CRM is a competitive and fast-expanding space. In the past few years, we’ve seen an explosion of CRM platforms – a trend that is set to reach a market size of $113.5 billion by 2027.
Everyone is talking about the essential role CRM plays in propelling companies forward to keep up with increasing marketplace demands.
It’s all about CRM strategies and solutions and offering a best-in-class customer experience.
But, with so many new trends emerging, how can your business know which of these shiny objects are worth paying attention to?
To help you answer that question, read the rest of this article.
In it, you’ll discover the top 12 CRM trends businesses should know in 2021.
1. Customer Experience
With regard to CRM trends, the prime focus is on customer experience (CX).
While customer service is clearly always at the forefront, convenience and having a great experience are two of the main drivers for customers.
These are major factors that contribute to the growth of any company, and the most successful businesses are those that pay attention to improving the factors that affect CX, such as usability – which is one of the top challenges to CRM platforms.
The most successful systems are those with easy-to-use interfaces. That’s why one of the biggest trends in 2021 is that CRM systems will evolve to become simpler and easier to use.
This will make it easy for anyone to access and analyze data, and we will see more features to bring more convenience to sales and customer service agents initiating contact with customers.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Integration
The majority of people are already using a lot more AI than they might think in their daily lives and at work. And now, artificial intelligence is also becoming a key part of CRM systems.
According to a recent survey, the number of marketers using AI grew by 190% from 2018 to 2020, and it’s estimated that AI-associated CRM activities will increase global business revenue by over $1.1 trillion before 2022.
This includes areas like automation, analytics, and conversational tools (some of which we’ll look at below).
In short, AI integration is one of the biggest trends changing the CRM industry and it’s one that can help enhance your CRM strategy in a variety of ways.
Some of the most significant changes brought on by artificial intelligence to CRM involve improvement to existing conversational tools.
Right now, we’re witnessing the rise of chatbots. They are quickly becoming vital in increasing a company’s earnings.
The next big trend we will see is AI-powered CRM chatbots that will have the ability to predict a customer’s next questions using data points. They may also be able to make predictions about specific, additional information that customers may require.
Such insights will be extremely helpful for service agents and allow them to be more proactive when resolving customer issues.
Right now, chatbot conversational features are limited to the most basic inquiries, but we’ll see these limits pushed further thanks to AI and machine learning.
And, with natural language processing, chatbots will be so sophisticated that a lot of customers won’t know whether or not they are conversing with a machine.
4. Voice Technology and Conversational AI
After chatbots, the next trend on our list is conversational technology. This is yet another technology that is currently revolutionizing across industries.
Research shows that over 90% of people prefer voice technology above others. Voice technology helps to boost accessibility and increase user engagement, which is why conversational apps are now a critical component of the CRM evolution.
Integrating voice technology into CRM software would help companies carry out different business tasks easily and more efficiently.
For example, voice-assisted VAs within CRM infrastructure can help salespeople manage, track, message, and update teams about customer data – all in real-time.
Ultimately, CRMs that harness the power of voice technology in the form of voice assistance and conversational technology applications will lead to faster decision-making and more closes.
5. Self-Service CRM
Self-service CRM is on the rise, and its importance cannot be overstated. In today’s age of automation, technology has a major impact on your customers and your business’s relationship with them.
Automation has become synonymous with CRM, but while chatbots and conversational AI are at the forefront of new businesses, this technology doesn’t serve effectively in certain conditions where it’s not required.
In fact, studies have shown that 60% of customers prefer self-service options when it comes to solving simple problems.
That’s why a lot of CRM providers are working on integrating AI solutions that will allow customers to solve issues by themselves without having to waste time waiting on call queues for support.
For instance, if you created a presentation with a tool like Movavi, which is my own personal preference, and your customer attended and for some reason a workflow in the CRM didn’t record their attendance, the CRM would allow you to manual fix the record.
This means that customers get their questions answered quicker with a lot less effort needed from the provider – a win-win for everyone involved.
6. Single-Channel CRM
CRM trends for this year indicate a growing interest in the single-channel approach to CRM systems.
A lot of organizations have an omnichannel or multichannel approach, whereby the companies make themselves available on the communication channels preferred by their customers.
While there are certain benefits to using these strategies, such as making the customer experience seamless and maximizing customer engagement, a single-channel approach integrates essential software into a single package.
Experts predict that these communication channels will be unified into one piece of software that deals with all channels and streamlines workflows for both sales and customer service teams.
The major benefit of this is that it keeps them from having to jump around across a lot of different pieces of software every day to maintain communication with their customers (ultimately slowing down productivity and making it harder to attract customers).
7. Social CRM
This is one of the broader integrations expected in the CRM space in 2021. Social CRM is the integration of social media networks into a CRM platform.
It comes with tons of benefits for your business and is a key way for building stronger relationships with customers.
- It gives businesses the ability to create one-to-one interactions with stakeholders.
- Also, social CRM gives you the ability to comment in a timely way which can have a huge positive impact on your business.
