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How Digital Workflows Can Transform Small Businesses

As 2021 opens, we are now officially in the ’20s. Whether they will be the “Roaring Twenties” again or something else entirely remains to be seen. But in this high-tech world, manual processes are definitely “out.” It’s time to digitize workflows – and that means enabling marketing automation as well as all around business automation.

What Does Business Automation Mean for a Small Business?

The term digital workflows could refer to any number of process automations.

On a small scale, it might mean transitioning from paper-based notepads to a cloud-based note taking app. It could be a large project, such as transferring a paper-based lead and contact system to an electronic form. Or, it could mean taking a process that might have had some digital elements, such a customer service rep responding to inbound website emails but setting it up so that initial responses are automated.

When we talk about enabling digital workflows, we are really talking about finding innovative ways to eliminate busy work for humans so they can focus on higher level tasks and strategic initiatives.

The Benefits of Digital Workflows for Small Businesses

If you own or manage a small business, it may be tempting to put off digitizing workflows.

But as we start 2021, it’s really time to transition to digital workflows as much as possible. Manual processes may seem “easier” on the surface if staff have been ingrained in their habits and feel like they might not be able to transition to a digital workflow. But digital workflows do have measurable benefits that positively affect not only the raw bottom line but less tangible things like employee efficiency.

Sure, there will be that transition period where a few employees (or perhaps even you, the owner) might grumble slightly over learning a new workflow, but trust us, in the end, it is well worth it. Here are just a few reasons why:

Digital Workflows Improve Efficiency

Business automation can help reduce the time wasted on repetitive tasks or redundant tasks. Many times, the automated process actually works much better than the old manual process.

Digital Workflows Remove Human Error

It makes no sense to have a customer send in a support query via your website only to have a staff person re-enter that information manually into a spreadsheet or database. Not only does that waste unnecessary time, but it also opens your business up to needless errors. Having an automated process set up that captures this information and immediately puts it into a database will remove that human component. And this is just one example of how business automation can help.

Improve Your Sales with Marketing Automation

One of the best ways to establish digital workflows to realize a quick return on investment is through marketing automation. This includes everything from automating lead capture to helping salespeople follow up with clients through automated outreach emails.

Finding Opportunities to Automate Processes

There are a number of ways to automate processes. A few places to start would be in basic business tasks such as employee onboarding and expense tracking.

And, as already mentioned, marketing automation is one of the most important areas when it comes to digital workflows. Here are a few places to start:

  • Lead generation and sales pipeline building to keep sales coming in
  • Inbound lead handling to move the process along
  • Automated phone messaging software to avoid phone tag
  • Lead follow-up systems to make sure no-one falls through the cracks
  • Customer engagement solutions to keep customers happy and resolve any issues
  • Upselling to keep existing customers in the pipeline
  • Automated billing and recurring payments to stop wasting time with manual invoicing

Some automated solutions may come with some of your existing software systems. If so, take advantage of them. For example, if your e-commerce solution offers a way to remind people about an abandoned shopping cart, it makes sense to turn it on and use it!

How to Implement Digital Workflows at Your Small Business

There are many things your business can start to do today to transition processes to digital. It may involve getting set up with cloud-based solutions such as Salesforce. The first thing to do is to analyze your existing processes to see what potentially could be digitized. From there, set priorities on what would be the “best bang for the buck” when it comes to implementation.

If your business needs help both strategizing and implementing digital workflows, Edwards Business Systems has the expertise to establish the right systems for your small business.

Need help instituting digital workflows? Edwards Business Systems knows how, and we offer a free assessment. Contact us today!

January 11th, 2021