Business is moving faster and getting more demanding by the minute thanks to the increased competition and consumer expectations that come from an online, mobile-centered economy.
Meeting these demands requires managing a solid customer experience at every touch point, and that is putting added emphasis on automation, artificial intelligence, big data, and analytics.
“The CRM of the future will need to harness information from disparate but tightly related sources over time, including social signals, communication frequency, omnichannel support and customer analytics, and collate them to generate meaningful relationship intelligence,”
CRM can’t stand still, and it isn’t. Here are five of the CRM innovations arriving soon that will help your business handle today’s market demands.
Manual labor and inefficient business processes are no friends of the dynamic business. In the near future, CRM systems will start adjusting workflows automatically for added efficiency.
“As AI technology learns the different ways in which a given organization and individual users interact on a daily basis with the software, it will start suggesting different ways to optimize the system,”
For example, after learning repeated usage patterns, CRM systems coupled with AI will configure the system to minimize manual work, creating automatic actions or reconfiguring the interface to better suit a given user's usage patterns.
Far from just a back office tool for managing contacts, CRM is starting to connect with AI and services such as chat bots to serve as the backbone for conversational interfaces.
“Emerging conversational interfaces with advanced natural language processing capabilities allow customers as well as customer-facing employees to engage and even continue a conversation across channels,”
These might include web chat, phone, Amazon Alexa or other channels connected on the backend to a company’s CRM. These conversations will be able to take place via both visual text and spoken word.
Get ready for easier automation. CRM is embracing that primal function of computing: handling repetitive tasks so users can focus on more important things like strategy and closing sales.
“In 2018, CRM will shift away from managing customers to building relationships with customers - the R of CRM,”
“CRM will prepopulate required data fields with available firmographic and demographic information, and will include functionality that will help users manage and build lifelong customer relationships over time,”
CRM has a bad reputation for requiring work from users, driving down adoption. But CRM firms are rapidly eliminating a lot of the repetitive work and making it easy to focus on the insights embedded in CRM data.
“AI will guide sales reps on a down-to-the-minute basis on how they can best spend their time for greatest impact, even based upon customer context they may not have otherwise been aware of,” adds Nicholson. “AI can help eliminate blind spots in the sales process by surfacing new insights and guiding sales reps through activities to accelerate deals and improve win probability.”
Forget mail merge and niceties like basic segmentation. CRM makers are working on much deeper personalization that will help businesses customize the customer experience to the point that landing pages are dynamically built for each contact and customers engage with brands, not discrete departments within a company.
“Rather than the customer being constrained by the skills of an employee, system or channel limitation, new CRM technologies will wrap the brand experience around the customer needs wherever they are on their journey
What this means in practice is that customers will no longer be forced to go through endless screens and prompts, or be passed around to multiple service reps to get what they need.
“As a result, employees can provide optimal service in the moment no matter the customer need--sales, service, or marketing,”
CRM systems also will soon begin to integrate much more tightly with signal inputs from wearables, cars, phones and home devices to paint a clearer picture of the customer.
“If done correctly, integrating IoT data contextually into the processes of sales, marketing, delivery and service has the potential to provide untold opportunities to personalize individual customer experiences,”
“Connected devices and IoT will soon emerge as major signal generators--and often will provide a more honest picture of the customer than a conversation with that individual,”
CRM will capture this data and weave it together into a dynamic, automated, actionable customer profile.
These are exciting times for CRMs and the businesses that use them.