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Why Conversational AI will excite and motivates SMBs

15 Dec 2022

Time and again, I read about businesspeople that are faced with the multiple challenges of managing remote workforces, or satisfying ever-changing customer needs and expectations, or even overcoming escalating operating costs in today’s tough economic environment. The overwhelming majority of these concerns are expressed by owners and operators of small- and medium-sized organisations who, by-and-large, find themselves isolated and cut off from many of the modern tools and solutions that are truly transformative. Innovations like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and other advancements like Conversational AI can be game-changing for smaller businesses. Unfortunately, many in our industry have mistakenly assumed that these customers are not suitable candidates for these innovations. They could not be more wrong.

While SMBs may not have the budgets or in-house expertise as their larger cousins, they are nonetheless perfectly suited for innovation. AI-based capabilities help organisations streamline workflows, reduce costly errors, and compete locally and across the globe. These are very recognisable pain points for small businesses, who must run lean and efficient operations while also keeping a steady eye on competitive opportunities and threats. While smaller customers may not have the headcount of an enterprise, the needs of SMBs are as sophisticated as any corporation. Providers that do not acknowledge this dynamic are doing themselves and their customers a disservice.

Having worked with SMBs across Europe, Enreach has a track record of bringing enterprise-level functionality within the reach of smaller companies, starting, for example, with making Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) accessible to small- and medium-sized organisations. Enreach appreciates just how sophisticated small businesses are, and how smart solutions like Conversational AI can literally transform not just their daily operations, but their entire business model.

There are several instances that illustrate this point. For example, Enreach recently helped a Dutch taxi company successfully use Artificial Intelligence to revamp their service offerings and compete directly with popular rideshare services. By adding Conversational AI and automation to the Voice and WhatsApp channels, the taxi company can now support fully automated ordering via WhatsApp with customers just sharing a location pin --- adding substantial convenience to customers while also reducing operating costs. The company maintains its brand integrity and can grow in a market dominated by encroaching rideshare operators. The early results of this project proved very compelling: the taxi company found it can serve customers faster and more reliably through self-service features, it reduced overhead, and most impressively, the company found this combination of enhanced customer service and operational efficiency was the perfect remedy to win back business from rideshare services. 

In another example, Enreach assisted a regional financial services provider that was looking to improve collections activities. After meeting with the company, we determined that AI-generated analytics and automation features, integrated into the contact centre platform, would deliver the capabilities that would allow this customer to increase collections while reducing expenses. The use of analytics in this specific scenario is critical for optimising efficiency and productivity. Rather than employ teams of agents to randomly dial phone numbers and search for customers, the financial services provider was able to act on reliable and timely data that identified the most effective time and method to reach customers through either voice or text. In addition, the system recorded each interaction, ensuring that all regulatory mandates are met. The introduction of AI tools into this workflow enabled our customer to increase receivables in less time, maintain regulatory compliance, and lower the cost of collections. It is a perfect illustration of how AI can completely reimagine critical business processes.

Other examples include AI solutions specifically designed for restaurants and other small businesses that do not have automatic booking systems. These businesses discovered they can significantly improve efficiency around managing appointments or table reservations. The AI-based automated assistant handles incoming requests intelligently and instantly, allowing customers to book a table at a restaurant any time around the clock without having to consider opening times or waiting for a member of staff to answer the phone. This way, the restaurant frees employees of repetitive tasks linked to reservation management, while at the same time, enhance customer service.

It's important to note that in these use cases, the customers are prototypical small businesses. They are regional companies but compete against much larger and better-known providers. Their aspirations, strategies, and processes are similar to an enterprise, but they lack enormous budgets and teams of IT personnel. Simply put, AI levels the playing field for these organisations.  

Enreach’s ability to help customers utilize AI solutions is a core part of our mission. The way we see it, our “Converged Contact Solutions” are not strictly an umbrella for the unified communications, contact centre, and collaboration services we provide. Instead, it is an acknowledgement that our products and services are not siloed offerings, but rather, serve as the connective tissue that brings productivity tools to life.

To fulfill this undertaking, Enreach works closely with the very best in the technology sector—CRM vendors, AR/VR/XR solutions providers, AI and Machine Learning experts, vertical market specialists, and other outstanding innovators to ensure that our customers have constant and reliable access to the very best solutions. We invest heavily in developing APIs and other tools that give customers the ability to add the applications and services they need to succeed in today’s fast-changing marketplace.

Our experiences teach us that SMBs require today’s advanced features to compete. For them, AI is not a fantasy; it is a necessity. Enreach embraces this reality and will continue our efforts to bring best-of-breed technologies like AI and other capabilities to the ambitious and savvy small businesses that drive our economy.

This article was published on Telecom Reseller on December 15th, 2022