Every business faces risks. Those business risks could be strategic and tied to a particular industry, compliance related, financially motivated, operational or influenced by your reputation.
The better you become at finding ways to reduce business risks, the easier it will be for you to focus on the things that matter—things like bringing in new revenue, improving your products or services or launching something new that gets people excited about your brand.
New technologies that can help reduce the business impact of risks enter the market every day. One of those technologies—business automation tools—is one area to explore.
Business automation is the process of automating elements of your business process, that is, having a computer or machine do some of the work. These tools come in a variety of price ranges, are designed to support businesses of all sizes and provide various ways for you to reduce business risks. Here are just a few.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce and Zoho get a lot of attention for their ability to improve the marketing and sales process. But did you know they can also be effective in helping to reduce compliance-related business risks?
CRMs are designed to help businesses process and manage customer data more accurately. When implemented correctly, they can help reduce business risks that pop up throughout your customer's journey.
One of my first CRM implementations was due to a compliance issue. The company wanted to push customer data to the teams that needed it quickly while controlling who could access that data.
I've also seen CRMs help companies go paperless. They can provide businesses with a central location to securely store user data and management documents and reduce redundancies.
These tools allow users to enter their data directly (instead of having multiple members of your team do it), which can reduce data entry errors. Then, alerts are triggered based on rules to kick off workflows that lead to different members of your team. Plus, they can hide sensitive data based on user roles to help ensure only the people who need to see that data do.
Accounting and Bookkeeping Tools
Tools like FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Xero and Bill.com offer automated financial solutions that can help you reduce business risks that pop up during the financial life cycle. They can help automate invoices, use workflows that trigger approvals and automate payment methods.
These tools were designed specifically to make it easier for businesses to manage financial risks. Each tool offers a different user experience, so explore them to see which one is right for you.
In addition to these systems, new ones enter the market every day that use new and improved technologies to help make your business even better. For example, Botkeeper uses AI and machine learning to automate the bookkeeping process—reducing business risks by taking out redundancies, streamlining data entry and improving communication.
Sales and Contract Automation Systems
Quotes, proposals and contracts can be a sore spot for many businesses. Delays on the front end of your process can mean bigger risks on the back end.
For example, have you ever had a contract delayed during the sales cycle only to have your project team be asked to make up time after the statement of work is signed? Delays in the contract process can increase your chances of risk in many ways, including financially when they result in lost opportunities or extended times before payment.
Contract automation tools such as Concord and PandaDoc help reduce these business risks by helping businesses create sales and legal templates that can be shared with everyone on the front end of the sales cycle to help move things along. These tools also provide automation capabilities, and sophisticated ones can offer tips during the negotiation process—all elements that can be incredibly helpful when you're looking for ways to reduce business risks.
Marketing and Chatbots
Next there are marketing automation tools. Various marketing automation systems on the market today can be effective tools for reducing business risks.
Two of the most popular are Hubspot and Infusionsoft. Both tools offer all-in-one solutions that allow you to create plans and design and push content out to numerous platforms. You can then interact with your customers, which ultimately helps make it easier for you to manage your brand.
And last, but not least, are chatbots, which offer a new way to make your customers (and potential customers) feel supported 24 hours a day, seven days a week—even when you're not available.
These automated tools can be used to reduce response times, improve communication with your support and help you build off of the work done by your sales and marketing teams. With automated workflow capabilities they are able to feed your team data that helps them address issues or opportunities before they escalate and become a problem.
There is no getting away from business risks, but there are many automation tools available that can help you manage them better. Start with the risk in mind, and explore the available options to find a solution that works for you.
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