We know that artificial intelligence will change business, and it looks like chatbots might be one of the first waves of this game-changing technology that makes its way to consumers.
While many AI developers here in Silicon Valley pooh-pooh catboats as a poor example of AI in action, there’s no denying that bots are hot and here right now. The global bot services market is expected to grow from 458.4 million today to 1,783.9 million by 2022, according to research by Markets and Markets.
How Chabot technology will affect CRM systems is still open for debate, but here are five ways that bots pretty clearly will affect CRM in the near future.
The best-performing sales agent might soon be the CRM itself, at least if Chabot adoption continues taking off.
Firms such as Conversance are developing catboats that mimic how a human responds to email conversation and turning these assistants into part of the sales team. A Converse Chabot gets a name, a title, and an email address, and engages, qualifies and follows up with sales leads using natural language processing.
So one way that chatbots might change CRM is by letting CRM sell to customers directly, becoming far more than just a tool for the sales team.
A second way that catboats will change CRM is by upping the way that social CRM works by directly fielding questions and giving a response on social media channels.
Right now Facebook is hot on chatbots, and both the company itself and smaller firms such as Chat fuel are automating social channels for businesses. This will have a big impact on CRM systems that support customer service functionality.
“Social care (customer care through social channels such as FB, Integra, Twitter, etc.) is being augmented with AI, Top boys. “Brands are able to use AI-enhanced bots to communicate with users on these social channels answering questions faster, 24/7 without having to scale the number of customer care workers.”
Any CRM worth its salt today has a respectable mobile experience. Chatbot technology will push CRM access even further, enabling employees and even customers to access the system directly by way of voice or text-based communication channels.
“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 such as web chat, phone, Amazon Alexa and more,
Instead of users querying a CRM system, in the not-so-distant future they will be able to talk with the system and ask questions to get what they want out of the CRM. Given that CRM systems are not known for their user-friendliness, this could be huge.
Sales and social media response aren’t the only ways that chatbots will change CRM by directly interacting with customers. Chatbots also will enable CRM systems to field basic customer support requests and route those that are more complex with live agents.
“Chatbots are red hot in CRM,” says Des Cahill, vice president and head CX evangelist for the business software maker, Oracle. “Increasingly, our digital interactions will be with virtual assistants that can triage our requests. Is it simple? The VA can handle it. Is it complex? Push the conversation to a human.
The automated response that sales and marketing currently use in CRM on a rudimentary level will be kicked up significantly and extended to support requests, too. No more simple requests for live support staff. Instead, let the bot handle it.
Finally, a fifth way that chatbots will change CRM is by making the systems much more efficient.
When chatbots can triage customer interactions and serve only the most challenging to live agents, this makes businesses more efficient at customer interactions. With the help of chatbots, CRM will shift from a storehouse of customer information to a tool for better engagement with customers.
This is seen right now to some extent with marketing, sales and customer service automation within CRM, but chatbots will take it to a much higher level and make these systems far more indispensable and central for business.
“AI-powered intelligent chatbots will enable companies to have much higher capacity for productive interaction with their customers,” notes Cahill. “No more time spent waiting on hold. If 30 percent of service calls can be handled by a chatbot, that frees up service agent capacity to concentrate on serving the more difficult cases.”
Overall, chatbots represent an interesting, automated and more efficient way for data within a CRM to be useful. Not only do chatbots ease the interaction between employees and the system, they also serve as a direct conduit between customers and CRM data. That promises to unlock CRM data far beyond anything that a good user interface or mobile accessibility could deliver.