Some industry experts claim that “CRM is dead”, with 70% of senior sales executives believing their current CRM system needs to be overhauled. At SRi, we believe CRM is here to stay, but only if its used differently than in the past.
While CRM technology has been in practice for 20 years, its function is shifting from providing metrics and operationalizing the sales teams. Today's customers want a streamlined and personalized sales experience, delivered quickly and across all channels.
The answer to this growing demand has been in the name all along: Customer Relationship Management. Modern CRM systems must manage more than metrics; they need to focus on the customer journey – engaging at the right time and with the right message.
Forrester has identified three 2018 CRM trends that will improve CRM systems' ability to engage and delight customers.
- Voice-based CRM. Voice recognition is radically improving. Since Alexa was introduced in 2014, she’s evolved from controlling music to entire homes, with 12,000 products today having Alexa skills. Voice-based CRM allows salespeople to interact with the system vocally to write and send emails, schedule meetings, and enter data, saving substantial time over doing the same tasks manually.
- Robotic process automation. Forrester predicts that in 2018, software robots will replace or augment 260,000 US sales positions. Greater process and task automation would free up salespeople to do higher-value, relationship-based work by taking over simpler, repeatable tasks associated with opportunity and lead management. So instead of doing taxing data entry, sales people can focus on one-on-one customer engagements.
- Artificial intelligence. AI not only helps with task completion, it also interacts with customers autonomously by monitoring their journeys and engaging at the appropriate time. The algorithms recognize individual customer behaviors, and using the data collected from their previous interactions and people similar to them, help salespeople identify qualified leads and provide a customized experience at every stage of the sales process.
Wether you're planning on adopting these trends, or not, one thing is clear: in 2018, you won't survive on metrics alone. Your CRM system must be built upon a deep understanding of your target persona, what matters to them, and how they buy. This knowledge will empower your sales team to forge end-to-end relationships that add value at every touchpoint, and continue to improve how you cater to your customer.