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Workflow Automation: What, Why and How Businesses Automate Everyday Tasks

Workflow automation
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Automation has become a business imperative. With the demand to cut down on costs and do more with less, businesses are obviously turning to automate simple repetitive tasks. Be it collecting lead data or sending out an onboarding campaign or improving team productivity – automation has a key role in every business domain.

Infact, a recent study has revealed that almost 44% of businesses are looking to increase their tech spend and replace outdated technologies. While 44% may seem like a not-so-high number, this is a 6% increase from 38% in 2019. So, it is obvious businesses have started recognizing the potential that automated workflows have. 

Why should you not automate everything?

The problem arises when people think automation will actually do the entire work for you. A Reddit user by the user name FiletOfFish1066 claimed that he had automated his entire job as a programmer. He admitted to having done 50 hours of real work in 6 years’ timeline – which is nothing! What reads like a boon only landed him in troubled waters. In a bid to automate everything, he ended up forgetting how to code and eventually lost his job! 

So you see, automating work to save time and focus on important tasks is great (but obviously not a good idea to create automated workflows to replace your actual work). In this article, we will see how businesses are automating simple repetitive tasks to focus on amplifying their growth strategies. 

How businesses are automating everyday simple tasks

One of our users recently tweeted why she opted for an automated workflow for her webinar registration. Initially, Eirin manually collected registered participants, saved them as a .CSV file, uploaded it to AWeber, and then sent out Webinar invitation links; only to realize she can cut short all of these steps by simply integrating all the tools she was using. It not just saved time but also reduced her manual labor and allowed her to focus more on hosting an interesting Webinar.    

workflow automation

There are n-number of tasks that businesses need to put on auto-pilot so that teams spend more time on work that is important and requires manual intervention. Other tasks like sending email updates or push notifications or reminders can easily be automated. Thanks to several no-code integration platforms, setting up these workflows requires very little time and effort. Connect your choice of work apps, set up the trigger and actions, and push it live. 

Remember: Setting up these workflows is extremely easy on no-code platforms but you must know what kind of triggers and actions will improve your users’ experience with your brand. Creating random triggers and incoherent actions will only push away your target users. 

Below are some tasks that every business should consider putting on auto-pilot. 

1. Automate lead capturing for your business

According to Hubspot, almost 96% of visitors that come to your website are not ready to get converted. Add to this, list-building activities often annoy your potential users. So, how do you capture leads without offending them? 

Automating your lead capturing process can help you draw a proper workflow of capturing and retaining your leads. Research says that the more landing pages you have, the better are your chances of getting leads. So, obviously setting up one is very important.

Infact, it is proven that having a landing page for your website that redirects to your main website is a great way to engage and capture leads. For instance, see Zoho CRM’s homepage landing page. The navigation enables prospects, customers, and developers to learn every detail about the tool. And that’s exactly why a homepage landing page is so crucial for your lead capturing automation workflow. 

Pro Tip: Build a homepage landing page keeping in mind your target visitors rather than only focusing on the end-user’s interests. 

workflow automation CRM

As you can see on Zoho CRM’s homepage landing page, there is a clear section for visitors to enter their email address and get started for free. Offering a free trial is a proven way of capturing leads. Infact, you can keep your Zoho CRM and Google Sheets connected so that all lead information is captured automatically in your database for future references. After all, you get only 8 seconds to capture a lead on your landing page. 

You can automatically connect your email marketing tool with your form builder that you have used on your landing page to capture all email addresses and other lead details. This means the moment a visitor clicks on the ‘submit button on your form, an automated email is triggered welcoming the new user. Remember: This new lead has not yet been converted. You have only captured the lead that needs nurturing before it converts. 

Another automated workflow to capture leads is using a live chat widget on your website or your homepage landing page and connecting it with your CRM or Google Sheets (depending on where you want to save all the data). 

Live Chats are ideally for those visitors who are not yet convinced to start a free trial as well. However, research shows that live chats have a better chance of a conversion. 

Clearly, those opting for a live chat have queries that need to be addressed. Asking for a name and email address while chatting not just helps you capture your lead details but also understand what exactly the visitor is looking for. 

For instance, on the Zoho CRM’s landing page, you will see a chat option. To start a chat, you need to enter a few details. This is where Zoho manages to capture lead details. 

workflow automation chat

In this case, the ideal automation workflow will look as follows: 

workflow automation lead capturing

2. Auto-assigning leads to team members 

When you are doing inbound marketing, you pull in a lot of traffic to your website or landing pages. Although most people prefer to chat, there are also many that will skip the ‘contact us’ form and directly want to talk with someone from your team. 

A phone chat support is obviously a great way to build a relationship with a potential user but without a proper automation workflow in place, your conversation will be all over the place. Add to this, missing out on such an opportunity may not be great because here you get a chance to actually talk, understand, and convince your potential buyer to convert immediately. 

However, if your phone call follow-up has a poor execution, you once again lose out on your leads. 

Using an automated workflow can help you set up an internal form to capture leads when they dial in on your mainline. Make sure to capture contact details, add relevant notes in your CRM, and assign them to your team members. 

