How AI is helping small business today

22.01.2018

Artificial intelligence has been making its way into our businesses and lives for some time. Whether it’s through voice assistants like Siri, smart devices, or shopping apps, AI is proving it can help make our lives easier. Now, this technology is helping small business.

Here are some of the most exciting developments in AI that can help small businesses grow:

Chatbots

Businesses can now create their own What’s App or Facebook Messenger-based chatbot without needing any programming skills. Instead, you’ll just need to predict what leads and customers might ask and create scripts which the bot will use to assist them.

Chatbots are getting more sophisticated all the time, and are able to recognise what customers actually want. But where they really shine is by instantly giving your customers the information they need. Many customer service calls are simply questions that are commonly asked, like “Do you have this item?” and “When do you close?” These are easy to field, but use a large portion of time and resources throughout the day.

Small businesses can easily develop chatbots with answers to their most commonly-asked questions, improving customer service and growing with their business. But chatbots can also be used to guide prospects or customers through the purchasing process. They can be customised to accept payments instead of sending customers to external websites, ensuring that small businesses can continue making money 24/7.

Accounting

A recent report by Accenture found that adaptive intelligence, machine learning, minibots, and automation are all becoming part of finance teams at lightning speed. By 2020, more than 80% of traditional finance services will instead be performed by teams incorporating AI.

As repetitive, tedious tasks are automated, finance teams can focus their attention on strategic thinking. As finance and accounting professionals adopt automation to perform repeatable, redundant, and time-consuming data-entry tasks, they can then use their instincts, education, and personal experience for better decision-making.

Virtual Assistants

Small businesses have a lot of balls in the air. These include travel, invoicing, bills, and scheduling, and more- all of which need to factor into the average business owner’s day. When you’re constantly wearing so many hats, organisation is crucial so nothing important is overlooked.

Small business owners have long been using remote assistants for affordable administrative support. However, AI has been evolving to the point where it can now offer an alternate solution. While you’ll need to make sure your instructions are specific, AI assistants can be used to follow up on emails, find a meeting time that works for both people, and ensure you stay on track.

CRMs

CRMs have been helping small businesses compile information about customers across a variety of different channels like social media, phone, and email. This provides sales and marketing teams with key information about consumers. It also makes it easier for customer service teams to manage interactions will both leads and customers while automating marketing and lead generation.

These days, CRM platforms are now benefiting from AI functionality. An example is Einstein AI, which was launched by SalesForce in 2016. This tool helps small businesses analyse their customer sentiments in social media posts, emails, customer reviews, and recorded phone conversations. This gives sales and customer service reps a better understanding of who the customers are while allowing them to personalise marketing campaigns for each buyer persona. 

The above examples are just a few ways AI is helping small business today. When it comes to implementing artificial intelligence in your business, know that AI isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Smart business owners will create customised solutions specifically for their business needs and the needs of their customers. While there is definitely a learning curve with this technology, the payoff will be well worth the effort in the long run.

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sydney@morganmckinley.com.au