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AI in Business: How to make the most of Artificial Intelligence

Ready to unlock the potential of Artificial Intelligence for your small business? AI isn't just a futuristic concept anymore – it's here and revolutionizing the business world. With 35% of companies worldwide adopting AI in 2022 – a notable 4% leap from the previous year – it's clear that this technology is reshaping industries.

Especially for small businesses, AI is not just a tech buzzword; it's a game-changer. Whether it's streamlining operations, crafting targeted marketing campaigns, or enhancing customer service, AI is the tool that's amplifying results.

🚀 Dive into this article to discover:

  • Personalized marketing with AI: Engage your target audience like you've never imagined.

  • AI-boosted sales: Automate the nitty-gritty, leaving you more time to seal those deals.

  • Stellar customer service: Deliver real-time, AI-powered support that keeps your customers returning.

Moreover, the future seems even brighter, with 42% of businesses gearing up to embrace AI, according to a comprehensive report involving 3,000 business leaders spanning 17 nations. If you still need to get on this trend, now's the time.

Don't get left behind! Dive in and explore how AI can supercharge your small business endeavors.

And image representing the AI technology in small business

What is Artificial Intelligence?

At its core, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is like teaching computers to think and act like humans. Imagine giving a machine a set of instructions (we call these algorithms), and then it learns from those to make decisions, plan things, or even "learn" from new information. The more it gets to know, the better it becomes at its tasks.

You might not realize it, but you've probably used AI today. Have your phone ever predicted what you want to type in a message? That's AI at work! Or when you call a company and an automated voice helps you? Yep, that's AI too. Even something as simple as using a touch screen to order your favorite burger involves AI. It's quietly making our lives easier, one task at a time.

What is Generative AI?

Imagine having a smart helper that can create content for you, like writing emails, chatting with customers, or even taking care of your social media calendar. That's what Generative AI does! It's a kind of AI that can "generate" or produce content when you ask it to. Whether sending out automatic email replies, powering chatbots, or helping with SMS marketing, this AI is all about creating and communicating.

Still not sure if it's for you? A survey by GoDaddy spoke to small businesses all over the US and found some interesting stuff: out of 1,003 business owners, 38% already use Generative AI tools. Even better? 75% saw real, positive changes after bringing AI on board.

But here's an important thing: AI isn't about replacing your incredible team. It's about giving them a high-tech boost to spend more time doing what they do best - like building genuine connections with your customers.

AI in business: Use cases

When incorporating Artificial Intelligence in business, three use cases stand out: marketing, sales, and customer service. Let's explore each in greater detail. 

1. Marketing

The world of marketing is buzzing, and the buzzword is Artificial Intelligence. Why? Because AI isn't just about robots and futuristic movies; it's about boosting your marketing. How? Let's break it down:

  1. Understanding your market better: AI deepens into customer data, analyzing likes, dislikes, and everything in between. It uses cool tools like natural language understanding (think of how Siri or Alexa understands you) and sentiment analysis (detecting if customers are happy or annoyed based on their online comments). This helps your marketing team clearly understand what's hot and what's not.

  2. Targeted ads: Remember those ads that seem like they were made just for you? That's AI in action. Instead of throwing your ads everywhere and hoping for the best, AI checks out past customer behavior and pinpoints the perfect audience for you. Result? Your ads hit the bullseye more often, reaching folks genuinely interested in what you offer.

  3. Personal touch everywhere: AI helps create custom content that resonates with each customer. Whether it's a personalized product suggestion that makes them go, "Wow, I need that!" or an email crafted just for them, AI makes your brand feel like a close friend.

  4. Automating routine tasks: Ever wished for an extra pair of hands? AI is like having an always-on, super-efficient marketing assistant. It can schedule your posts, shoot out emails at the perfect time, and keep an eye on how everything's doing - from website visits to sales. This means you get a clearer picture of what works and what doesn't, helping you plan better.

  5. Chatbots making big Moves: AI-powered chatbots aren't just the future; they're the NOW. And here's a number to prove it: chatbots are projected to drive $112 billion in business revenue by 2024. That's a lot of conversations turning into cash!

So, if you dream of marketing that's smarter, faster, and more in tune with your customers, AI is your golden ticket!

By now, you've likely realized the transformative potential of AI. It's time to explore how integrating AI-driven marketing tools can strategically bolster your reach and efficiency.

Here are some specific tools that you can use for each of the marketing areas mentioned in the text:

Choosing the appropriate tools for your business requires significant time, resources, and commitment. The first step is to assess your business objectives and goals. What do you want to achieve with your business? Once you know your goals, you can look for tools to help you achieve them.

Next, you need to collaborate with your team. Get input from everyone who will be using the tools. What features are important to them? What are their pain points?

Finally, you need to evaluate the available options carefully. There are a lot of tools out there, and not all of them are created equal. Do your research and ensure you choose the best tools for your needs.

2. Sales

According to Salesforce's State of Sales report, the top use case for AI in sales is to help representatives understand customer needs, which can subsequently assist the sales team in closing more deals. Your knowledge of a customer's needs informs every decision you make in customer interactions, including your prospecting, pitch, and overall outreach approach.

