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Artificial intelligence - the theme for next generation CRM

 

Artificial intelligence (or simply AI) is now everywhere, encompassing our lives all through. In its simplest form, it could be a reminder/alarm waking us up in the morning or auto switching off of lights at a specified time during night.   

Knowingly or unknowingly AI has been simplifying almost everything we do - with machines taking up the intelligence needed to do repetitive/systematic tasks, sometimes in unhuman conditions and at an unhuman pace.

Though there are debates about AI helping the machines to become self-aware posing a threat to the human race, heavy research and investment is being done in this area to augment human efforts and to provide more advanced and pleasant experience to the users.

Gartner predicts, by 2020 AI will be a top five investment priority for more than 30 percent of CIOs.

 

CRM evolution:

CRM products have come a long way from initially being data entry systems to now providing unified 360 degree view of customer for all aspects of customer interactions (marketing , Sales, Servicing) improving the customer experience.

Also, with the rise of SAAS model, the cost of cloud CRMs came in reach of small and medium businesses increasing the overall CRM adoption exponentially.

Gartner predicts the CRM market to be more than $37 billion in 2017.

However CRM products today still rely heavily on intelligence of users in most of the functions and can end up being a database of records if not used correctly.

e.g. During every interaction with a customer, the agent has to manually check previous interactions to understand Customer sentiment, understand what the user is looking for, think about cross sell / upsell opportunities or next best actions etc. - all while the customer is on call (or face to face).

Organizations have been attempting to automate some of these to increase Agent productivity.

 

Next generation CRM:

With the growing interest in AI and the market hype, it is a no-brainer that the next generation CRM products will boast AI as the main theme.


Tech giants are heavily investing in adding AI capabilities to their CRM products.

E.g. Adaptive intelligent Apps by Oracle, Einstein by SalesForce.com, Microsoft's Dynamics 365

 

Several start-ups are also building AI products that can augment CRM products with AI capabilities.

  e.g.

Chorus.io, Cogito, Conversica, TalkIQ etc.

 

 

Let's look at some simple CRM scenarios we can think of leveraging the power of AI.


  • Leads:

One of the toughest challenges in Sales and Marketing is to identify Leads that are highly probable of converting into Opportunity. In several cases, agents invest their efforts in losing Leads instead of concentrating on high probability Leads.

Wouldn't it be great if CRM can apply AI in terms of scientifically proven algorithms* to understand customer sentiment and predict probability of converting the Lead into Opportunity?

 

*The AI algorithms can be thought of as combination of multiple analytics techniques such as: 

Speech analytics - Based on Pitch, tone, pauses in customer voice

Text analytics - Based on email communication with customer

Data mining - Of relevant information shared by customer on public internet (Social media etc.) and the trends

Clickstream analysis - Analysis of user navigation on website pages

 

  • Servicing:

Before an Agent answers a Customer call, wouldn't it be great if CRM can readily display key information about the Customer based on Previous interaction (voice/email), information shared by the Customer on public internet (Social media) or smart alerts generated from Customer's product?

AI augmented CRM can also help Agents with systematic approach to resolve the issue for Customer, leveraging knowledge base created with machine learning.

 

  • Sales:

During the Sales cycle, AI can help Agents with ready information about cross sell / up sell opportunities, proactive product recommendations all based on information gathered for the Customer from public internet (including customer needs and the products Customer already uses).

  

  • Marketing Campaigns:

AI can help targeting most appropriate Customers to ensure successful outcome from Marketing campaigns.


 

So what is in it for the end Customers?


  • Today, in several cases Customers see it as a pain dealing with Service agents - having to repeat the information multiple times and not getting correct resolution in quick time.

            Servicing Capabilities with AI would help improving Customer experience to a new high.

  •       When it comes to Sales and Marketing, AI would help Organizations to proactively reach the Customers to satisfy what the Customer is really looking for and avoid bombarding Customers with suggestions/offers they are not interested in. 


These are only few of the common scenarios in CRM world and with AI capabilities in CRM the possibilities are endless.

Surely AI capabilities in CRM will greatly offload human effort increasing the efficiency and productivity while providing modern and pleasant experience to Customers.

 Your views are all welcome.

 

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