CRM automation guide: how automations can help your business

Here's all you need to know about CRM automations through examples, benefits, and real-life case studies.

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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems manage customer data, support marketing and sales teams to improve customer experience, deliver actionable insights, and help with customer support. 

B2B and B2C companies use CRMs to streamline business processes and make complex tasks easier – just imagine how much more productive your system could be if you included CRM automations.

Automations take out the daily drudgery and can help you free up time for crucial growth-boosting tasks like data analysis and business development.

This comprehensive guide dives into the depths of CRM automations, their impact on customer service, and their impact on overall business efficiency.

Understanding CRM automations

CRM automations are predefined actions or workflows that you can add into your CRM system that execute tasks without manual intervention. They help eliminate repetitive manual tasks, reduce the potential for errors, and expedite your processes. 

Here are practical examples illustrating how CRM automations eliminate manual efforts:

  • Automated data entry: instead of manually inputting customer information into the CRM, automation can extract and populate data from various sources, such as web forms or emails, directly into the system. This eradicates the need for manual data entry, reducing errors and saving time.
  • Task assignment and routing: automations can assign incoming tasks or leads to the appropriate team members based on predefined criteria or round-robin distribution. This eliminates the manual effort of manually allocating tasks, ensuring swift and fair distribution among team members.
  • Follow-up communications: automations can trigger follow-up emails or messages based on customer interactions or predefined time intervals. This replaces the need for manual follow-ups, ensuring timely communication without constant manual monitoring.
  • Workflow streamlining: automations can orchestrate entire workflows, guiding users through sequential steps and triggering actions based on specific events or conditions. This eliminates the need for manual oversight and intervention at each stage of a process.
  • Report generation: instead of manually compiling data for reports, CRM automations can generate comprehensive reports automatically, pulling data from various sources and presenting it in a ready-to-use format.

As your business expands, the volume of data and customer information within your CRM naturally increases, so you’ll need to find more ways to manage it efficiently – automations are the way to do this. 

Here are a few ways you can use automations to save time:

Personalised communication tools

With only a few minutes of setup, you can use machine learning algorithms to analyse customer preferences and behaviours that can then craft highly customised recommendations and responses. This ensures tailored interactions and significantly reduces the time required to deliver precisely what each customer needs. 

Ticket management

These CRM automations can sort, assign, and prioritise tickets, slashing the time spent on administrative tasks. 

With this efficiency, your team can swiftly address customer issues, ensuring prompt resolutions while keeping everyone satisfied and content.

Automated alerts

Alerts such as setting up real-time monitoring for website performance, can provide you with timely insights. For example, if your website experiences a sudden spike in traffic or a potential technical glitch, automated alerts notify you immediately. 

This proactive approach allows you to address these issues before they escalate, ensuring higher customer satisfaction by maintaining a seamless online experience.

Team tools

There are many teamwork automations that make team collaboration easier. Tasks can be automatically assigned to team members based on criteria, and document sharing and updates can happen without manual effort – and workflow automations guide the team through processes, making collaboration smoother and coordinated. 

These automations improve team cohesion within the CRM system, and benefit various teams, including sales, marketing, and customer support. 

For instance, sales teams can efficiently manage leads and follow-ups through automated task assignments, while marketing teams can seamlessly collaborate on campaign materials and strategies using automated document sharing. 

Customer support teams benefit from streamlined workflows that guide them through issue resolution processes, ensuring coordinated efforts in handling customer inquiries.

Smart workflows

Smart workflows within CRM systems are intelligent sequences of automated actions that streamline processes and significantly save time for businesses. 

For instance, let’s say you’d like to work on lead qualification. Instead of you manually sifting through leads and scoring them individually, a smart workflow automation could intelligently assign scores for you based on predefined criteria like engagement level, demographics, and past interactions. 

It could also then automatically route highly qualified leads to the sales team for immediate follow-up. 

By eliminating the time-consuming manual lead qualification process, a smart workflow optimises the sales team's efforts. This allows them to focus solely on engaging with the most promising leads, saving substantial time while enhancing productivity.

Data-driven insights

Data automations can serve as powerful time-saving assets for businesses. Pulling data from your system can help you to identify the most common issues customers face and the peak times for inquiries, which could then help you to strategically schedule a stronger force of customer support staff at specific times (if needed).

Flexibility and customisation in CRM automations

One of the standout features of CRM automations is their adaptability and customisation options. These systems aren't one-size-fits-all; rather, they're versatile tools that can be moulded and adjusted to align with your needs.

As businesses evolve, CRM automations provide scalability, enabling you to adjust and expand on your automation processes as needed. This is particularly helpful if you’re ever faced with a surge in customer inquiries or expanding product lines, as your systems will be able to seamlessly adapt to changing demands, keeping your efficiency levels high.

Adding to its flexibility, CRM automations integrate with other third-party tools and platforms, providing a holistic approach to business management and enabling unified and efficient operations.

Examples of CRM automations

Here are some CRM automations offered by the notable providers Zendesk, Salesforce, and HubSpot:

Zendesk

  • Automated ticketing: Zendesk offers automated ticket creation and routing based on predefined rules or customer actions, ensuring swift and efficient handling of customer queries.
  • Workflow automation: for managing repetitive tasks, notifications, and escalations – streamlining processes and improving team productivity.

Salesforce

  • Process builder: Salesforce's Process Builder allows users to create automated processes using a simple point-and-click interface, automating tasks, sending emails, and updating records based on specific criteria.
  • Sales automation: automation for sales processes, including lead scoring, opportunity tracking, and automated follow-ups, enhancing sales team efficiency.

