How AI will make small businesses the next big businesses
Artificial intelligence will elevate the power of small businesses
AI-powered technologies are giving mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurial startups and other small firms access to sophisticated marketing and automation tactics that only big businesses used to be able to afford.
Affordable and accessible chatbots, CRM plug-ins, content creators and predictive analytics tools, for example, are elevating how owners can better serve their customers and grow their companies.
Potential clients turn into active customers when companies leverage new AI tech capabilities to deliver a more personalized, interactive experience for visitors to their websites and mobile apps.
AI can automate tasks and improve efficiencies to help small, overburdened staff departments get more done quickly. It can also help small businesses better connect with their target audience on an individual level, so potential customers immediately sense the relevance of the business — and feel that its products or services are worth their time and money.
Leveraging new capabilities
The beauty of this tsunami of change is that the AI does the heavy tech lifting, making it easy for us to both understand and use it effectively.
1. Personalized marketing
AI-powered analytics and marketing tools can now create real-time, tailored online experiences to best match each individual customer’s interests and needs. By using awareness of users’ demographics, past browsing and purchasing habits and other analytics, these tools can deliver — for example —coupon codes to entice a purchase and even send targeted follow-up marketing if a client browses an item without buying it.
Banks and credit unions are using similar tech to offer real-time, preapproved loan offers most likely to match a client’s particular financial needs, increasing the likelihood of customer conversion and simplifying the application process for both the borrower and the loaning agency.
2. Enhanced customer service
Nothing makes a small business seem low tech and outdated more quickly than having an info@ email address as customers’ only means of contacting the company. In today’s digital marketplace, even small businesses are expected to be on call and accessible around the clock.
AI chatbots can successfully offer immediate, automated responses to frequent customer questions and concerns, 24/7. Not only does this tech help cut down on customer response wait times, it also frees human customer service representatives to tackle only the most challenging case tickets, making for an all-around more efficient customer service approach.
3. Optimized operations
Every day, AI tools help small businesses run more effectively. Manufacturing firms use AI to identify ways to reduce raw material waste. Trucking firms leverage AI to identify optimal delivery routes. AI can also help small businesses with inventory management, increasing workplace efficiencies, handling supply chain logistics and much more.
4. Business growth
Using AI-powered content creation tools, such as ChatGPT, small businesses can now develop engaging social media posts, blog posts and other rich web content in minutes — helping drive both online and in-person traffic and sales.
For example, a small bookshop might use AI to brainstorm SEO keywords or foundational points for a series of articles about the season’s hottest new releases to drive in-person traffic to their store. AI can drastically reduce the time it takes staff members to create the posts, compared to writing them solely on their own.
For small businesses with little to no tech background, the thought of embracing AI may feel a bit daunting. Too often, firms feel they must wait until they’re ready for an all-encompassing AI overhaul of all their operations. This isn’t necessarily the best approach.
By implementing AI in a more nuanced, targeted way, firms can better see ROI on each individual AI strategy adoption.
Start small. Identify one goal that AI might help with, and then grow from there. Add an AI customer service chatbot or explore the possibilities of AI-driven marketing. Then, once these are successfully integrated, firms can look for additional AI tools to improve operational logistics.
The worst thing to do when it comes to AI integration, though, is nothing. This tech is not going anywhere. And the price for entry continues to come down — and in some instances is already free, in the case of open-source options. In the coming years, AI utilization will become an even more standard means of doing business, particularly as the metaverse and other augmented and collaborative opportunities for AI come online.
In the next five to 10 years, every business — whether large or small — will need to get on board with AI adoption or run the risk of being all but operationally obsolete.
How Wipfli can help
Ready to learn how new AI could help elevate your business strategy? Wipfli digital specialists can help you identify and integrate AI tools to address your most pressing operational concerns. Check out our digital strategy page to learn more.