The Evolution of the Customer Experience: CRM Meets AI

Facebook recognizes friends in photos and suggests tags with nearly 100% accuracy. Spotify creates personalized playlists based on music preferences. Apple’s Siri looks at hundreds of movies and suggests recommendations for the best times and theaters based on location in seconds. All this is made possible with Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As I sit and tinker with Salesforce Einstein, I realize more and more how CRM has matured over time. Einstein uses machine-learning algorithms, and statistics/math to find hidden insights into customer behavior. One of my favorite capabilities in Einstein is the similarity to the way e-Commerce stores craft useful “recommendations” for users based on their purchase history. We’ve seen this with Amazon and eBay, but for CRM? All signs point to “Yes!” that AI is the next step in CRM’s evolution.

If you need a refresher on CRM, a tool we’ve grown to know and love, click on this link. The problem is that with a sea of names and data, and little or no insight into which prospects have the highest likelihood to convert, users are missing the complete picture of the customer journey and experience.

But when AI fuels CRM, it’s possible to gain real customer intelligence. The lesser-evolved CRMs being used even today are comprised of outdated analytics and stale data, and are missing one critical part that’s a must-have in today’s digital world – creating delightful customer experiences. With AI, it becomes possible to harness the recognition of patterns, recommend the next best actions, predict outcomes and automate sales processes. A CRM like Einstein automates and customizes each interaction with every customer. The technology is self-learning, self-tuning and smarter with every touchpoint and additional piece of data.

My customer experience

I recently shopped for cosmetics at a major retailer that had been acquired by a bigger company, having purchased a specific product from them a few months earlier. I spoke to the sales rep only to hear that she didn’t have any information about my previous purchase due to the acquisition. They essentially threw me out of their old CRM. My previous activity should have been part of their analytics engine to help the retailer personalize my experience. But they failed to take advantage of this opportunity. If they had my purchase history, there as the opportunity to up-sell and/or cross-sell, offer products that would have been “just right” or give me member discounts to entice me to buy more. But they didn’t.

Not only would this retailer been able to secure more business from me, but I also would have felt valued and been encouraged to visit their store again. They didn’t use their CRM as a customer engagement platform fueled by AI-powered intelligence. And they lost a customer.

There are new CRM capabilities when fueled by AI. Let’s dive into several of these.

#1 Recognition of Patterns in Customer Behavior

AI is able to drill down into each customer’s engagement data to identify patterns and target buyers when they are most likely to engage. This could happen in the form of emails to be sent at the most opportune time or conducting a conversation via customer service bots. An AI-powered CRM enables users to access unseen and untapped customer activity patterns, making it possible to build segments and analyze customer behavior to build more successful campaigns – and don’t we all want that!

#2 Recommendations for the Next Best Option to Customers

AI enables CRM users to predict a course of action and provide the “Next Best Offer.” Based on the customer’s digital footprints and preferences, it becomes easier to recommend the most fitting products. By providing recommendations based on the most suitable actions in each customer’s individual journey, CRM makes it possible to find opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

#3 Prediction of Outcomes

An AI-fueled CRM is a powerhouse when it comes to forecasting. Because the software learns and recognizes complex patterns in data, it becomes possible to predict trends and even more granular ticks. AI makes it possible to predict the outcome of future events with high accuracy. If there is enough historical customer data to learn from, AI helps make sense of it and takes the guesswork out of the forecasting process.

#4 Automation of the Sales Processes

AI enables CRM users to automate their daily tasks and activities. That frees sales reps from spending time on tedious and/or repetitive sales processes, because AI enables efficiency at every level of the user’s workflow. An example of this is the latest in AI and CRM  – an AI-powered virtual sales assistant like Conversica. This tool helps understand the nature of the sales rep’s work. When it notices the user is performing manual and/or repetitive tasks, it suggests relevant workflows to simplify the work.

Reach for the stars…

Top performers are in relentless pursuit of customer convenience to drive loyalty and retention. They focus on good customer experiences like enabling buyers to get things done faster and as easily as possible by delivering best product recommendations at the most opportune time. AI powers this effort and the ones mentioned above. If you want to sell better and smarter, all while delivering an exceptional customer experience, you’re just a stone’s throw away from achieving it with an AI-fueled CRM. The future is here, and it’s time to ramp up your customer relationships.

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