Why automation makes you more human

Emily Hackeling

Emily Hackeling,

Content Marketing at Front

18 November 20200 min read

Having a little more time in your day allows you to pause and have more thoughtful interactions. For your inspiration, here are 24 potential automations you can create to make your communications more efficient.

When I signed up for a storage unit through Public Storage, I did the entire process through my iPhone. I chose my unit, signed the lease, paid, and even got insurance on all my stuff.

On move-in day, I got a text with directions, my access code, and their hours of operation. It was incredible.

For that entire process, I never uttered a single word to a human being. Now, I know you’re thinking, “you’re contradicting the title of your blog post…” but stay with me here.

When I arrived, I got confused about which building I needed to go to onsite. A friendly guy at the main office took time to say hello, chat, and direct me to the right building.

Two days later, I realized that my renter’s insurance covered stored goods, so I didn’t actually need to pay extra for it. I popped into live chat on their website, and bada bing, bada boom, Tom and I arrived at a solution in less than a minute.

Would either the front desk guy or Tom have been able to give me immediate, personal service if they had also been responsible for handling the purchasing experience, updating me on my move-in day, and texting me directions?

Maybe—if they don’t sleep. But probably not.

That’s why automation makes you more human. By erasing moments where time is drained, you can have a human face there for customers when it really counts.

Why bother automating work?

To save time. At Front we work with many businesses who rely on complex automation specifically relating to their communications: emails, live chat, SMS texts, etc. On average, Front users benefit from automation 347 times a week, giving them back 1.5 hours of their time.

But the real kicker is not that time gained back but what you can do with it. Having a little more time in your day allows you to pause and have more thoughtful interactions. You can spend it on having a delightful conversation with a customer you might have normally rushed through. You can take an extra 30 seconds to write out a personalized email. Or you can invest time into building more automation that will save you even more time and get stuck in an endless loop…

But what should you automate?

To save time, you first have to know where you spend it. This differs for everyone, but for the most part, the automation our customers use fall into the following buckets.

  • Replying to messages

  • Assigning messages

  • Moving messages

  • Notifying others about messages

  • Archiving messages

  • Creating alerts for messages under service level agreements

These are great places to start when you’re trying to pinpoint what communication processes in your business should be automated. Below we’ll give you some ideas (24 to be exact) for each category. They’re based on the most common automation our customers build in Front using Rules—and each one of these can be found in our new Rules Library that allows team leaders to select and build workflows in a few simple clicks.

Replying to messages

Sometimes, you send the same responses over and over—so why not save an email template? Auto-replies are available in almost every email client, so these are easy to set up and automate.

  1. Reply outside of business hours: Send an auto-reply outside of business hours.

  2. Reply when un-replied: Send an auto-reply acknowledging any delay in response, like, “We know it’s been a few hours, and we’re sorry we haven’t gotten back to you! We’re working on a solution.”

  3. Reply when tag applied: “Tags” in Front are like labels or folders in other email clients. You can send an auto-reply when a tag is applied, such as, “We’re working on your request right now!” when you apply the tag VIP customer.

Assigning messages to another person

You can save tons of time by getting a message tot the right person, without having to pass it around asking, "Can you handle this?"

  1. Assign based on sender: Assign conversations sent from a person, address, or number.

  2. Assign based on keyword: Assign conversation based on message subject or body.

  3. Assign based on tag: Assign conversation after applying a particular tag.

  4. Assign with round-robin: Assign conversations while alternating who gets assigned among a group.

  5. Assign with load balancing: Assign conversations to a specific person while keeping workloads balanced amongst a group of people. So, you’d set a limit on how many messages should be assigned to any person at a given time. If they’re at their limit, it skips them.

Moving messages

Many times, you’ll get an email to one email address that really belongs somewhere else. For instance, a customer writes into [email protected] with a marketing request. This would mean forwarding an email manually. These automations let you move those messages to a different inbox for a different team to handle instantly.

  1. Move based on sender: Move conversations sent from a person, address, or number.

  2. Move based on recipient: Move conversations sent to a person, address, or number.

  3. Move based on assignee: Move conversations when assigned to a particular teammate.

  4. Move based on keyword: Move conversations based on message subject or body.

  5. Move based on tag: Move conversations after applying a particular tag.

Notifying others about messages

Sometimes, you just need an FYI! Instead of forwarding messages to people over and over, you can automate that. Often times our customers will want to be notified when a VIP customer writes in. Or maybe you’re a manager and you want to know anytime a message has the word “unsatisfied” in the body. Whatever it is, you can get notice automatically.

  1. Notify based on sender: Alert teammates to messages sent from a person or address.

  2. Notify based on keyword: Alert teammates based on the message subject or body.

  3. Notify when comment made: Alert teammate based on a comment.

  4. Notify when tag applied: Notify teammate after applying a particular tag.

  5. Notify when un-replied: Notify assignee about un-replied conversations.

  6. Notify when waiting: Notify teammate when waiting for a customer response. It’s like a nice nudge to follow up!

Archiving messages

Note: we’re big on archiving instead of deleting emails here at Front. You can technically replace all of these with “delete”, but we’d encourage otherwise because that’s quite permanent and not searchable later on if you do want to reference an email.

  1. Archive based on sender:Archive conversations sent from a person, address, or SMS number.

  2. Archive based on recipient: Archive conversations sent to a person, address, or SMS number.

  3. Archive based on keyword: Archive conversations based on the message subject or body, like “if it contains the word ‘newsletter’, archive” so you can focus on pressing emails.

  4. Archive based on tag: Archive conversations that have been tagged with a particular tag. If something gets tagged ‘newsletter’ then archive, and you can search the tag later to read your email newsletters!

Creating alerts for messages under service level agreements

This ties in nicely with the “notify” automations above, but takes it to the next level specifically for SLA agreements with customers.

Service level agreement: notification Tag un-replied messages after a specific time elapsed, so that your team can see what’s most pressing in their inbox and knows to follow up ASAP.

Automation breathes life into your work

When you have a moment to step back, you can be more thoughtful—and the ability to do that is what unites us humans after all. Hopefully these ideas left you with a few ways you can automate your communication processes and save time.

If you’re using Front, you can reference all of these in the Rules Library, located directly in your settings. You can dive right in to get inspiration and easily set these up for your team.

Written by Emily Hackeling

Originally Published: 18 November 2020

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