From Overwhelm to Overdrive: A Guide for Communication Management
It’s a typical Friday afternoon, and you’re sipping on your freshly brewed coffee. After all, you need a pick-me-up to prep before the weekend. But before you can even take your first sip, you notice your inboxes are flooded with endless amounts of SMS, each demanding your attention. Your phone buzzes with customer inquiries and “urgent” requests.
How’s it all going to get done before you head out the door - especially knowing more communication will make its way into the inbox before the day’s end.
Pause. Let’s take a breath.
Staying on top of everything is overwhelming. But if you have the right tools in place, like workflow automation, and more importantly, understand how to best use the tools for your benefit, you’ll very quietly escape the chaos without anyone ever knowing you were ever stressed out in the first place.
In simple terms, workflow automation is the digital superhero that streamlines your business processes, automates repetitive tasks, and allows you to focus on the important stuff. If you ever wondered what it’s like to have a personal assistant that handles the mundane, this is pretty close.
The way we conduct business has transformed drastically over the past handful of years, and therefore, embracing technology is no longer a choice; it’s a must. Customers set high expectations on response times, communication, and accessibility. Don’t risk falling behind.
Now, you might wonder, “Why specifically focus on workflow automation when there are so many technological advancements out there?” Well, it’s where the magic happens – especially when it comes to customer and client engagement using SMS.
SMS, or Short Message Service, has become an integral part of our daily lives. It’s a quick and convenient way to communicate, and businesses are leveraging its power to engage with customers and clients in a more personal and immediate manner. But as your business scales and the volume of SMS communication grows, manually managing and responding to messages can be overwhelming and prone to errors.
So, this is the time to let workflow automation swoop in and save the day!
Do the due diligence. Explore the various ways workflow automation can transform your business operations. Give your business a competitive edge. Foster lasting customer relationships.
So, take your sip of that coffee, and stick around.
Understanding Workflow Features and Benefits
At its core, workflow automation is the digital magic that transforms your business processes from cumbersome and time-consuming manual routines into streamlined, efficient, and automated workflows.
It involves using technology to map out (picture a family tree or a flow chart), automate, and optimize a series of tasks or processes in a predefined sequence. This not only frees up your time but also ensures tasks are completed consistently and accurately, reducing the likelihood of costly errors.
Check out 5 key benefits of implementing workflow automation:
- Increased Efficiency and Productivity - By automating repetitive tasks like sending reminder texts or chasing approvals, your team can redirect their energy toward more value-added projects.
- Improved Task Management and Collaboration - Assign, track, and monitor tasks effortlessly. This not only keeps everyone on the same page but also enhances collaboration by offering transparency into task statuses and responsibilities.
- Reduced Human Errors and Manual Repetition - We’re only human, after all, but you can minimize these mistakes by executing tasks consistently, according to predefined rules. This not only reduces the margin for error but also ensures that every task is carried out with precision.
- Enhanced Decision-making through Data Analysis - Generate valuable data, and analyze it to gain insights into operations, identify bottlenecks, and make informed decisions to optimize their processes further.
- Scalability and Adaptability to Business Growth - As your business expands, your automated workflows can handle increased volumes without breaking a sweat. Additionally, these workflows can be adapted and fine-tuned to accommodate changes in your business model or industry trends.
In a nutshell, workflow automation isn’t just a technological upgrade; it’s a strategic move that empowers businesses to thrive.
Examples of Use Cases for Workflows
Workflow automation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution; its versatility shines through in its ability to transform a wide range of business processes. Here are some typical use cases where workflow automation takes the spotlight:
- Automated Task Assignment and Tracking - Automatically assign tasks based on predefined criteria and priorities to make sure the right team members are working on the right tasks at the right time.
- Streamlined Approvals and Document Processing - Route documents to the right stakeholders for approvals, follow up on pending approvals, and even escalate if things get stuck. This not only speeds up approval times but also ensures compliance and accountability.
- Seamless Customer Relationship Management (CRM) -Trigger personalized communication based on customer interactions, automate follow-ups to nurture leads, and send customer issues to the right teams for swift resolution.
- Automated Invoice and Payment Processing - Generate and send invoices, track payment statuses, and trigger reminders for overdue payments. This ensures a steady cash flow and eliminates the need for manual follow-ups.
- Efficient Employee Onboarding and Offboarding - Simplify onboarding and offboarding to ensure a smooth experience for employees but also enhances security and compliance.
In each of these use cases, workflow automation acts as a powerful tool to optimize operations and empower your teams to focus on high-value tasks.
Leveraging Workflows for SMS Communication
By now we’re all used to notifications. A flash sale at your favorite store, your upcoming doctor’s appointment, or even a personalized discount code. This is the power of SMS – a direct and immediate communication channel that bridges the gap between you and your customers. SMS is no longer just a way to send short messages; it’s a cornerstone of modern customer engagement.
And so, there are many advantages of using SMS for business communication including open rates, personalization, and engagement.
