Automation Business

The online world is buzzing with the dream of complete automation, to the point of harming itself.

It seems that business owners want to eliminate all human contact or any manual processing, and in some instances it works, but in others it really doesn’t. By chasing the reduced costs of not needing staff to work through the post lead sale funnel, many businesses will drastically reduce their conversion rate, and ultimately shoot themselves in the foot.

Here are examples of a couple of things you can do to eliminate that leak and decide whether automation is right, and if not, how to make the most of it.

Show Your Customers Empathy

For any business, the most important thing to understand first is the needs of their customer, what questions they have, what concerns they have and ultimately really understand what they are looking for.

The thing to keep in mind is to look at the process holistically, its not right to only analyze the core service/product that you offer – the entire process before, during and after must be viewed as a single process flow with multiple components.

Short of buying digital products or perhaps really simple items like clothes for online delivery, most customers still prefer to reinforce their assumptions before making the commitment.

They will always have a question or an assumption that they want to validate.

Case Study #1

For example, for one of our projects which is a floating restaurant in Dubai we have tried a number of booking/reservation models and have established that the most effective way is a simple booking form.

Shopping carts with an ecommerce payment check out had a conversion rate of just 0.5%. Once we replaced that with a simple booking enquiry form, it shot upto 3.7%.

Given that the web property receives about 3000 unique visits/month the amount of booking requests shot up from a measly 15 to 111 customers. Even with a no show rate of 10% that is still an increase of 85 customers. Given that the cost of a cruise dinner is 150 AED (41$) that is an increase in monthly revenue of about 3500$.

Given that a salary of a booking agent is just 1500-2000$, this was totally worth it, especially since this agent could work on 10 other properties at the same time.

We could not understand this without first trying both options and speaking to our customers.

Case Study #2

For the same client, we operate another website, a fishing charter sales web property. We have seen similar results, with a drastic increase in the conversion rate.

Moreover, for both projects we have made the phone numbers very prominent and noticed that the conversion rate on phone calls was almost 5 TIMES that of the webpage booking form method.

Our agents were able to upsell and convince the customer to go for a more expensive package than they originally intended in about 30% of the cases.

This made an enormous difference to the revenue and sales of the business.

Partial Automation

Even with a booking form, it is possible to have a lot of elements semi-automated.

The first is the CRM aspect. All booking forms automatically populate a database of customers which in terms feeds a secondary funnel of email marketing campaigns that try and get more sales from the customers.

The 2nd part was simply sending the customer a payment invoice email. Once the customer has accepted the booking and everything was clear, after he has spoken to a polite and helpful sales agent he was much more comfortable in paying with his credit card.

To conclude, not all processes can be automated, and more over not all processes should be automated. Even in cases where automation works, it is not always profitable.

Sometimes its better to have a human available to answer a phone call, an email or a booking request.

Author: Timur manages – a small but light team of digital marketers that work on a large variety of projects in all aspects of business.