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9 ways small businesses use AI to grow


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AI is changing the way we work, and small businesses might just be poised for the most radical transformations because of this technology. Intelligent automation, when properly used, can free up small teams to do more with limited resources, improve customer experience, and even scale up when it’s time. Let’s look more closely at how AI can change the game for small businesses.

Why are more small businesses using AI?

Since generative AI first gained popular attention in 2023, people have been fascinated by its ability to produce natural language narratives nearly instantaneously. It wasn’t long before innovative thought leaders started to see its real potential as a business tool.

Today, businesses of all sizes turn to AI to improve efficiency, support employees, and enhance communication. AI helps small businesses punch above their weight, gaining a competitive edge and driving strategic growth. As AI technology advances, small businesses find it instrumental, helping them to remain agile, make informed decisions, and unlock new opportunities.

eBook: Learn to leverage AI for your small business

9 ways small businesses can use AI

From streamlining customer support with AI-powered chatbots to automating routine tasks and gaining insights through data analytics, you can leverage AI to optimize your operations. You can use it to personalize marketing campaigns, enhance communication platforms, and streamline the talent acquisition process.

1. Enterprise-level polish on a small-business budget 

Many technologies take several years to reach critical mass at the enterprise level before they percolate down to small and midsize businesses. That’s not the case with AI, which has gained an immediate foothold in businesses of all sizes. That’s because AI is highly affordable and a tremendous value for the money. 

With AI, you can automate tasks normally requiring so much manpower that they would be cost-prohibitive. This technology can synthesize and summarize vast amounts of information within minutes, freeing humans for the high-value activities they do best. 

For example, small teams can use AI to keep track of notes in video meetings and on calls with customers so they can focus more on big ideas and strategy. Here’s what RingEX Smart Notes looks like:

2. Free up time for small teams 

You can use AI to automate routine tasks and streamline operations. For example, most customer service inquiries center around very common questions or concerns. AI-driven chatbots can understand exactly what a person is asking for and deliver the right answers quickly. That saves time for a small staff and provides the added bonus of keeping customers happy. 

AI also automates repetitive and time-consuming tasks such as data entry, scheduling, email and social media sorting, and managing records. When many of these tasks are done manually, errors tend to creep in. By automating these tasks with AI, you reap the additional benefit of fewer errors and increased productivity.

3. Improve customer interactions and experience 

AI has great potential to improve the customer experience (CX). Automated chatbots save time and money and offer great self-service options for customers who want immediate answers. As a bonus, they’re available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. AI also makes it possible to personalize those interactions, further enhancing customer satisfaction and making your small business seem like a much larger one.

Yes – Small businesses need contact centers, too

4. Data analysis and insights

AI lends itself to powerful data analytics that offer actionable insights for managers. AI offers predictive analytics for sales forecasting, customer behavior analysis, and more. By analyzing outbound sales calls, for example, AI can identify opportunities for coaching in skills like empathetic communication or effective cold calling.

Because AI can discern human sentiment, it is well-suited to assess employees’ soft skills, identify learning opportunities, and deliver engaging, interactive soft skills training. Here’s what sentiment analysis looks like in RingCX‘s conversation tracker: 

RingCX quality management

5. Marketing and lead generation

AI has amazing potential for enhancing your company’s top line. Imagine, for example, that during an online meeting one of your customers mentions that they have just merged with a smaller competitor. That could mean more business for your company, provided that you follow up proactively.

AI can identify potential revenue opportunities like that and support targeted campaigns at scale. AI-powered chatbots can streamline audience segmentation, lead generation, and lead qualification, helping you focus on the prospects that matter most.

6. Employee productivity and collaboration

conversation intelligence - video meeting summaries

AI supports efficient project management and task automation as well. AI-driven communications platforms can summarize conversations, identify action items, trigger workflows, and more. AI-driven virtual assistants can help with scheduling, reminders, and workflow optimization.

7. Cybersecurity and data protection

It’s more important than ever for small businesses to remain attentive to potential security threats. Until now, cybersecurity has required a combination of technical monitoring and employee training. Nevertheless, the human element often remains the weakest point. AI-driven communications intelligence can help you identify and mitigate threats proactively by detecting unusual patterns and potential security breaches in real time.

At the same time, AI-driven security protocols help  ensure data protection and regulatory compliance, which has historically been a time-consuming and difficult job for small businesses in heavily regulated industries.

8. AI in HR and talent management

AI assists with recruitment and employee onboarding, identifying potential job candidates and automating applicant screening. It also supports rapid employee onboarding, which brings new hires up to speed quickly. That leads to higher productivity, fewer errors, and a happier workforce. Companies that use AI to support soft skills training also benefit from higher employee retention rates and a more positive workplace culture.

9. Adaptability and scalability

Today’s powerful cloud-based AI platforms offer immediate rich benefits for small businesses now and help ensure the same benefits as businesses grow. AI is inherently scalable, so you can expand rapidly without straining your AI-based systems and processes. Automation, training, analytics, employee onboarding, and customer support can continue apace, without adding to your growing pains. The inherent scalability of AI supports your company’s growth, without requiring a proportional increase in resources.

AI: The secret weapon for small businesses

The AI revolution is unfolding rapidly. As it does, innovative small businesses seize the opportunity to improve operational efficiency, enhance CX, upskill their employees, and identify new revenue opportunities. AI supports employees by automating many of their tedious day-to-day tasks, enabling them to shift to high-value activities. It enhances managers’ visibility to some of the most important factors in their companies’ success, providing deep insights based on details they were never able to see before.

For small businesses in particular, the inherent scalability of AI is a game changer, empowering leaders to make informed decisions, coach their employees effectively, and stay competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

RingCentral, the leader in AI-infused cloud communications, brings all the benefits of this new technology to small businesses in a single, fully integrated platform. RingCentral’s products are designed from an AI-first perspective, offering real-world benefits such as intelligent call routing, sales coaching, automated customer service, management insights, intelligent productivity tools, and more.

Many of the world’s leading companies rely on RingCentral to enhance their competitive edge. Small businesses can access all of those same benefits at a very affordable price. Learn more by visiting RingCentral today.

Originally published Mar 21, 2024, updated Apr 16, 2024

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