Is your team unprepared for the future of CRM technology? Do features like AI, customer intelligence, etc., intimidate you?
If so, you’re in the right place! Numerous companies worry about future CRM trends because they’re worried they’re too advanced for their skills.
Hi, my name is AJ! After selling my company for multiple seven figures, I launched Small Business Bonfire to help aspiring entrepreneurs find success!
Every one of my businesses has used a CRM platform, embracing each new advancement to streamline business operations.
Keep reading if you want to learn why future CRM technology is nothing to be afraid of and how to prepare for it!
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A Brief History of CRM Software
Before knowing where customer relationship management software is headed in the future, it’s vital to understand the history of CRM.
Remember, a CRM aims to help companies create better customer relationships.
A primary factor in creating and maintaining better relationships is having organized records.
Therefore, the first taste of CRM technology occurred in the 1950s when companies began using the Rolodex.
A Rolodex helped businesses create separate cards with vital customer information, including the following details:
- Relevant personal details
So, when a sales rep needed to pull up a customer record and learn about their profile briefly, the Rolodex was there to save the day!
The Rolodex also kept each record alphabetically, ensuring sales and customer service teams could find each record quickly.
As technology advanced and computers became more available to business owners, companies would store customer profiles digitally.
In the 1970s, the price of computers decreased dramatically, meaning smaller businesses could access the technology!
The first computers focused on maintaining the following types of information:
- Accounting records
- Stock exchanges
- Government departments
- Company records
- Client information profiles
The Rolodex and the first computers were integral in creating today’s CRM systems.
Speaking of those systems, the first beginnings of customer relationship management as we know it today began in the 1980s.
Robert and Kate Kestnbaum introduced database marketing, a form of direct marketing that considered customer data to make decisions.
Database marketing quickly gained popularity, introducing new concepts such as:
- Customer lifetime value
- Predictive analysis
- Lead scoring
- Channel management
Eventually, the first automated CRM system, ACT (Automated Contact Tracking), was created!
ACT paved the way for more advances in CRM platforms, including CRM as a product.
In the 1990s, several products that managed a company’s relevant data began to emerge.
Companies like Goldmine and Maximiser started selling this software, so it was affordable for small businesses.
Eventually, these off-the-shelf CRM systems took off! And by the end of the 1990s, two significant changes happened with CRM software:
- Companies like Salesforce started offering a CRM system on the cloud
- Companies like Siebel started offering mobile and e-CRM products
In the 21st Century, CRM software continues to advance rapidly!
While some people believed the CRM market would have been saturated by now, more companies are offering tailored resources for new CRM users.
The most significant change with CRM systems is that the software lives on the cloud.
Therefore, CRM platforms are much more accessible to small businesses!
Additional changes in CRM platforms include the following:
- Third-party integrations: Companies can connect outside software, allowing teams to customize their software to meet their needs.
- Social media: Many CRM systems have social media integrations, ensuring sales and marketing teams learn more about their target demographic
- Mobile CRM: Mobility allows employees to access their CRM system wherever they are, whether in the office or out of town.
- Customizations: Most CRM platforms allow users to customize and adjust color schemes, layouts, and other details.
In the next section, we’ll look at the future of CRM and how artificial intelligence (AI) plays a role!
What is The Future of AI in CRM?
AI is set to change the landscape of CRM software dramatically.
For instance, artificial intelligence aims to make CRM systems more innovative, efficient, and personal!
Here are five key ways in which AI will reshape the future of CRM:
AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and identify patterns.
As a result, this allows businesses to predict customer behavior and preferences better!
Predictive analytics will empower companies to target their marketing efforts more effectively.
Also, AI’s predictive capabilities will make sales teams more efficient because agents aren’t the ones sifting through large chunks of information.
Therefore, sales reps can focus on what they do best: building meaningful relationships and closing deals!
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
Chatbots and virtual assistants are AI-powered tools that can interact with customers 24/7.
Therefore, companies can provide instant customer service and support!
Offering immediate customer service does the following things:
- Improves the customer experience
- Frees up staff to focus on more complex tasks
Also, chatbots and virtual assistants collect information about the customer service process.
Therefore, teams can learn the following things:
- The most popular questions people have
- The most common complaint
- Strategies that are most and least effective
- Response time
- How many inquiries are handled
The information CRM artificial intelligence collects ensures customer support teams constantly improve their techniques!
Teams can use AI to deliver a hyper-personalized experience to customers.
