A McKinsey global survey of executives noted that companies have accelerated the digitisation of their customer and supply-chain interactions and their internal operations by three to four years. Just as interesting, the share of digitally enabled products in their portfolios accelerated by seven years.
As reported in the State of CRM report, a Forrester survey of 250 IT and marketing professionals, CRM or customer relationship management topped (63%) the list of technologies used by marketing. Customer Data Platforms (57%) and Web Analytics (55%) round out the top three.
The report proposes that a comprehensive approach to customer relationship management (CRM) is a critical driver of good CX to ensure that organisations provide consistent experiences across touchpoints and appear as one unified front to their customers.
"In the post-pandemic context of the digital economy, the purpose of CRM is to deliver an exceptional customer experience that aligns with consumers' values and drives loyalty," said Gibu Mathew, VP and GM APAC with Zoho.
He added that the advances in digitalisation and technology continue to raise customers' expectations, and businesses need to ensure that the security and privacy of their data are not compromised.
"Generative AI and intelligent AI-driven innovation are transforming the way employees work, and the expectations that customers have from vendors they interact with."Gibu Mathew
CRM's post-pandemic purpose
According to Mathew, in the post-pandemic context of the digital economy, the purpose of CRM is to deliver an exceptional customer experience that aligns with consumers' values and drives loyalty.
"The advances in digitalisation and technology continue to raise customers' expectations, and businesses need to ensure that the security and privacy of their data are not compromised," he opined. "Generative AI and intelligent AI-driven innovation are transforming the way employees work, and the expectations that customers have from vendors they interact with."
The benefits of an AI-powered CRM
According to AIMultiple, artificial intelligence (AI) adoption helps companies automate several parts of processes in businesses and research shows that it increases revenue for different activities in organisations such as marketing and sales, or corporate finance.
Mathew posits that AI and intelligent analytics have a powerful impact on the future of CRM. He posited that in sales, marketing, and payment processes, technology can enhance customer experiences and differentiate businesses.
"Democratised analytics empowers all employees to innovate and make faster decisions. The challenge lies in managing large amounts of data, making technology that provides insights crucial. Applying these technologies allows businesses to compete effectively with other vendors in the market. Improved data analysis enhances decision-making and overall performance in CRM," he elaborated.
An AI-powered CRM has the potential to automate customer support replies, send email push-up notifications, analyse consumer data, and forecast future customer behaviour.
To successfully deploy CRM
According to Mathew, to successfully implement a CRM tool, businesses should gradually evolve their team and processes instead of pushing the tool onto them.
He further posited that by automating smaller parts of the process, the team can see the value and become drivers for technology adoption.
"This approach ensures a successful implementation and total cost of ownership. It's important to avoid leaving the CRM tool unused within the organisation and instead focus on aligning it with the team's needs through a slow and steady evolution," he continued.
Barriers to implementing CRM
Mathew says in deploying advanced AI-powered CRM, the major barriers involve ensuring data quality, managing data challenges for accessibility and security, integrating diverse systems for insightful decision-making, and promoting user adoption.
He pointed out that quality data is crucial for success, and addressing data management, organisation, and authentication is vital. Integration of systems for valuable insights is challenging, requiring thoughtful processes.
"Overcoming user adoption hurdles, establishing a conducive culture, and convincing stakeholders are equally important for the successful implementation of various tools within an organisation," said Mathew.
Improving the ROI of CRM strategies
Gibu says for CMOs and CIOs aiming to enhance CRM ROI, they need to focus on foundational steps. This includes any number of steps defining sales and marketing processes, aligning with tools and encouraging team engagement, with training and on-the-job learning vital to the process.
He also suggested consolidating customer-facing functions into a unified interface for swift decisions.
"Boost efficiency through task automation, motivate teams and showcase the value of technology investment. In addition, balancing technology adoption, user experience, and process optimisation leads to successful CRM strategy outcomes," he added.
The generative AI factor
According to Mathew, generative AI, notably Chat GPT, revolutionises decision-making and personalised interactions. He claimed that its application in sales, marketing, and support leads to dynamic customer engagements.
"By leveraging vast parameters, AI enhances response speed and creativity. This technology shapes customer-business relationships, offering tailored email content, support queries, and engaging visuals," he continued
"This transformative power elevates customer experiences and engagement. As generative AI advances, it could redefine CRM solutions, morphing into dynamic, human-like customer interactions, ultimately reshaping how organisations build, execute, and excel in customer relationships."Gibu Mathew
Click on the PodChat player and hear Mathew elaborate on how enterprises can improve CRM's value in customer engagement.
- In the context of today's digital economy, what is the purpose of CRM?
- With so many advances and learnings around customer experience, is it still easy to lose customer loyalty and how challenging is it to get this back?
- How do you envision AI and analytics shaping the future of CRM, and what benefits do they bring to customer relationship management? In other words, what would an AI-powered CRM promise?
- What needs to happen for organisations to reap the benefits of CRM?
- What are the barriers to implementing/deploying an AI-powered CRM? How can these obstacles be overcome?
- What is your advice for CMOs and CIOs to improve the ROI of their CRM strategy?