Integrating AI into your small business can be a transformative move, offering both growth opportunities and certain challenges. You may have noticed AI features being built into more business tools – like Bing, QuickBooks, and Microsoft 365. What may have started as a trend is now here to stay.
Here’s a breakdown of how you can use AI and what to be mindful of as you grow your business.
How to grow your business with AI
AI-powered chatbots are one of the most common uses of AI in business. AI-powered chatbots can handle customer inquiries 24/7. By configuring the AI chatbots to answer commonly asked questions, you’re able to free up staff time to work on more complex tasks. Even when a chatbot can’t answer the question, the chat exchange gives your reps more information so the inquiry can be resolved faster.
Used as an internal tool, AI can provide real-time assistance to customer service agents with information and decision-making support during interactions. AI can also scan service tickets looking for common concerns that can be used to proactively improve your products and services.
Marketing and sales
AI tools can analyze market trends and customer behaviors, helping to tailor marketing strategies effectively. For example, let’s say a sports equipment store wants to provide a tailored shopping experience to its customers. To achieve this, the store implements an AI-driven recommendation system.
After collecting the data and building customer profiles, AI can recommend new arrivals or suggest accessories. Because AI learns from every interaction, recommendations can change as the customer takes on a new sport or starts shopping for a different family member.
Personalization can extend across channels — the online store, emails, and even mobile app notifications. The AI ensures a consistent personalized experience regardless of the platform the customer uses. And AI can even help write emails, website content, and targeted advertising campaign materials to draw in the right customers.
AI is being incorporated into business systems to automate routine tasks like scheduling, invoicing, and inventory management. Some systems may offer AI-driven features for an additional fee. Others are including it for all customers.
Data analysis and decision making
As a small-to-midsized business, you probably don’t have large data sets, but you can still use AI with big data to inform business decisions. For example, many financial institutions use AI to run background checks and credit reports. You can use this information to determine whether a customer qualifies for a line of credit.
Concerns and considerations
AI enthusiasts make it seem like AI is a cure-all for any business challenge. In reality, AI is a tool – and the implementation may not be as easy as it seems.
For example, you need to be aware that:
- AI may fabricate data sources. Even seemingly official studies and legal precedents may be “AI hallucinations.” Source material must be verified.
- AI may pull from copywritten materials, making its use unethical or even illegal.
- The wrong question will produce the wrong answer. If you’re relying on AI to calculate complex formulas or build out code, someone on your team should be double-checking to verify the answer is correct.
- Uploading your customer data to an unscrupulous or non-secure AI vendor is a real risk. It is your responsibility to maintain data privacy and security.
- Most small businesses do not have enough data to develop meaningful analytics.
- You still need to spend time setting up your strategy and workflow.
Taking the first steps
Our recommendation is to start with one small project and scale up as you see positive results. Our team can also help you with collecting the data and building out the customer profiles or AI prompts.
Please reach out to see how we can help you evaluate and implement AI solutions in your business.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do businesses use AI to boost sales?
AI can identify data patterns from consumer behavior. AI can identify high-quality leads, and build out a solid sales funnel more accurately.
How can small businesses use AI?
Small businesses can use AI to do a number of things that take over for employees, including:
1. Data analysis that leads to sales forecasting.
2. Automate tedious and repetitive tasks.
3. Improve customer service
4. Upgrade your marketing efforts.
How can AI help your small business?
– Marketing and sales
– Customer service
– Operational efficiency
– Data analysis and decision making