Here’s a great post from Derek Sivers on not automating everything. Instead, sometimes it’s better to just hire a real person to do some extra work:
“It’s fun for techies to try to find the tech solution to everything, but don’t forget that even a tiny touch from a real person can be the best algorithm, and a massive business maximizer.”
I hit a brick wall related to this with Searchpath. I launched a little early, and hadn’t yet finished the invoicing system so that customers automatically got an email receipt for each charge. Then life and other work got in the way, and weeks later I still hadn’t shipped it. I wanted it to be completely perfect and automated, so that I never had to think about it.
But I did think about it. I thought about what would happen if I sent a receipt with the wrong dollar amount, or the wrong product name, or the wrong wording so that customers got confused enough to cancel their subscription.
So I built half a system first. I’m manually clicking a button to send out receipts, and in the process reviewing them to make sure that customers are being invoiced correctly. It won’t scale much longer — in fact, many receipts were already sent late — but for now it gets the ball moving forward again, and brings some confidence to finish the missing pieces.