When your motto is “easy automation for busy people” you know you’ve done something right. As customers and huge fans of Zapier we love how they make our lives easier, however we couldn’t help but wonder how the kings and queens of automation self-automate into the sleek, efficient machine that they are.
Last week, Kim Kadiyala, Marketer at Zapier helped us answer that question and shared with us a simple, yet severely under-used automation hack that is so easy it made our heads spin.
The hack? TextExpander.
Zapier uses CloudApp, via text expansion apps within Help Scout, to provide better support to their customers.
Not exactly sure what a text expander app is or why they’re such a huge part of Zapier’s automation process? We weren’t either, until we witnessed Kim work her TextExpander + CloudApp magic right in front of our eyes.
In a nutshell, text expansion simply means defining abbreviations within an app that expands into a boilerplate response, which as you can imagine would be any support person’s dream.
Like most of us, Zapier uses CloudApp to create GIFs and videos as much as possible. But when words are necessary it’s important to cut down on the time it takes to type and re-type the same message over and over again - as well as cut down on the amount of errors!
Since text expansion is a lot like auto-complete on your phone, you can type a predefined set of keys and then the text auto-expands into something that would be more of a pain to type out.
TextExpander is perfect for “static” replies - when you need to say the exact same thing, use macros for dynamic replies, pull time and date info, insert custom details manually or even insert info that’s been copied to your clipboard (like a CloudApp GIF).
By simply typing ";whtest" a tutorial expands with spaces for customizing the details and inserting a CloudApp screenshot.
“We use Cloudapp annotation heavily in support because it lets us pinpoint what we want the customers to look at.” Kim added.
When we did a little behind-the-scenes research of why text expansion is one of the most beneficial ways you can start automating, we weren’t surprised that Zapier’s blog popped up first.
But what we didn’t realize is just how much time text expansion (especially when paired with GIFs) saves. Zapier however was one step ahead of us and collected data from one of their support champions, Vicky, who reported a whopping 33.92 hours saved in just a 4 month period of time. That is nearly an entire workweek that would have been spent typing the same phrases over and over again.
Makes you wonder how much time you’re spending typing the same old, same old, right?
When we spoke to Kim about TextExpander we realized that one of the biggest obstacles that people have about automation is mindset, they think it’s a lot harder than it needs to be. Most people think they have to be “power users” to take advantage of automation, but Zapier reminds us that the power comes from each second saved. Two minutes saved each week, is two hours saved each year and according to their own stats (see the 33.92 hours saved above) you’re shaving a lot more than two hours off your year.
So how do you jump in and make sure you’re using TextExpander in a way that will actually save you time? It all starts with nailing those abbreviations.
Zapier recommends a few great tips when creating your own:
1 - Be brief: Saving time means making sure that you’re abbreviations are actually abbreviations. What’s the point if you’re just going to have to type out the entire word anyway?
2 - Don’t be so brief that it’s confusing: Zapier’s blog gives a great example that words like “site” make for terrible abbreviations for “website” because “site” is found in many other words too - worksite, opposite etc.
3 - Create a system: Learning your abbreviations shouldn’t be harder than typing text. Create your abbreviations systematically. Zapier suggests leaving out vowels, or adding a letter combination to the beginning of each one for a simple system.
As we dive deeper into the world of how CloudApp and TextExpander can help shave mega time off your work week, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled on our blog for more how-to’s on automation. We’re taking lessons from the best and all of you are invited!
Are you already using TextExpander and have some helpful hints for the rest of us? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.