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When you hear the terms “artificial intelligence” and “machine learning” in the business world, major companies like Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Google probably immediately come to mind. They have a vast trove of resources and systems to operate such technologies and they certainly have the hardware to make it work.
Many business leaders believe that AI and machine learning are going to be fundamental cornerstones of the future of business, with 72 percent claiming it as a business advantage for anyone with access to it.
Sadly, none of the aforementioned companies are what you would classify even remotely as a “small business.” It makes such technologies seem out of reach and unattainable. How could a small business hope to integrate AI into their regular business workflow? Where would they even begin?
Believe it or not, there are many tools and services that can make it happen. The good news is that it’s possible to leverage both AI and machine learning for your business, be it big or small. We’re going to highlight several ways in which a small business can benefit from AI and machine learning technologies.
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Customer support and customer service are integral to keeping loyal customers happy, and there’s no way to maintain high retention without a successful strategy. Unfortunately, small businesses and medium-sized teams don’t always have the resources to keep these lines of communication open.
Luckily, it’s possible to integrate AI software and chatbots into internal customer support systems. A chatbot, for instance, is always on and always ready to communicate with someone, right when they reach out. They can often deliver automated answers, account details and quick advice for products or services. As you’d expect, they improve response times and keep customers busy and engaged — at least until a customer rep has the time to spare.
A CRM, or Customer Relationship Management tool, is meant to compile and make sense of customer information across a wide variety of channels. The end goal is to provide a sales team with the necessary information and environment to manage customer interactions, facilitate marketing and handle lead generation campaigns. Many of these platforms, while perfectly capable, require the necessary resources and team to support their operation.
It’s no surprise, then, that CRMs can hugely benefit from AI functionality — especially when deployed by a small or medium-sized business with limited resources. Such technologies do already exist and can be leveraged by anyone. SalesForce, for instance, launched their Einstein AI platform, which integrates with the company’s CRM applications.
In the real world, Einstein will help small businesses analyze consumer sentiments across phone conversations, email and social communications, and much more. It can even adjust lead generation support to match what it finds from various demographics.
As a small business owner, you probably have a limited and busy marketing team. On top of carrying out various campaigns and strategies, they need to be aware of a marketing budget, so as not to balloon costs outside of a manageable range. Wouldn’t it be much more efficient — and easier — for everyone if the entire process was automated and handled by an AI?
That’s the idea behind platforms like Acquisio, which are designed to automate and manage marketing strategies across channels with little to no oversight. It can also handle management of advertising solutions, budget distributions for pay-per-performance ads and much more.
With AI marketing solutions, small businesses can compete on a more open and equal playing field with larger companies.
No matter what industry you’re in, you should always strive to heighten the experience of the customer while empowering them to consumer your goods or service. Taking this one step further, thanks to modern cross-platform services and experiences, customers now expect a highly personalized journey from the brands they engage with, big or small. For larger companies like Amazon, this is much easier to handle because they have the resources and processing power to make it happen. For a smaller business, that’s not always the case.
Tools like Interana and Opentopic, however, can make customer personalization much more accessible with the help of artificial intelligence. They rely on a vast store of data to deliver behavioral and predictive customer insights. Imagine knowing the needs and wants of your customer base even before they do? Such a thing is possible with the help of modern AI tools and predictive analytics support.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are incredibly capable and powerful technologies that nearly everyone should have access to — not just big business. In the past, this simply wasn’t a possibility because the processing power and required hardware was far out of reach for most smaller organizations. Today, however, that’s no longer the case as more companies prepare the technology for use by all, delivering open and affordable support through their own tools and applications.
The future of AI is good for us all, rather than just a select few. It will certainly change the face of modern business as we know it. According to Gartner, AI bots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions by the year 2020. That’s a huge deal.