5 ways AI will transform CRM

The potential for generative AI systems such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard to transform how businesses work is being realized. Hype still surrounds some predictions, but change is here, and one of the first product categories to be impacted is CRM systems. 

Software-based services are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to this emerging revolution. AI can be plugged into existing software more easily than using it to build services from scratch. CRM systems are a particularly attractive target for this since when implemented effectively, they can have a rapid impact on a company’s bottom line. Nudging sales up a couple of points by better targeting profitable customers is a realistic strategy for a CRM deployment.

Segmenting customers more effectively

A well-integrated CRM system should be able to produce reports on customer segments, spending patterns, and spend history. From this, marketing campaigns can be tailored to reach specific customer groups or direct sales approaches made by a sales team. However, depending on the CRM and its configuration, these reports can be difficult to run and be delayed reaching the right people. Microsoft’s integration of ChatGPT into its Power Platform is enabling businesses to quickly build their own workflows that incorporate a user-friendly chat interface. Rather than running often complex report requests, users from across the marketing and sales team can use natural language to identify prospects instantly.

Transforming the sales funnel

Building on the capability above, sales funnels and customer journeys can be modified on the fly to adapt to changing variables such as economic conditions, competitor activity, and evolving tastes. What worked last month, for instance, may not work this month and AI offers the potential for a more dynamic process of changing prospects into customers. 

Repurposing corporate information assets

Companies are drowning in data, with IDC predicting there will be more than a five-fold increase in the data generated by organizations between 2018 and 2025. Bearing in mind that only about 2% of the data generated in 2020 was retained and used in 2021, many businesses are not effectively leveraging their information assets. Generative AI offers the potential to quickly and cost-effectively repurpose corporate data assets as marketing materials, whether in text or image formats.   

Creating personalized marketing content

To further help leverage information assets, marketing content and messages can be tailored on a personalized basis to suit the needs and desires of individual customers and prospects. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine generative AI systems showing customers wearing or using a company’s products in a variety of scenarios. Clearly there are privacy issues, and any implementations would need to be managed very carefully but, with appropriate customer opt-ins, it’s easily within the realms of possibility.

Incorporating the power of platforms

The CRM vendors set to dominate this emerging landscape will be those who build platforms that draw in third-party developers to extend their product offerings, and this year, we’re already seeing this with announcements from Salesforce and Microsoft. Many of the winners of the last 20 years of technological innovation have been companies that built platforms. Both software and hardware products are improved by complementary services built by outside specialists, and creating a thriving ecosystem of apps and add-ons mutually benefits the platform host, its users, and developers. Smaller CRM vendors will struggle to achieve this, however, as they may not have the critical mass of a large user-base needed to attract developers. 

Just as the internet and the Web have changed how we communicate, find information, and shop, so to will generative AI change the dynamics of competition for most businesses. The technological infrastructure is in place for this new generation of AI systems to sweep away many established ways of working. CRM will be just one part of this revolution, but its impact will be felt across all sectors of the economy.

Artificial Intelligence, Channel Sales, CRM Systems