The practical benefits of AI in sales are measurable. You can gain a competitive edge and close more deals by automating tasks, personalizing and automating customer interactions, and analyzing sales data. In fact, according to a study by Salesforce, 57% of senior IT leaders believe generative AI can help them better serve their customers, take advantage of data, and operate more efficiently. Another study by McKinsey found that AI can help companies increase their profits by up to 30%.

So, how can AI help you sell more? Here's a simple breakdown of what AI can do for business:

  • Automatize the repetitive tasks: Think of all the time-consuming tasks your sales team does repeatedly, like setting up customer meetings, sending reminder emails, or sorting through potential customers. AI can take care of these tasks for you. That way, your sales team can spend more time on what matters: getting to know customers and making sales.

  • Make your marketing messages more personal: Ever gotten an email that seemed to be written just for you? AI tools can help you do that for your customers. By sending marketing messages that speak to each customer's interests, you can grab their attention and have a better chance of turning them into buyers.

  • Help you make smart choices: AI can search mountains of information to find the clues that help you make decisions. Want to know which way of advertising gets the most people interested or which products are a hit with a particular group of people? AI tools can find that out for you.

  • Show customers what they want, when they want it: Imagine if your online store could read your customer's minds and show them exactly what they're looking for. AI technology can do something close to that! AI can suggest products they like by looking at what a customer is searching for. This helps customers find what they want faster and leads to more sales for you.

Here are several AI-powered tools that can help you or your sales team with various aspects of your sales process:

  • Answering customer questions: Sales chatbots like Drift and SalesLoft can chat with customers, answer their questions, and even set up appointments. These tools free up your team's time and ensure customers get immediate responses, making your business more accessible and responsive.

  • Figuring out which leads are worth your time:  Lead scoring tools like InsightlySalesForce, and HubSpot can assess how valuable a potential customer might be to your business. By ranking leads, these tools help you focus your energy on the people most likely to buy, making your sales process more efficient.

  • Finding new potential customers: Prospecting platforms like ZoomInfoSales Navigator (a LinkedIn premium subscription), and DiscoverOrg help you identify potential customers interested in what you're selling.

As mentioned in the previous section, the best tool you can leverage will depend on your business needs. If you want to automate answering customer questions, a chatbot platform like Drift or SalesLoft might be right. If generating leads is your goal, something like SalesForce, paired with prospecting tools, could be the answer.

2. Customer Service

Customer service isn't just a small part of a business; it's at the heart of it, especially for small businesses. When customers reach out, they're not just looking for answers; they're judging your business by how you treat them.

Good customer service can turn a curious shopper into a loyal customer and even an advocate for your brand. Excellent customer service can lead to more sales and happy customers who spread good words about your business.

But the flip side is true, too. A negative experience can send a potential customer running to a competitor, leave a bad review, or even result in legal problems. The final question here is how AI can make customer service even better. Here's how:

  • Automate tasks: AI can automate many repetitive tasks that customer service representatives (CSRs) typically do, such as answering frequently asked questions (FAQs), routing calls, and sending out email notifications. Automating tasks frees CSRs to focus on more complex tasks, such as resolving customer issues.

  • Provide 24/7 support: AI can provide 24/7 customer support, even when CSRs are offline. It is essential for businesses that operate in multiple time zones or have customers worldwide.

  • Personalized interactions: AI can personalize customer interactions by understanding their preferences and needs. For example, AI-powered chatbots can greet customers by name, recommend products or services they might be interested in, and answer their questions in a way tailored to their needs.

There are many AI tools to choose from, like chatbot programs Drift, Zendesk Chatbot, and HubSpot Chatbot, and tools for sentiment analysis (or opinion mining) like Google Cloud Natural Language API and Amazon Comprehend.

Chatbots are a big deal for talking to customers. In a survey by Dashly, 84% of businesses said chatbots were necessary, and 88% of people used a chatbot at least once in 2022. Chatbots are there when a real person can't be, so your small business can always help customers.

Whether it's by handling routine tasks, offering round-the-clock support, or adding a personal touch, AI is a powerful tool for small businesses looking to level up their customer service. If you're looking to make your customers happier and build a loyal customer base, it's time to consider integrating AI into your service. It might just be the change that sets you apart!

Using AI in business: Are you ready?

Using AI in business is a big step. Still, it's an approach that could greatly benefit your customers and employees. It's vital to include your team in the decision-making process. Consult with your sales department to understand how AI can enhance their efforts and provide value to your customers. Your customer service team can also offer insights into potential areas of improvement.

AI isn't just a trend; it's becoming an integral part of modern business practices. If you're ready to elevate your business to new heights, financing this expansion might be on your mind. That's where One Park Financial comes in, offering tailored financing solutions to small businesses like yours.

With over a decade backing small businesses, we have have fast and easy pre-qualification process. You need to be in business for at least 3 months and make sales of at least $7,500 monthly.

Is this a fit for your business? Get started today and get pre-qualified in minutes. Your business funding manager will reach out to you immediately to help you get the working capital you need.

Disclaimer: The content of this post has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or accounting advice. Consult with your tax, legal, and accounting advisor before engaging in any transaction.

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