With so many blogs out there covering CRM solutions, their advantages and comparing the options available, you would be forgiven for briefly debating whether to skip over this one. Yes it’s true, we all know what CRM platforms can do for us, how they improve customer engagement and make for a better relationship between businesses and their clients. However much of what we know is based on the past and present – what do CRM platforms hold in store for us in the coming years and months? In this blog, we’ll uncover the new features CRM vendors are adding and how they can be used to further enrich the CRM experience for both businesses and their clients.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
There is a lot of buzz around AI generally at the moment, with the likes of Amazon Echo, Google Alexa etc. employing AI and machine learning, this phenomenon is becoming a part of everyday life. But what if AI could be used in a customer relationship setting? There is potential for it to be used to predict customer’s future purchases or to determine whether your product is targeting the right demographic. There are limitless opportunities for AI in the CRM world and the likes of Salesforce and Microsoft are getting right behind it.
With so much clutter and noise being fired at us every day humans have adapted to filter out the information that does not stand out – if it is not relevant or it does not offer us anything, we delete it. As such, the CRM industry needs to respond to this and the way they will do this is to provide more relevant and tailored information. CRM systems will use the vast amount of data being gathered (through smart phones and other devices) to determine what information to present to customers. This will be targeted almost on an individual user basis and will result in customers being presented with concise and relevant information they will pay attention to.
Mobile only CRM
While ‘mobile first’ has been a concept which software providers have not been able to ignore for a long time now, we are now at a point where we need to consider ‘mobile only’. That is, users who never access a system using their desktop – only their mobile. Many CRM platforms have an associated smart phone App such as Salesforce’s ‘Salesforce1’ App or Microsoft’s ‘Dynamics 365 for phones’ App; however these purely complement the desktop experience rather than replace it. ‘Mobile first’ will allow users to perform any operation available on the CRM from their mobile device. In a world where consumers of business software are increasingly working away from the office, this is an extremely important consideration.
Social CRM has been around for a while but has been used predominantly for data analysis or simply keeping track of customers for later campaigns. What we will see in the coming year is Social CRM being used in a more engaging manner. For example a customer may raise a complaint on Twitter, using one of the many methods of integration this complaint will be passed to a CRM platform. The complaint will be handled by a customer service agent in the CRM platform and the resolution be passed back to Twitter for the user to view. This allows the user to remain in the familiar surroundings of Twitter and the customer service agent in their CRM platform but allows the two to communicate and work towards a resolution seamlessly. I expect we will see this kind of service across many sectors including retail, banking, housing, health, social care and charities to name but a few.
As businesses evolve and diversify, they demand more from their CRM platform. As such we will see better features within CRM platforms to allow businesses to tailor the platform to their needs. We are already seeing features to accommodate this and a greater number of packages being offered by CRM vendors and this will continue steadily over the next year. Similarly while many businesses continue to search for the fully integrated suite or ‘holy grail’ solution they will be drawn back to the best-of-breed solution comprising different components to achieve the desired end result. I think this is a trend we will continue to see over the next year and with this in mind, I do not think we will see any slowdown in the number of integration solutions on offer.
Data Sharing and Collaboration
Data sharing has long been an important part of any business however the real value lies in how we share and subsequently use data. In the past, a Charity’s Finance department may have wanted information from the Grant/Welfare department about future payments to Beneficiaries. This may have been provided in the form of a spreadsheet. If both departments were using the same CRM they would both be able to access the same data. Whilst this is already a feature most CRM platforms possess, the concept is likely to mature and the ways in which this data can be analysed and drilled down into will improve during the next year.
As we said at the start, CRM’s and their benefits are nothing new. But the times, and technology are changing, and so the CRM platforms will adjust and evolve. The benefits we’ve talked about here will only help to cement CRM’s place at the heart of many businesses and organisations – if they can do all these extra things, how can we function without them?
If you’re looking to get the most out of your CRM and would like to know more about integration or data sharing, talk to us today.