AI’s transformative powers won’t be limited to just enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can use AI-powered products and solutions to increase efficiencies and achieve strategic objectives. Using AI can be a crucial component for success, with 80% of U.S. SMBs with very high technology usage report growth in revenue, employment, and profits.1 SMBs can improve their operations and outlook by leveraging AI to streamline workflows across many business functions. AI is an emerging trend, as a recent survey found that 79% of small business owners are interested in learning more about how AI can be used to improve their business.2 Here are some possible ways AI can help SMBs.
Automate Repetitive Tasks
One of the immediate benefits of AI is to automate time-consuming and repetitive tasks such as data entry, scheduling, expense tracking, accounts payable, payroll, and more. AI learns and adapts to process large volumes of repetitive work with greater speed and accuracy. SMBs can save time and reduce the likelihood of human error by deploying AI-powered solutions across many business units, including accounting. A large majority (79%) of surveyed corporate tax and auditing professionals believe it’s beneficial to have AI assist them with their jobs.3
Improve Customer Service
With chatbots, SMBs can deliver prompt and accurate customer service and support, reducing wait times and mean time to resolution (MTTR) while saving on staffing costs. Upgrading the quality and speed of customer service with chatbots helps SMBs deliver a vital function to prevent customer churn. A high portion of consumers (73%) said they would switch to a competitor after multiple bad customer service experiences, and over half would leave after a single unsatisfactory service interaction.4 With AI, businesses can preserve their customer base and reputation, as chatbots can help increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.5
Streamline Marketing Operations
AI can help SMBs better connect with prospects and customers with more personalized, targeted marketing. This includes boosting engagement and conversion rates by using advanced algorithms to analyze customer data and create and disseminate tailored content and offers based on individual or segment preferences. Automating the operations of social media marketing and email nurture campaigns can increase efficiency, effectiveness, and reach. Many are realizing tangible results, as 28% of surveyed SMBs expect to save more than $5,000 in the coming year due to using AI for their marketing.6
SMBs are a favorite target for cyber criminals—61% were hit by a successful cyberattack in 2023.7 To bolster protection, SMBs can use AI to analyze vast amounts of data to detect suspicious behavior and scan for vulnerabilities. AI can help automate threat identification and mitigation and reduce the need for constant human supervision, a valuable force multiplier, since smaller businesses may not have the resources or budget to hire dedicated, seasoned security staff. With 58% of U.S. consumers willing to end their relationship with a company that exposed their personal information in a data breach8, safeguarding customer data is vital for SMBs.
AI is a strategic tool that SMBs can use to navigate the digital age. Those that embrace AI can realize immense benefits for their productivity, efficiency, and bottom line. By automating workflows and enhancing operations across numerous functions, AI can be a game-changer for SMBs in all industries.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Technology Engagement Center, The Impact of Technology on U.S. Small Business, 2023
- Microsoft, Microsoft study: Small businesses intrigued by AI and the opportunities it brings, June 2023
- Moss Adams, Study: 69 Percent of Accountants Said AI Has a Positive Impact on the Profession, December 2023
- Zendesk, CX Trends 2023, January 2023
- Chen, Q., Lu, Y., Gong, Y. and Xiong, J., Can AI chatbots help retain customers? Impact of AI service quality on customer loyalty, January 2023
- Constant Contact, Small Business Now: An AI Awakening, August 2023
- Blackfog, Cybersecurity Challenges for SMB’s, June 2023
- Axway, Axway 2023 U.S. consumer survey, 2023