General

How AI is Helping Small Businesses Get Back on Their Feet

Small businesses often experience the dual challenge of wanting to scale up but keeping costs low. Customer relationships are immensely important for every business, and small businesses are no exception. Engaging every customer in a personalized manner and consistently, however, is not an easy thing to pull off.

Moreover, with the pandemic resulting in strict lockdown measures in place, many businesses have shut down temporarily and let some of their staff go. As the world begins to open up again, customers expect to engage with businesses in a manner that works for them, but businesses may not always have the resources to address these needs promptly.

This is where Artificial Intelligence comes to the rescue.

Using AI to conquer the new normal

Small businesses will have to rethink their business models and be more open to technology-led solutions to weather the storm. Such an approach can open up avenues to scout for new business while also establishing more automated operating models. Automation, particularly AI-driven automation, helps companies that have experienced or are experiencing rapid staff turnover or staff shortages. In addition, technology can smoothen the experience for the business owner and customers. TrueLark’s AI-led solution, for instance, is revitalizing the front desk for dental clinics as well as beauty and wellness centers.

Managing a front desk comes with its own set of challenges, pandemic or not:

  • Responding to client calls out of business hours
  • Attending to and converting new leads who contact out of hours
  • Answering multiple queries at once
  • Holding a face-to-face conversation while the phones are ringing off the hook
  • Responding to simultaneous pings and rings while keeping tabs on emails
  • Trying to resolve a situation in the best possible manner so that the customer doesn’t walk out and then walk into a competitor
  • Balancing one-on-one services with group bookings, rescheduling, or cancellations

All of these scenarios impact the bottom line. They impact productivity, performance, and profitability. And yes, AI-led intuitive conversations can take the heat off desk staff. Although there will be highly nuanced situations that require some attention to detail, some digging, etc., that your team needs to address, you can easily automate bulk of the routine and mundane tasks. AI continually “learns” from the cases it is exposed to and evolves to handle more complex queries. Your AI assistants can differentiate and know when to escalate a query to a human staffer.

Before the pandemic, certain metrics for tracking how businesses were doing may have been different. But then as well as now, the volume of incoming conversation offers a glimpse into the demand side of the equation for any business or service.

Prior to the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw each business receive about 180 inbound conversations per month per location. On a typical day, TrueLark’s AI handled about six calls that the staff missed. Soon stay-at-home guidelines came into force, and the number 180 dropped to 50 or so. Calls were mostly to cancel existing appointments, while some folks also called to reschedule or check about location closures. Some, worried perhaps about the general uncertainty, called to cancel memberships. However, with the first wave of re-openings, conversation volumes started to pick up once again. Month by month, across the board, we see a gradual rise in conversation volumes as they existed before the pandemic.

Dental offices and clinics were among the first to open up, and about 70-80% of their customers were up and running. Likewise, beauty and wellness businesses are picking up, but slower. With AI juggling the routine aspects of managing the front desk, business owners and staff can focus their energies where they matter most while also keeping every new lead warm for conversion.

What if you could empower your front desk to deal with every query, every phone call, whether they are physically present or not? In an economy where every customer is valuable, take your front desk to the next level with AI and seamlessly juggle bookings, cancellations, rescheduling, and engaging new leads round the clock.

Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo to get started.