With the introduction of new CRM platforms, we are predicting that CRM trends will change drastically in 2021. Businesses have been leaning towards cloud-based solutions because they offer more flexibility and scalability than on-premise solutions.
For example, Salesforce has been growing over the past decade and is now a household name for marketing departments across the world. We predict that by 2021, many small businesses will be using one of these CRMs to keep track of their sales pipeline and customer interactions with ease.
In addition to this trend, we also expect there to be an increase in mobile usage from consumers as well as employees – making it easier for people to work remotely without having access to a company’s network or computers.
In this post, we’ll be looking at some of the top CRM trends for 2021. If you’re a CRM user, you’ll want to read on!
Today, providing the best products and services is not enough. Building meaningful relationships with customers to foster loyalty and retention is equally important. Customer Relationship Management plays a pivotal role for every business, and staying ahead of CRM trends can provide you with a competitive advantage.
The Customer Relationship Management system has grown well beyond just being a contact management mechanism to a holistic business solution in the past few years. It offers something for everyone and adds a lot of value to your organization.
Brands around the world are choosing CRM to support their customers with a more conversational approach. As a result, it is expected that the global CRM market will grow to an impressive $81.9 billion by 2025. CRM is emerging as a one-stop solution helping organizations make data-driven decisions to drive hyper sales growth and boost revenue.
As we progress into this new decade, the industry as we know it has been shaken up by key CRM trends. This article has gathered the top CRM trends you should know for 2021 and beyond. This blog post will discuss some of the top trends in 2021, so you can stay on top of what’s new in the industry!
1. AI is becoming a central part of CRM
There’s a ton of noise around Artificial Intelligence these days, and CRM will not be excluded from this trend. According to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Agenda survey, 14% of global CIOs have already deployed AI. Furthermore, it is estimated that AI associated with CRM activities will boost global business revenue by $1.1 trillion by the end of 2021.
To allow the personalization of customer interactions, CRM analyses vast amounts of data. Different CRM tools provide organizations with access to information from multiple touchpoints across various departments and channels, such as sales, marketing, and contact centres, to build effective business strategies. In addition, businesses can expect AI-powered CRM platforms to shed light on real-time consumer behaviours and provide insights into purchase trends to facilitate potential conversions.
AI will assist CRM to simplify laborious and repetitive manual activities, thereby enhancing employee productivity. AI and Machine Learning (ML) will boost the conversational options currently available with CRM platforms. CRM chatbots backed by AI will soon anticipate future customer queries and provide additional information that might be required. As a result, AI-powered CRM will deliver quicker and better solutions, eliminating the incidence of human errors.
The rise of AI, which was predicted for years, is here, and luckily it doesn’t seem to be the end of the world just yet. A recent Salesforce report indicated that marketers using artificial intelligence shot up, from 29% in 2018 to 84% in 2020.
So how does that relate to CRM? Well, in many ways.
The first is in the use of predictive analytics that brings new data to the fore. Imagine AI that can use the existing data stored in a CRM system to make authoritative predictions. These will be forecasts that can significantly improve business.
For example, we’ll see the segmentation of different types of customers based on their unique factors. AI can be highly successful at identifying patterns in customer behaviour, increasing the opportunity to sell to them.
We’re talking about real-time insights that factor in demographics, customer preferences, and sentiments. As a result, businesses can analyze deals won vs. lost and detect trends for future leads.
Another area of CRM evolution will be AI powering the growth of automation features. Here we’ll see time-consuming tasks, even tedious ones, automated. Again, the aim will be to save time that can be used elsewhere and boost productivity.
There is a limit to how far automation can answer customer questions, so this is something we’ll still see in a basic form. In other words, in-person contact from CRM managers and sales associates will still very much be needed.
2. CRM will join hands with IoT
IoT is emerging as the biggest game-changer in almost every industry vertical. The integration of CRM and IoT will be witnessed this year on a larger scale. CRM and IoT offer numerous advantages, such as an advanced level of customization, increased customer loyalty, improved customer retention, and helps deliver personalized marketing campaigns.
According to experts, IoT will continue to make substantial changes in how CRM is done. According to research, IoT devices will increase to 39 billion by 2025. By adding connections to IoT feeds from devices, advanced CRM systems are taking advantage of this trend. These smart devices provide a treasure trove of insights into customer behaviour and enable businesses to use these insights to provide enhanced customer support and deliver more personalized marketing strategies.