AI can help tailor promotions, recommendations, and communication to each customer by analyzing past interactions.
Why is personalization important?
In today’s world, consumers expect a personalized shopping experience to feel like a brand is listening to them.
Therefore, offering personalization at as many touchpoints as possible can increase conversions!
Customer Segmentation and Targeting
AI can help segment customers into precise groups based on the following attributes:
- Purchasing behavior
- Website interactions
- Social media activity
- Effective marketing campaigns
Segmenting a large group into smaller ones can help businesses tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to specific segments for better results!
Automated Data Entry
AI can automate the data entry tasks.
When companies allow AI to take over data entry, it leads to the following things:
- Reduces human error
- Frees up time for employees to focus on more strategic, creative tasks
Automated data entry will lead to more accurate and up-to-date customer data in the CRM system.
Typically, when marketing or sales reps have to manually enter data, they get bored quickly.
Also, data entry takes up a considerable amount of time!
Therefore, allowing AI to handle these repetitive, mundane tasks is beneficial for everyone.
What Is the Future of CRM?
What’s in store for the future of CRM?
Fortunately, we have a lot to look forward to!
From more AI integrations to more accurate lead scoring, CRM software is only getting better.
Below, I’ve listed some of the advancements you and your team can expect shortly!
Increased Sales & Marketing Alignment
One significant way CRM platforms will enhance is by aligning sales and marketing teams better!
How will the software create this alignment? Through shared metrics and goals.
For instance, both teams can track and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) by operating on the same platform, improving mutual understanding and collaboration.
On top of that, CRM solutions will streamline communication between the departments with shared contacts, notes, and task assignments that foster transparency!
Why is it necessary for marketing and sales teams to be on the same page?
When these departments work independently, the following things can happen:
- Poor customer experiences
- Slower communication
- Data silos
- Messages that aren’t cohesive
- Inaccurate data
So, getting your marketing and sales operations on the same page is crucial if you want to avoid these costly mistakes!
AI is at the heart of the future of CRM.
AI integrations will significantly enhance CRM technology by automating routine tasks.
As a result, teams can focus on strategic work rather than mundane tasks!
Further, AI-enhanced CRM will feature the following features:
- Better predictive analytics
- More accurate forecasting of customer behavior and trends. Refined customer segmentation
- More targeted and effective marketing campaigns
By leveraging AI, a CRM platform can deliver hyper-personalized experiences, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Also, AI integrations will enhance customer service via chatbots, providing 24/7 instant support and continuously learning from customer interactions to improve future responses.
As powerful as AI currently is, CRM providers are continually developing this technology.
So, you can count on better customer services and predictive features in the future!
Business Intelligence (BI) is set to drastically enrich the capabilities of CRM technology.
For example, BI tools will synthesize a vast array of data points, such as:
- Customer interactions
- Engagement metrics
As a result of organizing this information, it will facilitate a more profound understanding of customer behavior and sentiments.
Further, this wealth of information will empower businesses to tailor their products, services, and communication more effectively, improving customer satisfaction and retention.
On top of that, the predictive capabilities of BI can facilitate proactive customer service, allowing businesses to anticipate and address issues before they escalate.
Lastly, integrating BI with a CRM strategy will offer real-time insights and analytics.
With real-time data updates, companies can adapt to rapidly changing market conditions!
Mobile-friendly CRM is undeniably an aspect of the future of CRM.
As the world becomes increasingly mobile-centric, a mobile-friendly CRM platform will allow teams to do the following things:
- Access customer data
- Follow up on leads
- Manage their tasks on the go
As you can imagine, when teams can work from anywhere, their productivity rates go through the roof!
More importantly, mobile CRM can deliver real-time customer insights, enabling teams to respond promptly to customer needs and market changes.
By incorporating mobile features, CRM platforms will offer the flexibility and immediate access required in the fast-paced business world!
Increased CRM Adoption
The future of CRM firmly hinges on increased adoption across all sectors and sizes of business.
A greater uptake will allow for the following things to happen:
- More comprehensive data collection
- Better data analysis
- Deeper insights into customer behavior and needs
Also, widespread CRM adoption will nurture a customer-centric culture, with businesses focusing on delivering a personalized customer experience.
Ultimately, this trend will advance customer relationship management, making it a standard business practice integral to operational success.
Deeper Customer Insights
Future CRM systems will provide deeper customer insights by harnessing the power of large-scale data collection and sophisticated analytics.
These systems will be capable of tracking and analyzing diverse customer interactions across multiple platforms.
