CRM is in a new era of innovation and is playing an important role in aligning customer support, sales and marketing teams. By making collaboration, communication and data sharing easier, CRM promises to transform customer experiences.
In this article, we’ll explore the future of customer relationship management software by looking at seven ways we believe CRM software will change over the next few years.
The future of CRM: 7 trends to keep your eye on
Customer relationship management has transformed in recent years, as big brands and new technology have raised customer expectations. Consumers are now searching for companies that can guarantee personalized and rapid service.
Sales, marketing, customer service and management teams are depending more on CRM tools to meet the growing expectations of their customers.
CRM software has increased in market share over the last few years. In 2023, the US market value of CRM software in the US is estimated at $46.2 billion.
As it’s evolved, CRM software has become more intelligent, integrated and automated. Segmenting audiences, generating insights and integrating with multiple tools from a single dashboard is now possible.
Here are some exciting CRM trends to keep your eye on to help your business stay ahead of the game.
1. CRM software will include powerful AI capabilities
Artificial intelligence is changing the world. From OpenAI’s ChatGPT to Google’s DeepMind, it’s now essential for a wide range of work in every industry – and CRM users are starting to see the effects.
CRM providers are beginning to integrate AI into their software. This can be used to:
Collect, organize and analyze customer data
Reduce manual work
Provide customer service
For example, Pipedrive’s AI Sales Assistant helps you find sales performance insights to improve your workflows.
Pipedrive can also generate graphs to show you how you have performed over time. Sales Assistant will then send you notifications and tips when key actions are completed, helping you forecast revenue and qualify sales prospects, as well as reminding you when activities are due.
However, this is just the beginning. As AI-powered CRM solutions improve, there are five main ways they’ll boost business operations:
Machine learning and predictive analytics will monitor future trends and help businesses plan, forecast sales, make data-driven decisions and allocate resources effectively. Businesses can use machine learning to complete a variety of tasks, such as lead scoring, segmentation, sales predictions, sentiment analysis and more.
Automation of complex workflows to boost how much work a CRM can do behind the scenes without manual input.
Sentiment analysis to determine how customers perceive brands, products and services.
Natural language processing (NLP) and conversational chatbots to provide 24/7 customer support. Solutions like Pipedrive’s Chatbot can also help find relevant data and anticipate customer needs.
AI voice assistants will transform CRM interfaces, making them smarter and more accessible. Voice-to-text capabilities streamline data entry and make it easy to take notes during meetings.
With new AI capabilities, future CRM technology may be able to predict customer outcomes and proactively resolve issues. Based on past interactions, it’ll also recommend the next best action for each customer.
Consumers now expect self-service options when dealing with brands. Self-service includes detailed knowledge bases, searchable FAQs and conversational chatbots. These features help customers solve their problems without needing to email customer support.
Customers can learn about a product, brand or service themselves. For example, they might be able to use a virtual product online or set up an interactive software trial.
According to a survey by NICE, 81% of consumers now expect more self-service options while 60% of businesses admit they need to improve their offerings.
To address these expectations, CRM systems will integrate with self-service options. Then, rather than acting as static website features, they’ll help you understand your customers by collecting data from their actions.
For example, if a customer searches for information in your knowledge base, a record of that action will be stored in the CRM. Customer service agents will then have access to a detailed history of a customer’s interactions and be able to provide better service.
Likewise, chatbots can answer questions, provide order updates and offer personalized suggestions. Sales, marketing and customer service teams will then be able to see a contact’s chat history and use those insights to provide a better customer experience.
A great example of this outside the world of CRM is NatWest’s digital assistant, Cora. Users can ask Cora for help setting up and understanding the service.
When prompted, Cora can also stop cheques, close accounts and update account details. These conversations are stored so that if you need a human customer service agent, they know what you’ve already gone through.
Here are some things you can do to keep up with this trend:
Provide a self-service portal. Offer customers a rich knowledge base, community forums, video tutorials and an AI chatbot. Then, they can research your products and resolve issues in their own way.
Use a CRM system that can tap into your self-service portal. Let your self-service solutions generate customer insights for you. By using a CRM like Pipedrive, you can easily collect insights from Chatbot conversations, Web Forms and website analytics.
Enable centralized communications. It’s important to have a unified communication database for each customer. This ensures that your service team has a detailed history of interactions, regardless of which channel your customers contacted you through.
3. Improving the customer experience with new data sources
Customer relations are rapidly evolving and experiences are becoming more important than sales transactions. 73% of customers name their experience as one of the most important factors when making a purchase decision.
