Before we look at the relationship between CRM and AI, let's firstly give an introduction into artificial intelligence.
When we think about Artificial Intelligence (AI) we think of it as a technology far off in the future. Like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, it is already in use, and you’ve probably used it today. If you have an Alexa or Google Nest, or even just a smart phone, then you’re using AI!
AI is the ability of a machine, to reason, learn, plan and be creative in the same way a human would. AI systems can perceive their environment, process it, solve problems, and then act to achieve a goal. They can also adapt their behaviour by analysing previous actions and working autonomously.
Most CRM systems now come with AI functionality already in place. Functionality that most organisations are familiar with typically revolves around the automation of regular manual tasks such as appointment reminders and customer engagement follow up emails.
Where we expect to see growth in development and adoption of AI surrounds the ability to predict customer behaviour, assist in developing customer insights and trends. As well as creating bespoke customer communications. All these functional areas work to improve the efficiency of sales and marketing professionals by enabling them to sell the right product or service to the right customer, faster.
One of the main limitations faced by a new or updated CRM tool is the quality of data. Many assume that once they have the implemented the tool it will be ready to go. However, the tool needs to learn your data before it can function properly. It can take about eight months to fully integrate a new CRM/AI system and for it to deliver value. On top of that it needs good quality data. Data is often siloed or inconsistent which will present a challenge for any system. Automated Data Capture functionality within a CRM solution can make customer acquisition and retention easier. Social Media integration and data capture can support in customer sentiment analysis and help organisations to anticipate customer behaviour.
AI uses algorithms to analyse data based on user activities to generate insights and identify trends. This functionality applied to a CRM system which houses buyer behaviour, content (email and web) engagement as well as business profiles can enable businesses to identify high growth customer accounts or apply predictive lead scoring. Therefore, this enables sales and marketing strategies to be explored for sales enablement and lead generation.
Recorded customer calls, online virtual assistants and chat bots are not new to the customer experience. Combined with AI and integrated into CRM however they could be transformative. Speech to text and text analysis enables advanced data analysis and insights. This drives enhanced customer experiences through automated responses, scheduled follow-ups and conversational customer engagement.
Businesses have been moving away from old CRM’s that had been used as little more than excel and embracing more up to date (therefore AI integrated) CRM. With the majority of businesses projected to move to the Cloud by 2025 incredible amounts of data will be available in one place. AI is perfect for dealing with large data sets and CRM is perfect for using these insights to better communicate with customers.
In the next few years, we should see CRM that continues to show improved automation because of the ability of its AI to learn and anticipate. It will analyse customer data and provide enhanced insights that are invaluable to your sales process and business growth. Customers now expect businesses to be able to provide a unique and tailored experience. They want to engage with businesses in a conversational style. This may be face-to-face, on the phone or via an online channel. AI and CRM make it possible for businesses to not only meet but exceed these expectations.