Add Artificial Intelligence (AI) to your CRM

John Eccles, 04 April 2022

The barriers have vanished.

In the past, AI was too complicated. You needed specialised data scientists on staff.

It was too expensive and too risky. It required a lot of time and money for an AI project that may not even work that well.

While some AI projects are still complicated, expensive, and risky, applications of AI available as features of enterprise CRM systems are none of these.

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Why AI in CRM?

CRM systems exist to enable the acquisition, growth and retention of profitable customer relationships in order to create sustainable competitive advantage. They provide for a customer-centric view and management of marketing, sales and customer service functions.

Back in the 1950s, Minsky and McCarthy described artificial intelligence as any task performed by a machine that would have previously been considered to require human intelligence. Thus the core reason for AI technology is to liberate human minds from mundane tasks. This extends to liberating organisations from manual processes connected to the CRM system.

We need AI in CRM because the data available about customers has grown exponentially and we are no longer able to effectively extract, analyse and interpret the data to help us acquire, grow and retain profitable customer relationships. We need AI in CRM to make it a better CRM.

AI for marketing

The core of marketing is understanding your customer – really understanding your customer – in depth. CRM systems aim to provide a comprehensive view of the customer by centralising customer data in the system and making it readily accessible. Use of AI allows more data to be captured to provide a more complete view of the customer with actionable insights to prompt actions based on the customer information.

More customer data may come from other internal systems, including your website and mobile App, or from external sources such as social media. AI-powered identity resolution can merge the right data from these other sources into the customer record in CRM – and keep the data up to date.

Data may also be captured from unstructured data sources such as emails, SMS messages, voice-calls and images via text recognition, speech recognition and image recognition. AI can convert unstructured data into structured data to further enrich the customer profile.

The more complete customer profile enables better market segmentation by bringing together demographic information, pre-purchase and purchase behaviour, and customer sentiment - likes and dislikes. Marketing communications and customer experience can be better targeted and even personalised.

Actionable AI-powered customer insights:

· Customer journeys that are personalised and intelligently orchestrated.

· Prediction of customer lifetime value and customer churn

· Identification of cross-sell and upsell opportunities with product recommendations

AI for sales

Salespeople are often the most resistant to using a CRM system as they struggle to perceive the value (i.e. positive impact on their sales performance) for their very real time investment to input data to keep the system up to date. AI can both reduce the manual effort required for data input and provide actionable insights that will drive sales.

Manual data input can be minimised. Much of the data normally captured in the CRM system is available from other sources such as LinkedIn. So minimal data need be input by the salesperson, and that minimal data can then be automatically enriched. Notes about meetings or calls can be spoken into the system or hand-written and then converted to text and saved in the system.

Actionable AI-powered sales insights:

· Next best actions

· Notification of deal risks

· Recommendations to improve account relationships at risk

· Better sales forecasts

· In-the-moment insights and priorities during phone calls

AI for customer service

AI enables self-service options for customers, drives better routing of support inquiries and provides relevant insights and actionable suggestions for the customer service team.

An AI-powered virtual-agent (or chatbot) can effectively deal with routine issues, leaving customer service agents free to handle more complex issues. When combined with a customer portal and a knowledgebase, the customer can obtain information and help rapidly at a time that suits.

AI-powered smart-routing can classify, prioritise and automatically assign requests to the best-suited agent for optimal customer experience and customer service agent efficiency.

Actionable AI-powered Customer Service Insights:

· Anticipation of customer needs

· Recommendation of relevant knowledge articles

· Referencing similar cases to aid case resolution

· Understanding of customer interactions in real-time with sentiment analysis

Summary

CRM is a great place to start your AI journey. The AI features available make the CRM system provide better customer relationship management than ever across marketing, sales and customer service. Furthermore, the AI available with CRM provides a low-cost, low-risk entry-point into a technology that will greatly impact the way we do business in the years ahead.

// Tactix campaign Linkedin Tag_April 2022