Punching the Clock, Automating the Rest

„Repetitio est mater studiorum“ is something that a lot of us have heard at least once during their formal education period. Indeed, learning something through iteration produces a heavy impact on a person’s work habits but can also crush creation. Repetitive tasks in modern business environments are the backbone of some industries requiring a lot of people and even more time investment.

From the business perspective, these seemingly unavoidable tasks are seen as a cruel necessity providing more costs and liabilities in the long term. Running and maintaining a business while keeping the repetitive and often unreliable tasks seems hard and automation is something that can not only mitigate but also completely avoid inefficiency and unreliability. These are the jobs that can (and probably will be) completely automated and transformed by your competitors, or even you.

1. Opening the door for the new reality

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Just to imagine that several years ago you could walk into a grocery store or a restaurant and have a worker open the door for you, greet you when entering, check your reservation and book your table is mind-blowing. In the modern age, this employee (or these employees) is replaced by sensor-opening doors, online reservations, and maps of restaurant floors. Ordering is something that can also be done with a smartphone and self-checkout is becoming more and more common not only in grocery and restaurants or bars but in complete retail markets.

Alongside the growing popularity of automation of manual and repetitive tasks that require coordination and manpower, the whole Covid crisis has exponentially increased the need for digitizing parts of, or even entire businesses. Several huge grocery chains, restaurant franchises and retail marketing stores have gone under just by being unprepared for automation and digitization. Of course, some of them accepted the fact that they must adapt and modernize their business models facing the cruel change of pace in the business world, which brought them prosperity and saved their business.

So next time you are at McDonalds, try to imagine the cost of hiring employees to open the doors for you, take your order, bill you correctly, and clean the floors after the shift. Then just open your eyes, walk in order your food on the automated self-ordering machine, pick it up and do not wait in line. Don’t worry about the dropped French fries,  will take care of it. Don’t worry about the dropped French fries, Roomba will take care of it.

2. Best Regards by “The automated form”

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It is so difficult to start writing an email in which you must inform your employees that they’re going to have to do some overtime because of some mismanaged information that clogged the system somewhere in the communication chain. Also, writing memos, calendar appointments, order confirmations, and of course, notifying the HR department about the sick leave during the football season is a time-consuming and stress-inducing part of our daily lives at work.

The rise of ChatGPT alongside its many plugins that can automate these things for you, your HR department or basically any employee, is helpful but not perfect. Using open AI models can also lead to information leaks and mismanagement of data so internal digitization and automation of business communications tasks is a must, especially if your company is dealing with sensitive data.

Automating such internal requests is one of the pillars of creating a more efficient business environment. Just imagine a world in which you can make a vacation days request in few clicks which automatically creates a filled form and sends it to HR or other departments! You do not have to face the judging looks of your colleagues and superiors and save both yours and HR’s time in processing just one request. Now multiply that by hundreds or even thousands in a larger business environment.

3. I do not have feelings but how can I be of service?

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Customer satisfaction is the backbone of many business ventures that rely on repeated orders and maintaining the relationship with their large clients. Even Dunder Mifflin managed to survive the failing economy in the fictional business environment only because of their reliant and effective customer service. When a customer reaches out for help, your employees are sweating trying to figure out not just the root cause of the problem but also the department that they should contact in order to solve it.

Information can get lost in the problem-solution chain and the lack of transparency can hurt any business and losing clients while getting bad reviews online will demolish the entire operation. Chat bots are usually the quick cure for such problems, but they cannot automatically fill out the complaint or report and send it to someone who can solve it. Increasing the effectiveness of customer service from the moment when call, email or IM is received, all the way to solution report, is a time-consuming process with many potential mistakes which can lead to even more frustration by the client, and your employees.

Just imagine that your company can receive complaints and reports which are automatically read, sorted, filed and sent to relevant teams who after acting upon such reports can in one click send feedback not only to the customer but also to your own screen having complete transparency. You do not need employees who need to focus on repeating the same answers to your customers, you just need a system that can handle the entire process.

Repetitio est indeed the mater of studiorum, but do not slow down your business just to stick to the tradition because if we’ve learned anything in the last couple of years is that change is inevitable. Let your employees focus on what is relevant, not what is repetitive. Take a metaphorical leap and open the doors to the future of your business and do not force your employees to literally open the doors to your clients when an automated system can do that for you.