5 Innovative Ways to Automate Communications

5 Innovative Approaches to Automated Communications that Improve Efficiency

On December 1, 1913, Henry Ford unveiled what was arguably his most important invention. No, it wasn’t a new vehicle; Ford’s game changer was the moving-chassis assembly line. This foray into industrial automation reduced the build time on a Model T from twelve hours to two-and-a-half hours. Obviously, this meant that Ford could produce more cars at less cost, and in turn could lower the price of their vehicles. The cause-and-effect from the catalyst of automation resulted in Ford’s domination of the American automobile market.

Whether you’re faced with an internal business process or outward-facing interactions with customers, using the right automation tools and technology can be a boon for both workforce efficiency and your company’s bottom line.

Different businesses and industries benefit from automation differently, but suffice it to say that if your company uses computers and telephones on a daily basis there’s a solid chance that automating communications could be a major benefit to you.

Re-Thinking Communications Channels

When thinking about what types of tasks can be automated over the phone it’s important to properly calibrate the way you think about phones in this context. A lot of people probably default to phone automation as auto-attendants and robotic voices. That is a very common and useful application for automation, but it’s also very limiting.

Re-orienting your view of the phone as both an input and an output device opens up many more possibilities. When you add in messaging to this perspective the automation options increase yet again. Finally, when thinking about how phones and messaging are part of the modern digital technology ecosystem, the possibilities become almost endless.

So in the spirit of Henry Ford, here are 5 ways that automation can improve business processes in a variety of industries.

Healthcare

Just mentioning healthcare brings to mind an intersection where three or four streets meet. Any direction you turn, leads to a vastly different aspect of the industry because healthcare is such a large topic. Patient care, providers, insurers, and facility management and operations are just some of the most obvious areas.

Take medical records as one example: Doctors and nurses have no shortage of work to do when it comes to updating patient medical records. The digitization of this process has made it more flexible, allowing staff to update electronic medical records when they’re not sitting in the office. Automation can help to ensure patient charts are updated in a timely manner.

Imagine that a provider sets a baseline expectation that all patient records are updated within six hours of a patient being seen by medical personnel. When a patient leaves the care facility the clock starts ticking; this can be managed through a check out process as patients leave. It’s possible to trigger a text message or email notification to be sent to the person (doctor/therapist/nurse, etc.) responsible for each patient chart that is not updated within the expected window. It would even be feasible to make these notifications recur at a regular interval until the record is marked as updated in the system.

In another sector of the industry, hospitals have a finite number of beds available to patients, therefore, having an accurate count of open beds is critical, especially during cold and flu season or other peak times of the year. Sometimes a backlog of patients waiting for admission is unavoidable.

It’s times like these that admissions personnel can triage their cases to create a priority list, even going so far as to include a specific hospital unit that a patient need (e.g. cardiology, neurology, pediatrics, etc.). Tying notifications into the hospital’s information system that manages the admissions priority list enables staff on each hospital floor to update their census numbers so that when a bed opens up in a unit for which someone is waiting, an alert can be sent directly to the admissions staff to notify them. The alert could take the form of a text message, a page, or a phone call, and could provide a time estimate for how quickly the room can be prepped for a new patient. This method of linking admissions and discharge data to use for instant patient census alerts allows admissions staff to manage patient expectations.

Before going too far down the rabbit hole with healthcare automation applications, let’s take a look at some other examples where telephony and automation may not typically be associated with each other.

Oil & Gas

When you think of the oil and gas industry, what comes to mind? Is it Bruce Willis in Armageddon working on an offshore oilrig, or the rigs that dot the landscape of Texas and Oklahoma, or the burning sands in the Middle East? Locating and accessing oil and gas is a big part of that industry, but so too is transporting it.

Automation can be used to keep tabs on oil pipelines. Sensors along the pipeline can be connected to backend IT systems, so that when an issue occurs the right people are informed. This type of emergency notifications can be customized depending on the type and severity of an issue. Minor plant items may go directly to a technician, while a much more severe issue affecting production may need to go to technicians, directors, or even executives.

Real Estate

It may seem that sites like Zillow have everything one would need to know about a real estate listing, but there is much more to real estate than residential property, and getting information about other types of property isn’t always so easy. At the same time, the more buyer touch points that exist the better, so even residential realtors can benefit from automation.

One use for automation in real estate relates to the efficient distribution of listing information. In this case each property is designated with a code. When an individual texts that code to a specific phone number they will receive a text response that includes a link to listing details, photos, realtor contact information, and any other relevant information. Providing information in this manner also makes it easier to share with other stakeholders in the buying process.

Contest Registration

Whether it’s a contest, a give-away, a sweepstakes or a similar type of marketing campaign getting accurate customer data is a critical component of a successful campaign. Not only do you use that information to notify the winners, but it also becomes the seeds you sew for the next campaign.

Automation allows participants to call or text a number to provide their contact information. Because the participant is entering his or her own information, automation makes this process quicker and more accurate compared to speaking to a live agent.

There are many ways in which automation can propel your business forward in a positive way. The close integration of data and telephony opens up endless possibilities, similar to having a pile of Legos and an imagination. The general term for this nowadays is communications-enable business processes, but Plum Voice has been deploying these types of solutions before that phrase was ever coined. Contact us to see how we can help you reach your business goals through automation.

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