Meanwhile, set up triggers to automatically send out an email to your potential lead once they submit the information. This gives an impression that the support rep got into action immediately even before the sales reps got in touch, initiating a good start to your relationship. 

For instance, Adarsh Ravindranathan explains how they automate their entire process inside CallHippo.

“When the user fills the contact form it is automatically saved in the system. This is to ensure that the agents have all the customer details while making the calls. We are required to set up the order or predefined rule in which the calls have to be made. Later, it just follows the predetermined system and distributes the calls among the agents. After logging into the CallHippo account, this option can be found under the Team option in the dashboard.”

Similarly, Cocoa Loco, a popular store for handmade chocolates, uses phone support (along with email) for any queries. They not just have a form to request a call-back, they also have a number mentioned for those who want to contact immediately. 

workflow automation

Using automation tools can help you set up your workflow. Such tools first look for an available agent upon form submission and then auto-assign leads to the agents for a call-back. 

3. Use automated workflow to schedule tasks and manage teams

You need to align all your teams so that productivity doesn’t falter and you achieve your business goals. This also means task management, scheduling, and managing teams. Doing all of it manually will take up your precious hours. Rather, use automated workflows to align all of these. 

Note: One of the easiest methods for good time and task management is the optimization of the weekly scheduling routine. 

You must be using a team management app, Google Calendar, an internal messenger, a support desk to cater to your daily needs. Using no-code integration platforms, you can quickly connect all your work tools to sync your works across teams instantly. 

For instance, if you are using Trello for your work management and use Google Sheets to track your work, you can set up a simple Google Sheets and Trello workflow to sync your daily tasks and effectively organize your teams’ works. 

Talking about Trello, there are brands that run the entire business on this tool. For instance, Burgerfi, a food chain, plans its entire business on Trello. After all, collaborating with multiple teams is essential for a business to thrive. And Trello lets you sync your boards, plan and organize works, and do so much more.

workflow automation with trello

Image Source: Trello

Thanks to the host of power-ups, Trello not just helps you organize your work but also manages teams. 

Automated workflows to manage tasks and teams means automating repetitive and unimportant tasks. With a little bit of reverse engineering, you can plan out your entire project management workflow before you set it up in your automation tool. 

  • You start with identifying your goals and challenges. Knowing what you want to achieve using automation is important before you set up an automated workflow. 
  • Know where exactly you need to automate and what you need to keep manual. There are several tasks that are often handed over by one team member to another causing delays in the project. It is important you identify which tasks are time-consuming and requires you to do it manually. You will automatically identify the processes that you want to get automated. Each team will have a different function to automate. 

Let’s say, in your content team several people may be handling content writing. Sending out automated reminders for when content is due or notifications to the team members when content is ready for review can help in speeding up the entire process. 

Sometimes even after implementing an automated workflow to manage tasks and teams, you may find productivity at a standstill. Go back a few steps to see why it is happening. Also, make sure you have the right task management tools at your disposal. 

For example, you can set up chatbots to manage your internal teams. Chatbots are getting intelligent and useful. It isn’t necessary that chatbot automation workflows are limited to customer requests only. You can align your chatbot to answer internal queries like wifi passwords or vacation policies. 

Spoke uses atSpoke to handle employee queries that they can send via Slack, SMS, emails, and more. For instance, check this example of an employee asking about the insurance policy in the company –

workflow automation

Source

Chanty is another collaboration tool with task management functionality. Chanty is a team collaboration hub that offers team communication, audio and video calling and task management system with the Kanban board.

Chanty task management

Chanty task manager with Kanban board

The task manager allows you to turn messages into tasks, assign a person to perform the task, set a due date and task priority.

Chanty Kanban board

Assigning a task in Chanty

4. Put lead nurturing and conversion on auto-pilot 

Capturing a lead is just the beginning. What follows is a series of automated workflows set up one after the other to ensure that leads are engaged and eventually convert into paying customers. Every brand practices these workflows without fail. One of the most common examples is the welcome email you get whenever you sign up for a new product or service or a community. 

When a new lead signs up for a free trial, an onboarding series kickstarts immediately consisting of a welcome email and usually a series of two-three emails with resources to start using the product or services; much like what Landbot.io did. 

On signing up, a welcome email immediately reached my inbox with a few resources on how to get started and what to do now that I am signed in. 

The next day I received another email telling me about the Landbot Academy where I can learn new resources to build a compelling chatbot. 

workflow automation Landbot

This onboarding series went for 5 consecutive days post which the email frequency went down to one email a month after sending me a reminder that my free trial is over. Check out the dates below.

workflow automation landbot email

Based on lead engagement, leads are automatically segmented in a marketing automation tool so that you can continue with other marketing campaigns. The same happened with me on Landbot.io. 

The first five emails were part of the onboarding series that every new user receives. Since my frequency of using the product was pretty less after that, I continue to receive their updates and announcements but all are aimed at taking me back to exploring and using the product. 

