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5 Artificial Intelligence Trends To Focus On To Take Your Small Business To The Next Level

5 Artificial Intelligence Trends To Focus On To Take Your Small Business To The Next Level

Artificial intelligence capabilities that were once reserved for larger entities are being democratized, so companies of all sizes can take advantage of them.

The advancements in artificial intelligence have been coming so fast and furious over the last two years that it’s tempting to think AI could also stand for “all-in.”

When a company goes all-in with AI, for example, that means it is leveraging technologies such as natural language processing and machine learning to sift through data at a quantity and scale that would have been unimaginable in the past. In doing so, they are also poised to dramatically enhance their ability to analyze data to develop their business plan and personalize customer experiences.

If there’s one reason companies hesitate to go all-in on AI, it’s probably a fear of the unknown. Unless you have a background in computer science, the inner workings of AI can seem mysterious. Until you’ve begun experimenting with it yourself, it’s not always clear how much you can rely upon AI for business purposes. Some small businesses may assume AI is also something they have to develop internally.

The reality is that AI is quickly being woven into existing technology platforms, including Salesforce’s Customer 360. That means the capabilities that were once reserved for larger entities are now being democratized so that companies of all sizes can take advantage of them.

Bringing AI features into tools small businesses already know and love also reduces the learning curve for employees, and business leaders can have greater confidence because they know the AI they’re using is backed by a partner they already trust.

The key thing to remember is that AI doesn’t have to be confined to some special project, like trying to forecast everything about the future of your small business and its surrounding ecosystem. You can make it a part of your day-to-day operations, so that it becomes deeply wedded to the processes that improve your team’s employee experience along the way.

These are just a few of the AI trends that you help get you closer to going all-in:

1. Improve the hiring process by identifying and removing bias

Finding, bringing on, and retaining the best people is a core part of running any successful business, large or small. Sometimes, though, despite the best of intentions, companies can wind up looking in all the same places for talent – and for all the same kinds of people.

AI can be trained to evaluate potential candidates from specific data and criteria, which means there is a greater focus on appropriate qualifications and experience. This is also a way of supporting diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that many companies are recognizing as a critical priority to stay in line with their values and those of their customers.

2. Analyze customer behavior to enhance experiences

Many business processes are designed to become as turnkey as possible. This includes which products and services get featured in marketing campaigns, the steps involved in e-commerce purchases and how product returns are handled. It’s not always clear where these processes might be disappointing or frustrating customers.

It’s impossible for most small businesses to keep an eye on every area that affects customer experiences. AI, on the other hand, can monitor everything at once, and at scale across your entire customer base. That means it can analyze interactions on your web site, your social channels, contact centre and any other channel. It will spot when customers abandon their shopping cart – or stop shopping entirely.

Instead of relying on guesswork or instinct, the customer data that AI analyzes gives you the ability to make changes to policies and practices with greater confidence. In turn, those changes reflect what customers really want.

3. Set up an automated way to create a great first impression

Many retailers have known for years that customers often appreciate being greeted the moment they enter a physical store, where they can explain what they’re looking for and ask for some expert advice. Doing a great job at this stage of the relationship can bode well for the lifetime value you can expect from those customers.

There was no easy way to replicate this kind of greeting online until the advent of AI. Now, however, tools like chatbots can act as dynamically and helpfully as a highly experienced store associate, or even the way a small business owner would with a new prospect. One of the most “intelligent” aspects of this use of AI is the ability to train such chatbots to route customers to a live human when needed.

4. Protect customers from the risk of fraud

There are obvious advantages in developing a digital experience where customers can create detailed accounts and profiles to manage their purchases and wishlists. There’s always the danger, however, that their personal information could be compromised by a third party that somehow got a hold of their access credentials.

AI takes fraud detection to a new level by being able to look through a treasure trove of historical data on each customer, including what they’ve bought in the past and when they tend to log into their account. This can be coupled with business rules that immediately block a suspicious login or a transaction using stolen usernames and passwords.

5. Brainstorm more (and better) ideas for marketing assets

A lot of small businesses want to do a better job of updating their blog, newsletter or social channels with compelling content. They often lack the time to come up with topics and themes that will work, though. Recent developments in AI can help here too.

Generative AI, for instance, can respond to prompts where you ask about the common pain points or priorities of a particular customer persona. The technology can provide a slew of concepts, or make it easier to develop outlines and even rough drafts of a content marketing asset. This can also become highly personalized, which is a huge opportunity: In fact, Salesforce Canada’s Consumer Experience in the Retail Renaissance report found that 40% of the business leaders surveyed use AI to personalize content across all channels.

Are you ready to go all-in with AI? There’s no question the technology is ready for you.

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