How AI Helps Local Businesses Compete With the Biggest Brands

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In a hyperlocal business environment, giving your customers the most rewarding experience possible is critical.

A satisfying experience leads to new customers, repeat business, referrals, a strong reputation, and sustainable revenue growth. Alternatively, a poor experience with your business can spell disaster, especially if a negative online review is part of the equation.

Learn how small local businesses are using artificial intelligence to capture moments of truth that occur when customers call, and turn missed opportunities into real revenue.

AI levels the playing field

For many small businesses and franchises, an important step in the purchasing process is a phone call, and the data shows just how critical that communication channel is. According to a BIA/Kelsey study, calls from mobile online searches alone will top 73 billion in 2018, up from just 30 billion five years earlier. Indeed, consumers, now more than ever, are calling local businesses to make appointments, do research, and place orders.

But these are not merely phone calls. These are moments of truth for your business; they are opportunities to deliver rewarding customer experiences and gain trust from consumers, person to person. Customers who call your local business are telling you exactly what they want and what they think about you, your brand, and your service. So, how can you better understand, manage, and act on all of these critical conversations?

Historically, the world of advanced analytics has been the domain of huge enterprises with large budgets. But with big leaps in AI capabilities, even the smallest business can now access insights that were previously only available to “the big guys.”

John Ball, SVP of Product at Salesforce, agrees that advances in technology can and should equate to advances in operational efficiency for businesses of all sizes. “Everything around us is getting smarter, but that is not necessarily true for our business processes,” he said. “Employees need to be freed from one-size-fits-all tools that leave them looking for answers.”

Local business owners are a different breed than corporate middle managers. These entrepreneurs do it all: They are the marketers, service team, IT staff, customer support, sales, finance—you name it; they do it. Time is their most precious asset, and the last thing they need is to learn how to use new AI software or receive complex dashboards.

To address this need, tech vendors are creating AI-powered products, such as Salesforce’s Einstein, that allow users to build their own AI solutions “using clicks, not code.” And because of their volumes and importance to small businesses, one of the richest opportunities for local small business owners to jump on the AI bandwagon is with phone calls.

“Don’t just give me a bunch of data. Tell me what’s important and what I need to do about it.”

Today, any SMB that values inbound sales leads can have every single call recorded, analyzed, and scored—economically, securely, accurately, and automatically, all in the cloud—using AI. More than just a messy set of numbers in a dashboard, today’s phone call-based solutions for SMBs can be packaged into simple, actionable alerts or mobile apps.

The upshot is that owners and operators of local businesses have access to bottom line-increasing insights. Make-or-break information is delivered, like the hottest phone leads from the day before that didn’t convert, allowing for quick follow-up actions to turn the sale around. Owners and operators can also receive alerts about at-risk callers who need some immediate TLC before they write a scathing review online.

Harnessing the power of AI that is packaged as “ready-to-action,” local businesses can quickly see gaps in their customer service processes, marketing programs, and the ways they communicate with shoppers. By providing more visibility into their customers’ experiences, these AI-powered alerts shine a light on pain points and help SMBs more proactively engage shoppers.

Small businesses shouldn’t be left out of the AI revolution. With SMB-focused AI technologies that tap into the voice of the customer, owners/operators can now compete toe-to-toe with huge corporate budgets. Consumers want to shop local; thanks to AI, today’s SMBs can deepen that all-important personal connection forged with customers over the phone.

As DialogTech’s SVP of Analytics Services, Alain Stephan is passionate about telling stories with data. He helps marketing and sales leaders harness the power of voice and has spent the past decade turning call data into meaningful insights for businesses.