How AI Can Change the Way Small Businesses Operate

Artificial Intelligence is here to revolutionize our world. Small and medium businesses can benefit from AI to achieve a new level of efficiency.

BY: ARTUR MEYSTER ON WEDNESDAY, MAY 13, 2020
How AI Can Change the Way Small Businesses Operate

Artificial Intelligence is here to revolutionize our world. In the past, we used to think that AI was a sci-fi concept. Believe it or not, this is happening now, right in our daily lives. From self-service cashiers to robots or even your customized keyword, almost everything we use today uses machine learning or artificial intelligence.

However, most people don’t realize this yet. According to a customer service survey run by the company Pega, revealed that 33% of those customers believed they use artificial intelligence in their daily lives, the rest didn’t agree with this affirmation. In reality, 77% of those customers unknowingly use artificial intelligence in most of their daily activities.

Now, this is something that most companies can leverage because it optimizes most processes, allowing companies to do tasks faster and more efficiently. Small and medium businesses can benefit from AI to achieve a new level of efficiency. But first, we’ll need to clarify the meaning of this technology.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence refers to the ability of a machine to simulate human behavior. This process is done by applying machine learning techniques, which are related to data science. Machine learning consists of programming a computer to do certain tasks. AI works similarly to the brain. Humans learn through education and experience, and this is exactly how learning works for machines.

The purpose of AI is to build devices or programs that can do our work quicker, non-stoppable, and most of all, more accurately. Just think about it, AI is very convenient for companies because machines don’t sleep, rest, need vacations or salaries. Although the initial investment is high, companies will pay a lot less in the long run.

How AI Can Help Run a Smarter Small Business

AI can bring benefits that will increase the productivity levels of any small business, from an automated response in customer service to improving the human resources department. For most retail companies, investing in AI education and tech might be expensive at first, but it’ll save them from having to spend thousands of dollars later. Here are some of the things that artificial intelligence can do for your business.

Email Marketing

Have you ever received a message from a company when they noticed you haven’t visited their website in a while? That was AI at work in email marketing. Companies can have a vast contact list with their customers’ data and can detect those users’ behavior through their website and send an automated email. To do so, companies need to buy an AI-driven system such as Mailchimp and a POS system.

Now, what happens if your company is running an event in a certain state but you have customers all over the country? Your AI-driven system will detect which customers live in that specific state where you’ll run the event and send a message to them to show them the event details and invite them.

Reduce Repetitive, Mundane Tasks

If you look at all the tasks you run for your business, you’ll notice there are a lot of repetitive and mundane tasks. These tasks can now be automated by machine learning. Tasks like replying messages, scheduling meetings or even some inventory tasks can be done by automation. Other tasks, like transferring files, copying, and pasting information can be done by using machine learning programs.

One of the most common uses of AI to reduce repetitive and redundant tasks is inventory management. You can sync up your inventory or supplier’s system with your eCommerce website to automatically update your inventory depending on the sales activities. This will improve the customer shopping experience, by avoiding any misunderstanding with a missing product or unavailability. You can simply edit, delete, and update your inventory online and in your physical store by using artificial intelligence.

Customer Service Automation

Chatbots change the way customer service is done. As we said before, robots don’t need rest, so chatbots are always available for your customers for any situation. If you have a potent chatbot system, it’ll be loaded with a vast number of responses depending on the situation. This way, customers will be able to solve their problems immediately and you won’t have a huge customer service team to attend messages.

Automated voice systems are another way to use AI in your customer service operations. Customers don’t need to wait for a customer service assistant to attend them, but they’ll receive help from the system that, just like chatbots, is loaded with responses to help customers. If the voice system does not recognize the request, it’ll redirect the call to human support assistance. You’ll still need people to handle some calls, but this team will be smaller, thanks to artificial intelligence technology.

Track Your Customers’ Journey on Your Website

To improve your digital marketing operations, you’ll need to track the performance of your website. By using AI-driven tools such as Google Analytics, you’ll be able to monitor your customers’ journey on your website. This way, you’ll be able to see which products or services are generating the most sales, which products garnered the most customer attention, and the site’s bounce rate. Besides, this takes us to the next point: hyper-personalized experiences. Through artificial intelligence, you’re able to provide a more customized experience for your customers by showing them items based on personal preferences.

Human Resources

Finally, another great way how artificial intelligence can help your small business is by automating and improving human resources activities. Just think about it, most tasks in your HR department are repetitive and can be automated. Some of these tasks could be time tracking when working remotely and invoicing an employee onboarding.

Many HR AI-driven tools can help you with those tasks such as Bamboo HR. This way you’ll take some weight off your shoulder from having to worry about human resources activities and your team can now focus on other tasks that will help you hit career goals.

About the Author

Artur Meyster

Artur Meyster is the CTO of Career Karma (YC W19), an online marketplace that matches career switchers with coding bootcamps. He is also the host of the Breaking Into Startups podcast, which features people with non-traditional backgrounds who broke into tech.
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