Growing Big with AI: How AI can Help E-commerce SMBs Do More With Less
Growing Big with AI: How AI can Help E-commerce SMBs Do More With Less

A lot has happened in the past three years - the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and geopolitical conflicts, to name a few. As businesses navigate through these hurdles and 2022 comes to an end, critical challenges such as unemployment and the rising cost of living amidst changing customer spending patterns remain. In fact, 94 percent of Indian small businesses (SMBs) agree that they will lose business to more customer-centric competitors without continuous improvement to CX capabilities.

In such a competitive market, exceptional customer experience sets businesses apart. As the economy shifts and customer behavior follows suit, businesses need to deliver the best customer experiences to gain and retain consumer loyalty. Compared to larger enterprises, e-commerce SMBs face the biggest test ahead owing to smaller teams, tighter resources, and a dip in customer sentiment on spending.

As 87 percent of Indian customers expect the majority of their service interactions to be automated, but only 39 percent currently offer AI and chatbot-guided self-service, SMBs need to ensure they have the technology needed to effectively and instantly engage with customers. With this shift to making always-on customer service imperative, how can AI help small businesses ensure they are focusing on areas that matter most to their customers?

Use Your Data So You Don’t Go In Blind

Any AI is only as powerful as the data sets it has to work with. It begins with a large amount of data about who your customers are, their status with your company, most common requests, and what channels of engagement they prefer. Use that data to define your AI strategy. With the right tools and insights, SMBs can use this data to better understand their customers and identify areas to strategically add AI and automation across the customer journey. This data can also be used to detect patterns that can inform how support agents should be deployed during peak times.

Get Personal If You Want to Build Brand Loyalty

Times of economic uncertainty presents a great opportunity for small businesses to focus on what’s working and understand what drives customer loyalty. When 99 percent of Indian customers are willing to spend more on brands that offer personalized and streamlined services, e-commerce SMBs can no longer ignore the imperative to get personal. That’s where AI-enabled CX technologies can help small operations respond with greater flexibility and develop lasting personal relationships with repeat customers through personalization.

Using AI to provide personalized service entails anticipating customers' needs in a way that feels seamless and simple to customers. For example, data analytics may give insights into the types of products your customers want but bombarding them with ads for products they’ve viewed may make them feel frustrated.

SMBs can use AI for added personalization by adding a layer of context to those data insights and predicting the right time to serve up the right product ads based on their customer’s preferences, account history, purchases and returns, and interactions across service channels. When this data is easily accessible to support agents, it makes it easier for them to answer questions and resolve issues quickly.

Empower Employees with AI

During peak times like the holiday season, every second counts for e-commerce companies, but not every customer service ticket can be fully resolved with AI. SMBs can use the power of AI to gather information and intelligently route the tickets to the right agent. When coupled with powerful machine learning and natural language processing abilities, AI can be used to identify customer intent and show agents recommendations on what to do next. This not only enables SMBs to offer better experiences to customers but also helps agents resolve issues faster and more effectively.

AI-powered chatbots can triage queries to identify trends and resolve common issues. eliminate repetitive tasks, and answer simple requests, like checking on order status, and processing returns, and especially do all of this 24/7. With new technologies democratizing access to AI, SMBs no longer need specialized developer skills and large budgets to implement AI solutions within their organizations. Solutions that work out of the box make it more accessible to smaller businesses and startups to use.  

Measuring ROI on CX Investments

Merely investing in CX tools isn’t enough. Small businesses need to streamline workflows, train agents, and monitor CX performance to identify areas of improvement and know whether their investments are paying off.  

Storing data on customer orders on a spreadsheet cannot achieve these results. Small businesses need to dive deep into the data and look for insights they might have missed while using siloed data. Integrated dashboards with advanced analytics enable companies to identify consumer behaviors that impact inventory and support channels in real-time and uncover trends that will allow them to respond quickly to changes.

Data analytics is about understanding how your business can improve and continue to monitor success. CX software with built-in reports that help you to view and analyze key information and leverage tools tailored to your unique needs go a long way for SMBs. These insights can be shared across the business as it sheds light on customer perceptions of the products, services, user experience, and marketing campaigns.

Cost-effective investments are critical for SMBs and this has become even more true over the past few years. With the right technology, processes, and workflows, these businesses can deliver more personalized experiences that deepen brand loyalty. Including CX in growth plans is essential for their bottom line, especially in ensuring the retention of their customers not only in turbulent times but for the long haul.

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