorded voice messages – removes the task from staff hands entirely, freely them for more important work – work that provides greater satisfaction and better supports the goals of the business. 

There are many other specific ways in which automation changes work tasks for the better.  This type of change is more than okay – it is a benefit to everyone.

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Hi!  I am Barbara Jones, owner and Chief Strategist at Small Business Automation.  I write on topics related to automating a small business and adult/staff training.  I am a Certified Keap Partner and Memberium Partner.  I publish a weekly newsletter on Infusionsoft by Keap.  If you would like to be on the mailing list, click here.