By Scott Bohannon
Home service company owners will be some of the first small businesses to truly visualize the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as its use becomes more widespread.
But company owners should be wary not to expect a miracle and concentrate more on how AI, and applications like ChatGPT, can help reduce tasks and enhance performance. Right now, you should be a fast follower rather than an early adopter.
While it’s true that ChatGPT can help our home service companies reduce the time it takes to perform some tasks like scheduling, composing documents and performing simple tasks, it’s a technology that will still require training to become the powerful tool it is destined to become.
At CEO Warrior, for example, we’ve identified several unique ways that ChatGPT can help reduce the time it takes to perform tasks and other ways that it can enhance your work. It can be used to help your team improve customer correspondence, interact with vendors and even provide insights on predictive maintenance.
The key is to understand that the capabilities of AI will vary depending on your individual business and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
The Heavy Lifting
The most effective way to view AI is to consider its capabilities as a task-specific tool. Larger businesses perform more tasks, so their early adoption allows them to reduce the time their people spend on tasks or enhances the quality of the tasks they perform.
But smaller companies may need to begin their experimentation by using AI to help them develop the very processes they may want help with in the future. It’s these processes that you will eventually use to grow and scale your organization.
Let the larger companies and the technology providers continue to do the heavy lifting for now. The technology has to be better trained, and, unless you want to spend precious time away from your customers and your business, don’t be afraid to wait.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t experiment with AI. Home service companies are poised to benefit tremendously from this technology if they use it correctly.
By now, we have probably all experienced using a chatbot. But, if you’re like most users, you spend most of your time interacting with a chatbot in an attempt to have it get you to a live person.
It may be tempting to think that AI can solve your customer service issues, but even larger companies have discovered that AI’s customer-facing tech isn’t all that great for their customers. It cannot be used to replace a professional customer service team and is best used to enhance their role by providing them with answers to specific questions. It can also generate and deliver customer data that your team can use to improve a customer’s experience.
Applications like ChatGPT have to be trained. If your goal is to use it live to replace your customer service team, you need to know that it will only learn by experimenting with customer trends. That’s not an ideal use for this powerful tool.
Customer service representatives are there to ensure your clients have a positive customer service experience. So, for now, we need to keep our people talking to our customers and focus AI on other areas within our businesses where it can do its best work.
While AI and ChatGPT may have more learning to do before they can seamlessly interact with clients, using their applications for backend work is already proving indispensable. There is almost no business process that can’t be improved by using these tools.
In fact, one of the earliest uses of this technology for smaller home service providers might be in process development.
Many smaller organizations don’t have the resources to hire high-powered consultants to help them develop these processes. But, with ChatGPT, they can simply tell the application the process they use, and it can help them to develop written policies that can be used companywide. Its comprehension of human language and capacity allows it to produce responses that are both coherent and appropriate for the occasion.
ChatGPT can help the home service business owner in other ways, such as with reporting and data analysis. It can then turn this reporting and analysis into visually stimulating graphs and charts and summary information about your datasets that you can use to scale your business.
Harvard Business Review suggests that small businesses stand to gain the most from using AI in their marketing efforts.
Many small businesses can’t afford to hire an external marketing team, and they probably don’t have an expert on staff to help write ad copy or run market research. This is where a product like ChatGPT or CopyAI can be the most beneficial.
Home service companies thrive on personal relationships and quality service. AI can help these companies create more personalized marketing campaigns while collecting and analyzing the data a small business owner needs to make the most effective advertising decisions.
One of AI’s most beneficial features is its ability to help create content. Business owners can use it to generate several drafts of an ad campaign or copy for social media or email marketing. Its ability to provide you with new ideas or alternative content is already very well developed.
These tools are especially helpful in checking your work. If you write an email campaign, ask it for feedback. If you write ad copy, ask it to make the copy more dynamic. If you need data analysis to know the best places to invest your ad dollars, let AI help you develop this research.
What AI in marketing won’t do is make you a marketing whiz overnight. Remember to focus on what you do well and stick to it. AI can help you get better, but it won’t do everything a full-service marketing agency can do.
In the hands of someone with practical experience in marketing, it’s an advantage. But if you don’t have this knowledge, it can be overwhelming. With this in mind, don’t be afraid to ask your marketing company if they’re using AI. Get them to explain how they’re using it to better market your company and save you money.
The Smart Home
But where home service companies will probably see the biggest changes is in how they interact with a client’s home comfort systems.
AI won’t replace HVAC technicians, for example, but it will revolutionize how these technicians serve your customers while servicing the home.
The home of the future will have home comfort systems equipped with AI features that can communicate with the technician or allow the homeowner to envision how a new HVAC system can be more efficient.
From predictive maintenance to educating the homeowner, AI’s potential will help home service providers and technicians do a better job of improving the customer experience.
As AI is used more frequently in the home service industry, business owners should keep in mind that AI is a tool and not an employee. Many companies that have eliminated positions in the hopes that AI can perform their tasks haven’t always been satisfied with this decision.
AI will eliminate the need for people to do some tasks, reduce the time it takes to do tasks and enhance the efficiency of the tasks that need to be done, but it should not eliminate whole jobs. If you look into purchasing an AI application with the hopes of reducing your workforce in mind, right now, you’ll be disappointed.
AI will certainly change the way jobs look five years from now, and it’s a skill we’ll all need to become familiar with in the future. Like using the internet for work functions, AI will become a seamless part of our working experience. As more big tech companies begin to integrate AI into the platforms we already use – like Microsoft Word or Excel – we’ll need to develop the skills to be able to use it effectively.
So, go ahead and start using it, but let the tech companies continue to do the heavy lifting of developing and training it. Once it becomes as commonplace as the internet, you’ll be ready to use it effectively in your business.
Scott Bohannon is the CEO of CEO Warrior, where he supports entrepreneurs and their teams in the trades by helping them improve their business performance. Bohannon previously served as the president and CEO of the Center for Creative Leadership, CEO of AchieveForum, and CEO of Info-Tech Research Group and McLean & Co. Before entering into the corporate world, Bohannan practiced law in Washington DC, advising telecommunications and energy clients throughout the United States, Asia and Australia. He received his bachelor’s degree in public policy from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He later received a master’s degree and Ph.D. in economics, as well as a J.D., from the University of Virginia. For more information about Bohannon and CEO Warrior, please visit https://ceowarrior.com/.