Automation & Self-Service: The Underdogs of Modern Business

April 23rd, 2020 | Written by: Brad Illich

When was the last time you implemented a new system in your business?

This ever-evolving technological landscape can prove infinitely helpful to businesses who take advantage of budding technologies, but a hindrance to those who fail to adopt new tools, systems and processes. For example, franchises are so successful because they utilise and consistently renew specific systems, procedures and processes which make them operate like clockwork. You too, should think of this example for your business. What systems can you put in place that would make running your business easier? The answer is automation – a technology that is somewhat overlooked and underutilised but could be a real game-changer for businesses like yours.

Automation has become the ultimate way to deliver a consistent brand experience to customers, by streamlining business processes like marketing, customer service and support. With the escalating spread of COVID-19, current circumstances are making automation more vital than ever, and many business owners are beginning to realise that automating aspects of their business could be their key to success.

Here are a few ways that utilising automation can assist you, your team, and your business during this time and into the future:

Email & SMS Automation

Email campaigns that are triggered from the actions of your customers are a simple and valuable way to add automation into your marketing mix and a great place to start when it comes to automating your business. There are countless uses to these direct-response style emails that can also be applied to SMS, from automatically sending quotes and booking details, welcoming guests, or even offering upgrades or promotions prior to arrival in a bid to boost revenue.

Perhaps a more poignant model for current times, is one that can be applied to booking cancellations, which are unfortunately increasing as COVID-19 spirals. Rather than thinking about the short-term effects of booking cancellations, try applying automation in a way that will encourage customer retention in the long-term, like scheduling automated replies to cancellations that offer credit or deals for the future, or “welcome back” packages.  Say a guest made a $200 deposit with their original booking – offer to hold their deposit for a future reservation and add an additional 20% in value, preserving cash on hand and giving them an even better reason to retain their booking with you!

Automated messages like these are timely, personalised and always relevant to the specific customer. They’re also opened more frequently, meaning an increased potential for site visits, not to mention that with the help of automation, your staff’s labour can be greatly reduced (and your accountant will be praising you).

Business Management Automation

Do you regularly run reports on staff or performance? Report scheduling is a great automation tool that some reservation software platforms provide. It’s as simple as setting your filters and creating a recurring report which will automatically generate at the specified time (weekly, fortnightly etc) and email to all parties required, making it easy to keep track of your data.

Self-Service Trends

Automation comes in many forms and as technology evolves in the mobile and Smartphone arena, apps are becoming more popular within the tourism industry and are now becoming a helpful component in simplifying and automating customer experience. Guests can now manage their own stays, extend and alter their trips, retrieve check-in details and book facilities or add-ons using self-service apps. When on-site, tools like self-service kiosks, which offer guests site selection features, property info and more without the need for asking reception staff, are a growing trend aiding in customer experience, as well as management and business processes.

Customer Service & Support Automation

While there will always be a place for traditional customer service, automating your online support can assist in providing super-speed answers while freeing up time for your staff to focus on other tasks. Some small changes to your customer service practises, like introducing artificial intelligence chatbots, can add up to a lot of money saved on staffing costs and even boost your revenue due to faster response times. In the long run, automating aspects of your customer service can lead to increased customer satisfaction, as wait times become shorter, processes become more convenient and answers become more accessible.

Social Media Automation

Consistency is essential when it comes to running any Social Media page with a tangible return on investment. Content must be optimised and frequent in order to garner reach, meaning that anything you post should go live during high-traffic periods and should be consistent from week to week. It can be a painstaking process, but the growing abundance of auto-scheduling tools has become a game-changing, time-saving innovation for businesses across the world.  Using popular apps like Hootsuite, Planoly or Later, companies can curate their content across various social channels weeks in advance and schedule the content to go live at the most opportune times, often utilising an app’s in-built analytics to help them with their content planning!

Automation is undoubtedly the most underutilised yet user-friendly tool available to business owners. From minimising costs, to allowing for more time to focus on other areas, it’s safe to say that most modern companies wouldn’t do business without it! What are you waiting for?

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