All small business founders know that hiring the first round of employees is one of the most critical parts of the startup process. But what if you included an artificial intelligence in your hiring process? Now, AI is nowhere near the level it needs to be to accurately replicate a human employee, but they are surprisingly close. AI could be an integral part and major asset for your business.
Consumer applications of AI like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri have been around for a long time, and customers have become well acquainted with our digital butlers and assistants. One way that many businesses have started to capitalize on this familiarity is with AI chatbots. Companies like Dominos, AirBnB, and Spotify use chatbots that allow customers to do everything from order pizza to getting customer support. It is easy to integrate a chatbot into an existing site, or even use Facebook’s new integration features to have one right on your social media page.
An AI chatbot is incredibly helpful, because it can understand what a customer needs much better than a drop-down menu. A well-made chatbot simplifies the user experience of a website or service, making a plethora of options available to customers without them having to scroll through dozens of menus. Small businesses can easily utilize AI with a chat bot through services like Chatfuel which creates custom chatbots, or products like Zendesk and Converse that integrate AI within their base platform.
Analytics are key for making good business decisions, and an AI can help you sort through vast amounts of customer data to find patterns quicker than you could. AI is built to be smarter than your average dashboard, and especially for small businesses, can fill the role of a virtual statistician. The Salesforce platform is rolling out their “Einstein” AI later this year, which aims at helping business owners use AI to manage analytics and customer experience. Other platforms are also releasing similar features, so businesses are no longer forced to worry about implementing complex AI themselves. Powerful analytics like this enable small business to get information that formerly only large organizations with analytic teams had access to.
AI can be an essential tool in your business as well. Having an Amazon Echo in your conference room allows you to easily connect to services like Cisco WebEx or Citrix GoToMeeting. Slack integration allows you to simply talk to the device and send a text message to your team. Get startup news delivered straight to the device, or integrate your business metrics to hear them every morning over a cup of coffee. Time sheets, Scrum timer integration, and task lists only add to the abilities that AI can perform to maximize your performance in the office.
And finally, your business can benefit from AI not just by using it, but by being available to it. The Amazon Alexa platform has been opened wide by its new API, allowing any business to create personal assistants that customers can interact with via Amazon Echo devices. Dominos allows customers to order a customized pizza, REI enables customers to get sale information, and Redbox lets anyone check what is new to rent. Alexa has built in payments, so businesses can make a sale without the customer clicking a single thing.
If you aren’t excited about the future of AI, you should be. An AI can help interact with your customers, provide powerful analytics, help around the office, and sell your product. What more could you ask for in a virtual employee?