With 2020 fast approaching we thought we’d share our top ten ideas on the key CRM trends we are likely to see at the start of the next decade.
1. CRM will become essential across all departments
CRMs have been traditionally thought of as tools for sales and customer facing teams but increasingly companies are viewing them as simply part of their wider tech stack.
Marketers can use CRMs to best understand the contacts in their pipeline and monitor how CTAs convert. Customer centric teams can access a 360-degree view of the customer to provide the most personalised experience & raise brand engagement. And management can access valuable data on performance across the board.
2. Businesses will automate more processes using their CRM system
To stay relevant to tech-savvy customers, Salesforce continues to offer advanced automation features. Salesforce has made great investment in automation in the last few years to the point where it is synonymous with automation.
With more organisations are focusing on process automation via their CRM including using chatbots to communicate with customers and solve help tickets automatically, or using automated email workflows to nurture sales prospects down the funnel.
With automation, Salesforce helps businesses offer high-quality customer services while optimising operational costs.
3. Younger generations are pushing for CRM use
28% of millennials think CRM applications are “extremely critical” to their success, compared to 18% of Generation X and 9% of Baby Boomers.
This CRM trend will grow as millennials continue to gain buying power and the next generations enter the workplace. In the decade ahead, more teams will become tech-centric and insist on maximising performance through intelligent CRM technology.
4. Customer Experience will become key
With consumers having access to so many different options it’s no surprise that business is becoming more customer centric than ever. So it’s no surprise customer experience is predicted to become the top brand differentiator in 2020.
Consumers agree, according to a 2019 Salesforce survey, 84% of respondents ranked the importance of experience at the same level as products or services.
It’s long been accepted that trying compete solely, or even primarily, on product and price is a losing battle in today’s marketplace.
People go where the best experience takes them, and Forrester research has shown that the majority are always willing to try out new products and brands. Furthermore, acquiring a new customer is a massive 500% more costly than retaining an existing one.
Knowing this, your organisation’s goal should be to deliver a better experience than competitors, not only to draw new prospects but more importantly to boost customer loyalty.
Today’s CRM platforms are much more robust than previous iterations. With CRM implemented, sales, marketing and customer service teams have a host of tools at their disposal that can empower experience initiatives.
Two of the key drivers of outstanding customer experience are convenience and competition. With more and more consumers citing themselves as time poor the company that is easiest to deal with is going to win business versus its competitors.
When it comes to competition it’s no longer enough for companies to consider their direct competition – any business that provides a customer experience will set the consumers mindset for future experiences even if the industry is completely different.
Personalisation is another CRM trend worth noting. Not because it’s new, but because it’s becoming more hyper focused and individualised.
Creating relevant, personalised content is old hat, after all. The difference is that CRM platforms built with intelligent, real-time capabilities allow companies to take the next step toward a more connected, customer-centric approach.
The reason very precise targeting is possible is largely thanks to one of the hottest customer relationship management trends: artificial intelligence.
Salesforce outlines several ways to meet the expectations of today’s customer:
- Live chat
- Knowing what they’ll need
- Not making them wait
- Knowing their business history
- Knowing who they are
- Near-instant replies
- Response tweets
- Callback options
5. The Role of AI
AI is not only here, it’s on the path to major growth, according to Salesforce research. Respondents to the 2019 State of Marketing report indicated that their AI use cases would go up 257% over the next two years.
The areas poised to see the greatest expansion were:
- Customer segmentation and lookalike data modeling (277% increase)
- Programmatic advertising and media buying (269% increase)
- Personalisation of the channel experience (266% increase)
The possibilities are nearly endless when it comes to applying AI in CRM, with that in mind, here are some AI trends worth paying attention to:
AI is a tool that will be able to create ‘personalised agents’ that, via machine learning, discover the primary needs and wants of sellers for automated assistance.
One of the biggest benefits of AI is its capacity to take over tedious, time-consuming manual tasks. We should view the ultimate goal as one where robotic automation is used to enhance productivity, rather than to replace humans.
By analysing customer data such as past calls and buying patterns to generate a profile that gives agents a better understanding of the customer AI can be seen as a positive impact on the role of the customer service agent.
With enough data points to parse AI applications can even predict what question the customer will ask next or make recommendations about what the customer will call back about so service reps can address those issues proactively.
AI also powers conversational features such as chatbots and voice assistants like the Einstein Voice program currently in the works at Salesforce.
Voice assistants aren’t a new concept, thanks to products like Alexa. And there’s no denying their popularity. A 2019 Microsoft report found that 72% of respondents conducted voice searches using a digital assistant over the last six months.
