AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is a very useful but very complicated concept. When you use AI for your small business, you’re swapping an employee for software – AI is essentially a computer programme that can learn and reason the same way a person can. The more you use AI, the more they learn, and the better they become at their assigned task.

It can’t actually ‘think’, so it’ll still come in second place to humans in some respects, but there are departments in which AI is far superior to a human employee.

There are various fields in which technology can help small businesses, and AI is no different. This article will list a few of the best places you can use AI in your small business, such as:

  • Customer service
  • Hiring
  • Scheduling
  • Cybersecurity

Customer service

You’ve likely encountered customer service AI in your personal life, as they are a very common tool for large businesses to deal with customers’ questions. This kind of AI most commonly comes in the form of chatbots, which you might recognise as the little conversation boxes that appear in the corner of some websites.

Customer service is a great place to use AI as you can get direct customer feedback for the bot to learn from. As well as learning from the conversations they have with customers, a good chatbot should automatically ask customers how helpful it was, so that it knows where it went right and where it went wrong. 

AI is also well suited to customer service because they are always working. One of the key factors you need to consider for good customer service is availability, so there’s no better substitute than a chatbot that’s available 24/7.

Although chatbots most commonly are used in bigger businesses that have thousands of customers sending thousands of queries, they are also a great tool for small businesses. A small business might not have employees to deal with every customer, so a chatbot like those offered by services such as Intercom or Zendesk can fill that role. 

Hiring

Whether you’re hiring your first employee or taking on a whole new department, AI can help make the process smoother.

Using AI for hiring staff is simple. First, you’ll teach the AI what you’re looking for in an employee (and what you don’t want) by entering a series of keywords. Then, the AI will examine the applications and CVs of your candidates to try and find the best combination of these keywords. Then it will return the best prospects to you for further consideration.

One of the biggest problems with hiring is bias, whether unconscious (like men preferring to hire men over women) or conscious (such as hiring a friend or family member over a stranger with better qualifications). AI tools like Arya don’t have these biases, so you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re interviewing the best people for the job. 

The AI can also save you time by automatically contacting candidates’ references via email, or assisting during interviews by checking candidates’ answers for your chosen keywords. 

The important thing to remember when using hiring AI is to provide it with feedback. You’ll need to provide the AI with information about how successful its choices were and how well they aligned with your original hiring criteria.

Scheduling 

Scheduling AI is great for small businesses as you’ll very often have a ton of things on your to-do list, and may struggle with deciding what to prioritise.

AI scheduling software can be programmed using your previous schedules so that it learns how you like your routine. It will then arrange appointments around your workload, and pick the best times for you to work on different projects. With enough feedback, artificial intelligence can learn how long you usually take to complete a certain task. It can then set aside an appropriate amount of time for you to complete that kind of task in future. 

Scheduling AI – one example is the scheduling service Kronos – can also schedule employee workloads. You can put employee records into the AI so it understands the rate at which your team works. If you programme it with further details like sales figures and shift patterns, it can also learn peak times for customer activity. The AI can then combine this information and provide a balanced schedule so your team doesn’t get overwhelmed.

We have more articles scheduling tips for small businesses and improving your time management, so check them out if you want further tips on spending your time wisely. 

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity refers to how you can protect your business from online threats and maintain the integrity of your files and data. 

AI can take care of any cybersecurity issues by checking your business’ computer network for threats or vulnerabilities. The best examples of cybersecurity AI come pre-programmed with a library of potential security threats, and the software will make adjustments to your network to ensure you’re no longer at risk.

The biggest advantage of cybersecurity AI for small businesses is that it’s cheaper than hiring a cybersecurity expert. Some cybersecurity software like Darktrace even comes with a  free trial of its services.

Unlike hiring AI or scheduling AI, cybersecurity systems usually already know how to protect your business, so they’ll not need much input from you to do their job.

Automating your financial admin

When it comes to your financial management, you can save yourself hours of work by using the Countingup app.

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 
Find out more here.

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