AI: How it Can Help Small Businesses
AI is one of the most significant breakthroughs in the last few years. However, artificial intelligence tends to get some bad press because it is seen as a threat to the human workforce, set to replace us. However, with AI being used increasingly in all industries, it is essential that we realize how it can actually help, not replace a small business.
One of the simplest uses for AI is a chatbot. These can be integrated onto your website, and many social media platforms to handle basic interaction on your behalf. If you cannot afford your own sales team, you can harness an AI chatbot that will effectively communicate with customers in the first instance. From a user experience point of view, it gives the impression that you are always available and ready to talk to customers, even if it’s actually the middle of the night and you’re tucked up in bed. Online ordering is increasing, and if you educate your chatbot with the most frequently asked questions, you will find that customers can help themselves and go on to complete sales without any need for your interaction.
This is often a task that makes small business owners sign in desperation. There is nothing fun about email marketing, but it really is worthwhile for retaining and attracting new customers. AI can take over your marketing campaign and ensure that your communications remain relevant and timely. You have probably been subject to an AI email marketing campaign yourself if you have received an email saying something along the lines of ‘Hey! We miss you come back’. This is probably an AI robot working in the background of the company. Of course, in order for your email campaigns to be effective, you need to gather customer email addresses. Generally, with online shopping, this will form part of the checkout process giving you easy access. If you have a shop, your point of sale system will be the best way to collect an email address. Of course, you need to have the correct GDPR information on your website, but this is easy to find and set up if you have not done so already.
Let AI Take Mundane Tasks
Far from being a threat to your business, AI can actually take the repetitive mundane tasks away from your staff. Scheduling meetings is something that can be done with an artificial intelligence personal assistant, and X.ai is one example. It may not be a physical process, but many things take up time behind the scenes in the admin area of your business, and these can always be outsourced to artificial intelligence.
AI analytics is another great way to make use of the technology on offer. Say, for example, your sales over the phone have really slowed down, and you don’t understand why. Talk IQ is one solution that is able to integrate with the phone system and provide analysis of the conversations your customers have had with your sales team. It gives you valuable information for your KPI’s and assesses the overall effectiveness of your sales tactics. It doesn’t have to stop there either; there are AI tools available for analyzing the way a customer interacts with your website. This gives you helpful information so that you can tweak the journey to be more personal for each customer. That personal touch, even if it isn’t quite the same as human interaction is something that customers really value in terms of content, and they are more likely to make purchases from a site offering customized content to one that doesn’t.
For small business outsourcing things like human resources is relatively standard. Buying in the expertise you need, rather than trying to have a permanent human resource Department often works out a lot cheaper. If you bring AI into the mix, you can lower the cost even further. For example, when it comes to recruitment, there are AI tools available that can help you plough through the applications to determine who to interview and who to leave. Chatbots are available that can help with choosing the best interview questions to ask based on the role you are trying to fill, and there is plenty of information available regarding company benefits and policies.
The Bottom Line
Very few small businesses have embraced the positive changes that artificial intelligence can bring to work. AI is unlikely to disappear; in fact, it is much more likely to grow and take on ever-demanding roles. So, rather than trying to work against it, you might need to accept that the time has come to discover the benefits for yourself and get AI on your side, working for you helping your business grow. Used correctly, it is undoubtedly much more of a help than it is a hindrance.