3. Voice Technology and Conversational User Interface (UI)
Voice technology plays a fundamental role in the advancement of SaaS solutions. According to an Adobe study on voice technology, around 94% of users consider it easy to use and believe it saves more time and enhances their quality of life. Voice assistants help sales staff monitor customer data faster. Leading CRM solution providers have embraced voice technology, and more CRM solution providers are expected to follow suit.
4. Customers are Using Their Voices Online
The customer experience (CX) is an increasingly important area in the world of CRM. Customers care more than ever about the ‘experience’ a company gives them and will not hesitate to share their thoughts online.
One of the critical areas they do this is on social media platforms. As we know, these are public places, so a brand must solve problems without unnecessary hassle.
Social media channels are a natural, popular place to share thoughts and feedback with the broader world. Some brands see this as a potential threat, but the right way to think about this is that it can be the most effective form of one-to-one marketing yet. This, in turn, attracts new customers after the social transaction is successful.
Social media is one of the critical drivers of ROI, which is why there’s been a massive investment in it—on a global level, three in four marketers are investing in social media marketing.
Usability has always been a challenge for CRM platforms, but the most popular CRM systems in the future will have an interface that focuses on ease of use. User experience will always be at the heart of CRM. Experts have predicted that CRM systems will soon grow to be easy to use, making it easier to access and evaluate information. We might also see advanced CRM functionality to make it easier for sales and customer service agents to initiate contact with customers.
With the ease of use of CRM, businesses can provide enhanced and personalized customer service. CRM systems will deliver information that addresses the needs of consumers reliably and guide them further into the marketing funnel.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a powerful, scalable CRM solution. With a familiar and intuitive user interface, it ranks among the highest in user adoption. With great functionality, value, and flexibility, it is not easy to lose sight of the advantages that Dynamics 365 CRM can bring to an organization that wants minimal configuration and ease of use to optimize business operations and provide a fast return on investment.
5. Reliance on Data
According to Dozer another outcome of the pandemic and the fragmented nature of work is the need for data unity. He predicted:
“[Companies will have] a deeper reliance on CRM and business systems capturing everything that is happening to provide one source of truth. When you can’t get up from your desk and go ask someone in purchasing if they have a copy of a PO on their desk, everything is in the system becomes that much more critical.”
Data pours in from more sources and comes in different forms than ever before. Salesforce research predicts that marketers will leverage a median of 12 data sources in 2021 and found that the average number of data management tools used in 2020 (six) has doubled from 2018. In addition, nearly 80% of marketers say they use data-driven customer engagement, according to Salesforce.
Dozer believes the coming few years will bring about a “renaissance of simplicity, where the focus shifts back to making things easy and simple to use.”
“CRM systems have grown and evolved so much over the last decade that in some cases they now mimic ERP systems in some areas. This is great on the surface, but for a salesperson who’s on the road and needs to focus on selling, or a customer service rep who’s trying to find the right information quickly, the systems have become somewhat cumbersome.”
Addressing 2021 expectations, in particular, Dozer said:
“The change in the business system and CRM industry is less about the applications and more about the effective utilization of those applications. This will inherently drive more features around areas such as UI/UX and ease of use. And will also drive tighter integrations with other systems such as ERP and CPQ, for example.”
AI is one example of CRMs catering more to end-users. In a Forbes article, Adrian Bridgewater described how Salesforce had taken steps to make AI capabilities accessible for non-technical users, using the alone line of code. He goes on:
“In some cases, where the AI functions … can be compartmentalized into what are almost mini-apps in and of themselves, it’s not even a line of code … it’s just a click to say that the person creating the software would like to have that function available.”
Deans also expect usability to play a critical role. “Everyone has access to the same basic capabilities. Therefore, vendors must enable more application customization to address this value-add requirement.”
Deans believes that people will adopt the intuitive capabilities and ignore the rest.
From a vendor standpoint, this means to “never under-estimate the power of a superior user experience,” he said.
And from a buyer standpoint, it means to seek out the solutions that set themselves apart by offering that next-level experience. After all, “To be truly effective, CRM systems must be easy to use,” Dozer said.
