5 Ways to Create Automation in Your Small Business

June 23, 2023

Welcome to Practical Magic! A productivity and intentional living newsletter with quick, actionable tips that automate, delegate, or speed up your work.

Read time: 4.5 minutes

Automation is one of the great gifts of technology. So why don’t people use it?

“It’s just easier to do myself.”

“It’s too complex to maintain.”

“It feels impersonal.”

Tools literally can save you money on hiring because they automatically complete tasks without you.

Grandmas everywhere can’t even believe their eyes! Cue the “back in my day…” story.

Jokes aside – automation is magical ✨ But there is such a thing as over-automating.

You know the experiences I’m talking about:

Dry auto-reminders.

Incorrectly triggered notifications.

Smart fields pulling in your name as “Hello Alexandra Canedo.” (Only my grandma calls me that…)

I don’t believe in automating every single thing in your business, but I also believe that automation can be part of the secret sauce behind your brand when used correctly.

Here are 5 Ways to Create Automation:

1. Create delightful experiences.

Instead of using automation to power routine processes, use it to create unique and memorable experiences.

For example, instead of sending a customer thank you or welcome email after every purchase, automate a task to create a custom welcome video. In this video, use their name and why you’re excited to work with them.

Yes, this might create an “extra step” in your process, but it will also make you stand out. It’s said that customers decide if they made the right choice within minutes of buying. Make those minutes special.

One more example from a book I love: The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. Gerber describes a magical hotel experience he had. He had to seek out the General Manager to understand how they made it all happen. The manager goes on to talk about all the automated systems they created to add little touches to a guest’s experience throughout their whole stay.

He says, “It’s not the big things they [guests] talk about; it’s always the little things.”

So, how can you use systems to create more magic in your customer journey?

(That part of the book is free to read here.)

2. Create mini nurture sequences.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from leading customer operations at startups and working with my own clients, assume you’re under-communicating vs over-communicating.

For example, if there’s a delay from when your client purchases your services to when they get to actually start working with you, create an automated nurture sequence to keep them excited.

Some other examples of what to include in nurture sequences:

  • Provide unexpected freebies or resources.
  • Spread out assignments you might need from them so they’re not overwhelmed.
  • Recurring customer check-ins (to understand how they’re enjoying their services) well before they’re up for renewal.
  • Showcase additional credibility and get them excited about the results they’re going to achieve.

Create nurture sequences for every phase of your customer journey to show your customers that you’re always thinking about their success.

3. Put personality into it.

Automation does not have to be boring! Add your brand’s personality. Whether that’s through the tone of your copy, your love of emojis, or amazing visuals – make your automations something people enjoy receiving.

And I mean this for both externally and internally automations.

At one of my startup, we had automations that would send a Slack notification to a specific channel for every sale. Within this automation, there were details about the sale (total revenue, length of contract, customer details, name of the sale rep who closed the deal) and a celebration-themed Giphy to accompany it.

Sounds simple – maybe even silly – but as these Slack messages filtered in, team members would get hyped! They’d comment on each post – pumping each other up for each sale.

Controversial opinion: Business should be fun.

4. Be honest when it’s automation!

You don’t have to do this for every automation, but the key is to be thoughtful about when you disclose an automated communication.

For example, you can include “This is a friendly automated reminder 🤖”

We might assume it’s obvious when things are automated, but you might be surprised. Especially when you add more personality to your automations, people might assume someone had to have hand-crafted that.

This is especially true for sensitive items, like payment reminders. Nothing is worse than having a live conversation with a customer (maybe creating an exception or new terms with them) and then they receive a reminder that is no longer relevant to them.

5. Use tools that allow customized data.

There are many ways tools claim they offer customized data, but a great feature is custom fields.

Custom fields are the backbone of superior automation that prioritizes the customer experience.

Custom fields allows you to collect unique information about your customer. This is typically collected through:

  • Forms/surveys filled out by the customer.
  • Used as as repository for internal teams to store information they learn.

The creative uses for custom data about your customers can be endless. Maybe you collect their favorite brand of candy and send it to them for every holiday. Or you learn their favorite type of music and their onboarding process includes a customized playlist.

It depends on what you’re selling, but

Lastly, be easy to reach still.

Have clear communication channels where customers can receive help. Think through little details, like where does a response go if someone replies to my automated comm?

We all hate those phone trees where we’ve had to select a number about 5 different times, only to receive an automated response that is not solving our problem. Don’t be that 😉 

Always in your corner,


Systems Strategist & Fractional COO

More Practical & Magical Finds ✨

Three things I’m reading, watching, or learning this week.

  • Nothing this week! I’m out-of-office, hiking in the Sedona mountains so I’m not reading or watching anything – in the best way!

If you implement any of these tips or learn something interesting, I’d love to hear from you! Just reply to this email or connect with me on social.

👋 Find me on LinkedIn or Instagram 👋

Want to free up 10+ hours of your week? Here are a few ways I can help:

  • Book a 1:1 strategy call with Alex and get the answers you need to get unstuck and move forward with confidence in your systems.
  • Book an Operations Strategy Day. Part consulting, part implementation. I make magic happen in your operations with a full day’s sprint! Walk away with more hours in your week.
  • Monthly Strategy & Support: Let’s make the magic happen – monthly! As your virtual COO, I’ll manage your key initiatives and back-end operations (i.e. launches, systems & processes, business ops). (Currently at capacity. Join the waitlist here.)

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