Small Business A.I. is Here, Really!

Big or small, A.I. can greatly improve your business.

 

Artificial intelligence and Machine Learning are often associated with tech giants like Google and Amazon since AI and ML solutions can be expensive and require vast amounts of data. Small companies are often unable or reluctant to integrate AI into their business operations due to cost, and a general lack of understanding of how it may fit into their existing business practices.

But now, businesses are looking at “Artificial Intelligence” (AI) as a way to gain an edge in the marketplace. As AI is continuously migrating from research labs into the world of business, companies are using its power to analyze countless data points to detect patterns in behavior and improve customer interactions, and of course, generate more business.   

Today, turning your small business into a full-fledged data-driven beast is easier than you may think. In this article, we will look at how AI can be applied to solve your everyday business challenges and what steps are to be taken by SMBs to understand its effective implementation. 

Intelligent Customer Relation Managers

CRM systems are designed to compile information about consumers’ attitudes and behaviors across different channels (e.g., email, phone, social media), manage these interactions with current and prospective consumers, and automate marketing and lead generation activities

Small businesses can already benefit from AI functionality embedded into popular CRM platforms like SalesForce. In 2016, SalesForce launched its Einstein AI, which integrated AI functionality into their CRM applications. Einstein AI can help small businesses analyze consumer sentiments in recorded phone conversations, emails, social media posts, and customer reviews, evaluate customer feedback to find patterns of behavior, and segment customer attitudes. Salespeople can get a better understanding of customer data and automatically route leads, personalize marketing campaigns, and more, making their marketing and sales teams more efficient and consumers more satisfied.

Intelligent Customer Service Solutions

Customer Service and Support are critical components of customer retention and satisfaction. They also require a significant amount of time and resources.

To make their support agents more efficient, small businesses can integrate AI software into in-house customer services. One obvious example is the “Can I help You” chatbox you now find on many websites. These BOTS put your customer support on autopilot by understanding conversations and automating repetitive processes. They can suggest or automate answers, and classify support tickets and messages and quickly route them to the right team, freeing up your support agents to deal with issues that require human engagement. 

AI for marketing

Managing marketing budgets efficiently often requires an in-depth analysis of customer data, which usually entails additional and often undesirable costs for small businesses. 

Fortunately, these days, companies with even modest budgets can effectively use AI solutions for marketing. AI-powered platforms manage marketing operations across multiple channels (e.g., Adwords, Facebook, Bing), analyzing advertising performance, and make informed suggestions about the best way to allocate media budgets.

Using AI marketing solutions, small companies can refine their marketing strategy and dramatically reduce their CPC (cost per click) by analyzing customer engagement with their marketing campaigns. Efficient budget monitoring also means saving money on hiring additional marketing and advertising staff.

AI for Competitive Intelligence

Keeping tabs on your competitors is daunting. They produce gigabytes of content and hundreds of updates each day. At the same time, keeping up with market trends is crucial for staying competitive.

AI-powered competitive analysis tools can help address this challenge by tracking your competitors across different channels (websites, social media, web applications), subtle changes in messaging PR activities, and pricing. Add natural language processing along with business metrics, and this functionality can give small businesses a better understanding of ongoing changes in their competitors’ strategy. AI-enabled competitive intelligence also provides instant identification of competitors’ product gaps, weaknesses, and strengths, which can be used to adjust your business strategy — never blindsided by the competitor’s actions again!

AI-Ready solutions

Small businesses can now plug AI-ready tools into literally every element of their business workflow involving data. Leveraging state-of-the-art sentiment analysis, classification, and prediction algorithms, a small business can instantly draw useful business insights from any bit of their data.

For instance, AI-enabled tools allow small companies to use sentiment analysis and entity extraction in their Google Sheets, CSV, and Excel data without any coding. They also enable automatic classification, tagging, and processing of support tickets, and classification of inbound emails and other communications. The systems can also analyze product reviews and distill them into useful reports containing practical business insights, saving small businesses the cost and time needed to review data flowing into their communication channels.

As AI/ML market grows, small businesses will have more options to implement an AI strategy now. Instead of incurring additional data costs, small companies can use third-party tools with easy-to-use interfaces and efficient machine learning functionality to plug their data and workflow into intelligent platforms. Workflow automation, coupled with business intelligence, will save small businesses time and money while enabling them to be a player in the emerging data-driven economy.

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