Artificial Intelligence: It’s a buzzword we hear about more and more, yet many of us don’t quite understand it.
What exactly is AI? Do I need it for my business? And if so, how do I go about implementing it? Understanding AI and its use cases may seem overwhelming, but homing in on a few practical uses of this powerful technology can help your business thrive.
Though AI may seem like a highly complex technology, it is actually quite similar to any other technology that’s changed the way we work--like the Internet, the iPhone and wearable electronics. As AI has become increasingly mainstream, its adoption is becoming easier and more affordable for businesses of any size--even small businesses. Small businesses generated 12.9 million net new jobs in the last 25 years, making up every 2 out of 3 jobs added to the economy. Providing employment for roughly half of the country’s workforce, it’s imperative for businesses to get ahead of this trend and understand how it can massively improve your business.
But first, what is AI?And the hot generative AI tool that everyone is talking about these days, ChatGPT? Although it seems to just recently be making headlines across the world, a study by McKinsey found that the percent of organizations adopting AI had jumped 30%, from 20 to 50 percent. Artificial Intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines to learn and perform tasks using human-like intelligence. ChatGPT is a chat tool powered by AI. Based on user prompts or questions, it can generate a human-like response by processing spoken and written human language. This explains the initials in the name, GPT standing for 'Generative Pre-Trained Transformer.'
Interested in the practical use cases of AI for your business? Keep reading.
Though your company likely already has Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems in place through popular platforms like Salesforce, did you know that you may be leaving dollars on the table by not leveraging the data in your CRM for marketing efforts and more? Layering AI on top of your existing CRM, which many providers have already rolled out, can enable you to predict customer behavior down to the individual and suggest tailored recommendations grounded in personalization.
The busy working mom of three that’s always in a last-minute spring to get the kids ready with clothes and supplies for sleepaway camp? By using the AI insights from your CRM, you can reach her earlier in the season to send reminders about her favorite items coming in stock, or get her a personalized code for free shipping so she can save time.
We know the better you are able to put the right product in front of the right customer, the more chance you have at making a sale. Think about the last time you got an ad for a product you had just been thinking about. Machine learning solutions are capable of analyzing customer purchase histories, preferences, browsing behavior, search activities, and other data points and uses that information to develop highly personalized recommendations. AI-generated pattern recognition and predictive analytics can help you stay one step ahead of your customers, and the competition.
Tip: Square Customer Directory, which comes free with your Square account, can help you manage all of your customer data in one place. You can track a customer’s sales across your sales channels, use it for filtering and audience segmentation, send personalized email and text marketing campaigns, and much more.
In an increasingly virtual world, customers expect to get the level of tailored care and interaction they’d get within your brick-and-mortar on their couch, morning commute, and everywhere in between. And in the age of social media, small to mid-sized businesses have never had more opportunities to stay constantly engaged with their customers through channels like organic and paid content on Facebook and Instagram, email marketing and more. Bringing AI into your multi-channel customer service experience can improve it tenfold without stretching your resources.
Tip: Read more on how other businesses are using chatGPT for content creation here.
AI-based communications in the form of online chatbots can provide businesses, especially those that are growing quickly, with 24-hour customer service without the need to hire additional staff. Through AI, chatbots are trained to immediately answer questions from both existing and prospective customers, ensuring that your regulars are taken care of and your potentials become regulars. ChatGPT, for example, is great with sentiment analysis and can help businesses with large influxes of customer service requests to prioritize those that are most urgent. Businesses you already know and love are already using chatbots. For example, you can use the Sephora Virtual Artist app to try a product just by “uploading a selfie.” 1-800-Flowers, Casper, H&M, and Disney are some other examples. You can read more about those here. If you’re still not convinced a chatbot is necessary for your business, consider that 42% of adults believe it's important for retailers to offer live chat on their websites.
Though small businesses have historically been at the heart of their local communities, in a globalized world, local businesses can grow exponentially by reaching audiences far and wide. You can use advertising grounded in AI, offered by go-to advertising platforms Google and Facebook to target specific consumers around the globe who’d be interested in your product. Using AI in your advertising efforts means you can reach prospects without having to hire an army of marketers.
For small business owners, your job is not a 9-5 – it’s your around-the-clock, all-consuming passion. Owning a small business is much more than meets the eye, and thousands of hours go into back-office tasks that your customers will never see nor appreciate, like operations, logistics, accounting, employee training and more.
Though AI is often associated with front-office tasks like advertising and marketing, it’s just as effective for cutting down time spent on these “behind the scenes” activities. The time spent on automating these tasks means that business owners have more time to spend on innovation, customer service and growth.
Fortunately, AI has been on the front lines of the talent battle. Machine learning algorithms have sophisticated capabilities to review resumes and recommend top candidates based on experience, skills and traits. AI can also help you proactively reach and network with individuals that meet your criteria so that you can get ahead of contacting them before losing them to a larger company.
From data analytics to customer service to consumer targeting, advertising and marketing and even hiring, AI is revolutionizing the way small businesses operate. Your customers are forward-looking and you should be too.