CRM is evolving and changing all the time. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, that brings innovation and simplifies lives of thousands people and businesses.
CRMs are no longer viewed as an option, it’s a must. In 2018 this tendency will continue, with more companies shifting to cloud-based CRM solutions.
Trends in CRM are largely influenced by the trends in the software industry. These were defined by Kevin Kelly in the book “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future”. The author provides a big picture view on the future of technology and how it will affect our lives. Interacting, cognifying, flowing, screening, accessing, sharing, filtering, remixing, tracking, and questioning are the 12 trends that already started revolutionizing the way we live and work. CRM trends, even though on a smaller scale, follow the same defined pattern.
If you’re using CRM in your business and want to know about latest developments in the industry, here is the list of key CRM trends to look out for in 2018:
1. Automatic recognition
When you have hundreds of tasks on your list, you expect the CRM to speed up the processes and make your work easier.
Cookies were only the first step towards automatic recognition. They presented an amazing opportunity for marketers to promote their products to the targeted audience. But automatic recognition doesn’t stop there. In 2018 CRM will focus on optimizing the processes and improving customer experience. This will be done through automatic recognition that implies instant matching of the real person in front of you and the data in your CRM.
For example, one of the automatic recognition features that has already been implemented, is Bitrix24’s face recognition system. The system allows you to track returning visitors, without lifting a finger. The face recognition system simply matches the photos that are already in the system with client’s face captured in real time.
2. Bots and AI
Artificial intelligence will permeate every matter and CRM will be the first industry affected by the AI expansion. AI will help personalize experiences and substantially reduce the data entry workload.
On the one hand, AI will bring the new power of data sorting and analysis, that has long been awaited, considering the incredible amount of data that is being entered into CRM every day. Then there is comprehensive AI mechanisms, that will collect data from all the different resources, including social media, police reports and court records.
Having various bots integrated into customer experience is another trend to look out for in 2018. Companies often don’t have enough budgets and resources to maintain a full-blown sales and customer service departments, and bots will come to the foreground to help optimize business costs and build more effective processes.
The appeal of chatbots is obvious. They provide a personalized experience and reduce business cost. But while previously chatbots were not advanced enough to replace humans, in 2018 they will not only take the support and service functions but will provide emotional support on par with real human interaction.
3. Omni-channel CRM
In 2018 the information overload problem will present an unprecedented danger to all businesses. From a customer perspective, it will be harder than ever to choose the right product among the plethora of similar offers. From a business side, the number of communication channels with the customers will make tracking and providing a high level of customer service almost impossible. This is when omni-channel CRM will come to save the day.
Most CRMs already pull information from all sorts of channels, but 2018 will see more sources added. Moreover, it is expected that despite the increased intake of information, CRMs will be able to manage it according to the customer expectations. Customers will be able to use the preferred channels, while the sales and customer service agents will have the information gathered in one single place. This unified approach will allow for excellent customer experience and centralized information management.
4. Automatic CRM population
Most sales and marketing people struggle with entering data in the CRM. They either don’t have enough time to do it or simply don’t have all the data available.
In 2018 most of CRM fields will be filled in by the CRM itself. CRM, powered by AI, will be able to pull the data from different resources and complete the entry before you even start typing in.
Almost like Google search, now offering accurate suggestions the moment you start typing the entry into a search bar, CRMs will recognize the intent and put in the right words, letters, phone numbers, and location information.
Not only that, but CRM’s functionality will provide an opportunity to auto-populate certain fields between different departments. For example, you start with a Prospect, and when you upgrade the prospect to the next level, for example, a Lead, the CRM will populate some of the fields without you having to do duplicate work.
5. CRM solutions will become more available
Small business has long been waiting for an affordable yet effective CRM solution. It seems that 2018 will be the year of software solutions for small businesses.
From affordable subscription packages to unique small business CRM solutions, there will be a lot more choice for small business owners. This doesn’t mean, however, that CRM companies will simplify their offering. On the contrary, small businesses require unique tailored solutions.
It’s not quite right to call small business CRM “a basic” solution. Small businesses are often run by one person, so CRMs are expected to have an intuitive interface, complex notification system and a range of automation features. CRMs will be challenged to produce tools that provide the personal assistant level of service for a fraction of cost.
As the market expands, more pressure will be put on CRM companies to meet the growing demand in terms of security and the level of customer experience.
But no matter how CRM will evolve, all changes will be guided by one overarching theme that has always been dictating the rules of business - customer experience. The increased competition and access to online media only reinforces this trend, making customer experience the number one priority for every business, large or small.
Bitrix24 is a free CRM solution with over 20 sales and marketing tools. It comes with the omnichannel contact center, Gantt chart, document management and task collaboration tools. Use promo code TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB.