Gone are the days when a standard 9-5 job was the aspiration; businesses are now the ‘in’ thing. And why shouldn’t they be? Be your own boss, work on something you are passionate about, own something under your name—there are reasons aplenty.
It is thus not a surprise that startups have grown 15% year-over-year in India alone. However, it is easier to start a business than to grow it. How can one compete with the big-box bosses of the industry?
Surely, there must be some way to level the field without drowning a ton of money. Enter AI (artificial intelligence) and Cloud solutions.
Technological advancements are a startup’s best bet to go up against the industry dominators. AI and Cloud solutions provide the same opportunities to startups and MNCs at an affordable cost. What a smaller company might lack in a tangible infrastructure and personnel is compensated by the power of technology. If you are a startup owner, you must first understand the several benefits and characteristics of artificial intelligence and cloud solutions.
Characteristics of AI and Cloud Solutions
Before you understand how AI and Cloud solutions can help your business succeed, let’s understand what opportunities do both the technologies offer:
It is the age of information. Data regarding consumer behavior, buying patterns, and market trends can be provided by customers in different forms.
When a consumer calls your customer service number, they provide numeric and voice inputs that can be studied with the help of AI-integrated cloud telephony. IVR and toll-free numbers can further be used to provide separate extensions for distinct marketing campaigns; the inputs can be studied independently and in comparison. AI is also present in chatbots that can be used to monitor online chats, social media conversations, and emails, and messages.
Once the data is gathered, it needs to be interpreted and analyzed. It’s the main purpose of data mining, after all. Artificial intelligence can study and analyze data, making sense of the figures you have gathered.
It can also instantly create visual representations of the same to provide a better comprehension of the nuances. Analyzed data gives you a better idea of market trends and consumer behavior that can be used to your advantage.
In-house data storage often requires a lot of investment for infrastructure and data silos. Cloud services, however, can be accessed with only a device and an internet connection.
Thus, the expenditure on tangible hardware is diminished. Furthermore, pay-as-you-go models allow companies to spend according to their requirements, avoiding junk purchases of technologies never to be used.
As mentioned earlier, AI-integrated cloud solutions are not dependent on any hardware and function solely on the internet. Because of this, any device connected to the internet and the cloud network can access information. This allows for remote access of information as long as the device being used is permitted the data.
Information is of utmost importance in any organization. Hence, it is always backed up in case of any emergencies or data loss. However, backing up the data requires more space which, in traditional settings, would mean more data silos. These require additional work and time.
Using AI, information can be automatically backed up as often as you would like, on the cloud. More importantly, the rate of data recovery is much higher using cloud solutions.
A data breach is one of the most pressing concerns of any organization. Many times, the breach is in-house. Monitoring the data silos is vital but also difficult. Switch to a cloud network instead. Any attempt of data breaching is identified and reported to you. Your information is also safe behind encryption, firewalls, and intrusion protection systems.
Furthermore, you can control who has access to what information and monitor the activities much better. AI allows you to mask your personal numbers so that you or your employees do not expose themselves to strangers when calling for sales leads.
With limited agents, cold calls can be detrimental to your resources. They take too much time out of a representative’s day and do not promise success at the end.
A simpler but more effective way to connect with thousands of people is by way of voice broadcasting. Using AI and cloud technology systems, you can send a pre-recorded message to several thousand people and analyze their responses. If there is a potential sales lead, you can gauge that in real-time and instantly appoint an agent to take on the task.
Now that we have discussed the features of AI and cloud solutions, you can put their utilitarian value into perspective for a startup.
How to Use AI and Cloud to Improve a Startup’s Operations
A startup is faced with problems that are inherent due to its size and experience. Large companies that have superiority in age and finances can often offer better services that are out of reach for small-scale establishments. Technology, however, is unbiased and provides a fair opportunity for startups to grow and successfully compete with corporations. Here is how you can use AI and cloud solutions to your advantage as a startup.
Improve Customer Support Experience
The public image of a company is dependent on the impression it has on its customers. And customer service experience is the most vital operation in this regard. Startups cannot afford a large number of agents and thus, might unintentionally invite long wait times while handling calls. However, if a startup employs cloud telephony, this operation can be streamlined well. Using a toll-free number, you can make access to your company simple and uniform. AI-integrated IVR (Interactive Voice Response) understands numeric or voice inputs and guides callers to the agent best suited to respond to their queries. In some cases, recorded solutions may be enough.
Customer support, however, is no longer just calls. Social media, chats, messages and emails must also be taken into consideration. AI-powered chatbots can take the place of a representative and connect them to personnel only when required. This allows for shorter wait times, self-service options and eventually, a satisfying customer experience.
“According to a study by Accenture, over 80% of chat sessions are resolved by AI. Save your buck and tighten your team by employing artificial intelligence for quick, seamless communication with consumers.”
Strive for Appropriate Goals
An organization’s sales goals must be dependent on its customers’ needs. To set appropriate goals, you must be aware of the market demand. As discussed earlier, AI and cloud solutions can be used to gather information provided by customers by way of numeric and voice inputs on call, and messages through other channels. This data is then studied and analyzed by artificial intelligence to give statistics on what consumers want and prefer in products/services, what they dislike, and what they are attracted to. These statistics then can be used to plan and strategize future goals.
For example, if customers are providing high reviews for a product and constantly buying them, you can increase production on the same. On the contrary, if you view a pattern of complaints regarding a certain product or service, you can fix those issues or cease manufacturing altogether.
These goals and changes allow you to home in your focus and avoid redundant expenses while catering better to your consumers.
Expand Your Consumer Base and Increase Current Sales
There are several ways to make a potential consumer aware of your services—marketing campaigns, word of mouth, and a strong social media presence. Another method to gain customers as discussed before is by way of voice broadcasting.
Voice broadcasting can be used to reach thousands of people on call. A pre-recorded message can be sent to people and they can provide inputs (whether they are interested in a sale) by keyboard inputs. If a person shows interest, you can instantly ask an agent to take over. In this scenario, you do not waste money or time chasing pointless leads and instead, make the most of your representative’s efforts.
Voice broadcasting can also be used to gain feedback from customers and add to your goals, or encourage more purchases.
Encourage Better Collaboration
There is a problem with independent systems that need to be addressed. People need to constantly send their work back and forth to collaborate with their teammates. For example, a status report may be sent to a superior, who demands changes and then will be passed around creating multiple copies and confusion.
This problem vanishes with the help of a common document. Using cloud solutions, you can create a single document that can be read, reviewed, and edited by multiple people who have been given access to the same. This allows for better collaboration amongst team members and saves storage space. Your computer systems will not be bearing the load of multiple copies and you can hold members accountable for their work.
Enable Remote Working and Hire Experts
Work from home is gaining more attention than ever. This means either transporting office-owned hardware to each location or using personal devices. In traditional setups, this could lead to a waste of time and money in an attempt to transport the materials. It would also limit the number of people that could access data. Using cloud solutions requires no hardware, only a single device, and an internet connection. This is mostly already available in every home. You can easily provide or deny access to any person. This means that operations can seamlessly continue without the expenditure of office space or bulky hardware. Furthermore, those who are likely to travel often can also now log in work hours from various locations.
The abolishment of borders means that anyone from anywhere in the world can now be recruited. You have an opportunity to hire experts in the industry, regardless of their location. With their expertise, you can ensure accuracy and high productivity within your organization, yielding better results overall.
Appear Professional in Front of Consumers
Your brand image is sacrosanct. For an existing consumer to continue with your services or for a potential customer to trust you, you must maintain a rock-solid brand image. Technologically advanced features give the illusion of a large company, one that is professional and efficient. Using the features of AI and cloud solutions will enable you to portray the best of your company. Your consumers are more likely to trust you. Trust translates to sales and brand loyalty. Your professional impression will help you to higher and continual sales that will yield personal growth and give you a competitive edge on your rivals.
Being small is not a curse but a blessing; it gives you room to grow and develop. With cloud services and AI, you can boost this growth and expand your business. Use IVR, call recording, AI-powered chatbots and other services to equip your organization technologically. This will help you cater to your consumers and streamline your in-house work operations. It’s a win-win situation.
Hand working with a Cloud Computing diagram -DepositPhotos