CRM(Customer Relationship Software) software covers a set of applications designed to help businesses manage several business processes like customer data, customer interaction, track leads, customer support and marketing. CRM is an approach to controlling a company’s communication with current and likely customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company and to improve business relationships with customers, especially focusing on customer recognition and eventually driving sales growth. The way CRM works by assembling leads or customer data, examining the managed information to understand customer or market conditions and coordinating marketing operations accordingly to increase sales.

The Growth of Automation and A.I

One of the primary concerns commonly cited with CRM is the vast amount of data these systems can produce. Managers sometimes find themselves paralyzed and unable to use their CRM data to actually make any decisions because the system is simply so overwhelming. Recently with integrating artificial intelligence into the system is shaking up everything from customer service to personal assistance. AI is set to make huge inroads into CRM in 2020, though it may look very different based on each individual user’s needs. For example, AI-based CRM tools will be able to recommend products that specific customers might be interested based on a large number of parameters, including their prior buying habits, market trends, and demographic data – all in real time, while you have that customer in the store or on the phone. Conversely, AI may be able to guide marketers on where their marketing dollars are best spent, doing a more intelligent “bang for the buck” analysis than any human would ever be able to perform. The overall idea: Make decision making easier by leveraging data that otherwise would go unutilized.

Improved Sales Automation

Automation can handle the more mundane aspects of dealing with customers. And actually, it’s the customers who are now driving this movement, which will continue to explode in 2017. The big social shift is that interest in dealing with a “live person” is seemingly at an all-time low. While the statistics vary widely based on the type of product being purchased, buyers are becoming increasingly comfortable with automated sales and customer service solutions. For example, one recent study found that slightly more than half of consumers prefer to text with support agents instead of talk on the phone. As shopper demographics skew increasingly younger, this effect will be more and more compounded.

And at the B2B level, things are even more extreme. Last year, Forrester predicted that a million B2B salespeople in the U.S. alone would lose their jobs to self-service ecommerce services by the end of the decade. Why? Because business buyers say they don’t want to deal with sales calls; they’d rather just buy things via a website like they do at home. As well, low-value activities like simple email follow-ups and new product announcements will soon be completely automated, with virtually no involvement by a human at all. End users want as much of the busy work out of their hands as possible, like scheduling meetings or going back and forth on basic emails with clients and leads.

Simplified CRM Systems

While many vendors have staked their entire reputation on taking the complexity out of CRM, an even more simplified and user-friendly experience will be key for the industry’s growth in 2017. Sales, marketing, and support are all blending into one monolithic job, and employees are being called upon to work with customers at every stage of the sales cycle. If a customer has to deal with an actual human being at your company, he increasingly wants to deal with just one human being, rather than being bounced around from department to department. That requires everyone to have CRM visibility into that customer, and at a glance.

CRM tools aren’t just being driven by the sales and marketing departments. They’re also increasingly going to be leveraged by users outside of the most traditional channels. Insight into the sales cycle is proving relevant to all manner of unexpected users. For example, product development may look at sales trends to help guide product updates; rather than relying on anecdotal information about what customers want, a CRM tool can give them a more realistic perspective. Finance may use trends spotted in a CRM tool to help forecast funding needs for the future. And management may be able to leverage all of this to spot broader market trends, ID top performers, and forecast overall business needs. The key to all of that happening is that the CRM tool must be simple enough for all of these various stakeholders to easily utilize, and the insights must be clear enough to allow for quick analysis and action.

Tighter Integration with External Tools

What comprises a CRM tool is now in flux, and users and in 2017, CRM developers alike will continue to struggle with the eternal question: Build a monolithic tool that does everything under the sun, or build ways to seamlessly integrate with third parties that already have an established user base.

The pendulum is likely swinging toward the latter, and you can thank the cloud for that. Cloud technologies are simply making it too easy for companies to pick up new services and technologies as they need them, and it’s up to progressive CRM tool developers to figure out the best way to integrate with these services.

Better Multi-User Collaboration

The sharing economy doesn’t just relate to cars and spare bedrooms, it’s becoming part and parcel of the business world, too. Users are now finding that having access to CRM tools is great, but when that information is used in a shared, multi-user setting, it becomes exponentially more valuable. While CRM data has always been centralized and, by design, accessible by many, systems that allow for genuine, real-time collaboration have to date been scarce. That is set to change in the near future.

Knowledge sharing and collaboration within CRM systems is on the rise, a trend that is being accelerated by the increasing virtualization of the workforce. Collaborative CRM will look different based on the specifics of each implementation, but the basic idea is to improve the quality of customer interaction by allowing multiple stakeholders to analyze data or otherwise communicate simultaneously. That might involve rallying a group effort to help a service technician solve a particularly difficult problem, or marshaling a variety of departments to slice and dice various data streams. When combined with the above trend of integrating CRM with additional tools, these capabilities will become further enhanced and more powerful.

We at Asterro build CRM products that are easily configurable, flexible, scalable and mobile solutions, with a phase-wise implementation methodology.

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