CRM Evolution: The Future of Customer Service
⏱ Reading Time: 8 minutes
The CRM industry is a highly competitive ecosystem that is growing at an astonishing rate. Statistics say that the number of companies increasing investments in CRM systems will keep growing. Only in 2019, the overall CRM usage rose from 56% to 74%. Moreover, 91% of companies with more than 11 employees now use a CRM tool.
This trend is particularly vital to customer service teams. Consequently, it maximizes their efficiency and takes customer experiences to a whole new level. Industry analysis reports predict that the CRM niche is going to transform into an $80 billion industry by the end of 2025.
So, what direction is CRM evolution currently going? What are the major CRM trends that are reshaping the future of customer service?
Let’s find out!
Picture 1. What’s the future of CRM?
The Need for Self-Service Increases
The inContact study found that, today, 67% of customers want to self-educate rather than talk to a customer support representative. Furthermore, 91% of online customers would use a knowledge base.
Given these statistics, it is not surprising at all that companies are boosting their investments in self-service technologies. Gartner estimates that, by 2030, a billion service tickets will be raised automatically by customer-owned bots.
Self-service is the foundation for CRM evolution. There are many ways to do self-service right, including:
A knowledge base is a detailed section on your website that assists visitors in solving common product issues and finding answers to simple service questions. It includes topically-classified documentation of your products. In addition it provides customers with simple, to-the-point, and data-backed articles that will help them troubleshoot a problem.
To make knowledge base content easier to understand, back it up with up-to-date screenshots and video content. Help customers find answers to their questions faster by including a search box.
Once a customer purchases your product, give them a chance to learn more about it. Provide free training opportunities, such as video courses, comprehensive guides, or webinars. This will help customers become more familiar with your products and services. You could even encourage them to take an online test to test their knowledge. Customer training will not only help customers familiarize themselves with your product. It also shows your dedication to customer success.
Configure, price, quote (CPQ) software takes sales and customer service to a whole new level. Often working closely with your CRM software, ERP system, and other business tools, CPQ will take multiple factors, such as discounts, customizations, and optional product features into consideration. That way, it eliminates the risk of human error and allows your teams to create fast and accurate quotes for orders.
Picture 2. The rise of self-service
The Rising Role of AI in CRM Evolution
Artificial intelligence is not a trend anymore. It has been reshaping CRM evolution over the past few years. According to the 2019 State of Marketing report by Salesforce, AI cases are expected to reach 257% over the next two years.
Now, there are numerous areas of customer service that require the implementation of AI. Some of them are:
Automating Basic Service Inquiries
Artificial intelligence is an opportunity for companies to enhance employee productivity and automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Let’s take the example of AI-driven chatbots that are reshaping CRM evolution. Today, brands use them to answer basic customer questions. They can even recommend the right products to customers based on the data they have already collected.
Most importantly, AI chatbots increase the quality of customer service. Regardless of the complexity of a service inquiry or a customer’s time zone, they will provide instant feedback 24/7.
While most chatbots are still limited to resolving simple customer service inquiries, this trend may change soon. Namely, with the rise of smartphones and voice technology, chatbots are expected to start using natural language processing. In addition, they will use deep neural networks, and conversational capabilities, to understand spoken customer inquiries and automatically provide a relevant response.
Building a voice-enabled bot is the future of CRM evolution. They will provide your customers with accurate and real-time information, with zero wait time. Most importantly, voice technologies will humanize your brand. Talking to a bot will evoke a positive sensation in a customer and make the conversation more natural.
Picture 3. Language processing
Data-Driven Decision Making
Artificial intelligence brings predictive analytics technologies to the table. It helps your customer service agents readily respond to customer inquiries by providing real-time insights into each customer’s purchase history, browsing patterns, previous customer inquiries, needs, location, etc.
Call centers using VoIP technologies can reap the benefits of real-time data analytics. Namely, many innovative VoIP service providers already use artificial intelligence to analyze customer sentiment and engagement. Instead of connecting a caller with a random call center agent, they will choose a rep that is best suited for providing relevant feedback.
