If 2020 is the year you embrace CRM, here’s what’s in store

Smart businesses – irrelevant of size or industry – understand the importance of building and maintaining good relationships with their customers. In 2000, that meant a strong brick-and-mortar presence providing a close physical connection with core customers. In 2010, it meant a website acting as the virtual shop front for consumers embracing the convenience and accessibility of the internet. And in 2020, it’s going to mean a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, tying everything together to provide an omnichannel experience tailored to increasingly savvy, developed consumers.

CRM’s are designed to attract, retain and satisfy your customers with both customer-facing solutions and the behind-the-scenes processes that allow you to give them more of what they want, when they want it and in a way that suits them. Many businesses are already benefiting from the use of a CRM, with Australian companies collectively spending $2.3bn on CRM’s in 2018. These always-evolving systems will continue to become more “consumerised” in 2020, and here are just a few things we expect to see from them in 2020.

Industry-specific technologies

As CRM systems become more vertical-specific, their ability to blend with that industry’s core technology will be crucial. A considerable amount of CRM growth is likely to come from vertical-specific offerings that cater to prominent industries like healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, retail, and others. Each category has specific needs and challenges, which are better addressed by dedicated solutions rather than generic CRM software.

Take, for example, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) within the retail industry. As retailers across Australia use AR/VR to offer in-store experiences with more ‘wow factor’, there’s a need to integrate these systems with CRM so that data can be relayed across further stages of the customer life-cycle. So whatever industry your small business operates in, CRM’s in 2020 will be better able to adapt to your operations, rather than vice versa.

Mobile-first platforms

Mobile CRM will move from being an add-on to become a piece of core functionality. CRM systems need to enable sales teams to track and update their complete sales cycle from their phones. Furthermore, we can expect numerous core CRM features, including customisation, to become mobile-first, as opposed to today’s process in which features are adapted for mobile after they’ve been built for desktop. So if your small business relies on a mobile sales operation, CRM’s in 2020 will have you covered.

Deeper voice control

One of the prominent objectives of AI and machine learning is to streamline businesses by cutting down on manual, repetitive work like, for instance, customer data entry. In 2020, this will become possible with deeper voice processing, where sales reps can guide a virtual assistant to collect customer information and perform crucial actions. Just like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have become an omnipresent part of everyday life, voice control will become a big part of CRMs in 2020, freeing your small business’s employees to spend more time doing the important stuff.

Taking your small business to the next level is about providing an unrivalled experience that turns good customer relationships into great ones. With the evolving and personalised power of a CRM system in 2020, your small business can improve not only it’s customer-facing experience, but the back-end solutions that allow you to better cater to their needs in subtle ways too. It’s 2020 customer experience, and it’s what could promote higher satisfaction and brand loyalty for your business in the long term.

Vijay Sundaram, Chief Strategy Officer, Zoho

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