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How to save time and money with online automation on your website.

6 June, 2022

Online automation

Save time, increase productivity and improve customer retention with online automation.

SME owners wear too many different hats at the same time – you’re the accountant, delivery driver, marketer/salesperson general manager, project manager, cleaner, product designer, manufacturer… It can be overwhelming. 

Almost anything to do with business administration, marketing/sales and project management can be automated if you’re willing to shake things up a bit! 

 

Examples of ways to save tonnes of time by online automation

Before automation:

Client sends enquiry. With no other system, you then send tedious emails to your client of available time slots you have for a meeting. If your client’s schedule is packed (who’s isn’t!) then this may involve multiple back/forth messages. If you’re booking multiple people at the same time, there is also the potential for double-bookings and again, repeated messages to reschedule. 

  • time spent up to 30 minutes per booking
  • Huge potential for errors and double-bookings. 
  • Client may get frustrated and give up if you don’t respond straight away. 

 

Let’s automate this! 

Client sends enquiry. You then send a response to their questions and a link to an online booking form for them to use. Client goes to booking form, which is user-friendly and optimised for your business type. They choose a service, a practitioner and a time you have available that suits them. After completing this form, you get an email confirmation of the booking and your Google Calendar is automatically updated with the new booking. 

  • Less than 1 minute dedicated to the booking process – you’ve just sent a link which can be used over and over. 
  •  Client can easily see what time slots you have marked as available and can then check this against their own schedule. 
  • In the event they wish to cancel, the client is able to click a link in the confirmation email they have, which lets you know its been cancelled/rescheduled and updates your calendar immediately, freeing up space for someone else. 

We all know that if you sell retail, an online shop is a no-brainer. Not only will your local/existing customers appreciate the new option for ordering, but you’re able to reach a broader customer base. **Sell retail but don’t have an online shop? You’re missing out! Contact us for a quote to get started.

BUT, if you’re using Xero, MYOB or another local accounting system for stock management, then now you’ve got to keep both your website and your local system updated. That’s doubled your admin workload! 

Let’s automate that! 

Each accounting platform does things differently, but for the big guns they generally have an API to plug into. This means, you can synchronise your stock levels/pricing and record sales between your website and your accounting software without having to enter anything manually. 

Before automation:

This one applies to any kind of organisation that has a contacts, membership or clients database to keep track of (so pretty much anything). Without a online system, you’ll be collecting information via messenger platforms or paper forms (eww!). Then when you actually want to USE this information, you’ll need to spend hours putting it into a spreadsheet or other system to sort/filter through contacts. 

  • Hours and hours (potentially) sorting through responses and manually updating a spreadsheet or other system
  • Huge potential for human error inputting details wrong. 
  • Possibility of losing paperwork and having to get clients to complete it again.
  • Not easily shared between teams or committees

 

Let’s automate this! 

Create a comprehensive online form. Add a digital signature if required. Include a consent/confirmation box, file uploads and any other details you need. Send link to new client/member. They complete the form, upload their attachments and receive a ‘Well done!’ confirmation email once completed. You get an email notification that the form has been done. And finally, all of the new signups details are automatically pulled into your online database where you can easily sort, filter and organise the entire list. 

  • Less than a minute to coordinate new signup – just send a link. 
  • All data easily accessible in one place in an online database (like Ninox)
  • Client information is entered accurately (eg, names are spelled right!)
  • Live data is easily shared in real-time with team/committee. 

Before automation:

When keeping a record of contact with a client, it can get messy. Without a system, if you need to track phone calls, emails, SMS messages or physical letters – manually inputting this information into a spreadsheet or database can be time consuming. 

  • Hours and hours of manual data entry
  • Huge potential for human error inputting details wrong. 
  • Possibility of missing things – forgetting to input a phone call etc
  • Not easily shared between teams or committees

 

Let’s automate this! 

There is already a huge industry for online project and customer management systems in all shapes and sizes. You’ve got slack for internal messaging, Trello for project/task tracking, MailChimp for sending emails, Twilio for text messages, Tawk.to for live chat, nevermind the big CRM platforms!

Trying to use ALL THE THINGS will only get you more tangled up than before. So even before looking at integration – cut down the number of platforms you use to the absolute minimum and save yourself a headache! 

Take some time to identify exactly what you need from your CRM system, and choose from there. If you need one or two features from several platforms, it may actually work out cheaper and better in the long run to build a custom platform that brings it all together. 

Ditch the spreadsheets - that's old school!

When spreadsheets get too big or you have complex requirements for manipulating the data, it’s time to upgrade to a database. We love Google Sheets and Excel as much as the next person, but these are so prone to user error that if data integrity is important, you’re playing with fire. 

There is an emerging industry of ‘low-code’ cloud database platforms, (including our favourite, Ninox) that enable you to easily build a custom system to manipulate your data and preserve its integrity. Since it’s online, your whole team can access it, and it’ll keep a detailed log of every change made on a record, as well as full backups… All making it arguably more safe and secure than that ratty old MS Access database or Excel spreadsheet on your local server. 

Best of all – you can automate a lot of processes through your new cloud database and your website that ultimately save you tonnes of time!

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