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Responding to a customer complaint email used to be a major time suck for Lillian Escudero, co-owner of J Designs Pool & Spa. That’s because she never was quite sure about the tone of the email. Was she being too assertive? Not assertive enough? Did it come across as professional?

“When you have a customer who is maybe upset about a delay, you have to be very careful about how you’re responding,” she says. “Even if you have an assistant, it can take a long time to get it right.”

That agonizing task used to take about 30 minutes or more. These days, it takes only a few minutes, thanks to a new kind of assistant — ChatGPT, a free-to-use artificial intelligence (AI) language model designed to generate human-like text based on input it receives. Already, the AI assistant is the fastest-growing consumer application in history, according to the global wealth management firm UBS.

The appeal is clear: Using ChatGPT is as easy as sending a text message. The user simply types a request into the prompt window and, almost instantly, the AI provides an answer.

For example, to create an email response, Escudero only needs to paste the sender’s email into the prompt and then ask the AI to respond in a professional, courteous yet clear manner. In moments, the assistant presents her with a response that’s nearly ready to send.

“Sometimes I’m just out of words and out of time,” she says. “Now I just grab it from ChatGPT, give it another pass and it’s done.”

That’s just one of the ways Escudero and other early adopters use ChatGPT to streamline workflows and save resources.

“I find it to be such a neat thing, and it’s definitely a time saver for me,” says Julie Kazdin, partner with Kazdin Pools. “What used to take hours of research can now be spit out in a few minutes.”

A survey by the digital marketing platform Constant Contact shows similar results:

• 91% of the responding small business owners who use AI said it has made their companies more successful.

• 28% of respondents said they expect it to save them at least $5,000 over the next year.

• 60% said it has saved them time, with more than a third estimating it has saved them more than 40 minutes per week.

Though the AI assistant can seem magical, there’s more to using it effectively than just telling it what you want. Like training a new employee, the AI needs some “training” as well. The more specific you are with requests, the more likely that AI can produce a usable result.

“A lot of it is in how you ask the questions,” Kazdin says. “You can ask the same question in many different ways. Don’t be afraid to be extremely specific.”

Here are eight ways ChatGPT can supercharge your business — and how to train it for each scenario, including prompts suggested by the AI itself.

1. Enhance customer engagement. AI-powered chatbots revolutionize customer service by providing instant, personalized responses, enhancing engagement and support 24/7. Uses include:

Personalized recommendations. Use ChatGPT to provide tailored recommendations for pool and spa products based on customer preferences, budget, and specific needs.

Real-time support. Implement chatbots powered by ChatGPT to offer immediate assistance to customers, addressing queries about maintenance, troubleshooting, and product selection 24/7. For example, Escudero uses ChatSpot to handle customer service questions, and is finding the AI-powered software more than up to the task. “It’s been improving since we started using it and it integrates beautifully with our CRM and website,” she said.

Suggested prompt: Create a personalized chatbot to assist customers with pool and spa queries. Example: Generate a chatbot script that recommends suitable pool accessories based on customer preferences.

2. Streamline appointment scheduling and service management. ChatGPT produces appointment systems meant to improve customer convenience and reduce administrative burdens. Uses include:

• Automated scheduling. Integrate ChatGPT-powered chatbots into websites or apps to facilitate the scheduling of services, maintenance, and repairs, making it convenient for customers to book appointments. Kazdin uses the AI to quickly create the most efficient service routes. “What would take an entire day, based on who’s where, traffic and gas, takes AI a couple hours,” she says. “I just have to double-check the routes and it’s good to go.”

• Service reminders. ChatGPT can send automated reminders to customers about routine maintenance or service checkups, improving customer retention.

Suggested prompt: Develop an automated appointment system for customers. Example: Compose a system that allows customers to schedule pool maintenance appointments and sends reminders.

3. Create educational content and resources. Informative content builds brand authority. ChatGPT can generate FAQs and marketing blogs. Uses include:

• FAQs and guides. Develop an extensive repository of FAQs and guides using ChatGPT, addressing common pool and spa issues, maintenance tips and product information to educate customers. Escudero uses the bot to write blogs and comparison reviews saving her content writer about two days a week of work. “We use it a lot for customer communication and email marketing,” she says. “But we have very specific instructions.”

• Blog and newsletter assistance. The AI generates ideas for blogs or newsletters and suggests trending topics, ensuring relevant and informative content.

Suggested prompt: Generate informative FAQs and maintenance guides for customers. Example: Provide a detailed guide on spa troubleshooting and maintenance.

