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Staying On Trend: Automation and Other CRM Trends Dominating 2018

How would consumers rate your customer care program? Is your current CRM system addressing all of their needs and yours? If you have doubts, keep reading.

CRM trends for 2018 incorporate many of the newest emerging technologies to help build and nurture customer relationships. It’s an exciting time in the CRM industry and for marketing professionals. Let’s look at the biggest trends this year so that you know what’s out there.

Artificial Intelligence

The granddaddy of CRM integration is in the field of artificial intelligence. Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies for personalized workflow is the top trending platform in 2018. AI works with CRM systems to track and learn from our interaction patterns.

What kind of automation does this growing technology field offer? Developments include:

  • Taking care of tasks – the mundane and overlooked
  • Answering questions
  • Predicting needs
  • Automatic actions
  • Personalizing interfaces based on usage
  • Predicting trends
  • Gathering information on customers and leads
  • Analyzing data

AI-powered customer relationship management systems will save users hours of work and frustration.

Virtual Assistants

Voice-based CRM control and interaction continue to make strides this year. In fact, industry predictions say that virtual assistants (RPA) will replace or supplement 260,000 sales jobs and 311,000 office jobs in 2018. Machine-based virtual assistants complete tasks like:

  • Checking and replying to email
  • Data entry
  • Searching for data
  • Formatting data and documents
  • Answering questions
  • Onboarding

Voice-based CRM technology is similar to Alexa and Siri. This is one field that will continue to get better and more sophisticated as voice recognition and natural language understanding (NLU) improves.

Self-Service

Self-service integration into CRM systems is becoming more sophisticated. Its popularity in customer relations is on the rise. One aspect, enabling options for consumers to get their questions answered during the purchase process, helps avoid cart abandonment.

CRM and self-service technology work well together. By using chatbots or machine-based virtual assistants, companies can provide timely customer service personalized for each consumer.

During and after the interaction, marketing and sales departments can access the recorded data related to it. Self-service CRM is a win-win for all parties involved.

Mobile Integration

Every year consumers continue to increase their use of mobile devices for things like shopping, customer service, and research. This trend complements CRM developments well. Tap into it by integrating your lead generation and customer service with mobile.

Providing chat and multimedia options for mobile users creates a seamless customer experience where they feel most comfortable. If you haven’t already, it’s also one of the best channels to add to your marketing for business development and leads.

Internet of Things (IoT)

CRM developers are working on integrating contextual data from IoT devices such as wearables, cars, and home equipment. Untapped opportunities exist for gathering consumer insights and providing better customer service using the Internet of Things technology with a CRM system.

Amazon has a good start with their Echo devices which allow customers direct access to place orders. Software shipped with the device answers questions and completes digital tasks that provide insight into consumer behavior. The software, dubbed Alexa, gets smarter every day too.

Look for more of IoT and CRM integration this year and in future years.

Social CRM

Social media is once again on the trendy tech list. Some industries spend a lot of time building communities on social media. Social CRM is the next step in customer relationship management for them.

Service bots can now automate engagement with clients and customers, freeing up time for other business tasks. While the social bot is connecting with people, it’s tracking and analyzing their behaviors, habits, buying patterns, and opinions; insights that didn’t exist in the past. Marketers can use the data it collects to get the perfect messages to the people that want them at the right time.

Have you seen the bot feature on Facebook Messenger? Business pages can use Messenger to send news, subscription messages, and sponsored messages.

Bots can also provide customer service, ordering abilities, delivery tracking, and product research all through the Messenger platform. These are all examples of Social CRM technology in action.

Some Facebook Messenger bots are:

  • 1-800-Flowers: For ordering flowers
  • Trulia: Sends new real estate listings
  • HealthTap: Gives medical advice from a network of 100,000 doctors
  • AndChill: Tell it what kind of movie you’re in the mood for, and it’ll send you a movie trailer

If you need help setting up bots for your business, there are several SaaS platforms to help you create them. Two such examples are ChatFuel and Conversable.

The Cloud

The shift to cloud-based CRM is on the rise. However, some large and medium companies are stuck with legacy systems that don’t have cloud capabilities. Often these software systems were a significant investment that the company needs to recoup through use; they need to get their money’s worth out of the software before switching.

Not only that, after many years of use, their databases contain hundreds of thousands of data points that would need addressing. They may also have some data that needs on-site housing regardless.

For these types of companies, a hybrid system is practical until they can move all of their critical applications to the cloud. A process that may take decades to resolve.

For smaller businesses, having a cloud-based CRM system is a top priority and is a continuing trend for 2018. They don’t have ties to legacy systems that won’t work in the cloud like a large business does.

Final Thoughts on CRM Trends

The future of CRM looks like it will continue down the path of integrating external tools and cutting-edge technologies. We can look forward to increased personalization and customer relationships through automated systems.

The bottom line is that to survive in today’s economy, your brand must join the consumer-centric business practice model. Combine the use of data-driven marketing, personalization, mobile technology, and automated CRM tools for the ultimate toolset.

Will you be implementing any of these CRM trends this year? If so, let us know in the comments.

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