Council Post: How Small Businesses Can Integrate AI Tools And Empower Their Team


By Tyler Bray, CEO, owner and founder of The Trailer Parts Outlet.

Your designers and copywriters might be sweating about their future job security now that AI tools have taken great strides in their quality and availability.

As entrepreneurs, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and not ignore emerging technologies that can give us a competitive edge. At the same time, we must prioritize taking care of our people. Here are my thoughts on how to integrate AI into your small business in a responsible way.

Balancing AI With Human Interaction

Let’s start with basic facts. AI is still brand new. Even the best work we have seen from these tools now is nothing compared to what it will be capable of in the coming years. AI tools draw from a vast body of written and designed work created by people that is far broader than even the most talented and thoroughly educated person could hope to consume and study.

AI also works faster than people can, and it does not require health insurance. Now let’s balance all of those points out with the most important truth: Your customers are people, not computers. And people like to deal with other people.

I believe that no matter how good AI gets, there won’t be a tool that lets you push a button and get all of your marketing done. If you try this path, you might get a website full of inaccurate information with graphics that might look acceptable sometimes but unsettling and misleading in other contexts.

In other words, it’s unlikely that text or design generators will have common sense. If robots can’t click a button that verifies they are not robots, how can they make people feel heard, welcome, understood and confident in their choice to buy?

My driving value as an entrepreneur has been empathy since the day I started my business. Empathy has turned angry customers into longtime supporters of my business. I do not trust a chatbot to negotiate an emotional challenge of that nature. I believe an angry customer will log off and write a bad review for my business the second it becomes clear they’re dealing with a robot, not a person.

Leveraging AI To Support And Empower Your Team

However, I do believe that AI tools can support the talented people I have hired. I want my people to learn everything these tools are capable of doing. This doesn’t necessarily mean hosting big lectures so much as encouraging your people to play around with the programs.

After all, the AI’s work, if it is usable, must be reviewed for quality. Nobody is more qualified to review or edit the work generated by AI than people who have been writing and designing on behalf of businesses throughout their careers. Keep your lines of communication open with marketing, customer service and anybody who uses AI. In my experience, when new technology emerges, we learn how to use it together as a team.

Social Media

A great place AI can support your marketing team is in social media. While you will need a human being to monitor styles, trends and evolutions in preferred content, AI can probably help generate captions or mock up simple designs that can serve as a first draft. Small businesses often feel they don’t have enough hands on deck, so if AI can alleviate this, that’s a good thing.

Customer Service

For another example, AI customer service can give you a better night desk. You might not have the budget to answer people after hours, but new AI tools might be a big improvement on your current chatbot. However, I recommend that you do this with careful monitoring and extreme caution since dealing with people is an art, not a science.

Identifying Opportunities For Efficiency And Automation

After letting your team get to know the AI tools for a little while, ask them if these are actually making their lives easier. Then let AI handle anything that might be construed as busy work.

After all, you are paying people for their time, and that alone should show you how valuable it is. Trust your people to tell you which jobs the programs are best at handling. Personally, I see data entry and organization as one of AI’s strong suits and most actionable offerings. However, it will still be up to entrepreneurs and business leaders to see that visualized data and make guiding decisions based on it.

Finally, we can’t fully know what the future of digital work will look like because we don’t know how much these tools will develop. You might need to prepare for real conversations with employees who want to cross-train or develop new skills to prepare for the future.

Take these concerns seriously. It shows that you have team members who are in it for the long term. Nurture their interests and talents. It will likely yield results far greater than the sum of your investment.

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