The future of CRM: three innovations to prepare your business

Artificial intelligence, ‘channel-less’ innovation and augmented reality. Luke McCormack has three CRM innovations that’ll help future-proof your business.

In an increasingly mobile-centred global economy, the key to competitive differentiation and sustainable growth is a seamless customer experience at every touchpoint. It’s time to move past traditional CRM systems to a true journey-enabled engagement philosophy that follows customer across channels.

Today’s businesses are tackling increasingly global and turbulent markets, while all industries are dealing with disruption in one way or another. It’s more essential than ever to future proof your business with meaningful customer relationship intelligence.

While we often hear of new technology developments that will supposedly revolutionise CRM, it’s less often discussed how marketers can make practical use of them. Here are three innovations to focus on:

 

1. Artificial intelligence – bionic customer service

AI is touted as the future for many industries, but how will it make a difference in the day-to-day lives of customer service agents? AI acts as a new form of bionic superpower for agents by knowing the right direction for an interaction even before the agent does. New technologies enable CRM systems to apply AI to any customer interaction, analyse it and quickly recommend the next best steps, all the while helping guide agents past any blind spots in the process.

Bionic service is about practicality and giving sales people the best action to take while maintaining an empathetic human touch, critical to the entire process.

Implementing a bionic customer service system proved effective for Sprint, a large US telco, serving almost 60 million customers. Its customer care agents previously used their own judgement and experience to manually choose the right offer for each customer. By moving to a system with predictive and self-learning analytics and pre-built retention processes, Sprint revolutionised its customer service model, increased its NPS by 40% and had an eightfold increase in customer upgrades.

 

2. From antiquated silos to channel-less innovation – omnichannel is here to stay for customer brand engagement

Businesses must move away from antiquated customer service approaches that are siloed, channel-driven and can’t scale across all parts of the business. Instead, they need to actively break down silos and implement strategies that enable customer data, logic, processes and AI to be orchestrated centrally.

To achieve this, it’s essential businesses stop building IT solutions from the outside in and start building out from the core of the business. Doing this creates a unified system that drives customer engagement on every channel – from email and chatbots to Facebook and Alexa. This eliminates the need to manage each individual channel in a vacuum. By moving from a omnichannel to a ‘channel-less’ strategy, each interface is powered by insights from the same centralised ‘brain’ that enables a consistent experience regardless of the device they may be using.

Recently, the marketing team at Optus knocked down their existing silos by integrating their channels to make real-time decisions to generate personalised offers. By integrating their CRM and mobile, Optus enriches customer interactions to create one-to-one, real-time, contextual offers in less than 200 milliseconds and increase relevance.

 

3. IoT and augmented reality – predictive customer support to relieve self-service frustration

Businesses want to know their customers better than they know themselves. Ideally, they should be anticipating and solving customer dilemmas before they even arise. As customer interactions move online and traditional ways of interpreting customer emotions such as body language and tone are less available, businesses require new ways of predicting and evaluating customer’s state of mind.

Augmented reality (AR) and IoT can drive this. With the increased amount of data and analytics that IoT devices provide, businesses can overlay augmented reality to improve the support that they provide customers.

Currently if there’s a service issue, customers typically spend significant time figuring out issues themselves, researching online help sections, reading FAQ documents and calling help phone lines – all of which can lead to frustration. But by understanding devices using IoT, augmented reality can be used in real time to visually show customers how to resolve their issues. For example, a customer with a malfunctioning IoT fridge could be educated on how to fix the issue using augmented reality to walk them through the steps instead of having to refer to instruction manuals or online help support.

Augmented reality could also be used to guide marketers through a marketing software if they are having issues implementing a task, helping them reach their customers.

 

The future of CRM

The only thing certain about the future of business is uncertainty. Organisations need to quickly adapt to the unpredictable. CRM is heading in multiple directions and marketers need to stay conscious of them all to avoid being left behind. Looking forward, we’ll see a ‘future empowered’ approach, where businesses will become have more options to select from the many CRM technologies available to strike the perfect balance for their organisation, giving more power to enterprises to build for change.

Adopting emerging innovations is instrumental to helping meaningful relationships with customers that provide better service across all channels and carry them on a journey. Marketers must keep their eyes forward and ready for change to stay on the front foot of CRM.

 

Luke McCormack is APAC regional VP at Pegasystems.

 
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