AI Strengthens the Productivity of your Customer Service Team
Companies need to understand that artificial intelligence is not here to replace customer service agents but to help them. It will automate many repetitive tasks and provide better insights into customer behaviors. That way, it will help your customer service team achieve the ultimate goal – serving the customer.
Hyper-Personalization is a Key Customer Care Element
In 2020 and beyond, customers expect brands to provide relevant and individualized experiences. According to statistics, 80% of customers are more likely to purchase from a company that delivers highly individualized brand experiences. Moreover, they have zero tolerance for uniform content. One of the most effective ways to level up your customer experience strategy is to invest in hyper-personalization.
While personalization often uses unstructured customer data, such as their location or previous purchases, hyper-personalization provides more granular insights into customers. That is where your CRM software shines. It eliminates the siloed company culture and unifies your teams. By integrating with most customer service, sales, and marketing tools, your CRM centralizes multi-channel customer data in a single location.
Picture 4. Hyper-personalization provides more granular insights into customers
When choosing a CRM system, pick the one that integrates with your most essential business tools. Let’s get back to the example of a call center. The CRM system will collect customer data from multiple online and offline channels and create detailed customer profiles. When a customer calls, the VoIP tool will pull customer information from your CRM tool and display it on an agent’s screen. That way, an agent will pick up the phone more confidently. By addressing customers by their name and providing individualized feedback based on their previous experiences with your brand, you will boost their satisfaction and build trust with them.
Research backs me up on that, emphasizing hyper-personalization as the future of CRM evolution. Namely, by the end of 2020, customer experience will be the essential brand differentiator, taking the place of price and product.
CRM is Getting Social
Social networks are the nerve center of customer relationship management. They help you connect with your customers in real-time and enhance brand awareness. They also allow you to provide highly individualized customer experiences and build strong relationships with customers. Precisely because of that, MarTech Advisor names social networks as significant in CRM evolution.
Faster feedback and ease of use make social networks a preferred customer support channel for many customers. All they have to do is hop onto their favorite social network to @mention your company or connect with your live chat agent.
However, tracking your presence across multiple channels may eat up lots of your time. That is why you should consider integrating CRM with social networks. Social CRM systems, such as Salesforce or Freshsales, benefit your business in numerous ways. First, they unify multiple social media accounts and put them in a central location. That way, you will track multi-channel customer inquiries in a single inbox. Above all, they provide across-the-board social media analytics and metrics under a single dashboard.
Mobile CRM Becomes a Standard CX Feature
In 2020, the number of smartphone users has surpassed 3.5 billion. According to Statista, this number is expected to reach 7.33 billion by 2023. Mobile technologies have enabled the growth of social networks, IM platforms, and live chat. Those technologies have changed customers’ habits. They now expect real-time information to be available from any channel, location, and device.
To meet the rising customer needs, CRM evolution needs to match this growth. Your sales and customer support teams should not be tied to their offices anymore. By investing in mobile CRM technologies, you will deliver seamless CRM experiences on all internet-enabled mobile devices. It eliminates the gaps between your sales, marketing, and customer service teams and allows them to access and manage customer information in real-time, irrespective of their location.
Beyond the obvious perks of increasing employee efficiency and providing immediate access to accurate customer data, mobile CRM may also enhance customer satisfaction. It lets you provide customers with the best service across multiple channels, at all times. Research claims the same. According to the NucleusResearch study, 65% of agents that use mobile CRM achieve their sales targets, compared to 22% of those using traditional CRM systems.
CRM Evolution Is All About Understanding Customers
Integrated and AI-driven CRM platforms will enable customer service teams to build strategies that resonate with customers and deliver highly personalized customer experiences. Above all, they will be able to measure results more effectively and predict the market changes with greater precision.
What do you foresee in the future of customer service? What do you think of the CRM trends mentioned above? Tell us in the comments. We are listening!
Lauren is a regular Bizzmark Blog author that has many articles published with the main focus on clients who want their brands to grow in the fast-changing and demanding market. Her personal favorites are successes of small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs. She goes through life with one strong moto – Kindness, always.
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