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6 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Transform Your Small Business

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

Learn how you can leverage AI to better serve your business and your customers.

  • AI improves customer service.
  • It can increase productivity by 40%.
  • It provides more insight into customers and more effective marketing.

In the not-so-distant future, artificial intelligence will be able to perform many jobs. While this is a scary concept to a lot of people, you don't have to be afraid. For instance, AI has the potential to save you time and money by automating repetitive, menial tasks like scheduling, paperwork and timesheets. This will free up your time to focus more on strategy, ideation and creative pursuits to differentiate your business from the competition.

We use artificial intelligence more than we even realize. In fact, according to a study, only 33% of people think they use AI when, in reality, 77% actually use an AI-powered service or device. It's already in much of the software we use today and has the ability to drastically improve workflow and increase your profits.

You might be under the impression that AI is only for big, multimillion-dollar companies, but smaller companies are taking advantage of AI every day, and your small business can too. Here are six ways artificial intelligence can transform your small business.

1. Improve your customer service.

Customer service and support are some of the most important factors in maintaining customer satisfaction and reducing customer churn. For example, a customer might put in a support ticket and not hear back from you for hours. While this is understandable, some customers want their problem fixed now and will be dissatisfied when you take too long to assist them. You need to provide prompt customer service to keep your more difficult customers smiling, and AI can help you with that.

Automated chatbots for your website are a stellar way AI can improve your customer service. Using a chatbot can reduce your response time to one second and allow customers to connect with you 24/7, which enhances your relationship with customers and leads. Various tools collect data from your website, allowing users to have interactive conversations and get answers to frequently asked questions from bots. When a user can get their questions answered in an instant, they're more likely to sign up, subscribe and buy.

2. Gain customer insights and predict behavior.

CRM software is an important tool for small businesses to manage their interactions with current and potential customers. Typically it's used to keep contact details up to date and track phone calls, emails, and other customer interactions. But AI can take your CRM to the next level.

AI has allowed Salesforce to build the world's smartest CRM. Built into the Salesforce platform, Einstein can deliver predictions and recommendations based on your business processes and customer data. You can then use those insights to automate responses and actions to save time for your sales team and keep customers happy. 

3. Get better results from marketing.

When you create an ad, the goal is to reach as many new leads as possible – not just any leads, but targeted leads. Before AI, you could create an ad on social media and hand-pick the demographics of the users you wanted to see the ad, like their age, location and profession. But what if you could do even better than that and create a more successful ad campaign with AI? Luckily, you can.

Facebook ads are now more effective than ever with the addition of AI. Facebook's ad target users who are interested in what you have to say, because they're almost identical to your best existing customers.

4. Hire the best candidates.

Big businesses have a huge advantage when it comes to finding and recruiting top talent, but AI can help level the playing field. AI programs can gather data over time to learn the most effective hiring practices for your business. This includes where you find candidates, how you communicate with them, and even details on candidates' work history and qualifications.

5. Automate repetitive tasks.

There are many ways that AI can improve your productivity by automating tasks. According to Accenture, AI can increase productivity by 40% and increase profits by 38%.

AI can be used to compile reports and do basic accounting. Scheduling and keeping up with meetings can also be a hassle – AI programs can scan your employees' schedules and set a meeting time that works for everyone.

Tedious tasks like sorting images, transcribing, and cutting and pasting between different documents can now be performed by AI. This allows your employees to work more efficiently and makes their jobs more pleasant.

According to Wired, New York Foundling cut its turnover rate from 42% to 17% by automating mundane office tasks. Employee turnover is a significant cost to businesses, so decreasing turnover in itself increases profits, in addition to the increases due to productivity.

6. Boost your cybersecurity.

With AI, cybersecurity goes beyond just flagging abnormal behavior based on fixed parameters. Darktrace learns your normal business operations and picks up on anything outside the norm. It can stop advanced email attacks and provide security reports within seconds. Frighteningly, 94% of advanced email attacks get past standard email security filters, but Darktrace is designed to catch and stop them.

Most importantly for small businesses without a dedicated security team, Darktrace responds to security threats on its own. It knows the right actions to take and when to take them to keep your company safe, and it's able to act more quickly than a person.

AI is no longer just for self-driving cars. Businesses of any size can use it to transform their sales, marketing and customer service without spending a fortune. Don't be scared of this futuristic technology. Embrace it, and you'll see that your revenue will soar to new heights.

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