Artificial Intelligence, or ‘AI’ for short, may at first seem a bit scary to small businesses, unrelated to the day-to-day realities of running a restaurant, dry cleaners, bar or shop in London. But the potential for AI to help you to reach more customers, provide even better services and retain loyalty is huge. And most importantly, AI can free up your time, allowing you to focus on doing what you do best – running your business.
Here’s our easy to read guide on the top 5 ways AI can help grow your business:
With changing consumer expectations, brands must compete in areas that extend well beyond product range and price. Today, providing a great experience is a key battleground for business, and some of the best-known brands are using AI to get closer to consumers and improving on-demand support using chatbots.
The ability to be there for your customers on all platforms, from web to mobile, can help you provide 24/7 customer assistance and free up human customer service specialists to get to the customers with the most complicated problems faster. 56% of millennials have switched from one company to another because of underwhelming customer service.
Through messaging support and AI-backed virtual assistants, hotels can converse with guests in their preferred language, take reservations online, automatically make recommendations for nearby attractions, make restaurant bookings and even answer queries from guests. Usage of voice and text bots when making payments and shopping online is also on the rise – with ‘conversational commerce’ tipped to be the next big thing in retail.
And it’s not just your customers who could benefit – chatbots can also be used as a staff-facing tool, to help employees quickly find the information they need and therefore redirecting their focus on critical tasks, enabling them to become more productive over time.
AI augments the human workforce, enabling people to become more productive over time and redirecting their focus on critical tasks. For the Wholesale and Retail sector, this can lead to a profit increase of almost 60%.Accenture, How AI Boosts Industry Profits and Innovation
Keeping track of the various preferences of hundreds or even thousands of customers can be very time-consuming. From preferred menu items or hotel room features to favourite breakfast cereal – there are many ways to drive customer loyalty and satisfaction with marketing automation tools.
Research shows that 74% of customers say ‘I am more likely to buy a product that has been customized to my specifications’. With the introduction of just one new AI product, high levels of personalisation are possible that move far beyond a one-off personalised newsletter or user-specific page layout. You can now make customer-tailored promotions that select a summer wardrobe comprising items that not only will a customer like, but that will suit them and which you know are currently in stock – delivered at the right time and to the right device.
Whether we like it or not, reviews matter – and bad reviews always stick more in people’s minds than good ones. Reading and analysing all reviews that exist about your business online and on social media – as well as being able to respond in a timely manner – is a demanding task. But AI can help businesses understand what customers think makes a perfect experience and why people evaluate a brand in a certain way.
Data analysis isn’t something we normally think of when we think of selling pizza or running a vintage clothes shop, but simply put, it just means looking at your business and seeing where the opportunities are to sharpen up your marketing approach, or how you can increase sales or bookings. For example, AI can analyse huge amounts of data fast and help you focus on coming up with a better pricing strategy based on data about your competitors or predict how many customers you’ll have next month.
As more and more small businesses sell their stuff and take bookings online, the potentially staggering costs of payment fraud for retail and hospitality businesses becomes a serious problem. Traditional fraud detection systems require full-time manual effort to keep up as fraudsters are constantly coming up with new threats. But AI applications can use machine learning to detect likely fraud by keeping up with trends as they change and analyse underlying patterns. The benefits are obvious, as likely fraud is detected faster, avoiding potential costs this can incur, and freeing up time spent on manually updating fraud systems.
Remote Collaboration: Tools for Small Organisations and Businesses
Tools and approaches to help with remote working.
Protecting Your Business Online
Advice to help protect your business from online threats.