To provide the best possible experiences, businesses need to focus on the customer’s perspective.
This is why CRM experience – using a CRM to provide the best possible experience at every touchpoint – is becoming so important.
To understand consumers and achieve these customer-centric goals, you must put customer needs first, measure customer interactions and anticipate customer pain points.
One way to achieve this is by integrating CRM tools with social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
It’s easier to see what people are saying about a brand’s products and services by accessing social media insights via CRM and social listening tools. It’s also possible to keep track of key market and competitor insights.
Businesses can streamline communications by responding to comments quickly and connecting with customers via social messaging apps. This helps build stronger relationships and makes adding user feedback to the product development roadmap easier.
Aside from social media, the Internet of Things (IoT) will be one of the biggest game changers when collecting customer data. Integrating internet-connected devices with your CRM and other tools allows you to collect real-time data to influence your customers. A smartwatch is an example of an IoT device. This wearable technology collects data on customers' physical activity, sleeping patterns and other daily habits. When synced with a CRM, the data can go into sending tailored lifestyle advice, product suggestions and offers.
Companies that produce IoT devices can also use this to catch product problems via user data.
For example, Disney Parks uses MagicBands (wireless wristbands) and mobile apps to give visitors a great experience with real-time suggestions and information about the park.
Users can also receive notifications and birthday messages and shop directly from their MagicBands.
This provides a deeper level of insight into customer behaviors that enables brands to plan ahead, streamline pipeline management and improve the customer experience.
Personalization helps with relationship building because brands get to show customers that they understand their needs. This leads to better customer engagement and satisfaction, which can increase sales.
With changing consumer expectations, personalization has become more important than ever. According to a survey by McKinsey, 71% of customers expect companies to deliver personalized material. 76% become frustrated when they don’t.
Hyper-personalization promises to take things to a new level. Previously, personalization used historical data to create customized material that matched customer segments.
Hyper-personalization, however, uses real-time data to create relevant experiences for individual customers based on signals like user behavior. For example, using technographic data (information collected about a company’s tools and technology: hardware, software, cloud services, web and social media analytics) to track when they invest in new products.
Hyper-personalization can take a customer’s context into account. For example, it can analyze a person’s location, the time of day and the weather to provide relevant offers.
CRM platforms already allow some personalization, especially when paired with artificial intelligence (AI) sales tools. However, they’ll become smarter as they collect more big data and AI analytics.
Future CRM tools will also be able to provide more personalized notifications, reminders and promotional offers. As a result, businesses can deliver a more tailored customer experience.
Take IBM Watson as an example. IBM Watson Advertising Weather Targeting uses AI to predict how the weather impacts a customer’s buying decisions, what channels they’ll use and what they’ll want to buy. It can then provide real-time adverts personalized for that customer to increase foot traffic to nearby stores.
Here are two ways CRM software could increase personalization capabilities:
Emotionally intelligent messaging. Taking into account a combination of national events, purchase history and the date, software could predict and tailor messaging based on how a consumer is feeling. For example, they might decide to delay a sales email, offer commiserations or use more sympathetic language to a segment of their customer base after their local team loses a football game, if those buyers’ past actions have suggested a strong interest in football.
Location-specific selling. CRMs could use customer location data to make intuitive suggestions about the best time to sell certain products. For example, a footwear company may stop suggesting hiking boots during a heat wave and encourage a website visitor to purchase sandals instead.
The more data we collect on buyers and consumers, the better the messaging we can serve. Consumers will feel like a message is truly made for them, building deeper connections and loyalty with brands in the process.
5. Integrations and APIs will expand the CRM environment
The best CRM tools already go beyond sales and marketing and allow teams to optimize efficiency and provide better customer experiences. However, from marketing and sales to customer success and beyond, they’re now bringing the entire tech stack under one roof.
This is possible thanks to a wide range of integrations, which automatically transfer data between CRM systems and other apps.
These integrations help businesses streamline operations by automating tasks like lead management, appointment scheduling and customer support. They also simplify tech stacks and save businesses time and money.
Prebuilt integrations aren’t the only way CRMs can connect with other tools. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) will also help CRMs expand their capabilities.
A custom API allows your CRM system to integrate with other apps. This allows the CRM to access and share data with other systems like email marketing platforms, payment processing systems or customer support software.
More versatile APIs will allow businesses to create custom user interfaces, workflows and processes that make using them easier. Future APIs will also connect with more, currently untapped data sources.