7. One Software to Rule Them All
We’ve spoken about social media integration within a CRM platform, but a broader integration is expected this year in the CRM space.
Specifically, we expect to see solutions appearing that integrate essential software into a single package. So, in other words, a collective bundle that works seamlessly together.
Right now, teams tend to jump around across multiple different pieces of software in the average day. Ultimately, this can slow down productivity and make attracting customers harder overall.
We’re talking about solutions that will integrate everything: customer service tools, email software, analytics, customer data platforms, and marketing automation. The dream is that there wouldn’t be a need to leave the CRM system once an individual signs into it.
It’s an end to the problematic juggling act sales teams have to perform right now.
The internet of things (IoT: a system of interrelated, internet-connected objects) will be a big part of making this happen.
IoT-connected devices can send out data about maintenance and product updates, along with the ability to feed more data into a CRM system. There are expected to be more than 64 billion IoT devices worldwide by 2025.
For example, IoT devices used by customers could supply data to a company about any product errors or problems that occur. This will allow the business to improve the customer experience with much greater awareness, and therefore, the customer satisfaction levels.
It also opens up more personalized opportunities for marketing campaigns that can target the customer more effectively.
Of course, it’s always worth thinking about which integrations would be the most important for your company. Current strategies include data import tools and software like Zapier, which uses workflows to automate web applications together.
8. Augmented and Virtual Reality
If you’ve ever been on a VR (virtual reality) headset, then you’ll realize how far the tech has come. It’s no longer something in its infancy—it can be a completely immersive experience for the user.
The same is true with AR (augmented reality) tech, which augments our reality around us and makes the real world more interactive.
Marketers are increasingly aware of this tech’s potential, allowing them to reach customers quite like never before. As marketing experiments in the VR and AR industry grow, so does the chance of them being a part of your CRM strategy in the future.
The first signs appeared in the retail sector, allowing customers to browse stores using VR to “look at products” from their living room as if they were there. This lets customers take as long as they like and minimizes the need for long queues. It’s getting cheaper to manufacture VR tech, too, thereby driving higher adoption rates.
It’s a staggering prospect that seems the stuff of science fiction, but it’s here, it’s real, and doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down.
CRM platforms that integrate this tech will have more advanced tools for reaching customers and increase their chances of a sale due to the enhanced buying experience.
For example, a customer service representative won’t need to ask a customer to describe a problem. Instead, they will be able to view it directly via virtual reality, speeding up the process and removing confusion from the scenario.
Are you not convinced by AR? Well, 61% of customers now prefer online stores that offer interactive augmented reality experiences. Shopify has also stated that the conversion rate of products with AR content is 94% higher than products without—this is hard to ignore.
Augmented reality is also helpful for CRM sales training and can provide real-time information to employees. Trainees can even benefit from remote assistance from experts where appropriate. Better collaboration is one of the top outcomes of using AR technology within a company.
Both VR and AR show vast signs of promise then, and where the customers go.
If you still haven’t looked into either of them, now’s the time to do so.
9. Mobile CRM will pave the way
The advent of smartphones has transformed the way businesses manage their operations. To keep up with the ever-evolving trends in the digital world, CRM technology has evolved as well. With ‘work from home’ being the day’s standard, all concerned stakeholders need to access CRM resources. This requires compact CRM tools with easy, interchangeable online-offline capabilities. More mobile compatible CRM features are expected to enter the market to meet the increasing connectivity needs of the end-users.
10. Social CRM will be on the rise
Social CRM can be defined as the integration of social media networks into CRM platforms. When social media and CRM come together, businesses derive more powerful insights from social media and get a greater understanding of brand awareness.
By delivering timely and insightful responses to comments posted, businesses can utilize social CRM to create stronger relationships with current and prospective customers.
CRM is expected to dive deeper into social networking, helping businesses better understand how consumers view their goods and services and provide quick responses to their queries. Adopting social CRM will help companies generate more leads, win more customers and retain them in the long run.
CRM dominates the software market, and the growth is only increasing.
Keeping in mind the latest CRM trends will allow you to pick the right software this year.
Whether it’s superior mobility, artificial intelligence, IoT integration, or VR/AR, customers expect the best possible experience.
Knowing these trends provides you with insight into customer thinking, so be sure to adapt your strategy to stay relevant.