Automation is all around us, in almost any industry one could name. This is because there are many benefits that it can offer a business of any size. Having said this, these businesses need to be careful, as there are a few situations in which improperly leveraging automation will actually hurt productivity. Let’s review these benefits and detriments in a bit more detail.
The benefits of automation aren’t restricted to one application or purpose. Rather, they apply somewhat generally, as automated solutions can be utilized to accomplish a variety of goals in many processes, from customer service to data processing and beyond. As a result, the benefits of automation are somewhat universal.
As you may imagine, having a certain process automatically carried out once certain conditions are met is a much faster method than relying on a human employee to complete the same process (before and/or after their other responsibilities are attended to, that is). Instead of adding another rote responsibility to an agenda, automation enables you to ensure that your time-intensive processes are promptly completed, while allowing your employees to spend their time more effectively. This also allows entire workflows to be completed much more quickly, as one automated process can trigger another into action.
One of the biggest inherent issues with a human being doing the same thing, over and over? They can quickly become bored with the process, lose focus, and begin to make mistakes. On top of that, many of these tasks require very little brainpower in the first place, only making an employee’s mind more apt to wander. This can result in what should be a relatively quick task to complete taking far more time than expected with a much lower degree of accuracy.
Using automation can eliminate tasks like these from an employee’s purview. This allows them to devote their focus to tasks that are more engaging to the human brain and that aren’t really able to be completed through automation.
When people reach out to a business, they are generally doing so out of need. You offer something they need, be it a product or a service, but they aren’t going to stick around very long if they start to think that they can get it faster somewhere else. This is one major benefit of automating some of your processes – you can begin a working relationship with whoever reaches out to you much faster with an automated interface, even if they reach out to you outside of your normal business hours. Automation allows you to engage them and begin processing their request, no matter when they call, putting you in a better position to attend to their needs.
While automation can be a greatly useful tool for your business to use, there are a few potential pitfalls that your success depends on you avoiding. For instance, some instructions and processes are just too complex to be comprehended by a machine incapable of making the same inferences that a human brain could. Most automated systems are limited by their design, which means that they will make mistakes if approached with a task beyond their capabilities. You also don’t want the person on the other end to have to repeatedly tell the system what they are looking to do, as this largely defeats the purpose of the system.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to mitigate these less-positive attributes of automation:
Automate sparingly. Many of your processes probably don’t need to be automated completely, and some are likely better off being attended to by an employee directly. This is especially true of more complicated issues. Furthermore, those returning to you after repeated business probably have a pretty good idea of what they are calling in for, meaning that they already know what to say, and to whom. Try to always give your contact the option of talking to someone human, if one is available.
Have your employees direct the automation. Similarly, since an automated system may not be able to fully appreciate the intricacies of a request, it helps to have your human employees act as a sort of guide for your automation at certain points. That way, a complicated request or process can be interpreted and directed to the right resource from the start.
Integrate your automation. On the other hand, you don’t want a process to only make it halfway to where it needs to through automation. By ensuring that your automation is well-designed, you can avoid tasks slipping through the cracks and going uncompleted.
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