Artificial intelligence, no future: present

By Jamie Domenici

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words “artificial intelligence?” The 2001 movie with Haley Joel Osment? Or maybe Skynet or Terminator? You’re not alone. The latest hot trend in technology, artificial intelligence (AI) can seem frightening at first. Small companies are especially worried — and not about a robot uprising. Won’t AI eliminate jobs? Or give big businesses an unfair advantage?

As it turns out, AI may actually be an SMB’s new best friend. It can help you learn from your customer interactions and data, not only to help you with what you ask, but also anticipate your needs. At Salesforce, we’ve been working to make AI easily available for every business, large or small. Even if you only have a few employees, it can help you offer better customer experiences. Here’s how:

  • AI uncovers insights that help you make smarter decisions. Today many businesses make decisions — like which customers to focus on, and what offers to send them —  based on incomplete information. Worse, they have to “pull” these insights out of their data, which can be a complicated, time-consuming process. If your CRM includes AI, not only will you have complete customer data in one system, insights will be “pushed” out to you, so you can make timely, intelligent decisions about your business. With AI you’ll know which leads and opportunities have the most potential.
  • When you can anticipate outcomes, you’ll know where to focus your energies. AI can capture signals you and your team might miss, looking for correlations and sentiment in your customer data. For example, if your customer support tool can predict how customers are feeling based on recent interactions they’ve had with you, you can use that information to build stronger relationships and reduce churn. So if it seems like a customer may not not feeling great about your company, you can take proactive steps to turn the relationship around — instead of waiting for them to tell you they’re unhappy.
  • AI will suggest best next actions to take so everyone on your team can be more effective in their jobs. Sales will understand what steps they need to take to close the deal with each customer. Service agents will automatically get suggested solutions and actions to satisfy customers encountering a specific issue, or anticipate issues before they become big problems. Marketers will be able to segment and build audiences based on likely future actions and then automatically adapt the journey for individual customers so they receive the right offer at the right time.
  • AI can take care of routine, repetitive tasks so everyone at your company can be more efficient, which is a game changer for SMBs with limited resources. Tasks like logging notes in your CRM and deciding how to route new inquiries can now be automated, so your team can put its energy toward activities that will move the needle for your business. Just think, if you could increase the productivity of your sales reps, service agents, and marketers, you could build your business that much faster. When every employee is more productive, you actually hire *more* people!

It turns out AI is not the job-killer many small businesses fear. In fact, it can help you be more efficient, work smarter, and offer better customer experiences. It’s your new BFF. It’s here, and it’s available for companies of every size. Give it a try today!

A marketer, mom and lover of all things Small business oriented. Tahoe is my happy place. Proud to work at Salesforce but all thoughts here are mine.