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You love this and you hate it...

You love this and you hate it...

April 10, 2016

It's simultaneously one of the greatest comforts and biggest frustrations of this generation. Automation.


Nothing is more wonderful than ordering a book on Amazon with one-click checkout and having it by your door step within 2 days. Who doesn't love EZ-Pass? Can you imagine going back to a world without online pre-flight check ins? (Forget about printing your own boarding pass...)


But at the same time, automation can drive us crazy. Nothing is more frustrating than spending 20 minutes on the phone with a robot until you can finally speak to a human.  Anyone who's ever gotten a speeding ticket caught on a camera wishes there were more cops around. I'm sure many of us have gotten an email or two titled, "Dear ~firstname~..." from some spamy company.


You may love it, you may hate it. But here's the reality for you and your business: automation is the way of the future.


Check out this sobering statistic:


According to a new study from Oxford University…


47% of jobs in the United States are expected to be replaced by computerization.


Did you catch that? That's means that eventually half of all current jobs will soon be done by robots!


And here's the crazier part: this isn't just talking about blue collar jobs which have become more and more automated for years. We're talking about white collar jobs which were once considered impossible to computerize.  Professionals such as sports reporters, online marketers, law associates, and even anesthesiologists have already begun to be replaced by machines*.


Don’t think this is only for others. It’s relevant to you and your company right now.


What worked 10 years ago just won't cut it today. Companies large and small are feeling the need to make the shift to automation. They see its potential and want to jump on the bandwagon. They start investing in sophisticated software, cool gadgets, and fancy widgets. But here's what happens. It becomes an absolute pain. It's a headache for them, their team, and worst of all, their clients. They secretly wish they could go back to having everything on an Excel spreadsheet. They wonder why things had to get so complicated. Here's why: they completely missed the point.


How do you determine whether automation for yourself, your team and your customers will be the modern day improvement that we all love and rely on or just another hassle to deal with?


Here's the one-liner answer: automation isn't a goal in and of itself, it has to serve a higher purpose.


People get caught up in the buzz and possibilities that automation can offer. But often they miss the point and their automation turns out to be a hassle for them and their customers. They get stuck working with programmers, technicians, and waste whole lot of money.


Here are the 2 questions to ask yourself to determine if automation will serve a higher purpose:


1. Will using automation free up our time so we can focus on our Greatest HABUT?


You have to work backward here. First, figure out what your HABUT (Highest And Best Use of Time) is. Once you know what you should be focusing your energies on, then you can determine which task you're doing that can be automated to allow you to focus on what matters most.


Either do it, delegate it or digitize it.  


A Brand Launcher member recently began building an automated system where his personal emails are directed to various employees based on trigger words within the email. This process is a huge time saver for him.


Sounds pretty cool, right?


This only happened because he was willing to slow down to speed up. Together we tracked his time using our Time SCORE Card©. We uncovered major hidden time sucks that he was totally unaware of.


Then, he zoomed in on valuable activities that he could to do instead of wasting his time simply due to lack of automation. He is now spends his time focusing on the important, higher value or personal emails without getting bogged down in the myriad of logistical emails that come his way. That's the beauty of it. It's not just about technology, it's about building a system that serves you.


2. Will using automation improve my customers' experience?

Warning: an automated system may be easier for you, but will it help your customers too? Get out of your head and walk through your business as a customer.


Ask yourself:

Does it provide real value and ease for the customer? Does it work as well or better than a human? Is it personalized? What's in it for them?


The airline industry has spent millions making automation customer friendly. From online check-ins to airline apps, they've gone the extra mile to use automation to serve their customers. They use automation so much that many airlines even offer discounts for using an automated service instead of speaking to an employee!


But here's an important point to keep in mind when offering an automated service for your customers. Build in a human back-up.


Remember when self-service gas pumps were unheard of? People were uncomfortable (to put it mildly) at the thought of getting out of their car to pump their own gas. But the industry made the shift. Now you're hard put to find a full-service gas station around. Why? Because they always had an attendant on hand in case someone needed help.


The same is true for self-service checkout lines. They work beautifully because if a customer gets stuck a cashier comes by to take over. This is the called the hybrid system. It’s a healthy balance between automation with human oversight.


Think about your automation from your customer's perspective and build a system that will best suit their needs.


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman


*Resource 1