One of the foremost advantages most of our clients are looking for when they’re planning to invest in a modern CRM solution is the introduction of workflow automation. This is expected to help them address a core challenge facing all non-profits, how to deliver more services and benefits using the same or less resources. The ability to create logical, standard tasks and have them complete automatically, on time- or event-based schedules, is now considered to be a standard feature of the CRM solutions our clients are interested in.

Conversely, one of the objectives of moving from a traditional records management database to a modern CRM solution is to help to deliver personalised services and engagement to members, donors and stakeholders, through richer profiling, better segmentation and enhanced tailoring of services and communications.

For some, this throws up an apparent contradiction between seeking to introduce automation on the one hand and seeking to improve personalisation on the other. In our experience this dilemma is addressed by understanding that the adoption of a modern CRM solution should entail the definition and implementation of some core business processes which can be automated, but this does not mean trying to automate as many processes as possible.

Not every process which can be automated should be so; it may be technically more efficient to do so but that doesn’t automatically mean it’s more effective to do so. What’s more, some of the retained non-automation may well be where your audiences are seeing the value you give them, with a personal touch and an individualised attitude.

Our approach is to advise clients to automate where appropriate, not just because you can. Look for those opportunities where automation can deliver the most impact for staff and or members / donors / stakeholders, and where it can help to achieve specific objectives. Automation can certainly help to deliver consistent experiences to audiences, and it can certainly be applied to help free up time from staff who are struggling under a burden of routine administration.

This is where modern workflow automation can be at its best, when you let it take on the heavy lifting of transactional processes and communications, which deliver consistency but where there’s no scope to add value through human intervention. This may be in the routine despatch of joining instructions for all events one week in advance, or in the prompting of professional members to complete their required CPD records within a set timeframe.

Beyond consistency though, the purpose is to free up staff time for personal interactions and engagement which are highly valued by members, donors, and all audiences. When the technology takes on the heavy lifting this should create time for you to analyse and understand what your audiences want, how they interact, and what they value, then to go on to deliver those services and engagements.

So make the most of the power of modern technology, which includes automating where it’s appropriate so you can deliver a more personalised human engagement experience.