How can small businesses leverage AI to gain a competitive edge?

How can small businesses leverage AI to gain a competitive edge?

Unbeknownst to many small-business owners, artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just for large companies. And like the most useful of tools, AI is a force multiplier that enables you to do way more with much less.

With a little forward thinking, you too can leverage AI to gain a competitive advantage and propel the growth of your business. Below are some of AI’s use cases that showcase its potential to do just that.

Intelligent chat

You don’t need a live representative to answer most customer queries. Many questions pertaining to return and refund policies, device troubleshooting, and how-tos can be answered by pre-programmed chatbots. And thanks to natural language processing, chatbots can hold the context of the initial query and answer follow-up questions much like a regular person would.

Chat dialog boxes are also becoming more sophisticated. That is, beyond merely offering text-based replies, chatbots can also send images and even explainer or how-to videos to fully address customers’ concerns. It’s also worth keeping in mind that one chatbot can handle multiple customers simultaneously, is available 24/7, doesn’t need breaks or leaves, and doesn’t become irate or rude.

An added benefit of using chatbots is that it allows you to reserve your human customer service representatives for higher value services, such as addressing extraordinary concerns and providing complex instructions. That is, until AI becomes smart enough to take those on as well.

Personalized shopping and customized services

AI programs can learn shoppers’ preferences by analyzing their search, viewing, wishlist, and purchase histories and comparing these with the histories of other shoppers. The more people shop at an AI-powered eCommerce site, the better that site can recommend items that shoppers are most likely to buy.

This can also be applied to service providers. To illustrate, a digital marketer can develop an AI-powered digital marketing app to track the effectiveness of online ads and other initiatives. That app may then analyze how well particular strategies are working for a client and use its findings to suggest changes to the current strategy or the addition of ancillary services.

Data mining and predictive analytics

Beyond enabling small businesses to provide highly personalized experiences to individual customers, AI can also examine large data sets and derive larger market trends. Armed with timely insights into shifting customer wants and desires, your business can make the best decisions about which goods and services to offer next.

Additionally, AI programs can go so far as to predict how much volume you need to stock or how much capacity you need to build up to render a particular service. This means you can anticipate demand when it increases and when it tapers off.

Dynamic business process optimization

While many business processes are routine, others may be ever changing. With product shipment, for example, you have to consider factors such as courier capacity, delivery route, delivery prioritization, and heaviness of traffic. AI can optimize the delivery process so that shipments are timely and never costly.

And depending on how well-built AI programs are, these can also be used to remove human bias in processes such as recruitment. AI-powered recruitment programs can easily sift through thousands of applications, and shortlist and rank applicants based purely on how well they match hiring requirements. Importantly, these programs can eschew factors that may affect human assessors, such as age, race, gender, and educational background.

Bespoke manufacturing

Custom-made items such as suits and shoes tend to be expensive because of the expertise and effort it takes to produce them. However, with technologies such as 3D scanning and 3D printing, small businesses may find a niche in designing products that are one-of-a-kind but relatively more affordable.

But wait, where does AI fit into this? If you factor in biometrics such as gait analysis and foot biomechanics into your measurements, then AI can come up with product designs that are optimized for customers.

Excited to leverage AI?

Competitive advantage simply boils down to being faster, better, or more affordable than your rivals. To learn how you can use AI to win more customers, talk with our IT specialists at In-Touch IT. Schedule a consultation today.

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