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Positive customer experience is critical to the long-term profitability of your enterprise.  Make them unhappy, and customers leave.  See that bag of money flying away?

As artificial intelligence becomes better at solving completing everyday tasks, and its adoption becomes more widespread, strategic thinkers need to ponder how AI can move their company forward.

So where can AI make a difference right now?  There are a lot of really cool, promising technologies that aren’t quite ready for easy and cost-effective implementations right now.  But some AI applications can launch without a lot of time and trouble.  One example, in the customer service arena, is a chatbot.

You’ve probably interacted with a chatbot before.  These automated “reply-to-a-question” tools are already in use by a large number of bigger firms.  The idea is to give customers instant access to information and increase their satisfaction and engagement, all the while reducing the need for employees to jump in.

The NHL recently rolled out a chatbot on Facebook Messenger that can update fans with scores and highlights.  MLB and the NBA also use chatbots to interact with fans.

According to an Artificial Intelligence in Industry podcast, chatbots have reached the point where they can generally figure out the intent of a customer’s question, and direct the customer to either to right person, or maybe find an answer without human intervention.

To get the answers, AI can evaluation a variety of your company’s knowledge assets:  FAQs, articles on your blog, instruction sheets, etc.  It is estimated that about 80% of questions can be answered using this methodology.  Removing that chunk of work from your employees, while giving that segment of your customers an instant answer, is a big win!

Keep expectations realistic, though:  Bots are still not good at back-and-forth conversations right now.  So, they won’t be able to take over all customer interactions.  Still, AI is starting to make a difference in how small-to-medium sized businesses operate.  Are you thinking about how AI can make your business faster, leaner, and smarter?