Table of contents
- Why Automate Your Business Functions Within Your Company?
- Business Function 1: Marketing
- Business Function 2: Sales
- Business Function 3: Customer Service and Similar Interactions
- Business Function 4: Finance & Office Management
- Business Function 5: E-Commerce
- Business Function 6: Events Management
- Business Function 7: Information Technology
- Business Function 8: Human Resources
- Conclusion: Eight Business Functions and Their Explanations
A business thrives when it can maximize its output while streamlining its processes. In this guide, you will learn about the most popular 8 business functions within a company and how to automate some examples of processes within these functions. There is no other method that could do exactly that which is more popular today than automation.
The process of automation simply involves the replacement of human intervention and the reduction of input-based error while either retaining or improving the scope and quality of the output. What this also means is that business owners and managers should explore their options for automating the different processes in their operations.
What business functions should be automated? And if automation is necessary, how is it implemented in the workplace? To answer those questions, we should understand the basics of automation first.
Why Automate Your Business Functions Within Your Company?
As was stated, automation is a process whereby you reduce mistakes and better leverage company assets while still attaining operational goals. In essence, it is about helping a business do more with less input and error.
There are several reasons why you should consider automating some business functions, but they all boil down to 5 advantages.
- Increased Productivity
Artificial intelligence, by design, can take on the work of human beings while speeding the process up. At the same time, they can complete their tasks with fewer errors and a considerably reduced potential for damage or injury.
With AI, tasks that take minutes or hours to complete can be done within a second. Thus, in theory, AI can increase productivity by at least 100%.
At the same time, these programs do not require regular downtime to accommodate workplace injuries or mental fatigue. So as long as the software and hardware are in optimal condition, the AI can perform its tasks with at least 99.99% accuracy and repeat the same results as frequently as possible.
- Assisted Communications
Automation is not for processes but also for the flow of information. Inner and outer company communications are easier to manage if they can be funneled through one particular channel or can be resolved with pre-made but still conversational responses.
In the process, this makes it easier for managers to keep track of how their teams are performing or what phase of a project everyone is currently in. It also helps in customer service as clients can be guided through each step of the customer conversion process without having to converse with an “actual” human being.
- Better Process Visibility
By automating processes, the company gets an idea of each step of a process flow. From there, they can decide which steps are vital and which are redundant or costly. The fewer steps it takes to complete one task, the quicker it will be for the business to move to another pressing concern.
- Reduced Costs
Although machines and AI are expensive, the business stands to save more with them in the long run. This is because automation can induce in a company what is called economies in scope and scale.
By doing tasks quicker and far more accurately, an automated system stands to produce more output for its operator than a purely manual process while still costing the same effort. An increase in output combined with optimized input can lead to better profit margins in the future.
- Better Operational Efficiency
Perhaps the biggest draw of automation is the ability to cut down on operational costs. If a machine can do the work of 5 men or more and with better accuracy, then why employ the latter for the same task? The same 5 men can be assigned to perform tasks where human input is needed at a reduced exposure to workplace injury.
Also, better process visibility can lead to innovation. Depending on the circumstance, you might not just remove redundant steps in a process flow but introduce a completely streamlined flow where tasks can be done simultaneously. And all of this can be done without sacrificing accuracy or quality.
To summarize: These are just some of the benefits that can be enjoyed from a well-implemented automation drive. The point is that a company stands to gain more from simplifying, streamlining, and fool-proofing its business functions.
So, with that out of the way, it is time to look into where a business might be better off automated.
Business Function 1: Marketing
This is one of the functions of a business that is in dire need of automation. However, one might wonder how a function as personal and direct as marketing would be fair with having automated systems.
The truth is that automation is a sure fit for marketing as the entire concept of the function is about delivering carefully prepared and targeted messaging to a specific audience. Furthermore, marketing is not a one-time drive but a series of steps of converting a person from a stranger to the company’s brand to a paying customer.
The problem here is that performing the customer conversion process is tiring if done manually. Imagine doing the same process over and over for thousands of people included in an e-mail list. There are more productive ways to spend one’s day at the business.
But with automation, the entire conversion process can be done simultaneously by the AI while still achieving marketing goals. Here are some ways to automate marketing for a company.
- Automatic E-mail Prompts – Assuming that one already has a potential customer’s subscription to the email list, what a company can do is implement an automation system like HootSuite to generate content that will directly target each subscriber, depending on what condition they have or action they took. For example, the AI can send out an email to a client to inform them of upcoming deals or remind them that they haven’t logged in for a while. These conditions or “email triggers” are easy to set in any automated email dashboard.
- Upscaling or Retargeting – This automation is highly effective for repeat customers. Whenever a customer performs something favorable for the company i.e. buying a product or subscribing to a service online, a cookie might be embedded in their browsers, which will display marketing content wherever they go on the Internet. These short lines of code might feature videos or small pop-up ads. An automated marketing system can send these codes to users to inform them of what else they are missing out on or what they can purchase for a future transaction.
