- By Rashi Gupta
India is home to more than 63 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The industry generates more than 69 per cent of employment in India, primarily in tier-II and III towns. This ensures that wealth is not only generated but also distributed more evenly across the country. SMEs also have a major role to play towards making India a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
To unlock this massive potential of the Indian SMEs, it is important for them to not only ride but stay ahead of the digital wave. This helps businesses add speed, agility, nimbleness, efficiency, and effectiveness to their operations. Thankfully, in 2018, the sector witnessed a 60 per cent boost in business via the internet economy, a good sign that SMEs are not far behind in terms of digital adoption. However, there is much more to digitisation than mere connectivity. Providing a personalised and customised customer experience is the next big frontier for SMEs.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important enabler for providing a personalised and customised experience. Based on powerful analytics engines that analyse several data points about consumer behaviour, artificial intelligence can create an experience that matches the real-life experiences. Here’s such an experience can automate several business functions and give a competitive edge to SMEs.
Personalised marketing and sales connect
Marketing and sales are often the first consumer touchpoint. This is the make it or break it step when it comes to cracking a deal. Therefore, it is important to craft marketing campaigns with a personalised appeal. AI engine does this by factoring in finer details about thousands of users such as age, gender, location, occupation, social status, likings and disliking, and so on. Such campaigns have a better chance to strike the right chord with the audience. All this can be done without much human intervention.
Another important area for AI is to qualify the right sales prospects. However hard a human team tries, there is always a chance of missing onto hot leads or wrongly following the cold leads. Artificial intelligence is revolutionising the marketing and sales function in many ways. Based on past behaviours, an AI-based CRM solution can help extensively to identify the most potent leads and allow the sales team to focus on closing the deal. AI can also be leveraged to analyse the ongoing discussions with prospects and predict the probability of deal closure and the expected time span.
Simplified customer support
Chatbots are not a new concept. However, AI has been empowering these bots to provide a near-human experience. So, instead of handling simple queries around a predefined FAQ, these bots can answer based on their natural language processing abilities. At the backend, the system can fetch several data elements such as delivery status, reschedule deliveries, proactive response to customer feedback, and much more. All of this can be done across multiple social media channels, email, or even WhatsApp. This simplifies the consumer journey and reduces the operational cost for SMEs. Realising the effectiveness of bots, businesses are deploying these solutions to resolve up to 90-95 per cent of the customer queries automatically.
Most SMEs face staff crunch and cash flow challenges. This makes operational efficiency of utmost importance. With the help of AI, several mundane tasks can be automated with significant accuracy. This allows the team to focus on creative discussions and processes which require human intelligence and decision-making ability. Time efficiency also allows SMEs to scale up quickly with minimal additional expenses. At the same time, people feel more engaged and bring their best at work.
There are several other use cases and benefits for SMEs to implement AI. Given the variety and complexity of information churned out by businesses and their consumers every second, there is a limit for human teams to attain any meaningful insights. An AI-equipped database overcomes these barriers and allows SMEs to make smart and timely decisions. Therefore, by combining human and artificial intelligence, SMEs can not only up their game but also take the nation and society ahead.
(Rashi Gupta is the Chief Data Scientist & Co-founder at Rezo.ai. Views expressed are the author’s own.)