CRM or customer relationship management has had a strong relationship with AI for a few years now. There have been multiple companies engaged with AI on an operational basis as well as strategic ones. This means that there are CRM software that allow you to enhance your communications through AI, as well as others that integrate AI as a core system within the model.
Every large industry participant from Salesforce to SAP, has made significant investments in AI. They’re trying to refine their data-focused solutions to become more consumer-friendly. They’ve also been acquiring many AI companies so that they can speed up the AI-to-market process for their large scale multinational clients.
Research from IDC (International Data Corporation) suggests that AI in CRM will boost global revenues by more than a trillion dollars by 2021. This could also result in 800,000 new jobs created as an overall impact.
CRM has the added advantage of being customer-focused, leading to innovation stemming from core-insights. CRM has the capabilities of perfecting each customer interaction to get the most out of every sales opportunity. This AI-enabled offering has introduced new avenues of growth for firms working with CRM providers. They’re more agile, as a result, and can reach out to their customers for any upselling and scale-related opportunities.
Not only is customer communication a major advantage in the CRM space, there have been advancements made in the technological implementation as well. We saw basic and essential AI being introduced in the form of chat-bots and data-miners. Now, we’re seeing a more sophisticated approach to CRM through AI. The AI-technology can integrate various processes within the CRM system to streamline communication better.
E.g. if customers approach the system via email or via call, the chain of CRM flow changes according to their location. If they’re long-term customers vs new customers, the system can analyse that and make changes in its approach.
Overall, if there is to be a significant change in the way marketers view CRM its to do with AI. A few years ago, CRM was seen as software. This software could be cloud-based or device-based depending on where you were accessing the information from. Now, the script has changed, and AI has become ever more popular in the field. AI has become a core-component of CRM’s core systems, which has made CRM a core component of marketing.
The insights obtained from CRM activities are invaluable to organizations, who view it now as a concrete and dependable source of insight. Otherwise, CRM reports were sent to the CMO’s office and were approved or rejected without going too deep into the numbers. AI has also made reporting that much more efficient by introducing smarter insights and better decision making (more or less autonomous).
CRM enabled AI has made taking decisions a much more streamlined process. There have been multiple iterations being tested on consumers as well. With Microsoft and Google making strides in the space, CRM is going to be bot-based in the near future. This will almost completely change the way we interact with computers and make AI-enabled home robots a common phenomenon. Currently though, we are only seeing the basic effects of AI, which is self-learning and understanding through processing billions of data points.
CRM has also opened up how companies view innovation in the space of customer communication. We don’t see many brands taking risks in the customer communication space as automated responses still need reviewing. This is where AI can take over by learning about the hundreds of online communications points that large organizations deal with daily. This can make text-based responses, email-based ones, and phone-based ones seem human-like thereby increasing the rates of retention and improving communication.
There have also been significant enhancements in the flexibility that AI offers CRM. Companies can offer different solutions to customers based on AI’s power of computation. E.g. Zoho’s Zia Voice CRM is a text and speech powered virtual assistant. Not only is Zia one of its kind, it can also innovate on the spot leveraging its learning algorithms in real time. Through this, clients can leverage better customer communications at scale, and offer flexible solutions in return.
CRM is also heavily dependant on data management. Managing data effectively is one of the key areas of focus for AI software. As there are thousands of data points that are collected every session, it’s important to get both real-time data and accumulated data as well. Data needs to be scrubbed for inaccuracies and subsequently converted into insights. With the power of AI, CRM has advanced to a position of offering these solutions currently. The relationship between AI and CRM has enhanced multi-fold owing to the rise in computational competencies.
With increase in technology adoption, CRM has become synonymous with AI. There have been multiple instances of CRM being the first step of introduction to the marketing side of a firm. In terms of ROI and accountability, it’s at the top of the chain in this matter. That’s why CMOs don’t hesitate to incorporate AI based CRM systems. They can base their evaluations on core metrics such as attrition, time spent, etc. That’s where marketing can truly innovate based on ROI metrics provided by CRM and AI.
CRM has also developed into a key area of investment, when it comes to marketing spends. Marketers aren’t hesitating to invest big in CRM as it leverages the capabilities of deep learning and mapping. That’s why the industry, as a whole, has grown multi-fold over the past few years. With the growth of the CRM industry, there have been new jobs opening up in the marketing sphere giving rise to the development of the space further.
With rise in investments, and funding in quality talent development, the quality of analysis and reporting obtained via CRM has also improved significantly. The rationale behind investment 10X and 20X in CRM has become clearer and quality talent are driving the innovation in the sphere further. Those graduating and joining the labour pool in 2018 will have significantly different CRM skills than those that entered 5 years ago. That’s why the space is exciting on many counts, and the future is yet to unfold completely.
Chitra is an expert in development and deployment of cloud computing technologies and has managed global teams. She has led the deployment of cloud computing platforms for Fortune 100 companies in varied sectors – Pharmaceutical, Insurance, Automobile, Aviation, Telecom, to state a few.
She has experience in integrating IoT and cloud platform in the renewable energy sector. Chitra holds an M.S. in Computer Science from Ohio University, USA and B. Tech in Information Technology from the University of Madras, India.