- New Content Promotion – if the business has an upcoming new product to launch, it can drum up hype for it through its e-mail list. Automated software can be set up to notify subscribers of upcoming products or web content.
This method works well for customers who have repeatedly transacted with the company. As they have first-hand experience with what the business has to offer, convincing them of a new offer is no longer that hard to do.
Business Function 2: Sales
Arguably the lifeblood of every business, sales determines the overall quality of performance for a business over a specific period. In essence, if no strategy implemented by the business would ultimately lead to an increase in sales, then the effort is pointless.
In sales, automation is more process-based but it will involve some software. The goal here is to know at which point of the sales conversion process a person currently is to get the most with each interaction.
- The Sales Pipeline – As was stated, you don’t need complex AI to automate your sales process. Something as simple as a process roadmap can speed processes up and reduce costs. This is where a sales pipeline would come into play as it tells your salespeople what to do with a person depending on which stage of the conversion process they are in. To make things easy for you, the sales pipeline can be set up in three stages:
- New Potential Customer – Someone who is newly identified by your team as a stranger to the brand. Much of the strategy here involves introducing them to the basics of the brand.
- Contacting – At this phase, the sales representatives will try to get in contact with the potential customer. If they respond, they can move on to the next stage. If the call is sent to voicemail or directly rejected, then the person stays here and is subjected to further attempts until they do respond favorably.
- Engaging – Here, the sales representatives would get to know more about the needs of the potential customer and find out how the company’s product can address such.
- Qualified – A qualified contact simply means that the person has reached the final point before they can make a purchasing decision. At this point, the standard sales process can play out. However, the chances for conversion are higher as there is already a relationship between the company and the person.
- Lead Nurturing – Should you discard those leads who are not willing to make a purchasing decision? The answer, of course, is no. What you can do here is to establish a relationship first so they are ready to make that move towards becoming a qualified lead.
Automating lead nurturing is rather easy, provided that you have pre-set your interactions with the person during the engagement phase. There is no template for this part, but what is important is to learn what the person wants or expects from the company. For instance, if the person needs more time to make a decision, then one can automate their emails to gently push these persons towards making one.
Also, it is important to give the person as much agency as possible at this point. If they want fewer emails from the company, give them the option to do so by clicking a link in the email sent to them. This is going to take time but constant lead nurturing can turn at least 50% of undecided potential clients into qualified leads.
Business Function 3: Customer Service and Similar Interactions
Would automation help a business function in which human interaction is not only an element but a crucial aspect? The answer is yes. Automating one’s customer interactions will not only speed things up but allow for a faster way of acquiring feedback which could help in improvements and innovation.
There are several ways to automate customer service but all of them have the same premise: to make it easier for clients to communicate with the business.
- Helpline Automation
Nothing can be more frustrating for a customer than not getting the help that they were looking for. This could either mean that they could not get in contact with the company’s hotline or that whoever was assigned at the other end of the line was quite slow in responding to complaints.
Most website builders today have incorporated an automation system for the “Contact Us” page or a similar sub-page. Whenever a client makes an entry here, the system will notify the staff of such. At the same time, the client will get a notification telling them that their inquiries have reached the company.
What makes these automated inquiries work is that they offer a direct line of communication for the client without them having to wait for someone to be present at the other end. At the same time, it helps the company determine what problems their clients usually encounter with their product or services which can help for evaluation later on.
- The Special Events Notification
This might sound trivial but knowing the special occasions celebrated by a client goes a long way in establishing a relationship with them. For instance, if the client is celebrating their birthday or an anniversary, automation software can put up a message congratulating them.
Getting such information is easy as most registry forms require dates of birth or special occasions as important entries. Remembering birthdays is a good start, but you can also take things further by offering a special promo for clients to avail of for that day only. This works well if there is also an e-commerce platform run by your company.
Business Function 4: Finance & Office Management
As much as it is crucial to properly manage office work, it can also be rather mundane and repetitive. This is where automation comes in as it can deal with repetition to free up valuable time for workers to do their tasks efficiently and with minimal intrusion.
- Managing To-Dos
Office management automation cannot replace every task that can (and must) be performed by actual humans. However, what it can do is help people stay on track with what needs to be done.
For instance, if a client pays and makes an order, the automated system can send out a notification telling the sales reps to send out an order confirmation letter to the client. Or if a client forfeits their payments, the system can send out a letter to tell company reps to check on the account before it becomes delinquent.
The human factor is still there in both instances. It is just that the automation system just reminds everyone what to do to get the most pressing things done as quickly as possible.
- Documents Management
Although documents have an integral role in business, paper-chasing is not an efficient use of company time. Software is better equipped to identify and retrieve documents for people. And chances are that they are far more successful at it, too.
With automated software, documents can get tagged in the system as soon as they are made. With these, it is easy to identify which department they went to and who has permission to access them.
The entry of these documents into the system can also be automated. For instance, Human Resources can have every incoming job application marked. Clicking on the email can mark the document as opened. Alternatively, unopened emails can activate triggers on the system to send out notifications to HR managers to take necessary action.
