While customer relationship management (CRM) systems have stood the test of time thus far, they are in dire need of a makeover. As we enter the ‘new decade of the customer’, the very concept of CRM sees a sweeping change, with new technologies driving the software forward.
In a recent blog post, Gartner analyst Denise Ganly noted that software systems like CRM and ERP are no longer about just managing resources or customers. “They are more about holistic enterprise business capabilities that puts customers at the center of everything,” she said.
In 2020 and beyond, Indian businesses that have been using CRM software for more than a decade now, will see enterprise CRM being driven by new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), especially machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), that are opening up interesting avenues for businesses across size and verticals.
A new report by data and analyst firm GlobalData further brings to light that the overall spending on CRM in India is set to reach about $2.3bn in 2023, with the CRM applications segment estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.3% during the forecast period. The spending on CRM BPO services, will account for nearly three-fourths of the revenue while CRM applications will account for the remaining in 2023, largely driven by the large enterprise segment, the report said.
The research finds that the Indian CRM market will see some interesting trends in the years as enterprises are becoming increasingly customer centric.
“The CRM applications market is expected to witness further growth, supported by the technological advancements like AI/ML and analytics platforms, which can be used across various social and mobile platforms. Hence, they should select CRM offerings which will enable them to connect, serve and engage with their new-age customers in a more effective manner to enhance customer experience,” said Sunil Kumar Verma, Lead ICT Analyst at GlobalData.
Future of AI in CRM
The possibilities in recent times are nearly endless when it comes to applying AI in CRM. Globally by 2020 AI-enabled CRM market will be worth $73 billion according to Infoholic Research. David H. Deans, Senior Partner of David H. Deans & Associates, sees AI as a tool companies can use to more effectively manage their relationships with customers. AI will be able to “create ‘personalized agents’ via machine learning that solves the primary needs for automated assistance between buyers and sellers. There will be more CRM deployments using robotic process automation (RPA) to enhance productivity in the near future.
Likewise, NLP, a field of AI that involves analyzing human speech and text, and deriving meaning from it, will continue to transform how businesses interact with their prospects and customer, the research shows. Facebook, Google, Apple, and other technology giants are already leveraging NLP to power everything from chatbots and virtual assistants to search results and personalized recommendations. There will be many more companies, including startups and mid-sized firms in India will leverage NLP-powered CRMs to surface key insights about prospects and customers and fuel sales effectiveness, the report said. It shows that major CRM vendors already have AI platforms that companies can use to develop intelligent applications.
Mobile, Social CRM Here to Stay
The other trend that is here to stay is mobile CRM. Mobility has long been a key component of sales activities. An Aberdeen Group study way back in 2012 was already highlighting the importance of extending CRM systems beyond the confines of the office. But that doesn’t mean mobility is a bygone trend. In fact, with the workforce becoming more scattered and buyer demands puts more pressure on sales teams to perform, mobile CRM will only serve to propel brands further down the road to success, believe experts.
Another valuable CRM trend that is expected to mature in 2020s is that of social CRM with the proliferation of social media activities. Social channels allow companies to connect with their audience in real time and build brand equity where prospects and customers are already spending time. A 2019 report on marketing trends by Salesforce showed why social publishing and advertising are valuable. From lead generation and customer acquisition to customer retention and customer advocacy, social is among the highest channels for ROI across the customer journey.
The study findings also point to the importance of incorporating social channels into CRM platforms and strategies. As Limesh Parekh, CEO of Enjay IT Solutions Ltd said, “From providing valuable data to offering social listening opportunities, social media has set itself up as a lynchpin of CRM activities. More importantly, with the advent of online E-commerce, the importance of social media in CRM has increased many folds.
User-friendly and Robust
CRM in India has made considerable progress to its present situation and is far to proceed. With vendors looking at India for greater CRM adoption, today’s CRM platforms are much more robust than previous iterations. Hence it is not surprising when GlobalData shows that China and Japan will be the only countries ahead of India in terms of the potential overall CRM revenue with their overall revenue estimated to be US$8.0bn and US$5.6bn, respectively.
As more organizations deliver a better experience than competitors, not only to draw new prospects but more importantly to boost customer loyalty, the need of the hour for CRM vendors in India is to make enterprise CRM more user friendly with simpler, easier-to-navigate screens; voice user interfaces that allow people to speak commands and enter data; and bring enhanced chatbots that effectively handle repetitive tasks.