Marketing Disruption 6/7: Artificial intelligence and process automation influence CRM – but are you doing it the right way?

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There is no doubt that data is crucial when we think about successful CRM strategies, processes, or systems. But CRM, and the way it is handled, has also always been influenced by technological developments.

Today, new technologies have the power to shake CRM up once more to finally put the customer at the heart of the business. This blog will focus on two major disruptors – artificial intelligence (AI) and process automation (PA) – and discuss how these innovations need to be integrated into a holistic CRM landscape.

Process automation – Make the most of your time

Of the many benefits process automation brings to CRM processes, one stands out particularly: employees are released from administrative overhead and set free for more valuable work. PA allows standardized customer interaction, enables automated workflows, and triggers actions based on the outcomes of previous tasks. As a consequence, contact management becomes more effective and the processes and employee interaction are rendered more efficient. Recent research by Forrester corroborates the strong impact PA exerts on CRM, predicting that in 2018, RPA will replace or augment 260,000 US sales and sales-related positions.1

Artificial intelligence – Do the right things at the right time

Artificial intelligence in CRM provides numerous possibilities to serve the customer in the most valuable way. From marketing, where the most valuable leads can be identified using internal and external (social, socio-demographic) data, to sales, where products with the highest relevance for customers and tailored product bundles and discounts to maximize revenue can be offered through the analysis of current and historical data. Service departments can also benefit from AI when providing customers with the most suitable solution to a request based on next-best-action predictions. Going one step further, chatbots can be used to communicate with the customer. The impact of AI on CRM is tremendous. According to an IDC study, CRM will boost global business revenue by $1.1 trillion from 2017 to 2021, which could result in 800,000 new jobs.2

Do it right – How to successfully implement PA and AI into you CRM strategy and processes

PA and AI positively influence CRM – but only if done correctly. There are three major success factors that need to be reflected when using PA and AI.

1. Get your data right:
Without a consistent and complete customer database, the power of AI and PA cannot be utilized to the fullest. Only by using customer data, sales data, service data, and any other available useful data, can artificial intelligence work its magic and process steps be automated correctly.

2. Integrate PA and AI into your existing processes
Only through smooth integration into existing CRM processes and systems, can PA and AI exert a sustainable impact on your business. Stand-alone use cases and solutions might have an immediate positive effect, but only complete integration will result in long-term success. Analyze how the new feature fits into your processes, potentially redesign the process, technicall.y integrate the solution into your system landscape, and enable employees through training and empowerment.

3. People matter
Process automation, in particular, releases employees from some of their daily work. Nevertheless, it is crucial that employees involved in the respective processes make use of the possibilities provided by PA and AI. Did marketing process automation provide a sales guy with a hot lead? Pick the lead up and contact the prospect! Did artificial intelligence identify upselling potential? Make the customer an offer! Like mentioned before, get your employees on board through sustainable change management.

What do these three crucial success factors tell us? Even though artificial intelligence and process automation are rather new technologies, it comes down to basic levers when businesses want to be successful using these technologies: data, integration and people! Only when these factors are considered, can companies be truly customer-centric, increase customer satisfaction, and boost their business success.

Besides disrupting technologies, traditional businesses can also profit from best practices from other industries and especially startups. Stay tuned for the last blog of our series in which we analyze what marketing departments can learn from start-up culture.

1 https://go.forrester.com/blogs/top-trends-that-shape-crm-in-2018/

2 https://www.salesforce.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/documents/white-papers/the-economic-impact-of-ai.pdf 

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