The Next 5 Things Small Businesses Should Look for in CRM

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5 Things Small Business Can Expect from CRM in 2018

The coming year looks to be an exciting one for businesses, especially when it comes to technological innovations. How will customer experience and customer relationship management change in 2018? Here are five developments to watch for.

CRM in 2018

1. Artificial intelligence comes into its own: We heard a lot about AI in 2017, but in 2018, the technology’s true potential will begin to be realized. Incorporating improved machine learning and natural language processing, CRM systems using AI will become sophisticated enough for chat bots to provide more than just basic customer support.

2. Automated workflows get more sophisticated: CRM solutions have been primarily focused on the customer, but in 2018 they will increasingly help to streamline employee workflows and business processes, too. AI will learn from the way employees engage with CRM tools and suggest adjustments that can improve business efficiency. (Think of it as a kind of automated “coach.”) With workflows not only automated, but also tailored to the way actual employees prefer to work, your business will save lots of time on manual tasks. That means frontline employees have more time to devote to what’s really important: building customer relationships.

3. Businesses put big data to real use: Big data has been a business buzzword for several years, but transforming the oceans of data every business collects into actionable information remains the big challenge. In 2018, AI will take more of the grunt work out of big data analysis, searching for trends, patterns, customer behaviors and other details that humans might overlook. The result: new insights that can help you provide better customer service, market to your customers more effectively and ultimately run a more successful organization.

4. Collaboration continues: Cloud-based collaboration tools have already transformed the modern workplace. In 2018, the best CRM apps will allow easy integration with other solutions businesses already use. By collaborating through cloud-based unified communications and sharing information about previous customer interactions, frontline employees can reduce redundant communications and customer frustrations.

5. Customer communications get better: Businesses aren’t the only ones dealing with a deluge of data. Your business’s prospects and customers face an onslaught of information every waking hour. Providing the right information to customers at just the right time is key to attracting and retaining them — and in 2018, CRM systems will do even more of the heavy lifting to make that happen. Using AI, CRM solutions will slice, dice and interpret data down to the individual level to deliver what customers want, when they want it. Whether your customers choose to communicate by voice, email, chat, SMS or social media, CRM will ensure you have all of the data you need to respond.

What does it all add up to? Faster, better, more personalized service — and deeper, longer-lasting customer relationships.

Photo via Shutterstock

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.