This is called ‘lead nurturing automation workflow‘ where automated emails are scheduled for every lead based on lead engagement. No manual intervention is required here other than tweaking the email templates or monitoring email campaign performances. Looking to design your perfect welcome email? Check this compilation of some of the best welcome emails.

Similarly, sending out reminder emails to complete purchases is another example of an automated workflow. For eCommerce brands, the consumer cycle is short-lived and repetitive. Each user comes back to stage one after completing one purchase. To ensure that the entire purchase cycle is completed, often brands send out cart abandonment emails when a user does not make the purchase after adding items to the cart. 

Another example is the recommendation emails that eCommerce brands often send out based on your previous purchases. Amazon definitely does that religiously. 

None of these are manually done. They are all a part of the customer experience automation where brands use automation tools to capture, engage, convert and retain users. 

While email is the part that we see, each of these automated workflows are elaborate and complicated as well. There are many tools connected with one another to ensure that the entire process happens smoothly. For instance, below is a flowchart describing the stages of an automated workflow used to resolve customer support tickets. Apps used in the use case: Jira, Trello, Slack and Gmail. The workflow can be used with any apps that you are using. 

automated workflow

Such workflows ensure that you cater to customer needs without fail and build a smooth end-to-end customer experience. 

5. Automate billing, invoicing, and other payments for your business

Instead of juggling between invoices and bill payments, switching to payment automation can reduce your friction in terms of payments. For a business, various automated workflows need to run smoothly when it comes to business transactions. From automated transaction emails to generating invoices and completing payments. A study by The Street revealed that it takes upto 6 days to process a paper invoice when handling manually. That kind of time is a waste for any business. 

Despite having a whole catalog of accounting tools and a competent finance team, you will end up exhausting your resources if you are not automating your payment structure. 

For instance, let’s say you have a Shopify store. When you are setting up a Shopify store, you are automatically asked to pick a payment gateway – either Stripe or PayPal. This ensures that all transactions for your shop happen securely through one of these cloud payment gateways. Now, Stripe already has all the features like invoicing, billing, and accounting. [If you already have a Stripe account, just connect it to your new Shopify account].

Let’s assume that you are interested in using another accounting tool like Xero. Does this mean you will have to manually handle transaction data between your Shopify store and accounting tool? No. 

This is where a no-code automated workflow comes into play. Connect your Xero account with your Shopify Store to automatically generate invoices, send out transactional messages and confirmations, and take care of your other accounting details. The best part is, you can connect your Stripe account as well with your accounting tool to put your entire invoicing and payment structure on auto-pilot. 

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6. Automate customer support with live chat 

You want to do everything to ensure that your customer queries are addressed on time. The only glitch is, your customers need support round the clock and your human team needs time-off at some point of the day. Thank god for chatbot automation, your team can intervene only when an issue is beyond your chatbot’s capability to handle. 

Research shows that 45.8% of people prefer to connect with a business over messaging. This is why almost all major chatbots integrate with automated customer support desks. 

This is one part of automation. To ensure that your support is personalized, you can set up automated follow-ups to make sure that your support team connects personally over email or phone based on the buying stage of the customer. After all, humans still like to talk to real people! 

Take for instance, Netflix. When you open the chat for any query you have, Adobe’s automated bot first sends out a list of ‘problems’ you might have, clicking on which the bot shows you relevant information to resolve the issue. 

Most brands work on creating elaborate help docs so that customers are able to resolve their basic issues by themselves. This method not just gives a sense of accomplishment but also makes the customer feel good. 

workflow automation with netflix

However, if your query is not listed in the options, you can opt to talk to a support member. 

Chatbot automation: Behind the scenes

When a customer clicks on ‘I want to talk to a support member’ or wants to engage in a chat, a support ticket is automatically raised in the support tool. Team members are notified immediately about a new ticket. 

Internally, each ticket is assigned to one team member. Simultaneously, a new record is automatically created in the CRM where customer buying intent is detected. As and when the support team resolves the ticket, updates happen in the support tool as well as the CRM. This enables sales and marketing teams to know if the particular user needs nurturing or is ready to buy. 

In a nutshell, this workflow automation requires you to connect your live chat with your support tool. You connect this support tool with your CRM. We call it a multi-step automation workflow. 

Wrapping up

Automation is everywhere in your business. From sending out ‘happy birthday to your employees every year to wishing your clients, from auto-assigning tasks to managing customer queries, from designing office space to automating employee analytics – automation forms the core for any business looking to grow and thrive. 

However, it is not just about automating anything. You need to know what part of your business needs automation and whether you can achieve that using simple no-code platforms. Automated workflows make work easier, save time, and improve productivity. Simply connect your work apps and you are good to go. So, have you automated your business yet? 


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Pritha Bose

Pritha is a content marketing person working with global brands to drive organic growth and brand visibility. She writes on business and sales automation, consumer marketing, advertisement, social media marketing, et al, and has successfully contributed to G2Crowd, Martech Advisor, JeffBullas, Smart Insights, and more. Currently, Pritha is the Senior Content Marketer at Automate.io.

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