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In our last few posts, we’ve been exploring how artificial intelligence is changing business today. Today’s post isn’t the best place to start on the topic, so let’s recap where we’ve been.
We started with an overview of the ways artificial intelligence can help today’s businesses. We looked next at the opportunities and challenges that AI brings to the workplace. Then we covered the finer details of machine learning, a specific type of AI that has its own set of business ramifications.
Our most recent entry to the series focused on small businesses and the types of ways they can benefit from artificial intelligence. As we discussed in that post, there is a sentiment out there that says AI is only for large corporations with big budgets, because it’s too complex for the little guy.
We pointed out that small businesses don’t have to go it alone, building complex AI systems from the ground up. Instead, one major way small businesses can benefit from artificial intelligence is by implementing any number of ready-made, off-the-shelf AI-infused software solutions.
Today’s post drills down even deeper, reviewing some of those specific offerings.
4 AI Powered Workflow Enhancements Small Businesses Can Use Today
AI is transforming workflows all around us. You may already be using software infused with artificial intelligence in aspects of your business, or maybe you’re looking to start doing so now. Either way, consider the workflow enhancements listed below. Each is powered in some way by artificial intelligence, and each has the potential to improve business outcomes for your company.
1. Implement a Premade AI-Powered Chatbot on Your Website
Improve your small business’s customer engagement efforts by setting up a chatbot on your website. You’ve seen these in the wild, most likely. When you see something like this on a major corporation’s website, it’s easy to imagine that the chatbot has been custom built for the organization.
This is sometimes the case, although it’s exceedingly rare for anyone to start from scratch. More than likely that chatbot is based on something that already exists, though it has been highly customized for the target organization.
But what about when you see a chatbot on a small business website? They can’t possibly have the budget or knowhow to build one themselves, right?
Yes, that’s exactly right. They’ve likely purchased an off-the-shelf or semi-customizable chatbot and simply added the module to their site. And that’s what you can do, too.
This bot can field initial customer chat requests, answering basic questions without human intervention and funneling more challenging or nuanced request to your human customer service team. One chatbot company, Acquire.io, boasts an automation rate of up to 80% in the customer support and sales arena, meaning up to 80% of customer interactions can be solved completely by their AI-powered chatbot.
That’s a drastic time and resource savings. Think about what you could do if your customer service team’s interaction load were reduced by 70 or even 80 percent.
There are many other off-the-shelf or semi-customizable chatbot modules available. Rulai and Drift are two additional options. The former is more a full-service approach with an enterprise focus, and the latter focuses on formless lead qualification (sales leads).
If your industry is a little too niche for those sorts of prebuilt tools, there’s another option. You could pursue a completely custom built chatbot. You’ll pay more than you would for a general chatbot, but it still beats having to build your own in house. Ubisend advertises a “bespoke sales chatbot” experience that fits the bill.
For a deeper dive, check out Hubspot’s list of its top seven AI chatbots for 2019.
2. Enhance Customer Relationship Management with AI
If your business reaches out to customers directly in some fashion, you’re probably using some form of customer relationship management (CRM) software already. And that’s a good thing: you need something more complex than an Outlook email list to reach today’s nuanced consumer effectively.
The goal of any good CRM is to efficiently and effectively manage your communication with your customer base, and perhaps the hardest part of doing this is getting and analyzing feedback on your customer interactions and campaigns.
As we’ve already discussed in this series, one of the greatest strength’s of today’s AI is the ability to sift through loads of information and glean trends and observations. This kind of analytics is now possible directly within certain CRM tools such as the ones offered by Salesforce.
This industry leader has powered up its CRM with AI, so that it can analyze feedback from customers and make strategy adjustments and recommendations based on that analysis. The software can see the big picture in a way that you and your team realistically can’t, and it can further adjust strategy or make recommendations in a logical, “human-like” way.
Ask your CRM vendor if they offer tools enhanced by AI in their suite. If not, it might be time for a change.
3. Drastically Improve Visual Presentations with PowerPoint’s AI Designer
We already covered this in a previous post, so we’ll keep this point brief. Microsoft added an AI-powered Designer tool in its recent versions of PowerPoint, and it’s impressive. Use it to ratchet up the effectiveness of any and all PowerPoint files you use at your small business.
PowerPoint’s AI Designer tool is another example that shows AI improvements can be simple and intuitive, the stuff that everyday users can benefit from. It’s not all reserved for high-tech wizard types.
4. Keep an (Artificial) Eye on Your Competitors with Crayon
Whatever business you’re in, you’re regularly reviewing some aspect of what your competitors are doing. If you’re making physical products, you’re surely reviewing your competitor’s latest releases, looking to see where you’re superior and where they are a threat.
This is necessary and good, but you’ll probably need to keep doing it the old-fashioned way. Unless your product is exceedingly high tech and involves complex software, we don’t envision AI helping in practical ways anytime soon.
But many companies aren’t selling physical products. They’re selling services. And evaluating the competition is a little bit more complex. The same goes for evaluating competitors’ digital and marketing strategies against your own, no matter what kind of business you do.
In these scenarios, an analysis tool like Crayon AI can be a valuable part of your strategy. Crayon can scan your competitors’ digital footprint, picking up everything from social and digital advertising to changes to their website and pricing.
This is the sort of thing you’d have someone doing anyway, but now it’s done in a tireless, hyper-efficient manner. You receive highlights and insights directly from the tool, saving you and your team many hours of painstaking work.
5. Grant Your Marketing Team AI-Infused Superpowers
Marketing is another area where small businesses can sometimes suffer. It’s painful to admit it, but we’ve all seen some truly terrible advertising from small businesses. Sometimes it’s poorly designed or the graphics are gaudy. Sometimes it’s just targeted terribly. Sometimes the messaging isn’t as clear as it could be, such as when some key piece of information (like an address or method of contact) is left off a mailer.
Even if your marketing team is awesome and would never make any of those mistakes, it can still be tough for any one person (or small team of people) to master every aspect of digital marketing.
Give them a leg up through AI by investing in a platform like Acquisio. You’ll end up with a much more balanced digital approach, one that covers a variety of channels, from Facebook to Google to Bing. The AI component shows up in the form of analytics again. Acquisio evaluates how recent advertisements did versus the cost of running them and provides intelligent suggestions about where to best budget your spend.
If you’re in an industry where cost per click can be pretty high, tools powered by artificial intelligence can help by finding the best value keywords and phrases. You can also automate bids on those keywords, saving you time in addition to money.
We’re at the conclusion of a five-part series on artificial intelligence in business, and it’s been quite a journey. Here’s our key takeaway: whatever the size of your business, you can benefit from artificial intelligence. If you’re not a tech-centric startup that focuses in AI, then your best bet is to invest in the AI-powered tools that larger firms have created.
Use the examples in this post to power up your organization right away. Or if your needs are more niche than those covered here, shoot us a message. We’re here to help you find the best possible solutions to your technology problems.
5 Part Series on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
- Artificial Intelligence in Software Development
- How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Businesses Today: An Overview
- 5 AI Powered Workflow Enhancements Small Businesses Can Use Today
- How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Artificial Intelligence
- Artificial Intelligence Opportunities and Challenges in Business