COVID-19 has shaken small businesses to their core. When you talk to small business owners, you see that they feel anxious. If their business survived the months of quarantine and stay-at-home orders, they are likely saddled with the debt and struggling to keep their door open with only a fraction of the customers they had prior to the pandemic.
Many small businesses that were reluctant to embrace technology, such as social media and websites, are just trying to figure out how to make the most of these tools that are new to them. Their primary concern is just keeping the lights on. They are not focused on navigating the complex web of existing technology, much less technology that is coming down the pipeline.
The focus is on using technology that makes it easier for them to do the basics. This includes accounting technology, invoicing technology, and technology that allows them to accept diverse forms of payment. However, adapting to a post-COVID-19 world and thriving as a small business in this environment will depend on their ability to embrace new technologies. Foremost among these is artificial intelligence.
Do Small Businesses Benefit from Artificial Intelligence?
The key to answering this question is understanding that artificial intelligence is benefiting people’s lives in ways they don’t realize. Most people use movie streaming services, sites like YouTube, and various forms of social media. The movie recommendations, video recommendations, and recommendations that appear on social media feeds are all influenced by artificial intelligence.
This means that most customers unknowingly expect artificial intelligence to influence their interactions with businesses. Artificial intelligence can help a small business be more effective. It allows businesses to improve the quality of the products and services they offer. Artificial intelligence is not a business fad. It allows employers, employees, and customers to make good decisions and offer their best services. The following are three ways AI can help small businesses succeed.
1. AI Helps Small Businesses Stay Ahead of the Competition
Small businesses are using AI at an increasing rate to become better engaged with their customers. This increases sales and profit margins.
AI allows small businesses to communicate effectively with their customers at every stage of the buying process. This includes via websites, through apps, and in stores. AI allows customers to have a personalized experience by engaging with brands. This increases the chances of a customer making a spontaneous purchase because AI makes recommendations based on previous interactions between the customer and the small business.
Customer Relationship Management platforms are essential for small businesses. They keep track of your interactions with your customers so that each time you interact with the customer, you are not starting from zero. Customers feel cared about when a small business can seamlessly follow up with a conversation the customer had with customer service, a salesperson, or via live chat.
AI offers the ability to deliver actionable predictions. This information helps sales representatives to point customers in the right direction. It benefits them by giving them a unique visualization into the data they have available. AI helps small businesses take the data they collect from customer interactions and translate that into actionable steps that can give a small business a leg up on its competition.
2. AI Can Be Used to Train a Sales Team
Each member of your sales team has a preferred learning style. Some learn better through video and webinar platforms, others via in person training, and others from audio guided presentations. AI power training programs make it possible for your employee training to be adaptive. You can use tailored modules to meet the needs of each of your employees.
For some employees, it may be better to build visuals based on written content. Some employees are going to do better with in person training, especially if there are certain aspects of the sales training they are struggling with. AI allows a small business to create smarter training content that is intuitive and responsive to the way the employee learns. While it may be a larger initial investment in training than most small businesses are accustomed to, it pays dividends in the long run because the training time is reduced and the employee’s retention level is increased.
AI makes it possible for small businesses to give continued training to their sales team. For example, there is software that allows you to record and transcribe each call a sales rep has. The strategies used by individual sales reps can be compared with sales reps who are the most successful. From there, it can make an analysis to identify the words and phrases that are the most successful and the ratio of time a sales rep spent talking compared to listening.
AI makes it possible to create and share successful techniques throughout an entire organization. It helps small businesses identify what works.
3. Identifying and Removing Fake Reviews
For e-commerce, reviews are the primary form of advertising. Products that have positive reviews are going to sell better than those that have no reviews or that have many negative reviews.
Since reviews are so important, fake reviews can be fatal. A fake review could be spam where the reviewer just wants to sell their product or service. Or it could be a review that offers misleading information about the quality of the product or service being sold.
Artificial intelligence is tackling this problem head on. It can scan the review section of the site and identify reviews or content that seems suspicious. Artificial intelligence can be used to immediately remove this information, or the site’s administrator can be alerted so that a human can review the content.
Why Small Businesses Should Learn about AI
AI is becoming more important in business. Small businesses can take advantage of AI’s ability to improve training, identify fake ratings, and offer tailored services to customers.
Artificial intelligence is expensive. But it is also effective. Small business owners would do well to learn more about AI. They should identify the AI applications that will give the biggest boost to their product or brand.