4. Generate personalized marketing campaigns. ChatGPT’s data analysis capabilities can create targeted marketing campaigns. Uses include:

• Tailored messaging. Utilize the AI to analyze customer data and preferences, enabling personalized marketing campaigns via email, SMS or targeted advertisements, promoting specific products or services. Rather than pay a marketing firm $10,000, Kazdin uses it to create a personalized campaign for her company that includes the best time to post on social platforms. “It lays out an entire marketing strategy, and you can be as specific or general as you want,” she says. “It’s helped a lot to make the messaging come from me.”

• Customer feedback analysis. Gather feedback through chat interactions and utilize ChatGPT to analyze sentiments, identifying areas for improvement and creating targeted marketing strategies.

Suggested prompt: Craft targeted marketing messages based on customer data. Example: Create an email campaign promoting maintenance services for customers who purchased cleaning equipment in the past.

5. Train and support staff. The AI can equip staff with in-depth product knowledge and customer service skills. Uses include:

• Training modules: Develop training materials and modules using ChatGPT to educate staff about new products, industry trends, and best practices in pool and spa maintenance.

• Support resources. Create a knowledge base using ChatGPT-generated content to help staff address customer inquiries and resolve issues effectively. Kazdin uses it for a more fun form of staff support: She asks the AI to make humorous poems about what happened to a team member that day. “It takes like 30 seconds, and sometimes you just need a little bit of a laugh,” she says.

Suggested prompt: Develop training modules for staff on new pool and spa products. Example: Create a training presentation on the features and benefits of the latest pool filtration system.

6. Recruit new hires and provide HR support. ChatGPT can craft job descriptions tailored to your company and help identify key words to attract the right candidates. Uses include:

• Efficient screening and shortlisting. The AI helps human resource teams shortlist candidates efficiently, with automated initial candidate screening, pre-screening questions and evaluating responses.

• Constant human resources support. Beyond recruitment, the AI acts as a 24/7 HR support system. It assists employees with routine HR queries, from benefits information to company policies, fostering a responsive and supportive work environment. Escudero uses it to build job descriptions tailored specifically to her company’s culture. It also shows her where the positions fits into the organization along with the hard and soft qualifications it entails.

Suggested prompt: Assist in crafting a job description for a pool technician position that highlights required skills and job responsibilities to attract experienced candidates.

7. Understand legal documents and contracts. Navigating legal jargon can be daunting. ChatGPT can simplify legal complexities and present documents in terms laypeople can understand. Uses include:

• Clarifying legalese. The AI deciphers intricate legal terms and clauses commonly found in contracts, agreements and regulations. Its ability to provide concise explanations helps professionals grasp the nuances of legal documents without getting bogged down in the jargon. Kazdin often pastes legal documents into it and asks for simplified summaries. “I take three pages of terms and conditions from a vendor and just copy and paste it in and ask it to summarize it in three bullet points in terms a layperson could understand,” she says. “Obviously I still recommend reading it from front to back, but it gives the highlights.”

• Interpreting compliance requirements. From health and safety regulations to licensing requirements, ChatGPT assists in interpreting compliance standards pertinent to pool and spa operations.

Suggested prompt: Assist in understanding the liability clause in a pool maintenance service contract to ensure clarity and compliance.

8. Provide inclusive support. ChatGPT offers support in multiple languages, and for customers with varying abilities.

• Language translation. Leverage its multilingual capabilities to offer support and information in various languages, catering to a diverse customer base. This feature works both ways. For example, Escudero speaks English as a second language and now relies on ChatGPT to help her with her English responses. “It helps me create very concise, clear communication instead of going in circles,” she says.

• Accessibility features: Implement ChatGPT-powered tools with accessibility features to assist customers with disabilities, ensuring an inclusive and user-friendly experience.

Suggested prompt: Offer support in multiple languages to cater to diverse customers. Example: Generate a response in Spanish for a customer inquiring about spa maintenance.

Making ChatGPT work for you

While ChatGPT can be a useful tool, Escudero and Kazdin offer a number of suggestions for the uninitiated:

• Be transparent about using AI. Put a disclaimer on your website stating that you are using AI or ChatGPT.• Use the multitude of videos and online resources to learn the basics.
• Start with something simple, such as an email response, to build confidence.
• Don’t force people to use AI. Instead, encourage those who are interested.

Ultimately, ChatGPT is just another tool pool and spa pros can use to stay competitive. Those who embrace the technology will reap the benefits.

While Escudero acknowledges it can be overwhelming to learn a new technology and devote the time to it, she encourages company owners to at least hire somebody to manage it.

“You have to make it work for you,” Escudero says. “But don’t ignore it.”

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