ChatGPT has been all over the news lately, and there have been a lot of predictions about what it can and will do. Will it make blog writers obsolete? (This writer hopes not!) Will it replace SEO? Will it make natural language search the new standard?
Big companies are scrambling to figure out how to optimize this new technology, but what about small businesses? They can use ChatGPT too – and they may need to, in order to remain competitive.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence (AI) ‘chatbot’ that uses natural language to answer questions, write content and create code. ChatGPT was created by OpenAI and released in November, 2022. It has since been joined by similar AI products like Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s latest version of Bing, which is driven by AI. These are all considered chatbots, and there are others on the market as well. (ChatGPT is the brand name of OpenAI’s product, and has become associated with the technology generally, in somewhat the same way that we call facial tissue ‘Kleenex’ regardless of what brand it is.)
At least for now, ChatGPT is free, and you can create an account at chat.openai.com.
How does ChatGPT work?
You can ask ChatGPT questions, or you can instruct it to do things. For example, we asked, ‘What kind of insurance do I need for my small business?’ and got this reply:
It depends on your specific business, but some common types of insurance for small businesses include:
- General Liability Insurance
- Business Owners Policy (BOP)
- Professional Liability Insurance
- Workers' Compensation Insurance
- Commercial Property Insurance
You can then get more specific by asking clarifying questions. So, we said, ‘I have a consulting business. I am a sole proprietor.’ This was the response:
For a consulting business as a sole proprietor, the following types of insurance are typically recommended:
- General Liability Insurance
- Professional Liability Insurance (Errors & Omissions)
- Home-Based Business Insurance (if you work from home)
- Business Personal Property Insurance (if you have business-related equipment)
- Business Interruption Insurance (to cover lost income if you're unable to work)
How accurate is ChatGPT?
This is the critical question. The (less than helpful) answer is that it varies. In the examples above, the information provided is accurate, but not necessarily complete. There is no mention of cyber security insurance, for example. But it did eliminate workers compensation insurance once we specified that the question was for a sole proprietor. But it’s not a bad place to start.
As with any technology, the better information you put in, the better information you get out. So if you are specific with your request, you’ll get a more accurate result.
How can small businesses use ChatGPT?
To answer this question, we consulted ChatGPT. The prompt we used was, ‘write a 500-word blog post on using ChatGPT in small business.’ This is what came up:
In today’s digital age, businesses must keep up with the latest technological advances to remain competitive. One such advance is the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) and its applications in various industries. One of the most notable applications of AI is in chatbots, which can help small businesses save time, money, and resources while enhancing their customer experience. One such chatbot that is gaining in popularity is ChatGPT, a large language model developed by OpenAI. In this post, we will explore how small businesses can leverage ChatGPT to improve their operations and customer service.
- Automate customer support: One of the most significant advantages of using ChatGPT for small businesses is its ability to automate customer support. By integrating ChatGPT with your website or social media accounts, you can provide instant responses to customer inquiries 24/7, without the need for human intervention. This not only helps you save time and resources but also improves the customer experience by providing immediate solutions to their problems.
- Personalize customer interactions: ChatGPT is also capable of personalizing customer interactions based on their behavior and preferences. By analyzing data on customer interactions, ChatGPT can provide personalized product recommendations and tailor responses to specific customer inquiries. This helps small businesses to build stronger relationships with their customers and increase customer loyalty.
- Streamline employee communications: Small businesses often struggle with communication and coordination between employees, especially when working remotely. ChatGPT can help by streamlining internal communication through its natural language processing capabilities. By integrating ChatGPT with your internal communication platforms, employees can easily access company information, request time off, or ask for help without the need for lengthy email chains or in-person meetings.
- Improve social media engagement: Social media is an essential component of any small business's marketing strategy. However, managing social media accounts can be time-consuming, especially for businesses with limited resources. ChatGPT can help by automating social media interactions, including responding to messages, comments, and inquiries. This helps small businesses to improve their social media engagement while saving time and resources.
- Conduct market research: ChatGPT is also capable of conducting market research by analyzing customer feedback and sentiment on social media and other online platforms. This helps small businesses to better understand their customers' needs and preferences, and identify areas for improvement.
In conclusion, ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can help small businesses save time, money, and resources while improving customer experience, streamlining communication, and enhancing marketing strategies. By integrating ChatGPT into their operations, small businesses can gain a competitive advantage and thrive in today's digital age.
This is a thorough, well-organized blog post that identifies five ways a small business could use ChatGPT. What it lacks in flair and personality, it makes up for in efficiency. A small business could certainly use this tool to create blog content they may otherwise not have the time to write.
What are the potential drawbacks of ChatGPT?
Like most technology, ChatGPT lacks some of the finesse of human interaction. It may provide information that is technically accurate but practically faulty. For example, in the example above about business insurance, the chatbot suggested General Liability and Business Owners Policy but did not specify that these two are mutually exclusive. (A Business Owners Policy includes General Liability as well as Business Property coverage.)
Chatbots also do not account for brand voice or tone. If your business’s brand voice is light, breezy, and a little bit irreverent, the above blog post example could come across as stilted or forced.
All that being said, ChatGPT and other chatbots can be a boon for small business owners. As long as you review and edit what the chatbot writes to make sure it’s saying what you want to say the way you want to say it, AI could save you some time and improve your communications. And, as of the date of this blog post, it’s free, so there are plenty of reasons to give it a try.