Thursday, January 24, 2013

Automating Key Business Tasks with ACT!

For sales people and small business owners remembering to schedule tasks, make phone calls and send follow-up emails for every contact is not easy, and often potential sales will fall through the cracks as a result. This is where automation can be useful.

Automating key business tasks is a great way to ensure that repetitive tasks are eliminated and no contact is missed out. When implemented correctly automation can improve efficiency and help you build better relationships with your customers and prospects.

ACT! Smart Tasks Feature

Smart Tasks were introduced to ACT! 2011 and enables users to automate a series of activities/tasks to be carried out based on a set of criteria. For example, you may want ACT! to automatically schedule a follow up call if a customers "last reach" date was more than 3 months ago.

There are a number of pre-built Smart Tasks available for you to use, modify or duplicate and some of these are integrated with the ACT! E-Marketing service, Swiftpage.

Smart Tasks can be as simple or as complex as you require; you can include many steps and set criteria to target very specific contacts in your database, and can choose a variety of triggers.

Tips for using Smart Tasks

Deciding what to automate
In many cases identifying tasks to automate is easy and in general, any task that needs to be done more than twice is a candidate. However, what can be difficult is deciding whether these tasks should be automated. Here are some considerations that you might want to make before you decide:
  • What level of human intelligence is required? Consider how easy or difficult it will be to build the automation rules into your CRM. Will there be "exceptions to the rule" and if yes, how will your CRM handle this? For example, in ACT! if you schedule a follow up call for customers that you haven't communicated with in the past 3 months using the "last reach" field as the trigger, your automation would exclude customers that received your e-newsletter last week and therefore may not give you a complete list.
  • What degree of modification is required? If your automated task will involve sending an email consider if the messaging needs to change for each contact and if this intelligence can be built in using merge tags. If a large degree of modification is required then you may need to create multiple smart tasks or consider setting an activity reminder instead.
Deciding on the process
Once you have decided which business processes should be automated it is a good idea to draw a map of how the process will work. For this you will need to identify:
  1. How the process will be triggered (e.g. when a new contact is added to the database).
  2. How your CRM will identify the trigger (e.g. when the create date is older than 1 day).
  3. What the steps in the process are and when they will occur (e.g. send a welcome email 1 day after the create date then schedule a follow up 1 week later).

New Smart Task features in ACT! 2013

  • Smart Tasks now run offline which means they will run even if ACT! is closed (note: in ACT! 2011 and 2012 users need to be logged into ACT! for smart tasks to run).
  • Users can now set data/field triggers to automatically update record fields once the selected criteria is met. For example, when an opportunity reaches it's fulfillment stage it's status can automatically be converted to "Closed-Won" and a reminder can be set to send a customer welcome kit.
If you require assistance or more information regarding ACT! Smart Tasks contact us at or phone +64 9 377 6516.

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