AI will also enable actions like recording voice meetings, creating transcripts and identifying topics or words that have a specific meaning.
AI enhances forecasts and makes sense of the reams of data stored in a CRM to drive improved business outcomes providing business owners with intelligent data and better analytics capabilities. AI also identifies patterns in user behavior to enhance selling opportunities.
6. CRM Will Continue to Get Social
As the customer experience bar raises to new heights, social media has become a focal point due to the fact that social channels allow customers to interact with companies in real time. This means businesses have to build brand equity in places where customers are spending their time but allows them to do so in a personalised way.
A 2019 report on marketing trends showed why social publishing and advertising are valuable. From lead generation and customer acquisition to customer retention and customer advocacy, social is among the highest channels for ROI across the customer journey.
Another Salesforce study examined customer preferences in B2B and B2C in 2019. It details that:
- Four out of every ten respondents would do business with a brand only if they could use their channel of choice.
- 78% want different channels for different contexts.
These findings point to the importance of incorporating social channels into CRM platforms and strategies. From providing valuable data to offering social listening opportunities, social media has set itself up as a lynchpin of CRM activities.
CRM integrated with social media platforms enhances the customer experience. To illustrate, say a customer needs a problem solved. They go to their preferred social media site and connect with the company via messaging or by @tagging a handle dedicated to customer service issues.
Email and phone support aren’t dead, but some customers will prefer the ease of using social media to resolve their question. And that’s the point. Giving people the option to choose which platform to connect with your organisation, on their terms, is a fundamental part of winning.
In a world where empowering customers and elevating the experience is top-of-mind, social CRM will continue to grow in prominence.
7. CRM Software Will Become More User-Friendly
For a CRM system to be really effective it must be easy to use. Teams won’t fully embrace a system that isn’t intuitive and gives them the details they need at the press of a button, in language they understand. Salesforce has taken steps to make AI capabilities accessible for non-technical users, using a lone line of code.
8. CRMs Won’t Live in a Vacuum
Integrating key systems with CRM is the best way to release their combined potential. In addition to standbys such as marketing automation, customer service tools and email, analytics software and customer data platforms (CDP) are great examples of the possibilities of integration.
Integration has the power to deliver a wealth of information by combining the tracking of internal sales systems with the external interactions that happen outside of the CRM system.
The statistics agree. Salesforce research revealed that marketers used data from 12 sources in 2018, a number projected to jump to 15 this year. On top of that, seven in ten organisations used second-party data in 2018, a 19% increase over 2017.
As a CRM buyer or user, it’s important to consider which integrations will best support your operations. You’ll also gain value by determining how to pull in data from outside your CRM and putting it to work.
9. Market Movement
CRMs have become such a central part of a business’s tech profile, showing other companies the gains to be had that we predict adoption and market expansion will continue to grow. Many small departments realise the benefit of having structured data and are therefore using CRM systems to manage this. Salesforce has strengthened its offer in this arena by acquiring business intelligence vendor Tableau.
10. From omnichannel to one-channel
Most CRM strategies focus on an omnichannel or a multi-channel approach, where companies make themselves available on communication channels commonly used by customers. These strategies have their benefits, as they allow companies to maximise customer engagement. The omnichannel strategy also makes the customer experience seamless, even as customers move from channel to channel.
However, CRM trends for 2020 indicate a growing movement towards a single-channel approach to CRM, meaning a streamlined workflow for customer service and sales agents. As a result, they’ll no longer have to switch between multiple channels to maintain communication with customers.
This trend places less focus on the channels customers use and more on the importance of making a connection with the customer. By centralising customer interactions across various channels, advanced CRM technology can help companies smoothen out internal operations. Service agents get a single platform with all the information they need to preempt customer needs.
Thanks to artificial intelligence it may even make it possible for companies to have a “channel-less” CRM strategy in the future. The technology will be able to recognise the customer profile interacting with the company even via different channels.
Which customer service channel do customers prefer?
Contact Forms 36%
Live Chat 32%
Source: Hubspot, 2019
CRM isn’t going away anytime soon – the overriding trend is that it will become even more important in the future. How many of these trends you adopt is entirely based on the suitability for your business. We believe there isn’t a one size fits all approach as it’s important to treat each client as an individual – just as you would with your customers.
When you’ve finalised your business goals a Salesforce CRM system will help get you there in a faster, more efficient manner.
If these trends have made you aware of shortcomings in your organisation’s CRM, or if you’re looking to upgrade so you don’t get left behind, our CRM Health Check is a good starting point.