AI brings promise and peril to customer relationship management
Hear from CIOs, CTOs, and other senior executives and leaders on data and AI strategies at the Future of Work Summit on January 12, 2022. Learn more
Artificial intelligence proves more valuable when applied to predictable and rote functions. At first glance, this may not seem ideal for customer relationship management (CRM), but keeping customers happy takes a lot of tedious work.
In today’s increasingly digital world, CRM lives and dies by data, not only by the amount of data collected, but also by the quality of that data, which can only be obtained through analysis. and cutting edge interpretation. But today’s volumes are just too much for human analysts to handle (at least, in a timely manner), so CRM platforms of all stripes are starting to integrate AI to handle the load.
Bad data, bad decisions
Poor data management is a key factor in poor customer relationship outcomes, with more than 85% of sales reps citing it as the cause of embarrassing errors, according to marketing analytics firm MarTech Series. Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, 90% of which is unstructured, so the simple task of putting all that data into context is functionally impossible without AI. And AI can be integrated directly into CRM workflows to handle tedious tasks that most people don’t want to do anyway – and usually can’t do without introducing lots of mistakes. At the same time, AI can be trained to communicate directly with customers, whether by text or voice, to answer simple questions or easy-to-resolve complaints.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, AI is likely to produce a more personalized approach to CRM than is currently possible. AI can assemble and assess a customer’s digital history – including purchases, emails, and other events – to determine their needs and temperament much faster and more thoroughly than a representative. human, recently wrote Anzhelika Danielkievich on the Keen Ethics blog. This helps to resolve issues in a timely manner and with a higher degree of satisfaction, but it also allows for a more accurate representation of brand sentiment to further refine marketing and communication efforts.
Additionally, AI can do wonders for much of the behind-the-scenes CRM work like scoring leads, cross-selling, optimizing pricing, and forecasting sales. This information can then be used to improve sales strategies, right down to targeted sales advice to guide them through every step of the sales pipeline.
A friendly voice
The ultimate goal is to provide better customer service, according to software developer Nahla Davies. One of the biggest complaints facing businesses large and small right now is the long wait times in call centers and in email responses. A properly trained and AI-driven CRM platform will be able to handle the most common queries with little to no delay, sending the more complicated queries to the service reps, who should have higher availability. AI will also be able to communicate more effectively with customers across the web, social media, and mobile platforms.
AI can also help people interact with business services in a more streamlined and secure way. Davies notes that mobile banking already offers software that allows customers to take full control of their finances, with AI programs constantly monitoring threats and then releasing the appropriate updates to security tools such as the two-factor encryption and authentication.
As with any software, it’s important to note that not all AI-powered CRM platforms are created equal, nor are they immune to the tendency of vendors to over-promise and under-deliver. For example, all the talk about an almost human interaction between customers and service robots tends to ignore the fact that this level of technology is still a few generations away. Today, AI bots are specially designed for specific use cases, such as data entry and job scheduling.
On the other hand, AI gives a major and immediate boost to functions like predictive analytics for everything from trend and market forecasting to removing inefficiencies from supply chains. Ultimately, business leaders should take a close look at what AI can do best and target it in specific areas where its effectiveness can be measured against established metrics.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when extending CRM with AI is that technology should be a vehicle for achieving positive results, not a hindrance. Many people will gladly engage with AI if it provides a quick and easy fix to their problem. But the frustration will increase if the problem is not resolved and they cannot switch from AI to a human representative.
Likewise, customers will likely be unhappy if they talk or text what they think is human but turns out to be a bot. The use of AI should be clearly defined from the start and should be used at the discretion of the customer.
VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital public place for technical decision-makers to learn about transformative technology and conduct transactions. Our site provides essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you in managing your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:
- up-to-date information on the topics that interest you
- our newsletters
- Closed thought leader content and discounted access to our popular events, such as Transform 2021: Learn more
- networking features, and more
Become a member