This is a guest post by Conor Malloy, a partner at Chi City Legal.
Business automation is an intriguing notion which intimidates many non-techy professionals. However, it doesn’t take a degree in computer science or binge-watching Mr. Robot to understand how to automate your business. Instead, it requires taking a step back from the daily grind and understanding your internal procedures. Here are my top four tips to automate your small business, from my lens within a busy Chicago law firm.
There’s an alpha and an omega to your business, which are connected by a series of processes. Many business processes, although integrated on some scale, tend to act in a vacuum.
Imagine you have a new client or customer:
These tasks are prime for automation and under some workflows may require multiple logins to various pieces of software, calendaring systems, and the like. Understanding the tools at your disposal will help you grease the skids on these steps. The main tool we use at Chi City Legal is Zapier, which connects the steps above to a variety of services with just one data entry point.
New clients can, and should, reach you in many ways. But whether it’s online or by phone, the data should all have a singular endpoint. A great tool for businesses is online forms. You can embed these forms into your website and use for internal or external purposes for data entry. Meaning, you can have forms that require a login and forms that are publicly accessible (so new clients can complete them, for example). Further, you can share these forms with (or prepopulate them with data from) a virtual receptionist service.
For example, with Smith.ai, our virtual receptionist service, the receptionists record information from the potential client (lead), which passes into Capsule CRM, and then we use the data from Capsule CRM as a foundation when we take over the call (in the case of a live-transfer from the receptionist) or perform a follow-up call.
Routine client communication can be a drain on resources. When is the next court date? What happened in court today? When is the deadline on X, Y, or Z? All these updates are extremely important to keep the client informed, but can strip your day of precious time.
How do you know when a project is due or a court date is scheduled? It’s in your calendar. And if it’s in your calendar, it should be in the client’s, too.
Here’s how we connect the dots:
A wide-variety of industries use, or should use, standardized documents. Lawyers encounter pleadings, contracts, and administrative court forms, just to name a few. It is all too common for professionals to encounter this scenario:
This is not only time consuming, but can expose you to all sorts of data-entry errors.
That’s where document automation comes in. It’s all about pulling information from a central source and populating, or otherwise formatting, a document to your satisfaction.
Conor Malloy is a partner at Chi City Legal, a law firm dedicated to serving small- and medium-sized landlords in Chicago. He merges his knowledge of technology and legal processes in order to reduce friction between his clients and the court system. Conor is a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, and a recent recipient of Meritorious Recognition of the 2018 Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access. Follow him on Twitter: @chicitylegal.