HubSpot

  • Marketing automation: HubSpot excels in marketing automation, allowing users to automate email campaigns, lead nurturing, and content personalisation based on user behaviour.
  • Sales automation: tools for sales, such as email sequences, task creation, and deal stage updates, enabling sales teams to optimise their processes and focus on closing deals.
Useful CRM automations for businesses

Chatbots are one of the most common and popular automations – but what others can you use specifically, what are they called and what do they do? 

Here are some specific CRM automations and their functionalities:

Automated email campaigns

💻 Function: sends targeted and personalised emails to leads or customers based on triggers like sign-ups, purchases, or specific actions, nurturing relationships and driving engagement.

Workflow automation

💻 Function: streamlines and automates multi-step processes by defining sequential actions based on triggers or conditions. Processes can include onboarding, sales follow-ups, or support ticket handling. 

Task assignment and routing

💻 Function: automatically assigns tasks or tickets to the right team members or departments based on criteria like skills, workload, or issue category, ensuring timely resolution.

Data synchronisation

💻 Function: Syncs data across different systems or platforms, ensuring consistency and accuracy of information between CRM, marketing tools, support software, and other databases.

Appointment scheduling

💻 Function: Allows customers or leads to schedule appointments or meetings directly through the CRM system, syncing with team calendars for efficient time management.

Customer feedback automation

💻 Function: Automates the collection and analysis of customer feedback through surveys, forms, or post-interaction follow-ups, providing insights for service improvement.

Recurring billing and invoicing

💻 Function: automates billing cycles, invoice generation, and payment reminders for subscription-based services or recurring purchases, ensuring timely and accurate billing.

Social media engagement

💻 Function: monitors social media interactions, automatically engages with customers or leads, and flags important conversations for follow-up or resolution within the CRM.

Benefits of CRM automations

Let's delve into the advantages that make CRM automations the go-to for businesses of all sizes.

  1. Amplified efficiency: CRM automations streamline routine tasks, transforming manual processes into seamless, automated workflows. 
  2. Strengthened customer relationships: CRM automations enable businesses to create a more responsive customer experience. According to Five CRM, CRM systems have been shown to increase customer retention rates by 27% and improve customer relationships in 74% of businesses.
  3. More sales: CRM automations play a pivotal role in enhancing your sales processes. Lead scoring automations, for example, identify and prioritise high-potential leads, ensuring your sales team focuses their efforts where they matter most. According to Finances Online, CRM software can boost sales by 29%.
  4. Time and resource savings: one of the most compelling advantages of CRM automations is the significant reduction in time and resource expenditure.

Here are a few examples of Zendesk, Salesforce, and HubSpot clients who are successfully supporting their customers using CRM automations.

Zendesk + Lush

“During our most bustling Christmas season, amid a website migration, Zendesk stood as our rock,” reflects Naomi Rankin, Global CX Manager at Lush

“It was the busiest Christmas the digital team ever had and we’d just migrated our website. Having Zendesk as a stable force at that point meant we could identify any potential customer issues and quickly get those rectified.” 

Zendesk's automation capabilities allowed Lush to add third-party tools like HappyFox for live chat and RingCentral for its head office’s telephone system. Its stability and proactive support allowed Lush to swiftly spot and resolve customer concerns, ensuring a seamless holiday experience despite the intense workload and critical transition.

Salesforce + Santander

In a bid to elevate its services, Santander UK harnessed the power of Salesforce’s automation capabilities to craft a groundbreaking digital subscription platform, Santander Navigator. This innovative platform offers tailored growth strategies and recommendations for businesses eyeing international expansion. 

According to John Carroll, Head of International and Transactional Banking at Santander UK, “Santander Navigator is a global first and will help subscribers save time and money. With Santander Navigator and Salesforce, we can help more businesses bring great British products to customers around the world.” 

Hubspot + Zoom

Cassy Rubis, Marketing Director at Zoom, passionately advocates embracing HubSpot as the CRM of choice. Zoom has its own add-on with Hubspot (the HubSpot App for Zoom Meetings), which allows the removal of the switching cost when moving between the two services during a meeting. It even keeps all your notes and records from your meeting up to date in the HubSpot CRM. She says: 

“If you are contemplating HubSpot as your CRM, stop thinking about it and do it. With HubSpot, we can see the complete lifecycle of a customer from lead to close, and our teams can own the customisations needed to get their job done. We have had 100% user adoption and couldn’t be happier.”

Conclusion

CRM automations can elevate small business success by streamlining workflows, improving internal communications, and customer interactions.

Marketing CRM automations can help craft tailored experiences that boost brand loyalty and can set a small business apart in competitive landscapes — and in the sales domain, they can accelerate sales cycles and boost conversion rates.

So if you own a business and are looking to scale, consider proactively exploring and implementing CRM automations to elevate your efficiency and success.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What types of tasks can CRM automation handle?
    CRM automation can handle various tasks like email responses, lead scoring, data entry, and workflow management to streamline customer interactions and internal processes.
  • Is it necessary to have technical expertise to set up CRM automations?
    Many CRM platforms offer user-friendly interfaces, making it possible for non-technical users to set up basic automations. However, advanced automations might benefit from technical know-how or training.
  • Can CRM automation work seamlessly with different departments within an organisation?
    Yes, CRM automation fosters collaboration by integrating data and processes across departments, ensuring a unified approach to customer interactions and business operations.
Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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