CRM or customer relationship management used to amount to little more than remembering a client’s name(bonus points if you remember the kid’s names) and sending them a christmas card, perhaps with a small gift. Today, businesses are using powerful computer algorithms to predict their clients needs and sophisticated automation technology to meet them.
Tools like Salesforce, Hubspot, and Microsoft Dynamics, are completely revolutionizing CRM, but, due to the behind-the-scenes nature of this tech, it’s not something most people notice. So, to gain a better understanding of the CRM industry and where it’s headed, we asked a group of industry experts…
What’s The Future Of CRM?
Here’s what they had to say…
Martin Schneider, Head of Product Evangelism at SugarCRM
“The overarching theme for the future of CRM is that customer demands are changing fast, and companies need to keep up. CRM in the years to come will see general advancements in key technology areas like Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) coupled with the press for more modernization among legacy CRM users, which will ultimately lead to a lot of interesting moves in the market, both from vendors and CRM practitioners alike.”
Katherine Kostereva, Co-founder, CEO & Managing Partner of bpm’online
“CRM is already in the midst of an intelligence revolution, and in 10 years we won’t even think about AI and Machine Learning separate from CRM. They will be standard in CRM solutions and will automate all non-social or creative tasks throughout the customer journey. End-users in CRM will have their time and workflow optimized automatically, with the technology doing all the data enrichment and action coordination for the user. In addition to workflow optimization, systems will be able to recognize end-user skills (proficiencies and weaknesses), surface recommendations to help reps learn faster and perform better, and more consistently based on the context of the customer. With data from additional touchpoints like IoT applications, CRMs will yield more accurate and actionable behavior models that will deliver better content and offers based on real-time processing of historical data and in-the-moment behavioral data, providing for a very specific and personalized customer journey.”
Mark Bishof, CEO of Clarabridge
“Currently there’s a one-way communication between customer and brand, but in the future the dialogue will become a loop that feels more collaborative. Today, brands collect large volumes of data about customers, but they need to better synthesize this with customer feedback to understand sentiment and emotion. Feedback from customers offers valuable suggestions that point businesses in the right direction when creating new products and services. This collaborative mentality has the potential for huge ROI for companies, and in turn, customers are not only happier with the brand’s products and they also feel heard driving loyalty. Only brands who establish this dynamic feedback loop using AI, NLP and machine learning and apply those insights to all areas of their business will survive in the future.”
Dan Dawes, Co-founder & CEO of Response Labs
“The future of CRM is a Matrix-like structure of real-time connectedness that enables smart marketers to identify, target, convert and nurture their customers through machine learning and AI that will process not only demo/psychographic data but also people’s behaviors across a largely digital landscape. A glimpse of that future is what Microsoft is doing with it’s LinkedIn acquisition allowing for data discovery with the CRM platform based on crowdsourced rankings and networks. Or what Nimble is doing with real-time social monitoring at the contact level for front-line communications pros. These additional levels of data, when used effectively, will help marketers use the most engaging messaging in the right channels at precisely the right time.”
Elizabeth Gibson, CCO at ezLandlordForms.com
“Data-gathering will intensify, but analysis will be shouldered more by frontline staff like sales and customer support. That’s because algorithms will advance (thus, the continued need for those data engineers) to allow for instant application of customer behavior. For instance, customer service software like online chat will be completely integrated with email marketing, so that customer comments can trigger staff to issue offers and upsells. A lot of this happens now, but we’ll see the lag between information and action shorten in the next five or so years. Frontline staff will need to be decision-makers.
Another interesting trend that I’m watching is the fresh preference for digital word-of-mouth referral. People expect to post online queries in social media and get answers from connected sources. Execs and management will need to get in the game, and their comfort in the realm will correlate to the success of their reputation management.”
Rishi Khanna, CEO of ISHIR
“The customers are increasingly getting hungry for highly customized experiences and more interactions in all business transactions. The CRM industry is no exception to such a kind of trend. Artificial Intelligence or AI is one of the technologies that can deliver such fast, intuitive and effective solutions that the customers are seeking. The CRM giants are already focusing on delivering more predictive and personalized customer experiences across sales, service, marketing, commerce, and other areas.
CRM without AI is an unintelligent system. Without using predictive analysis, if you try to search for customer information, it’s like looking for a needle in the haystack. You cannot know which customer has the highest potential to invest. In the future, CRM will give insightful results to provide you with information like if your product/ service offering is redundant or something that they are actually looking for. AI and predictive analysis will make it possible to analyze customer sentiments and intent, score leads, recommend products, and upsell.”
Steven Benson, Founder & CEO of Badger Maps
“The key trend I see happening in the CRM market is people customizing their CRM experiences with specific applications and add-on’s. They will use these to enhance the core CRM experience, and make it better for their specific go to market strategies and needs. The ecosystem of apps around CRM’s is allowing specific users to get exactly what they want out of their CRM for their individual use case. For example at our company, Badger Maps, we enable CRM’s to be more useful to field sales people.
As different software solutions get better and better at speaking with one another, companies will use their different apps and services as building blocks to create a custom technology stack built on top of their CRM platform. This will drive CRM adoption, increase data capture, and drive sales results.”
Ambrose McGinn, CEO of Westbrook International Ltd.
“The previous decade has seen CRM technology dramatically shift from toolsets focused on sales people towards enterprise level systems that connect every aspect of a business to themselves and their customers.
With early Artificial Intelligence tools emerging in the market, the next decade will see a fundamental game change in how CRM users work – transforming the process of painfully analysing and reviewing data for trends and insight, to being intelligently served up relevant and timely information, suggestions and reminders that can deliver a vastly improved customer and colleague experience which will drive major revenue gains.
Combined with increasingly powerful analytics tools, accurate predictions will drive future decision making – with AI modelling trends, risks and the expected success of actions while learning from the activities of those interactions connected to them – be that people or machines through IoT.
In 15 years time, CRM will have transformed the way we work and connect across business, informed by smart data and decisioning which will make today look prehistoric by comparison.
CRM will be the expert advisor to every level of the business, always available via wearables or mobile on the go devices, continuously offering suggestions on the where the next opportunities and risks lie.”