How Artificial Intelligence Impacts Local Businesses
Artificial Intelligence is probably only up there with Voice Search as the hot topics in digital marketing, but which technologies can local businesses leverage for improved efficiency and performance? Here, contributor Daniel Bishop takes us through a few of the most high-impact technologies available to businesses.
If we take a look back at history, we’ll find that technological progress was frequently accompanied by economic growth. While it is difficult to know for certain which of the two phenomena was the cause, and which the consequence, we can at least confidently assert that they have a propensity for occurring in tandem. This realization taught us to be on the lookout for breakthrough technologies, as finding one would mean that we are on the cusp of a new economic boom.
Some analysts are suggesting that artificial intelligence is the next logical step in the evolution of technology, and hence a sign that we are about to experience a new era of economic prosperity. While it’s still too early to say what AI will be capable of in the future, there is a growing interest in the technology in the commercial sector.
Businesses of all sizes are starting to include AI-powered tech in their operations. If you’re thinking of becoming an early adopter of AI, your first priority should be to get informed about how the technology is currently being used for commercial purposes. To help you get started on the topic, I’ve put together an overview of the common uses of AI in business.
AI For Customer Service
Providing quality customer service is a prerequisite for acquiring new customers, and retaining existing ones. Unfortunately, customer service is difficult to do right when you are short on staff and resources, as is the case for most local businesses. Further aggravating the matter is the fact that customer service usually involves a lot of tedious busywork, which makes support personnel less than eager to engage with customers.
In order to address this issue, some local businesses have started integrating AI-powered solutions such as chatbots into their customer service departments. These automated conversation systems can automatically answer common customer queries over a channel such as instant messaging. They can also categorize support tickets, as well as route priority messages to team members, thus freeing up your service reps to deal with more meaningful tasks.
AI For CRM
Customer Relationship Management software is used to organize customer data coming from different channels, like social media, email, phone, etc. This allows people in sales to more effectively manage prospective and existing customers by means of marketing automation.
Modern CRM platforms such as Salesforce have an important additional feature—an embedded AI system called Einstein AI. This AI is capable of analyzing consumer sentiment based on data such as emails, social media posts, and phone conversations. It can also automatically adjust lead generation and marketing activities based on its findings.
This allows local business sales teams to acquire a better understanding of their customers, in addition to helping them automate significant portions of the sales process. By leaving the tedious parts of the work to AI, sales reps can focus on the more creative aspects of sales.
AI For Marketing
Marketing is frequently a sore spot for local businesses. While money is less of an issue than it was in previous decades, thanks to the wider availability of affordable digital marketing solutions, running a marketing campaign now requires substantial domain expertise.
Fortunately, local businesses now have the option to use AI systems specifically designed for marketing purposes. Platforms such as Albert AI can administer marketing operations across different channels, including social media, search engines, email, and others. They can analyze campaign performance of pay-per-click campaigns, and adjust spending accordingly without any supervision.
As a bonus feature, marketing AI can also automatically gather performance data, which businesses can then use to inform their decision making. AI-based marketing automation also allows local business to retain funding that would otherwise be used to maintain marketing staff.
AI For Competitor Analysis
Competition is fierce on the web, and local businesses need every advantage they can get to come out on top. Having intel on what your competitors are doing is one such advantage, but one that is hard to come by.
To be more specific, while it’s now easier than ever to observe what your competitors are doing thanks to the internet, analyzing their online behavior is a completely different matter. With countless site redesigns, content updates, new product offers, etc. being pushed every moment, it can be hard to determine which strategy your opponents are using.
This is where competitive intelligence AI comes into play. Competitive analysis tools such as Crimson Hexagon or Karna AI give businesses the ability to observe their competitors across different channels, helping them identify minute changes in their online behavior.
AI For Checkout-free Shopping
AI has the capacity to integrate data coming from many different sources. If placed within a retail context, this allows AI to infer how shoppers are behaving in stores. One use of this ability would be to set up checkout-free shops. Amazon is set to become a pioneer in this field with its Go project.
Go is a brick-and-mortar store that allows customers to enter a store, grab the items they need and exit without having to go through a checkout. Go utilizes machine learning algorithms and IoT sensors to understand what customers are doing in the store.
The store can automatically update the digital shopping cart of each customer, which is embedded in an associated mobile app. Amazon has just opened its first Go store outside of Seattle, and Chicago is set to be the next location.
AI For Human Resources
Employees are the most valuable asset a company has. For a businesses, having an engaged, well-organized workforce is even more important. However, it can be quite difficult to find the right people for the job, especially if you have to manually look over numerous applicants.
Nowadays, local businesses have the option of using AI for HR work, which is a huge boon for HR departments. AIs can automatically review individual applications to find whether the candidates match job designated job requirements. They can also determine who is the best candidate for the position, based on criteria you have specified beforehand.
For example, top software development agencies can automatically screen candidates based on their technical expertise, as provided in their CV and cover letters. This can save a lot of time for HR managers and recruiters, allowing them to focus their attention towards other more important matters.
AI For Determining Product-Market Fit
One of the toughest aspects of running a business is finding the product-market fit. This process used to involve manually combing through various kinds of consumer data in order to find relevant patterns. The difficulty of doing this was comparable to finding a needle in haystack.
Alternatively, local businesses were able to outsource this kind of work to third-party agencies, but these kinds of services tended to cost a lot. Today, local businesses can utilize AI-powered tools such as Keatext and Monkeylearn to analyze data at record speeds.
All you have to do is give them raw input such as customer reviews, email replies, or social media posts, and what you get as output are customer sentiments organized by category. Based on this info, local businesses can then figure out who their ideal buyers are and create marketing campaigns that target them specifically.
AI technology is making leaps and bounds each year, and we can expect the trend to continue in the future. As this happens, we can expect to see even more powerful AI tools on the market, a prospect that businesses should welcome with open arms.