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Using automation and AI to flourish post-pandemic

As many companies look to extend remote working beyond the shelter-in-place mandate, here’s how automated workflows can maximize effective operations

With cases rising in the U.S., the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of American life, from health and safety to financial security, and—as we’ve seen from growing unemployment numbers and struggling small businesses—the economy at large.

Unemployment is increasing as countless companies have had to create a leaner workforce to accommodate a dwindling cash flow, or shut down all together due to the shelter-in-place mandate.

Still other companies have pivoted to a work-from-home model, where the entirety of work company-wide is conducted remotely. And for many companies, this trend will likely continue even after the pandemic subsides.

According to a Gartner survey, 74% of CFOs expect some of their employees who were forced to work from home because of the coronavirus to continue working remotely after the pandemic ends. About 25% of CFOs expect 10% of their employees will remain remote, 17% expect 20 percent will remain remote, and 4% expect 50%.

Essentially, businesses are not only adapting operations to the pandemic, but ushering in a new future of work. And as businesses continue to adopt this new reality, automation and AI will play a key role in ensuring seamless operations, quality communication, and employee and customer satisfaction.

Here are a few ways automation and AI can benefit your business during the pandemic—and after.

 

Implementing a business continuity plan (BCP)

When an unprecedented event first emerges, companies need to execute their business continuity plan (BCP) to ensure proper employee communication, take safety precautions, and pivot operations as necessary—all while keeping customers happy. A poorly documented BCP rolled out manually may include emergency protocol that’s no longer relevant, outdated employee contact information, or an overall delay in action due to processes that can cause confusion and time lag.

With automated workflows, you can customize your BCP workflow to fit your organization’s needs, enabling your team to streamline communication, keep data and other key information up to date, and prevent future disruptions to operations.

 

Ramping up remote technology

With employees working remotely, there’s a greater burden placed on IT teams to make sure employees have the necessary technology in place normally available in the office. Whether it’s testing WiFi signal strength, installing VPN to give employees access to the company network, helping employees download and update key software like Zoom and Slack, tech teams can become overwhelmed with their backlog of employee needs. 

Organizing and completing these workflows with automation can help remote work get going smoothly, all without adding additional strain to the IT department.

 

System and software integration

The lack of face-to-face interaction puts a heavier responsibility on the systems and software that enable employees to effectively communicate status updates and work on shared projects together. Although most teams work within these systems on-site, the ability for them to connect seamlessly is key with teams working remotely.

With a workflow automation platform’s integration capabilities, project management tools like Basecamp and Airtable, Google Drive and Google calendar, Slack, Salesforce, Hubspot and other tools can function together. This enables employees to work effectively in shared spaces across teams and departments, without missed status updates and deadlines.

 

Onboarding and offboarding employees

Onboarding or offboarding an employee requires many small tasks that can amount to an overwhelming amount of work often ripe for mistakes and omissions—even when the employee is on site. From the HR side, it requires endless communication touch points and paperwork like I-9s, direct deposit information, background checks, and drug screens. From the IT side, teams are tasked with setting up a laptop, getting the employee security clearance and passwords, and making sure they understand company protocol. 

When employees are working remotely, each of these processes are exponentially more time-consuming and difficult, and it can make the new hire feel out of sync with the culture and team expectations. With workflow automation, these steps can be streamlined simply, preventing delays and ensuring the new hire has everything they need to ramp up or unwind their role.

 

Gauging prospect sentiment 

As businesses adapt to this new reality, prospects that were near close may back off as budgets become leaner. Sales teams are no stranger to managing changing prospect attitudes, but remote work adds additional obstacles.

As many industry events will continue cancellations, face-to-face meetings for a presentation or demo can only be virtual, and sales reps can no longer make buyer visits, sales teams are forced to gauge prospect quality and interest through zoom calls, email and Slack—and lead scoring has its limitations.

That creates a lot of unstructured data and uncertain sentiment among prospects’ interest that becomes difficult to sift through. Using AI tools, your sales teams can gauge a much more accurate sense of prospect interest and need, and they can sell accordingly. 

 

Understanding customer satisfaction

Just as prospect interest may become more uncertain, customer satisfaction can pose similar challenges. With work completely remote, it can be harder to maintain as close a relationship with your current customers as you’d like—all while managing satisfaction, delayed orders, and technical issues.

With automated workflows, your customer support teams can create surveys through auto-generated web forms gauging ongoing quality of service, respond to mistakes, refunds or other issues quickly, and continue generating a high level of service.

 

Get ready for the new reality of work with Catalytic

Catalytic’s next-generation Digital Process Automation platform connects systems, data and people, creating a faster, leaner and fully digitized business that can reach higher volumes of productivity with less time, cost and risk—all while allowing employees to focus on more meaningful work.

Catalytic knows your organization is unique, and so are the systems and processes that compromise your operations. With our flexible, user-friendly automation technology, we partner with your organization to understand its specific needs. We’ll help plan, implement, and scale your smart workflows for true digital agility, regardless of size, industry, or corporate goals.

 

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Written by Catalytic