Anyone acquainted with business news in recent years has probably been able to spot the “AI in business processes” hype. In a way, it’s not surprising that companies are raving about using artificial intelligence in their day to day operations, as statistics speak for themselves.
According to PwC 2018 survey on 500 business executives, 54% claim that AI solutions implemented in their businesses have already increased productivity in their company. Savings-wise, AI offers unmatched opportunities. Just within the chatbot field business implementations of AI, researchers predict almost 11 billion USD in savings within the next five years.
Given these figures, it’s no wonder that businesses are jumping on the AI train en masse. The PwC survey of over 1,000 North American business executives clearly paints the trajectory for this year. According to their statistics, 20% of surveyed organizations will implement AI enterprise-wide in 2019. Moreover, large enterprises seem to be far ahead in the game, already reaping the benefits of AI in their day-to-day operations through increased work efficiency, reduced employee workload, improved customer service and honing in on otherwise missed opportunities.
With all the hype going around, it appears that it’s a good time to join the AI bandwagon. However, to many SMBs this wagon might sound unachievable: big data requires extensive development and processing power, not to mention the amount of knowledge and expertise to roll out a solution which could utilize this data – even if it’s properly gathered and supplied. It may thus seem that smaller and mid-size companies are on the short end of the AI revolution and can miss out on the amazing opportunities outlined by the statistics quoted above.
However, this does not have to be the case. In fact, many AI-backed solutions are already out there, ready to serve mid and small-size businesses in a heartbeat.
We’ve probably heard of chat rooms and early chatbots – pieces of code which can sometimes mimic a human being during a text-based conversation. Chances are, that you already interacted with a chatbot in the past, when a window popped up on your screen asking you if you need help or a pointer in the right direction when visiting a website.
But did you know that these chatbots can be artificial-intelligence backed?
Let’s take a look at My Social Seller, for example. Unlike the bots of the past, which were merely a text-based search engine which would queue in on your individual keywords, the MSS chatbot is actually a pretty proficient English speaker. In fact, the bot can understand synonyms, recognize emotions and learn though natural conversation.
This advancement in human-bot understanding is a result of combining the bot technology with artificial intelligence back-end. As the user converses with MSS, the bot utilizes NLP (Natural Language Processing) to better understand the user. Moreover, when the time comes to giving a reply, the bot uses the same technology to create natural, human-like answers, rather than synthetic, data-structured replies.
The end-result is a pleasant, natural sounding conversation between a piece of technology and the customer. Whereas previous bots were characterized by their robotic operation, the new bots can sometimes be quirky or exhibit certain traits of a character. Of course, all this is learned and carefully planned by the designers and those ‘training’ the bot.
Training the virtual employee
The concept of “training” a piece of software is revolutionary in itself. Historically, even simple chat-based programs such as bots required extensive back-end work in order to make them function. What was missing was the intelligence part – such as being able to make connections between data points and the ability to understand a re-phrased question.
With the advent of artificial intelligence, a new field of human-bot interaction has begun. Rather than spending hours manually inputting data to service every question (and subsequently every variant of each question) the My Social Seller bot takes advantage of the AI back-end to gather this data from a natural conversation with its Trainer. As such, the tedious programming and data-entry task is eliminated, and deploying a bot is no longer a job for a programmer, but rather, of any employee or a specialist in their field.
AI for every business
Chatbots, overall, are usually quite easy to implement and they work right away. A few lines of code added to our website or a company Facebook page will make the chatbot appear almost instantly.
Upon installation and a rather quick training, chatbots – such as the MSS – can bring enormous benefits to even the smallest businesses.
First of all, chatbots such as the MSS can serve several customers at the same time, across many channels. Handling several discussions at the same time is nearly impossible for a human being – yet it’s nothing unusual for a chatbot. In fact, the MSS can handle almost unlimited amount of discussions at the same time, as it can be cloud-based and not limited by local technological constraints (such as the computing power we have available in our company servers).
Second, chatbots retain all knowledge and never make mistakes. This is especially important in high-rotation customer service operations, where new employees have to be trained and hires can be prone to making first-day mistakes with customers. Here alone, the savings due to reduction of employee training and consistent data retention are hard to underestimate.
Third, chatbots provide our businesses with 24/7 operations. Whether it’s customer service, warranty, logistics or tech support, chatbots can work around the clock to maximize your customer satisfaction. Moreover, as a business owner, you’ll never have to worry about additional staffing after business hours to provide service to customers form different time zones.
Last, but not least, chatbots can easily take care of repetitive business tasks. For example, every customer service inquiry always begins with obtaining information related to the client and their request. Before an employee beings to provide service, he/she spends several minutes per day constantly asking the same questions in order to manually enter the data into our business software. This task – as well as countless others – can be easily automated by a chatbot. With just a click away, the chatbot can obtain all necessary information from a client and only ask our employees to intervene, when the chatbot cannot fully help the customer by itself.
SMBs do not have to miss the AI revolution. In fact, AI-backed solutions are already out there, ready to serve even the smallest businesses. Recognizing the potential of chatbots in business process automation can help medium and small-size businesses jump on the AI bandwagon, and begin reaping the benefits of the latest technology in business operations.