This change will revolutionize the cloud platform environment. Currently, most CRM providers have one or more APIs in place, with some more advanced and scalable than others. CRMs of the future will likely be able to incorporate a range of lightweight APIs to increase their functionality.
Enterprise-grade APIs offered by the top cloud-based CRM providers point to what’s to come in the future. For example, Pipedrive provides an open CRM API and Developer Platform to optimize the tools you integrate with your CRM.
Vindi, Brazil’s leading online subscription management platform, used Pipedrive’s API – one of the most popular on the market – to create and manage its data lake. By following Vindi’s example and using the Pipedrive API, companies could create one system that automates pre- and post-sale data, reducing the need for manual work.
Examples of possible automation are:
Account Management. Sales teams can use data to preempt the needs of their key accounts. This will delight clients and reduce churn in the long run.
Lead qualification. Businesses can target individuals who have clicked a link with personalized emails and offers. The aim will be to tempt them into making a purchase based on their behavior, such as looking at specific use cases for a SaaS product.
Tailored support documentation. Companies can send user manuals and training material to individuals based on their purchases. This will reduce the time it takes for customers to get value from your product.
Loyalty programs. CRMs can use an algorithm to predict how often a customer will buy from them and place that individual into a corresponding reward tier.
Rodrigo Dantas, CEO and Founder of Vindi, says:
The flexibility of Pipedrive allows you to plug so many different apps into your CRM, allowing us to take advantage of customizing and automating large parts of the sales and customer service process.
Be sure to respect API governance policies to set standards for using and maintaining them. Like standalone software, this will ensure that your APIs provide consistent and scalable results that fit your business goals.
6. CRMs will become a single source of truth
Aligning all departments is a major challenge for modern businesses. Teams usually have different long-term goals, KPIs and data access levels, making it harder to get them all on the same page.
Likewise, many companies have many apps that are often poorly connected (or not connected at all).
This acts as a barrier to collaboration and productivity.
However, every customer interaction helps generate valuable insights into their preferences and purchase history. All teams, including customer support and the back office, can use this information to improve the customer experience.
When all teams use one data platform, they don’t need to search for answers. Instead, they have direct access to all important information, which gives them a clearer image of their customers.
A unified CRM helps optimize data collection, integrate data sources and improve decision-making. All teams can work from one data set, managing the entire customer lifecycle from a single dashboard.
For example, information gathered by measuring marketing strategies and growth activity can inform sales and after-sales service.
By using a CRM as a single source of truth, companies can:
As CRMs continue to connect all your teams, tools and data sources, they’ll increasingly act as a single source of truth for your business. Future CRM software won’t just unite customer-facing teams but your entire organization.
For example, a customer sends a complaint email after receiving a faulty item they purchased online. The company’s software interprets the email and automatically sends the customer a discount voucher.
The next time that individual walks into the store, the staff member at the counter can remind the customer to use the coupon or proactively apply the discount. This helps teams to remedy the negative experience and fix the customer relationship.
7. Mobile-compatible CRMs will become more popular
Mobile CRMs are becoming more popular because they provide businesses with so much convenience and flexibility. They allow teams to access customer data and manage customer relationships from any location at any time.
This is much needed in many industries, especially for field salespeople or those who work from home. Mobility is also crucial for the growing number of solopreneurs and small online businesses.
Demand for mobile-based CRMs accounted for nearly 27% of the global CRM market as of 2022. This represents an annual growth rate of 12.7% since 2014.
Mobile CRMs like Pipedrive help businesses to manage customer relationships on the move. They allow for contact management, meeting scheduling, task management and tracking sales opportunities.
With mobile CRM software, sales reps can quickly access customer information and maintain relationships no matter where they are. Mobile CRMs also provide access to analytics to help reps get insights on their customers while they’re out of the office.
Mobile CRMs provide businesses with a more cost-effective way to store and manage customer information, as they can be hosted in the cloud and accessed from multiple devices.
Going forward, mobile-compatible CRMs will become more powerful, providing complete functionality from anywhere. Examples include:
Location-specific prompts and notifications
Integration with more apps and devices
Minimized security breaches
Data sharing and single dashboard use between individuals and teams
Businesses should invest in a CRM with mobility features to get the most out of this technology.
In the coming years, it’ll be more important than ever for businesses to stay on top of the rapidly changing CRM landscape. By taking advantage of the latest improvements in CRM software, they can remain competitive, optimize spending, offer better customer experiences and ultimately drive more profits.
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