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April 11, 2017

Win by bumping up your customer's Digital experience

We have all heard of the saying "Customer is King", all organizations know what this means but still most of the organizations lose the essence of the statement as they grow and become older. Which bring up the question that does companies know the age of their customers and do customers feel like king only during some years of their lifecycle with organization. Well the most likely answer will be in affirmative if companies have not reinvented or transformed their customer experience strategy to build an ageless digital customer experience in today's world.

Today it is not only imperative for companies to have digital experience for their customers but plan multiple initiatives though out the lifecycles as to not grow old in their customer's eyes. These digital initiatives should today be built around areas like enterprise digitization, big data & analytics, Automation (AI) & new digital business models. Also these initiatives should be tied together with think customer first always and voice of customer strategy which is refreshed periodically. It is fascinating that how digital enablement for customers is becoming mandatory for survival of businesses and it is now a race against time to reach there first. 

Digitization is happening across industries, business process disrupting customer's experience for better. For instance, we all have been going to retail shops for purchase of products. But today we can buy and experience products sitting on our couch at home in 3D experience which is as real as the physical experience. With the advent of VR & AR, virtual showrooming is changing the shopping experience. Imagine test driving a new car or shopping for home appliances or sampling a vacation journey before purchasing it.  The virtual showrooming will standardize the customer experience for each and every customer apart from the other benefits of cost effectiveness and convenience.  Companies that are on the leading edge of these digital initiatives are at an advantage today compared to their peers.

Digitization leads to another huge advantage for an enterprise in the form of an early access to prospective customer's data. Getting right & correct data at an early stage is priceless and allows organizations to build everlasting relationships using tools like "Big Data" and "Analytics". The digital footprint of the customer starts generating data for inception, which allows companies to engage analytics driven marketing, pricing elasticity (Uber, Lyft is the prime example of this), cross sell analytics across multi-channels which in turn leads to higher customer loyalty & greater competitive advantage. Therefore building single customer view with integrated customer interaction channels based on common data layer is imperative for successful digital customer experience. Lack of data consistency, proper analytics not only decreases life cycle value of customer also makes them more likely to move to the competition and never return.

Another stark change in customer behavior today is on demand service and instant delivery of services. This key demand for complete digital customer experience can be achieved and sustained only by Automation (AI). Identifying key digital processes which can be driven by AI will not only ensure personalized and instantaneous response to customer's needs and queries without any human interventions. Enabling AI will also ensure more self-service capability with intelligent & holistic customer experience leading to higher sense of involvement and belongingness to the organization. AI will have to be the back bone of the all future customer digital experience which has to social, responsive & yet personalized.

With birth of new digital platforms servicing customer's organizations will also need to build new business models of digital world that will need to focus on data monetization, cross pollination of services for upsell & cross sell. This will ensure newer growth avenues and greater portion of business from digital channels and will lead to its self-sustenance. Digital models will also allow enterprises to breach new geographies and bring disruptive offerings & thus creating new revenue opportunities.
The common thread tying this digital garland for digital enterprises of tomorrow has to be customer first and only customer first strategy across channels. This means customer is always in the center and all initiatives are around them only, period. Internal processes & internal changes which does not cater to these should be just stopped. Also digital organizations ensure they regularly listen to voice of their customers and improve the digital landscape through innovative means of customer engagements on social platforms or through gamification. Dell recently sent invites to its customer to test beta digital offering and also awarding them for their participation. The framework of digital has to be built along with its customer rather than for them.

This change and transition from physical world to digital world is happening now and is accelerating at a fast clip. Therefore companies which will innovate & transform their customer experience by focusing on integrated digital experience will  not only be leaders in their industries  tomorrow but will ensure that in real that their "Customer is King". 

April 7, 2017

Artificial Intelligence - how it will impact CRM?

 By Alpesh Chauhan, CRM Lead Consultant, Oracle Practice, Manufacturing Unit, Infosys

With advance algorithms, superior computing power and cost-effective data storage capabilities, time has arrived for Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is making applications and platforms smarter by self-learning, adapting and evolving their capabilities based on the insights from data and interactions. 

In simple term, AI is all about predicting next steps with high accuracy by applying intelligent data models on large volume of data. AI is everywhere and we are using it daily with features like Google's autocomplete search, Netflix program recommendations, and collision avoidance features in cars, etc.  

Internet of Things (IoT) is ubiquitous and CRM users are already enjoying benefits of IoT and AI through their electronic devices. Modern CRM users are expecting cutting edge IoT and AI capabilities from CRM platforms for seamless smart Customer Experience (CX). CRM is all about customer interactions and AI is expected to play key role in making these interactions smarter. CRM giants are betting big on AI. 

  • Salesforce Einstein is designed to discover insights, predict outcome and provide recommendations through their customer success platform. 
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365 with advanced AI capabilities, brings together their ERP and CRM suites running on Azure cloud and Cortana intelligence services, enabling user to use power of world's fastest supercomputer
  • Oracle's adaptive intelligence apps expected to launch in spring'17 to add value in CX, ERP, SCM and HCM space.

Sales, Service and Marketing - All customer interactions will be influenced by AI in coming days. I would like to highlight few smart Service Interactions use cases, which will be new normal in the service industry in coming days, in fact  few use cases are already been implemented by service providers.

  • Automatically create service request based on customer's comments any online social platform and contact customer proactively for issue resolution. 
  • Collect machine/appliance data and predict failure in advance using IoT and AI and offer preventive maintenance services. For e.g. collect car health check data in real time and trigger preventive inspection request, informing customer about possible mechanical issue and offer preventive services in advance and also suggesting nearby service centers.
  • Notify customer in real time about order processing or shipment delays.  AI enabled CRM application can offer explanations and alternatives before customer raises any concern
  • Collating data from discrete data sources and provide call center agents with actionable insights to provide better service and also help them improve service metrics

With rapid technology shift, Artificial Intelligence will enhance CRM capabilities quickly. It will not only make CRM applications smarter but also help organizations to improve productivity. It will provide CRM personnel with predictive insights about the customers and also provide recommendation for cross/up selling products. AI will enable CRM applications to provide unified customer experience as per modern customer expectation. AI capabilities in CRM platforms will not only reduce failure points but also ensure minimal customer effort while resolving customer issues. 

It is surely exciting time ahead for CRM. Let me know your views on how Artificial Intelligence will impact CRM and which customer interactions are going to be impacted most.