Automation is a balancing act of making it easier for the customer to gain access to services while ensuring that enough employees are available to lend a hand. Companies have a tendency to resist the move to automation because of past problems that resulted in a loss of customers and damage to the business’s reputation.

Automation has moved past its infancy and has matured enough that it’s easy to implement, it’s simple for customers to understand, and it connects easily to a human being when necessary. The following are three tools that companies will embrace in 2017 to help them streamline operations.

Customer Service

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Image via Flickr by Random Retail

A traditional customer service process involves the customer talking to a representative or agent about his or her issue. It may be that the customer is wanting to buy something or has an issue with his or her purchase. The representative spends valuable time learning what the customer wants, then figuring out how to provide a solution. Automating the process saves time, gets a customer’s need resolved quickly, and lets the representative move on to the next customer quickly.

Automation involves the customer going online to choose the type of service he or she needs. This allows an agent to read the issue at hand, choose an appropriate solution, and then connect with the customer to offer options. The process is never fully automated, allowing the customer to feel that his or her need was responded to and satisfied quickly and smoothly.

Monitoring Access to the Cloud

The IT department is tasked with making sure that only authorized people have access to the cloud. It also has to ensure that those people gain access only to the files they are approved to access. It’s a lot of work, and it reduces the time available to be used on other issues.

The use of a cloud access security broker, or CASB, is another form of automation that makes it easier for IT to control cloud access. A CASB shows who’s accessing the cloud and what files are involved — all in a single snapshot. No longer do you need to track down where a user’s IP address originated from. Everything IT personnel look for shows up in the visual interface of the CASB, allowing them to catch unauthorized users and identify hacking attempts.

Automated Marketing

Automating marketing efforts involve sending out emails automatically, making regular posts to social media, and measuring data from customers interested in the product. Some software also scores leads so that sales representatives don’t have to work with uninterested customers. They can spend less time manually sending out emails and cold-calling bad leads and more time creating a relationship with interested prospects. This translates into more sales and less money spent on manpower.

Automation tools are a surefire way for companies to save money in the upcoming year. They save time, create efficiency, and let people do work that’s more important to the company and its customers.