If you have been following our emails or our blogs for a while then you will know that I am a big proponent for micro-automation or bite-sized automation. I know that everyone has been sold on the idea of all in one automation, one product that does it all. What is frustrating about this is that the same people who have been sold the fact that they need to emphasise their point of difference. If your firm is so cookie-cutter that there is one program that does everything then I think you have an issue that is bigger than your need for better automation.
I want to encourage people on our mailing list to embrace using different types of automation for different steps of the process. According to this report from the American Bar Association we are losing 75% of our day as unbillable work. I think most Australian lawyers would agree with that figure. In the report they say that 48 percent of that time is spent on administrative tasks and 33 percent is invested in winning new business. There are parts of both of these processes that can be automated.
I know that many of our users and subscribers use Gmail for business, did you know that you can set up automated emails inside of your Gmail account?
For instance, if you get new enquiries through your website through a form you can present the subject line in the email that is generated by that form, and then you can set up an automated response to any email with that subject line. If you are nervous about emailing the wrong people, set a subject line that includes random numbers at the end.
Here is a blog post that tells you how to set up a Canned Response and then a Filter to send automated emails inside of your Gmail account. Other potential uses for this include:
Sending new client enquiries an email providing information about your firm
Sending any new meeting requests an email with your automated booking link
Sending automated emails on certain days of the week, if you work part-time, reminding people what your working hours are
Sending automated responses to anyone who is not in your contact list inviting them to contact your secretary or virtual assistant about any urgent matters
Did you know that you can set up automation within Facebook? This includes the ability to send people links to your website, or give them an email address to contact you on.
You can set up automatic replies for people who message your Facebook Business page, and you can set up FAQs, and for both of these you can direct them to your website. Most of us don't have time to frequently check our Facebook page so let automation take care of these potential new client enquiries.
Here is a blog post from Facebook for Business telling you how to set up this automation inside of Facebook Creator Studio. If you don't know what Facebook Creator Studio is, or you haven't used it, go and Google it now. It is free and you can schedule your posts and do a number of other things.
If you have a work website, have you set up forms on some of your pages in that website? Most website providers have forms that are native to the website (that is, within the program), or you can use a third party form provider and then embed the form (read this blog).
You might do this for a couple of reasons, for instance you might have a few different 'about us' pages which you send to different people depending on the nature of their enquiry, and then you might seek different info depending on the area of law.
In conjunction with this find the 'duplicate page' button on your website and use it to generate copies pages that you are currently using to try and provide information to a number of different people (for instance, about us), and instead create specific information for that area of law or that type of enquiry. You can then use those more specific about us pages in your automated email responses in step one, or your FAQ responses to Facebook in step two above.
While I accept that there is a need in 2020 to receive work emails to your phone, I don't accept that they should be updating at 11pm at night. If we are honest, part of the 'lost time' during each workday is lack of focus, and you are not helping yourself by being constantly on the clock.
You should set the hours that you will receive emails on your phone and tablet, and maybe combine that with the above email automation at step 1.
If you have trouble with people expecting a response at 11pm at night, then set up some automated responses to these emails receive out of office hours telling people that you haven't seen their email and won't see it until (insert time and day). If you have a work mobile, then you could try putting in an automated response indicating that if the email refers to something that is truly urgent then they should call your about it on this number. That puts the ball in their court.
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