Keeping the “mate” in Automation

by | Business Strategy, Infusionsoft

Keeping the “mate” in Automation

by | Apr 8, 2016

That title totally works, and you know it.

After trying to get Telstra support to fix something, and after calming down, the downside to automating and systemising was as obvious as a circus parade. It’s a situation that George Ritzer would call the irrationality of a rational system: it makes sense to systemise and automate in order to improve efficiency, profit margins and service levels; but taken to its logical conclusion it becomes a horror show of frustration and anger for your customers.

Just as the Big Mac is what happens when logic and rationality above all else take over food production, the Telstra customer experience is what happens when systemising and automating take precedence over the most important thing to any business: happy customers.

“Irrationality means that rational systems are unreasonable systems. By that I mean that they deny the basic humanity, the human reason, of the people who work within or are served by them.”

– George Ritzer

In other words, automation and systemisation works brilliantly until it starts to piss off your customers. And pissed off customers breeds pissed off employees. Which breeds pissed off customers. Fortunately, it’s actually quite simple to use automation in a way that enhances the customer experience, as well as enhancing the business for those working in it.

Own Up to It

One thing that really gets my goat is someone pretending to be talking just to me. Marie Forleo is the most recent offender.
Inbox__4__-_jake_benelds_com_au_-_Benelds_MailThis gloriously inviting subject line opens up into a shining example of what not to do with mass communication: pretend that it’s anything but automated.


As well intentioned as I’m sure it is, and as good as Marie is at what she does, I’m guessing the intention of this email is to come across as anything but disingenuous. Compare it to an email we send out two weeks after our Summer Camp workshop:


Most people are well informed these days, and can spot an automated email from a mile off. By acknowledging the fact that it’s mass communication you make your customers part of the joke, rather than the butt of it.

Use Automation for Internal Processes

While it sounds obvious to some, the vast majority of Infusionsoft users see the software as a glorified auto responder, and never take advantage of its true power as a process automator. Treating Infusionsoft like it’s Mailchimp, or worse, treating your list of customers like they’re an ATM (a la Ryan Deiss), is a huge misstep.

Instead, by using “invisible” automation to make sure nothing falls through the cracks and menial, admin-heavy work is dealt with by a machine, you free up headspace and time for your team to do what really matters.

Give Your Team Ownership

Daniel Pink talks about the three pillars of motivation in his book, Drive. Of the three pillars, autonomy, mastery and purpose, autonomy also has a knock on effect of not just inspiring your team, but also passes on to your customers.

When your team have the autonomy to make key decisions – does a customer deserve a refund? Credit? Free shipping? – they can quickly respond to situations before they spiral, and instead of having to say “I’ve applied to my manager to have a credit added to your account. We’ll follow up in 48-72 hours.” they can say, “I’ve refunded the last order and added a credit for free shipping off your next order to your account.”

Locking down systems and user permissions creates admin headaches for management, process headaches for the team, and experience headaches for your customers. Put some trust in your team to do the right thing by both you and your customers – and if you can’t trust someone, fire them yesterday.

Pick Up The Phone

Don’t hide behind auto-responders, call centers and canned replies. Pick up the damn phone every once in a while. Automation has its place – a big place – but will never, ever, replace the effectiveness of actually speaking with someone.

In other words, when your customers or leads need, or just want, to speak with someone, make sure it’s easy for them.

Don’t be Telstra.

Everyone hates Telstra.

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