Updated on August 6th, 2018
Many small business owners think that artificial intelligence (AI) is a tool they cannot afford, as it is thought to be prohibitively expensive with expensive equipment and a difficult learning curve. However, no matter how small your business is, you can’t afford not to be involved with AI, as there are numerous applications available to help your small business grow quickly.
AI can take many forms. First, businesses can use adaptive software that allows for changes as the needs of a business change, which gives the business more flexibility. Robots in some businesses allow for some tasks that are repetitive and unchanging to be taken over by machines, which frees people up for more difficult tasks.
Virtual assistants take over mundane tasks that used to be done by secretaries, such as to-do lists and appointment setting. Computer programs have also been developed to interact with customers and field questions and complaints, as well as translate from one language to another. In addition, writing and speaking programs can write letters, reports and other correspondence through speech.
Finally, there is software that gives businesses the power to make some decisions automatic, which frees up workers for other tasks.
How Can I Take Advantage of AI?
Because AI allows for some tasks to be automated, why not begin by moving some tasks from the hands of your employees to an automated service? For example, you could begin by working on AI Voice integration into your business phone system, which would allow your employees to field calls that are more complicated.
Because a phone automation service allows you to begin integrating AI on a small scale, this gives you the opportunity to both work AI costs in over the time and also to become familiar with one type of AI at a time.
For example, while you are working towards an AI phone system, you might want to begin learning an additional element of customer service, such as customer service AI packages that work for AI voice integration as well as provide you with customer information and data. Or, you might want to think about using a chatbot on Twitter, Messenger or on your business website as a next step.
Other Ways to Use AI to Beat the Competition
In addition to using AI as a voice integration tool, businesses also use AI to give customers, whether they are first-time customers or repeat customers, great advertising and service. For example, research has indicated that most businesses have between 25 to 35% of their customers who produce between 60 and 70% of their profits, which means those people should be catered to like the VIPs they are.
Businesses can use AI to use the data they already have on their customers and target them for special sales, exclusive coupons, and newsletters geared towards them and their interests. All of these ideas make people feel as if you value their time and business, which mean they are more likely to visit your business–rather than your competitor’s business.
AI also allows you to target those customers who seem interested in your website, as opposed to those “casual clickers” who are merely browsing and not buying. By aiming at those customers who are really interested in your product or service, you reduce your cost-per-click, saving you money you can use somewhere else in your company.
With the special client treatment should come concierge-type service, which means if your clients are online and are unsure how to purchase a product or service, you can use AI to guide them in their purchasing, without having to use an employee to do it.
AI can also work towards interacting with your clients on social media as well, through targeted social media campaigns and messaging with clients through social media platforms. You can even set up media campaigns to run simultaneously or on different days during the week or during the month.
AI For Better Workflow and Training
AI has made it both easy and affordable for even the smallest businesses to take advantage of improved workflows. For example, AI and cloud services allow businesses to collaborate and connect to work together on projects, but AI gives businesses an added bonus because the programming can show employers redundancy and patterns within work that allows employers to assign tasks and get rid of repetitiveness, which saves businesses money.
Employees can also use AI to autofill forms and streamline into a paperless company, which also saves time and money.
In addition to using AI to streamline forms and processes in your business, you can also use AI to train new employees. Employee training is both time-consuming and if you have to hire someone to do the HR training every time you hire an employee, it is costly.
However, many companies use AI programs to have their employees fill out HR paperwork, tax information, enroll in payroll, apply for time off and vacation, approve their time and pay and even receive bonuses. In addition, rather than hiring someone to go through routine training with each employee, AI allows employers to target specific HR programs (such as employee-client relations) depending on employee needs and keeps track of which employees have received the training.
While AI began as a science-fiction notion, and really only entered people’s minds in movie theaters, in reality, AI can help even the smallest businesses thrive. From the beginning of the business process with marketing and interacting with customers via your website or other social media outlets, AI can help your business attract attention.
AI can also help you target both new and existing customers with advertising, and help you keep the customers you have through VIP treatment. Businesses can also use AI to streamline workflow and allow for increased collaboration between employees and even help employees learn the ropes of your business.
Perhaps most importantly, the AI can give you ways to communicate with your customers, whether you are in the office or not, which allows your customers to feel you’re there for them 24 hours a day.