Business Function 5: E-Commerce
Due to the unique nature of this function, there is no need for both buyer and seller to directly interact with each other. Automation is thus an easy fit for this business function. The goal of automation here is not only to facilitate a transaction but ensure subsequent ones from the same customers.
- Repeat Purchases
Any good business owner knows not to treat a sales opportunity as a one-time deal. They’d rather have that customer purchase from the same as often as possible, especially if the product in question is something that needs regular replenishment.
Automation here can be set up as early as the completion of the last known purchase. For instance, if the business sells printer ink that lasts for 30 days, then an email can be sent 25 days after the purchase to remind the customer of a refill. The email should also provide a link that will immediately take the customer to the product page to make an order.
- Addressing Cart Bailers
Believe it or not, roughly 66.66% of online shoppers make an order and then for some reason fail to complete the purchase. They are collectively known as “cart bailers” and still possess the potential to make a purchasing decision.
What most businesses do with them is set up a trigger in their program which sends out an email a few minutes after bailing their carts. Another reminder might be sent out within a day or two, prompting the bailer to complete their purchase.
The key to success here is to time the reminders properly. A few infrequent taps can do more to recover the sale than constant spam reminders.
Business Function 6: Events Management
An event is already a strain on everyone involved. This is why hosts are better off with a system that can handle some of the important tasks on their behalf.
Like in office management, the goal for automation here is to take the brunt of the repetitive nature of some tasks so that the rest of the team can direct their focus on more important matters.
- Events Registration
When it comes to events, you will find that getting people to sign up and reminding them of the big day can consume most of your time and effort. The easiest way to do all of this is through web forms that can act as both registration and confirmation of attendance.
For instance, to sign up for an event, the attendee will have to provide their name, address, and contact information. The data collected can then be used to send the attendee a personalized message notifying them of further details regarding the event.
If event attendance is confirmed via online ticket purchase, it could be set up that the person receives a thank you email along with further event details as soon as they made the purchase. And if one is worried about people not showing up, a program can be set up to send out reminders days or weeks before the event.
Social media sites like Facebook can be used to promote events for followers, but the features provided there are not enough. You will have to perform constant promotion by way of automated emails.
Using the information gathered during registration, you can come up with a specific email list that would receive event-specific emails. You can give details but it would be better to also provide a link to the Facebook page so the recipient will get to know more about the event. It can even be set up so that a click-through of the link will act as a confirmation of their attendance.
Business Function 7: Information Technology
Without a doubt, it is in IT where automation is the most suitable option. There are quite a lot of functions out there that can be augmented or simplified with the help of an AI program.
The goal for automation here once more is to let the expert focus on more important tasks while the menial ones are relegated to the program.
- Account Recovery
Eventually, someone who needs access to the company website or database will forget their password. That information is fortunately stored on a server in the company, but that won’t mean that someone has to spend hours looking for that piece of data.
Recovering passwords is easy today by completing a form at the website and then following the authentication process. If the data provided in the request sync with what was given during account registration, then an email can be sent to access the account or provide a new password.
- Network Protection
Monitoring an entire database for suspicious behavior or potential breaches can be time-consuming. With automation, the AI can scour the mainframe for such anomalies and notify the IT expert of such.
Sure, the IT staff will still have to manually address the issue. However, an AI is far more efficient in monitoring any network and detecting such for its operators.
Business Function 8: Human Resources
A function like Human Resources will need human intervention to be done properly. However, there are still a lot of aspects in it that can be left to the hands of automation. This way, the specialists in the department can achieve their goals quickly without sacrificing quality.
- Applications Management
Automated software can be set up to screen all incoming job applications. This way, only those that meet the set qualifications will be considered for the position. On the other hand, a notification can be sent to applicants whose applications were accepted by the program.
The process can be further automated by assigning dates for which applicants can be interviewed. The program will have to be linked to the office work schedule to ensure that HR won’t have to cancel appointments just to be efficient.
All in all, it can be done that all that an HR specialist has to do with incoming applications is to read the ones already screened and prepare themselves for an upcoming interview.
- Agent Performance Monitoring
In businesses like call centers, it used to be the norm that a manager has to manually listen to calls to monitor how their agents are performing. With automation, these calls can be recorded and transcribed into text which is easier to digest and process.
So, instead of hundreds of hours of data-hogging audio to listen to, a manager has to only look at transcriptions to see where an agent excelled or performed poorly. It can even be set up that these transcripts will highlight certain “trigger” words or phrases whenever the agent utters them. This should speed up performance evaluation and disciplinary proceedings even further.
Conclusion: Eight Business Functions and Their Explanations
The benefits of becoming fully automated are nothing to be underestimated. Depending on what structure is used, the business can do more with the same scope of time and resources.
However, regardless of how one implements automation in their business, the goal should always remain the same: free the time people from mundane and repetitive tasks to more productive and dynamic ones. It should not be the complete removal of the human factor in work.
Instead, automation should allow people to spend more of their time and effort on matters that directly affect the profitability of the company. With much of the repetition and redundancy removed, the company gets to achieve more of its goals without sacrificing quality.