Guest Post By Eleanor Hecks
Maybe your company is at the point where automating some processes seems attractive, but you’re still unsure of the specific benefits that would likely come from it. Alternatively, perhaps you’re fully on board with automation but don’t know the best ways to implement it.
Here are some likely ways that automation could save your business this year, along with potential ways to use it. This overview should make you feel more confident about investing in automated technologies.
Reduce Time Spent on Manual Tasks
Many company owners know they engage in tasks that take longer than they would with automation but stop short of calculating the total time they could save. Consider a responsibility that takes you 15 minutes per day and would be easy to automate. Taking that step could free up more than 60 hours per year for other duties.
Automating tasks that people initially did by hand doesn’t necessarily mean reducing the size of your workforce. It could also allow the same number of employees to spend more time on rewarding tasks that they love.
Evaluate which duties generally take the most time. Then, research automation solutions to see if any exist to help with those jobs. There’s a good chance you’ll find plenty, especially since most of the products on the market assist clients who want to increase efficiency and cut out unnecessary steps.
It’s also smart to calculate how long people spent doing manual tasks, then see what changes when you automate some of them. Bear in mind that you may not see major improvements immediately. That’s because it takes employees time to adjust to new processes, even if they’re better ones.
Cater To Customer Needs
Automation also opens opportunities to help your business excel this year through better service to customers. When you consider all the roles your employees fill to keep people pleased and loyal to your company, it’ll probably be easier than you think to see where automation could fill some gaps.
For example, if you have a retail store, there are connected shelves with sensors that automatically alert workers about low stock levels. Then, employees don’t have to repeatedly verify product availability of in-demand items. They can simply address the necessary shelves as required after getting app notifications.
Also, many fast-food restaurants, including Taco Bell and Wingstop, have chatbots that enable automated ordering. People interact with brands on platforms like Facebook Messenger to purchase meals. Such a setup means that employees can devote most of their time to preparing the food and engaging with customers in person rather than asking what they want to order. If automation can handle that first step, the technology may speed up the overall process and minimize errors.
Another type of automation that can simultaneously help your customers and business concerns systems that offer quick-reorder features. For example, people often buy stuff like baby products, nutritional supplements and pet supplies at certain intervals, such as monthly. If they place the same orders every time, automation could make confirming those transactions more straightforward for everyone involved.
Allow Packaging Items Faster
If a substantial part of your business involves packaging items before they reach consumers, automation could bring measurable benefits. As you assess which steps might benefit most from automation, begin by identifying bottlenecks, which could relate to transferring a product or loading it onto a machine.
Finding those slowdowns is an excellent way to highlight how implementing automation could spur continual improvements. For example, you may discover that automating specific steps reduces errors and allows shipping a larger quantity of parcels sooner or moving forward with a different method that saves time without sacrificing quality.
Many solutions that became especially popular during the pandemic automate packing lines with robots that allow touch-free tasks. When humans can cut down on the communal surfaces they touch, it’s easier to curb the spread. Such automated solutions also work well when companies need to suddenly get the same amount done with fewer team members while dealing with a workplace outbreak.
Before investing in automation for packaging, clarify your primary goals. For example, do you only want to raise the average number of goods you can prepare for shipment every hour?
Many companies hope to do that, but they also want to invest in solutions that achieve other outcomes, such as minimizing breakage. Perhaps you sell products in glass bottles and find that people drop too many while working on the packaging line. Purchasing robots to hold and move the containers could stop that outcome while letting humans handle other parts of the process.
Keep Quality Levels High
Regardless of your company’s industry, there are probably ongoing efforts to maintain excellent quality. Once customers associate your company with above-average quality, they’ll be more likely to show loyalty. Many of those people will probably recommend your company to people they know, as well.
Automation could prove itself a key influencer in helping maintain or raise quality levels. It may also make it easier to confirm the cause of previously identified quality issues.
A 2020 survey of people who use automation while working revealed that it brought them numerous benefits. For example, 43% said they could finish tasks faster due to automation. Then, 40% mentioned that it made them more organized, and 36% said it helped them and their teammates pay attention to important work.
It’s not always easy to determine which factors detract from high-quality output. However, you can also see why automation could most likely have positive effects on that aspect. Many of today’s employees have workloads that require them to multitask, even though multiple studies indicate doing that is often counterproductive.
If they could free up time and mental energy with help from automated tools, quality levels may go up as a result. For example, people who constantly feel rushed, mentally taxed and generally under pressure may forget steps in a process or overlook crucial details. Those outcomes could hurt overall quality levels. Automation could empower employees to work at their best.
Improve Chargeback Management
Chargeback management is an inevitable part of operating any business that accepts credit and debit card payments. Chargebacks are fund reversals that happen when customers dispute charges and have the amounts returned to their original forms of payments.
Besides causing income losses for merchants, chargebacks can also result in penalties when they occur at retailers too frequently. Managing chargebacks usually requires a significant amount of manual labor, particularly because retailers must find proof that a customer did buy something and fully agreed to the sale terms.
However, automated chargeback management products could reduce much of that effort. The internal data of one company that sells such solutions indicated that people using its product had an average 75% win rate of proving transactions as valid. They also save at least 150 hours per month.
Those are some examples of how automating your method of dealing with chargebacks could reap noticeable rewards for your company. Before choosing a tool, take the time to decide on your most pressing needs. It’s also smart to check the level of customer service provided. For example, if you run into difficulties or have a question, which options does the automation company give for getting in touch?
Determine How Automation Could Improve Your Company
This overview contains broad examples of how automation can save businesses time and money while pleasing customers and boosting quality levels. However, you’ll have the best likelihood of making automation work for you by narrowing down the specific things you want to achieve.
After that, develop a plan for working towards those goals. For example, you probably can’t cut out most manual office tasks within a month, but that aim might be achievable in 9–12 months.
It’s also vital to get your entire team on board with automation. Some employees may initially fear that smart machines or software will take away their jobs. Taking the time to listen to their fears and provide the necessary clarification should make them more eager to embrace automated processes. By following these best practices and using the ideas here for inspiration, you’ll be in an excellent position to let automation enhance your business.
By Eleanor Hecks
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.