Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should: Beware Of These 4 Automation Mistakes

By Lisa Catto

Like Jurassic Park, businesses can fall into the trap of making some easily avoidable mistakes that could cause a disaster.

At The Business Catalyst, we make no secret of the fact that we’re big fans of automation (and Jeff Goldblum). But just because you can, does it mean you should?

There is always more than one way to skin the digital cat

Sometimes, businesses run the risk of over-complicating – and over-engineering – their processes. To quote the legend himself (Jeff Goldblum): “You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, that you didn’t stop to think if you should.”

When we’re creating automations for our business, we need to be mindful of keeping things simple. Just because an automation could be fifty steps, doesn’t mean it needs to be. What can we cut down or simplify in our processes?

The main point of automation is exactly that: to simplify. Overcomplicating the automations we use or implementing automations in inappropriate places can be detrimental rather than beneficial to our business.

Let’s explore some of the things we should avoid to get the most out of automation, rather than have it turn into a monster we can’t control.

Be careful not to over-communicate!

When we over-complicate our internal processes, clients notice. We might be over-communicating every little step and, as a result, the journey we’re taking them on might feel boring, robotic, and poorly designed.

We don’t want that. We want a dynamic, easy-to-follow, and exciting journey, right?

Spamming our email lists with too many product recommendations, or sending hourly reminders of appointments is a sure way to scare potential customers off, rather than bring them closer!

Don’t forget to check out our previous blog post all about how to create a compelling customer journey.

Getting the balance right is so important when it comes to communicating with our clients, but a key part of unlocking what’s uniquely right for our business is to ask the client!

Giving people a choice when it comes to their preferred communication style and consistency is hugely important. Some people might enjoy being kept up to date with all the latest news, whilst others might be more selective about the communications they receive.

The good news is that we can make this selection process easy and effortless with the right automations.

Have a fail-safe in place

At The Business Catalyst, we’re firm believers in the power of automation. However, if things go wrong, there needs to be a fail-safe in place. If an automated process that we are solely reliant on encounters an issue, we need to be able to protect our business from harm.

This means we need to consider:

  • Managing and testing the automation
  • Knowing how to fix it if it goes down
  • Having a backup plan for times when the automation is out of order

For example, if a  contact books an appointment using an automated calendar, what would happen if the automation failed to populate our diary and the slot was double-booked? It’s all well and good to bring in the specialists to set the automations for us, but it’s crucial that we understand how they work, notice when they don’t, and know what to do if things go wrong. 

Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole

Sometimes we have to accept that automation simply isn’t possible.

If we’re trying to automate a process within our business, and it’s proving too difficult to manipulate all the moving parts or connect the different systems/platforms to speak to one another, it’s better to accept that automation isn’t going to add benefit in that area. We want to avoid spending more time on creating it than it will save us in the long run.

For example, when it comes to customer service, automation isn’t always the best bet. We’ve all been stuck in that terrible loop of doom when we’re trying to speak to an advisor – a human one! – and it proves frustratingly difficult to get past the chatbot which creates friction in the customer’s experience.

HMRC, I’m looking at you…

Typically, when we’re having a bad experience, we want to speak to another human about it, not an AI feature. We want to be listened to, not just heard. Automating areas where human connection would be beneficial removes this personal element and can create more friction, frustration, and negative feelings amongst our customers or prospects when they are stuck in an endless automation loop.

Automation is not a replacement for the human element of your business

The whole point of automation is that it clears the space for creating meaningful relationships with our clients and prospects by taking care of the things on our to-do list that are getting in the way, such as FAQs and the quick or low-profit tasks.

In our personal lives, we probably wouldn’t send three SMS messages, four emails, and post seven times on LinkedIn about the same thing to get someone’s attention. When it comes to interacting with our customers, we should be using the same emotional intelligence.

Handing communications over to an automation can result in losing the ability to apply this emotional intelligence, and doesn’t allow room for considering the resources the receiver will need to use in order to read and respond to relentless communications.

Overcooking automation in this way can be easy to do, but doesn’t consider the most important person in any business: the customer.

To get the best out of automation, we need to be using it in the right way at the right time for the right reason – it isn’t appropriate to automate everything. Finding the balance can be difficult, but that’s where automation experts come in.

Don’t run before you can walk

A business is an intricate thing made up of many moving parts, and so is the automation that allows it to run efficiently. Building successful automations requires a systematic and diligent approach.

We can think of it like building a Lego® tower: it’s important that we make sure the foundation pieces are properly connected and secure before we start building on top of them.

Taking the time to build automations into our businesses properly is crucial. In order for our businesses to benefit from all the brilliant advantages automation has to offer, it’s vital that we make sure we finish what we start and don’t create additional friction as a result of our automations. As the saying goes: act in haste, repent at leisure! 

If you’re interested in learning more about how automation can benefit your business when handled properly, let’s hop on a discovery call where we will be able to identify the areas of your business that would benefit from automation, and the areas that are best left to the expert: you!