For some reason, when a text arrives it induces a sense of urgency. That’s not surprising, because studies indicate that SMS creates an open rate as high as 98%, with most messages being read within minutes of delivery. This level of attention is a goldmine for businesses aiming to deliver time-sensitive information.
Part of the reason for the quick move to read a text is SMS doesn’t feel like mass marketing, even if it is. SMS allows you to send highly personalized messages - if you choose - catering to individual preferences and behaviors. By targeting the right audience with tailored offers or updates, your business will create stronger connections.
And naturally, people are more willing to connect, because SMS isn’t just a one-way street. It’s a conversational channel that allows customers to reply, ask questions, and provide feedback. This interactive nature nurtures engagement, making customers feel heard and valued.
As an added bonus, SMS is usually cost-effective. Elaborate advertising campaigns can be expensive and time-intensive. SMS, on the other hand, doesn’t cost nearly as much and has a high return on investment (ROI) - no need to break the bank.
How Workflow Automation Enhances SMS Communication
When it comes to reaching customers with immediacy and impact, SMS is reliable. But what if we told you that SMS communication could be made even easier? Here’s where workflow automation and SMS join forces, creating the perfect recipe for customer engagement.
- Automated Out-of-Office Messages - Closed for the day or heading out on vacay? Set up a workflow to automate out-of-office SMS messages. Your clients and customers will receive timely information and know when to expect your response.
- Real-time Order and Appointment Updates - With packed calendars, keeping customers or patients informed about their appointments is crucial.
- Automated Reminders and Follow-ups - Send SMS follow-up messages for abandoned carts, encouraging customers to complete their purchases.
- Trigger-based Customer Support Responses - When a customer reaches out for support, they expect a swift response. Workflow automation can trigger SMS responses acknowledging their queries and providing estimated response times.
- Feedback Collection and Surveys - Send SMS surveys after interactions, allowing customers to share their opinions conveniently, and maybe even gather testimonials in the process.
Leveraging workflow automation and SMS communication helps make sure the right messages reach the right people at the right time, while also providing a platform for meaningful interactions.
Automating Workflows with Clerk
If you’re not already familiar with Clerk, we are a business messaging platform. Setup is simple and can be done directly from our website. And, you have the opportunity to test features, like workflows, with a free trial. All that’s required is your business email address.
Our customers have been super innovative in how they leverage workflows. There are endless possibilities, combinations, options - you name it. Let your imagination run and you, too, might discover a cool way to automate your repetitive or time-consuming tasks.
For instance, let’s pretend you and your colleagues are heading out-of-office for a company retreat. Setting up this workflow is simple. Here’s how:
- Navigate to workflows and select create workflow.
- You’ll notice the trigger, incoming message, is already there. You’ll have to drag the **schedule **item from flow control onto the plus sign on your board.
- Click schedule, and use the sidebar to enter a name for your workflow in item name, select the proper time zone, and the days you’ll be out of office. Adjust the times, too.
- Save your changes. (Can’t forget this step!)
- Now, you’ll drag send message from assigned inbox to the plus sign below true. Click send message in your workflow to customize, including the text of your outgoing message.
- Once saved, again, you’ll notice at the top of your screen that the title is unnamed workflow. Rename it and click the checkmark.
- At this point, you’ll be prompted to choose an assigned inbox.
When in doubt, save, save, save. You can always go back to revise, edit, or delete.
Best Practices for Implementing Workflow Automation for SMS Communication
Implementing workflow automation for SMS communication isn’t just about adopting the latest technology (although it is pretty cool) - it’s about being strategic.
So, here are a few tips to get you going.
Select the right workflow automation tool. Or one that’s already within a system you’re currently using. Make sure it provides the functionalities you need. A user-friendly interface, customization, and compatibility with SMS platforms are key factors to consider. Take your time to research and demo.
Before diving into automation, answer the following: what are you hoping to achieve with SMS communication? Improving customer support response times? Increasing engagement? Just make sure your automation efforts are purposeful and aligned with your business strategy. Maybe even draw or map out flow charts as a visual.
Your chosen SMS platform should integrate smoothly with your existing systems, such as a CRM. Clerk Chat, for instance, makes it simple to import your HubSpot contacts, and if you already use Microsoft Teams or Slack, we integrate with those platforms, too. These integrations enable data to flow seamlessly and just makes the bigger picture so much more attainable.
Empower Your Business Growth and Efficiency
If you’ve been hesitant to try automation, we strongly recommend you take the time to learn and experiment - you can always start small. It’s the kind of thing that once you give it a go, you’ll start calculating the amount of time you’ve saved by implementing even the simplest of workflows.
Maybe you’re already saying, “My days feel rushed” or “There are never enough hours in the day.” You can gain back some of that time when you reduce manual repetition, and instead focus on growing your business.
Whether time is of the essence or you’re looking to simplify your communication strategy, Clerk Chat is here to answer your questions. Schedule a demo and experience workflows in action.
Curious to learn more about Clerk’s features? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for step-by-step tutorials and expert tips!