- Being able to view CRM and social media together gives companies a more powerful overview of what their prospects and customers are posting about their brand on social media.
- It also gives them a clear understanding of the current brand sentiment, which helps them make necessary changes to improve their offerings and provide clients with timely answers.
- Organizations can also use social CRM to integrate more user input or feedback into their roadmap.
Overall, social CRM can help businesses to generate more leads and attract and nurture their ideal clients.
8. Mobile CRM
Yet another trend to know in 2021 is that mobile CRM will be on the rise.
As technology continues to advance (smartphones in particular), CRM software is evolving to match the new standards in order to bring the best experience to mobile users.
This is especially true in today’s era where businesses have redefined the way they conduct their operations and are encouraging employees to work remotely.
The mobile CRM experience will become more and more essential for workers to have a great working option.
With this new mobile CRM trend, users will be able to access CRM resources online, which means we’ll see more compact CRM resources with seamless online-offline interchangeable capabilities.
Mobile-compatible CRM features will make things a lot easier and more convenient, particularly for salespeople who are constantly on the road and have an ever-increasing need for effective communication.
9. Integration with IoT
Next on our list of CRM trends to know in 2021 is that CRM will be interwoven with technologies from the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is a massive domain that continues to impact virtually every industry. But, many have yet to leverage its potential.
This year, huge changes are expected in the integration of IoT technologies to help companies improve their management and use of data from IoT devices. This will help them provide a better customer experience.
CX is one of the major driving forces behind business success, and CRM tools with helpful data from IoT devices will provide companies with the means to foster better relationships with customers.
From simple devices, such as cybersecurity scanners, GPS systems, smart appliances, wearable health monitors, etc, to more advanced solutions for higher cost efficiencies, supply chain visibility, and organizational capabilities, there are billions of IoT devices worldwide.
Organizations can use these to gather data that will help them service their clients in innovative and proactive ways.
10. Dynamic User Interface
Another trend that should not be overlooked in 2021 is the need for dynamic user interfaces. CRMs continue to evolve, and there is a growing need to manage different functions in a single, convenient spot.
So, instead of using multiple systems for marketing, sales, service, and operations, we will now have CRM dashboards that are multifaceted and allow businesses to condense their tech stacks into a single platform so users can toggle between tasks, projects, and opportunities with the simple click.
The new trend in CRMs will be thanks largely to AI and will integrate everything from customer service tools and email software to customer data platforms, analytics, and marketing automation.
The technology will recognize a customer profile interacting with the business through various channels, which means the system will be able to handle simultaneous communications from one customer at different touchpoints.
As one marketer so aptly put it, “One software to rule them all”.
In other words, no more problematic juggling act. After an individual signs in, there won’t be a need to leave the CRM system.
By centralizing different customer interactions from various channels, CRM technology will be able to help companies smooth out their internal operations.
Service agents will have a single platform that has all the information required to connect with customers and preempt their needs, whenever necessary.
11. Analytic Features
85% of marketing executives believe that, by the end of 2021, analytics will be an integral part of CRM and play a pivotal part in decision-making.
Advanced analytical tools and CRM processes working together will make it easier for companies to identify challenges and quickly come up with effective solutions by analyzing the data and reporting on it in real-time.
This new trend will offer a wealth of actionable insights on everything from sales pipelines and lead generation to customer satisfaction, and much more.
There is a growing need for the analysis of data to better inform strategies for enhanced customer experiences, which is why we will soon see the rising integration of CRMs with big data and AI-powered analytics.
12. Flexible APIs
An API (application programming interface) is a software intermediary that integrates platforms together. APIs are used to connect applications through a series of requests and responses. For instance, tools that have SERP API integrated contain functionality that allows users to get organic data, featured snippets, knowledge graph and keywords data in real-time for any search engine.
In CRM, an API is a roadmap to customer intelligence and it’s the secret to capturing greater revenue growth.
APIs are facilitating a new era of integrated CRM systems that are innovative and data-driven.
Right now, almost every CRM offers APA features, with some being more mature and scalable than others. However, the trend of the future is for CRMs to offer higher levels of integrations.
There will be more advanced integrations with data sources and various other third-party apps to provide businesses with even more consumer intelligence and extend the functionality of the platform.
Having a flexible API will allow the business to create valuable records of customer preferences while developing successful strategies.
The technology enables cloud-based CRM platforms to more efficiently cater to the needs of sales and marketing personnel and provide a huge level of data-driven insights.
Furthermore, CRMs with advanced API integration will enable entirely new business models and allow for greater versatility in designing custom workflows, GUIs (graphic user interfaces), screen designs, and process steps.
CRM software will continue to improve in 2021 and beyond as technologies advance and the level of automation rises.
Keep an eye on the trends outlined here as they are set to bring the biggest changes to the industry in this and the coming years.
Are there any other CRM trends that you are currently keeping your eye on? Let us know in the comments below!
Ron Stefanski is an internet business expert and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market online businesses. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com