Like everything else, CRM technology has to evolve and improve in order to keep up with tech-trends and customer expectations. There’s a lot of consensus about what the future of CRM looks like, but not everyone agrees. So what do we think are the key things that are likely to take CRM to the next stage in the next twelve months – and beyond?
AI could be the key to unlocking CRM potential
Within the business world, particularly in B2B, AI in CRM is being used to build data-driven business models. Business model predictors are being used to deliver leads and lead data to sales, marketing and customer service professionals directly, rather than using manual intervention. Although automation has been doing this for a while, AI is able to do it faster and smarter.
AI is a powerful tool, when used in a CRM environment, because it can:
Use unstructured Big Data to enable organizations to make smarter and quicker decisions, based on predictive analysis, giving them a picture of where the next trends in lead generation will come from
Uncover more opportunities and rank them according to potential (using Lead Scoring, which evaluates leads based on buying intentions)
Improves your team’s forecasting and helps them make smarter decisions. These decisions can be automated, by the system directly flagging when a prospect reaches a certain score
Drive Chat Bots and Live Chat, to assist customers in resolving their issues directly, without the need for personal or manual intervention
This becomes more powerful when Machine Learning, a subset of AI, is used to predict how likely leads are to convert, because it allows your sales team to refine their targeting. It does this by using data from previous deals, whether won or lost, to make data-backed predictions, that you can define based on your business focus and needs.
Increasingly robust automation
It’s a sad fact that any sales, marketing or customer service team, is likely to spend far less time doing the job that they’re employed to do, than doing tasks generated by their work and specifically to resolve issues with their work, or ‘work about work’.
One example would be nurturing prospects and customers to move them through the revenue pipeline. The best CRM systems already offer a level of automation that identifies these records automatically, whilst the ‘best of the best’ deals with them, by automatically sending follow-up emails (or SMS) to prompt them to buy, potentially using incentives to sweeten the deal.
Expect increased levels of automation across all CRM systems in 2022 and beyond.
Again, many CRM systems offer access to Customer Portals, because an increasing number of customers would rather ‘do-it-themselves’ rather than sit on the end of a telephone waiting for an operator to become available. Self-service portals make it easier for customers to find information quickly – through FAQs, Forums and Knowledge Bases – whilst the best enable them to alter elements of their account.
One of the issues with Portals is that they are often ‘stand-alone’, which means that the much of the information is lost. But CRM systems will increasingly allow this data to be integrated into the normal customer workflows, giving internal teams a better grasp of a customer’s needs and increasing the level of information available to data engines.
Customer Satisfaction becomes paramount
Until recently, being able to provide a quality customer experience has been the key focus of attention. However, probably since the first of the Covid lockdowns, Customer Satisfaction has outstripped Experience as the key metric. Customers now appear to be happy for companies to know more about them, because they want the company to be able to give them more in return for their custom. Mistrust in how companies use personalised information is receding, as customers expect more for their money.
As AI becomes more prominent in evaluating customer needs, and in order to meet customer expectations and a company’s own customer-centric goals, CRM systems will need to evolve greater levels of precision, with tools like predictive analytics, in order to better focus on customer needs, based on customer behaviours.
Better use of APIs
APIs are key to enabling a CRM system to flex and react to customer desires, thereby providing greater flexibility for sales and marketing teams to respond to trends in customer activity. They provide a high level of analytics-driven insights that were previously unseen, enabling new-age business models to drive increased sales.
Some predict that APIs will become increasingly customer-centric, using Big Data and data-rich applications to enable cloud-based CRM providers to become more scalable and reliable in delivering integration frameworks and smarter technologies.
Expect APIs to become more prevalent, redefining the very nature of cloud-based CRM systems, that typically use enterprise-grade APIs, which in turn roadmaps the future of CRM technology, industry-wide, for the foreseeable future.
With the increasing prevalence of ‘working from home’, or indeed ‘working from anywhere’, mobile-friendly technology is becoming more common, hence Mobile CRMs are becoming more common. Companies find that, with staff increasingly working remotely, using a Mobile CRM has a significantly positive effect on their ability to reach or exceed their sales targets. That being the case, many more companies are likely to choose a Mobile CRM with which to do business.