Artifial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data have received prominent coverage at INSIGHT-LOOK over the last couple of weeks. Much of this are due to the the intriguing impacts that both technologies will bring to businesses everywhere, which warrant close attention. Specifically, here are a few future outcomes that business owners and chief executives should be mindful about today.
- Search will become more human-like. Major search engines are beginning to demonstrate true AI capabilities—information searches will become smarter and even more reliable than before.
- Convenience will be a critical success factor. Chatbots are getting consumers to their solutions quicker and more reliably, raising the bar for service excellence across the board.
- Shopping will be omni-channel. The boundaries between digital and physical retail will blur into a seamless shopping experience (with Amazon Go leading the way today).
- Consumer experiences will be rich. Virtual and augmented reality technologies are next up in the technology pipeline, and will be cost effective enough for businesses to adopt en masse.
- Personalization will be the new norm. B2B and B2C sales will become much more personal than present levels, and customers will expect companies and brands to know what they want.
Most Malaysian SMEs are behind in the tech adoption race today. It may appear reasonable to skip ahead of the learning curve by adopting newer technology only when they have become commonplace, but in reality, quantum leaps are more difficult to manage and implement compared to incremental changes. If you believe your business is ready to transform digitally in a significant way, it is more reliable to implement changes incrementally, giving yourself ample time to learn and adapt to changes before adopting them for the long term.
There are several best practices that SMEs can learn from an AI and Big Data future that can be implemented incrementally without making risky investments. Here are a few ideas to help SMEs orient themselves to the digitization process.
- Implement real-time customer service. If your customer service team is primarily communicating with customers through emails and telephone calls, experiment with real-time chat services with your established customers with the intention of shifting shift them to these channels of communication eventually. A period of staff training and adjustment is required, but once the teething issues have been resolved, your customers (and staff) will benefit from greater convenience and efficiency. Subsequently, take this initiative a step further and expand your customer service options by reaching out to potential customers as well.
- Implement data-centric marketing activities. Experiment with collecting personal data from your customers. Start with the basics such as contact details and demographic information, then segment them into target groups. For example, if you’re a hat retailer, you may wish to segment your customers according to age, fashion, and gender. Learn more about your customers’ behaviors by inferring their characteristics from third-party market and consumer reports. Once you get the hang of it, you may wish to invest in a customer relationship management software in order to gain more insights into your customers’ purchasing patterns. Naturally, this leads to the next step:
- Implement personalized sales strategies. Capitalize on the data at your disposal by experimenting with personalized sales strategies. An easy way to start is through personalized emails. Craft personalized messages to your existing customers with the intention of securing repeat sales, making sure to only include contents that are relevant to them in the email message. If you have an established loyalty program, try recommending your customers’ favourite orders or surprising them on their birthdays, the next time they patronize your store.
Read more about how AI can potentially transform the sales process below.