Customer Relationships Management (CRM) software have been around for quite some time now. Some businesses use them as basic sales management solutions while others look to make the most of their features for wholesome customer interactions management. Like every technology, CRM tools also underwent changes throughout 2017, and 2018 will be no different. A bit of planning, prior research, and a basic understanding of the latest trends from the CRM universe will help businesses a lot. We cover all this and more in this guide. Read on.
A Quick Look Back At CRM Progress
Back in the 1980s, CRM software hardly did anything apart from helping businesses manage contacts. In the 1990s, CRM software became more dynamic and started tracking customer interactions. By the beginning of 2000, cloud-based CRM solutions expanded the market size, as these applications became more accessible for all kinds of businesses.
Since then, CRM has remained on track in terms of adding more functionality to the core software, delivering business value in the process. Today, the business of all scales and sizes, across markets, rely on CRM software for customers interaction management, customer lifetime value enhancement, and customer support, among many other related functions. This makes it crucial for IT managers and leaders to be aware of the latest enhancements being made to CRM software. This guide will help, for sure.
Personalized Automation Via Artificial Intelligence Algorithms
Artificial Intelligence algorithms are affecting transformations across business functions. In 2018, the effects will be seen on the CRM front as well. AI algorithms will be able to help customer support personnel in several ways.
AI-powered CRM software will be able to analyze end user level interactions, learn from the patterns, improve workflows by incremental automation, and hence free up a lot of man-hours for more value adding work. AI-based CRM systems will be able to tap into the TBs of enterprise data to find out insightful patterns pertaining to customer-business interactions. Also, this CRM software will be able to predict using patterns and make crucial decisions related to existing customers and new leads, reducing guesswork and cold calling for end users.
This personalized automation is truly the next big leap that CRM software is ready to take.
The Coming of Age for Social CRM
A very prominent trend evident in the growth of CRM in the past few years is the integration of CRM with social media. With social media, customer-business interactions take place at hours the customer decides, in informal language, and are often initiated by the customer instead of the company.
Your customer’s relationships management efforts need to be focused on the channels where your customers exist. Already, enterprises have included social media channels into their CRM mix. In 2018, the leading CRM software vendors are expected to release extended suites of social media-powered CRM solutions. These suites will comprise advanced social media monitoring and listening functionalities. The net result – enterprises will be able to detect customer sentiments on social media, participate in interactions without explicitly being called out to, and take control of customer interactions on all social media channels. This also extends to mobile devices, enabling end users to resolve customer queries on social channels on the move.
Sales Journey Automation
Apart from the individual level, personalized workflow automation we talked about earlier, 2018 will also witness an underlying improvement in customer sales journey automation. Advanced CRM software will be able to tap into the massive enterprise data to design multi-tiered and highly automated customer journeys. This will enable businesses to effectively manage entire customer journeys, from lead stage to loyalty stage, with minimal sales personnel intervention. Lead scoring and behavioral marketing will further improve the effectiveness of these automatic customer journey mappings.
3rd Party Integrations
CRM software cut across quite a few business functions, namely – sales, marketing, and customer support. This also means that CRM solutions must be able to deliver more than a mere peripheral feature set related to these aspects.
In 2018, CRM software vendors will raise their game in terms of allowing 3rd party integrations of their core software with other tools. This is also expected to be accompanied by a call for industry standard interfaces that connect multiple services and solutions. Though the modern breed of CRM software offers a fair amount of integration already, there is still a long way to go before single-vendor CRM suites can deliver intelligent synchronization across platforms. Mobile and web-powered solutions need to work in tandem with the enterprise’s core CRM, and this year will see the onset of these futuristic CRM tools.
Gartner predicts that businesses that are not able to implement a stellar customer interactions strategy stand to lose 25% of potential new revenue. Enterprises are looking to formulate multi-dimensional and multi-channel CRM strategies. Proactive and intelligent messaging is a crucial element of these advanced CRM strategies. Personalization is another critical aspect of this long-term CRM strategy. Thankfully, the next-gen breed of CRM software will come loaded with tools and functionalities that make it easy and hassle-free for businesses to achieve success with their CRM strategies.
These tools will be able to ‘estimate’ when to send a message to audiences, and will also be able to personalize and contextualize the content of the message accordingly. Chatbots are already exhibiting their prowess in making use of oceans of customer demographics and interactions history data to manage automated messaging. With similar functionalities, CRM software will be able to send the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, and using the right communication channel.
It’s clear how big data, analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will bring about significant improvements in CRM software in 2018. IT leads and managers need to stay in sync with the latest from the world of CRM software so that they can commission the right tool, and beat their competitors.
Author: Rahul Sharma