How SMEs can create a competitive advantage through AI

With industry giants such as Amazon and Alibaba dominating the marketplace, it’s no surprise that SMEs often struggle to compete on equal footing. But one key area of differentiation where smaller businesses can win is customer experience. CX has become the driver of success for businesses of all sizes and presents a particularly huge opportunity for SMEs.

Studies show that customers will pay more for a better experience. That’s a good advantage that smaller retailers can capitalise on. Often, bigger retailers compete on price alone rather than providing a personalised customer experience. SMEs have a unique opportunity to make their mark and build lasting customer relationships. Of course, providing a great experience isn’t an easy task, especially when it comes to meeting the sky-high expectations of today’s customers. This is where technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), can help.

Levelling the playing field with technology

The definition of a great customer experience can be subjective. For some customers, it may mean the ability to quickly self-serve as they’re looking for answers to questions at midnight before they complete a purchase; and others may be impressed by a personalised experience like product curation and recommendations based on their previous purchases. Whatever the experience may be, AI can help SMEs deliver on it. Here are a few ways how:

  1. Deliver 24/7 service. There aren’t many small organisations out there that can staff an entire contact centre around the clock 24/7, 365 days a year – but AI is changing that. Whether it’s through chatbots or dynamic FAQs, service and support questions can be answered whenever and however the customer needs.
  2. Meet customers where they are. Can you imagine walking into a store and not having someone offering to help you? That’s often the experience for customers shopping online. They’re searching around for hours trying to find the product that’s right for them. Conversational chatbots can help proactively guide customers through a personalised shopping experience — engaging with them at the right time with relevant information to help provide a concierge-like experience and ensure customers feel good about their purchase and don’t abandon their cart.
  3. Take the burden off customer service agents. Chances are if you’re a small business, you have a small (but dedicated) customer service team. By leveraging AI-powered chatbots on the frontlines to answer simple, repeatable questions, agents can spend more time helping those customers that need them the most. Customers get questions answered quickly and agents get to focus their time on creating impactful moments – it’s a win-win situation.
  4. Provide consistent experiences. Nothing is more frustrating (or confusing) for a customer than hearing different answers to the same question. Whether they’re engaging with companies through live chat, social, phone or in-person, the service experience should be consistent. AI is helping customer service teams on the backend by providing everyone with the same information, enabling each and every experience to be consistently delightful.

It’s not easy being an SME today. There’s so much competition and it can be hard to compete with bigger brands. However, as customer experience continues to make its mark as a key value driver, technology – like AI – helps level the playing field.

Ryan Lester, Senior Director Customer – Engagement Technologies, LogMeIn

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