“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”- Peter Drucker
Tighter deadlines, complex briefs, smaller runs, are just a few examples of the complexities surrounding workflow management strategies. Supervising, collating and coordinating all of the necessary ‘cogs’ in your ‘machine’ is an endless struggle, on all fronts.
Automating your processes where possible could help eliminate the repetitive strain on your company’s day-to-day runnings. Whether you’re a sole trader or multinational corporation, finding out which aspects of your business are primed for automation can transform your working environment and help you generate larger profits.
Here are 10 signs that you should invest in workflow automation.
1. You’re Making Too Many Mistakes
If you’re making silly mistakes in the repetitive aspects of your operations, automation can greatly reduce the amount of errors. Software that can order-up tasks or create customer quotes will reduce your administrative pressures and the likelihood of minor details being missed.
As well as preventing mistakes, automation can add ‘polish’ to your internal and external workings as a company. Even the time spent changing the font to match your house style can be saved with set templates. At the same time, automating these little details can also help to elevate your brand’s perception as a whole.
2. You Want To Increase Customer Satisfaction
If you are struggling to get repeat business from previous customers, it may be an indication that your customer service may be lacking. For example, the time it takes for you to get back to your customer complaints can be hugely off-putting if it’s seen as too slow.
All customer services tasks should be focused on keeping your customers happy, not wasting time on repetitive admin tasks that can be easily streamlined.
Banks have made good use of automation in this area, by including things like automated help apps on their homepages. These provide FCA-compliant, highly relevant answers to customer queries, whilst still opening-up communication lines to a genuine member of the team.
3. You Need To Prevent Long Delays
Workflow can be greatly delayed by poor communication. Manually transferring files opens-up the opportunity for some to slip through the cracks and go missing. Getting the go-ahead on tasks, job receipts and collaboration between departments can all be handled through a centralised WMS system, with every file accounted for.
When a task is ‘ready’ for the next stage in the cycle, rather than waiting to hear from the corresponding supervisor, checking the status indicator will nudge the process along automatically.
4. You Want Increased Personalisation
As marketing and internet services increasingly push for personalisation, giving your customers more control is the cost-efficient way of increasing customer satisfaction.
By automating the process for customer order tracking, your customers can experience increased efficiency and peace of mind at every stage of the sales process, as they will be able to see when their delivery has been dispatched.
Manual input can be more usefully channeled into solving the fewer number of customer problems along the delivery chain, rather than constantly checking that every stage is running smoothly.
5. You Want To Personalise Your Marketing Spend
In terms of ad spending and internet reach, automating your advertising budget on targeted niches can bring higher customer satisfaction, increased customer loyalty and social proof. Targeted social media campaigns can be automated to include a voucher code for certain customers within a local area.
In many cases, advertising targeted to the right people can be a lot more effective than say, a billboard or national TV ad. Automated post scheduling systems and analytics will also allow you to examine customer characteristics and create content that appeals to these audiences.
6. You Need To Manage Working Capital
Complete control of your invoicing and billing is vital to staying afloat as a business. Automating this process can protect your working capital and ensure you remain ‘in-the-black’ and have the funds needed to grow your business. Suitable accounting software for all company sizes can speed the process up and alert you in the case of late payments and other problems.
Fintech companies in recent years have seen a surge in popularity amongst all types of businesses. In 2015, investment in Fintech grew by 75% to $22.3bn, as the diversity within services and subscriptions greatly expanded. Whether you’re a small startup or years in establishment, business finance apps are proving to be an increasingly relied-upon tool for company bosses.
7. You Need Increased Security
The mammoth task of protecting your data and passwords is an essential duty for all businesses. Naturally, a secure WMS can provide an extra layer of protection for your vital information, as figures from IBM in 2014 showed that 95% of security incidents involved an element of human error.
Secured communications portals are an additional benefit to workflow management systems. Further, when something goes wrong, WMS customer service teams are there to assist you, protect your data and get you back on-track.
8. You Need Instant Information Access
WMS’s allow anyone at any time to complete the tasks they need to increase efficiency. Cloud-based systems allow users to access their work from anywhere in the world.
With brands outsourcing work to all timezones nowadays, automated cloud access and synchronised calendar apps keep things ticking over, eliminating data confusion across different parts of the world.
9. You Have Demands For Faster Service
In the age of instant gratification, customers are demanding that their needs be met faster than ever before. Failing to keep up with your competitors in areas of fulfillment will harm your bottom-line, as customers will always seek faster, better services elsewhere.
Getting your ecommerce site up-and-running through a subscription-based service can offer the same ‘instant gratification’ feeling to business owners who need to build and maintain a highly-effective webstore, fast. Through using a part-managed service, business owners can get hold of onsite tutorials and technical support whenever they need it, and can even cut out traditional retail completely by investing in dropshipping.
10. You Want To Track KPI’s
With workflow management systems, you will want to track your successes in increased efficiency and make necessary amendments where you need to improve. Workflow Management Systems include KPI’s, allowing you to drill-down into large sets of data and test different hypothesis, to see which actions work best.
Collecting this data on auto-pilot is the easiest and most effective method for gaining true insight into your customer’s behaviours. Focusing your time on data analysis is far more efficient than pouring too much effort in collecting your customers’ information manually.
Identifying areas of your business that could benefit from workflow automation comes down to the areas in which your business may run slower and involve too many points of manual intervention before a task can be completed.
Here are some more helpful tips on choosing the right workflow management system.
Ultimately, your aim is to ensure that the majority of your time is spent improving your business and getting more customers. Not overseeing minor tasks that can be done automatically.
Author: Victoria Greene
Victoria is a brand consultant and freelance writer. She works with Ecommerce brands across many different industries, helping them improve their marketing strategies. She also regularly likes to share her experiences and insights.
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