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AI For Any-Sized Business: What You Need to Know Now

AI For Any-Sized Business: What You Need to Know Now

AI will affect each department in your business differently, but one pattern seems to be true across the board: It will vastly improve productivity.

Recognizing keywords in videos. Responding automatically to live chat requests. Segmenting email lists for personalized marketing campaigns. Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way consumers make decisions and the way companies do business. Advances have already transformed and improved sales, marketing, and customer service strategies. What small business owners need is a plan for meeting these innovations head on and using them to pull ahead of the completion — instead of fighting to keep up.

Here’s what you need to know about AI to leave your competition in the dust.

Everything you need to know about AI for CRM. Get the ebook.

AI in Sales

When it comes to converting leads to customers, customer relationship management (CRM) systems have been ripe for AI innovation for years. CRM solutions allow teams to keep track of customer data, touchpoints, history, and preferences all in one place. Many CRM solutions also offer prescriptive sales tools that allow salespeople to automate aspects of the sales funnel, such as sending out a follow-up email after a call. Artificial intelligence takes that a step further.

Prescriptive Sales Tools

Using prescriptive sales tools is much like writing a recipe. Chop onion until it’s in small pieces. Cook in pan until caramelized. Add hamburger meat. Cook until brown.

Using prescriptive sales tools, on the other hand, might look something like this: Contact the lead by email to set up a call. During the call, deliver a pitch and answer the lead’s questions. After the call ends, send follow-up email. If you receive no response after one week, check in with another phone call. When you want to improve this “recipe,” you can change up various elements to refine the process as a whole.

With prescriptive sales tools, the recipe learns how to improve itself, automatically changing ingredients and processes to optimize on the fly. Examples include automatically sending a slide deck before that first sales call, or waiting three days instead of a full week to follow up. If the whole sales team is on board, a prescriptive sales tool can track each employee’s successes and failures to help improve overall performance. Jeff Charles of Small Business Trends likens it to having two brains: one for crunching the numbers and another for lead interaction.

AI in Marketing

This self-adjusting automation is being used in marketing as well. With AI, your marketing platform can not only send out pre-defined sequences of emails and ads, but it can also track and learn from customer behaviour to tweak the process toward what works well and away from what doesn’t. Amazon, for example, uses algorithms and AI to decide which “suggested products” to display for its customers, as well as what send in follow-up emails based on which items customers look up, what they put in their carts, and whether they complete a purchase or not. All this happens without human intervention.

Connections and Context

AI has made it easy to find potential customers where they hang out most: social media, Google search, and their favorite websites. This offers the opportunity to integrate marketing messages into customers’ daily routines. Many marketing platforms are equipped with the ability to listen to the buzz on social media, which enables marketing teams to learn how likely a prospect is to buy based on how many of their Facebook friends have already bought your product.

In short, artificial intelligence allows for wide-reaching marketing strategies that are incredibly adaptable and personalized.

AI in Customer Service

Researchers predict that by 2020, 85 per cent of all customer interactions will be managed by machines. If you’ve ever struggled through an automated phone system to get your needs addressed, that might sound disheartening. Artificial intelligence, however, enables computers to understand natural speech patterns, discern meaning, and respond appropriately — and quickly.

The problem with automated service in the past has always been low-quality interactions, but AI allows businesses to depend on these systems to deliver excellent service.

The Big Picture

Artificial intelligence is being hailed as the fourth industrial revolution. Retail, logistics, and automobiles have already seen these changes, while other industries are still fairly unaffected — for now.

AI will affect each department in your business differently, but one pattern seems to be true across the board: It will vastly improve productivity. While most business owners would jump at the chance to be more productive, others have concerns. According to a report by The Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Education in Toronto, 42 per cent of jobs are likely to be affected by AI. As technology improves, AI will be able to take over increasingly complex and cognitive jobs such as driving, retail sales, and administrative assistant tasks.

Understandably, many workers fear for their jobs in the rise of AI. Experts predict that while AI will disrupt the current job market, it will open new doors along the way for more skilled, specialized jobs. In fact, the Canadian Occupation Projection System (COPS) predicts that jobs with the lowest risk of automation will increase right alongside AI.

Thriving in an AI World

In response to AI development, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is taking a proactive approach, attempting to attract further AI research with the hope that leading the charge will promote a symbiotic relationship with technology, rather than one where technology and humans compete for work. He’s also making it easy for those who are displaced by AI to get additional training and education so they’re prepared to take on the jobs AI will never be able to perform.

Are you prepared for an AI world? A cutting edge CRM solution can help. Learn more in our ebook, “AI for CRM: Everything You Need to Know.”

Everything you need to know about AI for CRM. Get the ebook.

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Kathryn Casna More by Kathryn

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