CRM Trends 2018 and beyond

Posted on - May 14th, 2019

CRM forms the basis of any successful sales and customer services environment. Utilised correctly, CRM can drive favourable return on investment through increased customer acquisition, retention and overall customer satisfaction. Gartner lists CRM as the largest software market in 2017 and will be the fastest growing software market in 2018.

In a permanently connected world, companies must remain highly responsive to customers and prospects at the risk of losing customer trust and reputability through a lack of responsiveness. Applying CRM correctly can dramatically decrease response time and time to resolution for customer queries or sales. These high levels of responsiveness bring with them their own set of challenges, businesses must be available 24/,7 even when their staff may not be, and be able to address customer needs effectively at all times. It is from this perspective that a number of trends for CRM in 2018 and beyond become clear. A brief analysis of trend forecasts from leading CRM sources provides the following summary:

CIO.com Forrester destinationCRM.com
Machine learning Adoption of virtual assistants AI-powered automated workflows
Data and the 360-degree view of the customer Automation wherever possible IoT integration
CRM with hooks into operations AI to boost outcomes CRM at the centre of the omni-channel approach
On-premise CRM is the exception   Self-service via CRM
Customer experience is king   From CRM to Social CRM

It is clear that machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions are core to the delivery of leading CRM systems. The ability to implement an effective machine learning or AI element within your CRM operations creates the ability to automatically handle simpler interactions and queries. The large majority of queries through customer service desks relate to a request for information.

If this can automatically be handled by the CRM, this frees up time for your customer services and sales representatives to concentrate on the elements of their jobs that drive increased return on investment for the business.

A second and equally valuable trend is effective data gathering. The right data enables businesses to understand their customer. This is vital for all business and without data, machine learning and artificial intelligence is a nonstarter.

The most important factor across all trends however, is how these new technologies and trends drive the customer experience. With all the right technologies and the wrong implementation and delivery, customer experience can be severely impacted and provide the opposite results that businesses set out to achieve. With omni-channel interactions a norm across channels like telephone, email, live chat, SMS, Whatsapp, Facebook, Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn and many other channels, delivering the right customer experience is at the core CRM.

Gathering data and predicting customer behaviour, cross-selling and upselling, predictive customer servicing, proactive query resolution and customer self-service deliver an enhanced customer experience if delivered correctly. There remains no substitute for understanding your customer as a business, understanding your value proposition as a business and being able to deliver on these two elements. If these are in place then your business is ready to take full advantage of the CRM boom and the technological advances taking place there.


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