As a result, business leaders will gain a more comprehensive understanding of customer behavior.
This information allows businesses to fine-tune their strategies to meet customer needs and preferences.
On top of that, integrating artificial and business intelligence tools within CRM systems will enable more accurate predictive analysis!
More Robust Customer Data
Future CRM systems are set to offer more robust customer data through advanced analytics and data collection capabilities.
For instance, these systems will leverage AI and BI to capture and analyze a broad spectrum of customer interaction data across diverse platforms.
These platforms include the following:
- Social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter/X, TikTok, etc.)
- Website Activity
- Other online activity
Collecting data from various sources will ensure a 360 customer view of their behavior, needs, and preferences.
As a result, businesses can personalize their offerings more effectively.
Lastly, integrating real-time analytics will ensure the data is continually updated, keeping businesses in sync with rapidly evolving customer trends!
Better Customer Segmentation
The future of CRM holds promising advancements in customer segmentation driven by AI and BI capabilities.
For example, enhanced data collection and analytics will allow businesses to categorize customers into more specific segments based on the following aspects:
- Online behavior
- Previous purchase history
- Social media and website interactions
This holistic segmentation will enable businesses to tailor their marketing and communication strategies more accurately to each customer group.
Further, real-time updates and predictive analysis will continually refine customer segments.
As a result, businesses can stay ahead of changing key trends and needs!
Increased Lead Scoring
Enhanced lead scoring is another exciting prospect in the future of customer relationship management.
Lead scoring advancements will allow businesses to assign more accurate and dynamic scores to leads based on various parameters, including:
- Online behavior
- Purchase history
- Engagement level
Better lead scoring will lead to a more efficient and effective sales process!
On top of that, more accurate lead scoring will help businesses do the following things:
- Prioritize high-potential leads
- Optimize their conversion strategies
- Streamline the entire sales cycle
- Ensure teams utilize their time and resources effectively
Single Source of Truth (SSOT)
The Single Source of Truth (SSOT) represents a significant advancement in CRM technology.
SSOT streamlines customer data handling by consolidating all information into a unified, reliable source.
As a result of keeping everything in a single platform, it eliminates inconsistencies and redundancies.
Also, this unified data platform will empower businesses to make data-driven decisions more swiftly and accurately!
When companies can keep everything in a single, organized location, the customer experience and business operations will improve.
Better API Integrations
Better API integrations play a crucial role in the development of CRM because they facilitate seamless data interchange between software platforms and the CRM system.
Better API integrations will enhance the CRM’s ability to consolidate and analyze customer data from various sources.
As a result, customer profiles will be more comprehensive and accurate.
Also, improved API integrations can lead to the following things:
- Streamlined processes
- The ability to eliminate data silos
- Better promotion of operational efficiency by allowing different business applications to work in conjunction
Finally, a CRM platform can adapt and scale more effectively to changing business needs and technology advancements with better API integrations!
Deeper, Better Automation
Lastly, as CRMs continually improve, you can expect automation features to get more in-depth.
Currently, CRMs offer automation features such as:
- Sending email reminders to team members and customers
- Sending reminders for meetings, follow-ups, etc.
- Posting on social media
- Entering customer information after they submit a form
While these tools are undoubtedly helpful, CRM providers aim to advance these automation features to improve the customer experience even more!
For instance, future automation tools may include things like:
- Automatic updates to the sales funnel to improve performance
- Real-time updates of individual and team-wide performance
- More in-depth messaging to improve customer retention
- Automatic website updates to improve functionality
You can anticipate better customer intelligence features that improve efficiency!
How to Future-Proof Your CRM
As you’ve seen, CRM platforms will advance drastically!
With customer intelligence and advanced reporting features, CRMs will be more powerful than we can imagine.
So, as this transformation occurs, how can you and your team support these changes?
Here are three ways to “future-proof” your CRM, ensuring you’re prepared for the upcoming changes!
Let’s take a look.
Choose the Right CRM
First things first, setting your business up for the future demands you choose the right CRM!
Although selecting the best-suited CRM can take time, choosing the WRONG platform costs time and money.
Are you wondering how to choose a CRM that’s right for your company?
Some aspects to consider and look for when browsing providers include the following:
- Ease of use and implementation
- The industry the program is designed for
- Third-party integrations
- Customization features
Also, ensure you consult your entire team when choosing a CRM!
That way, each department gets the features they need in order to perform their jobs more efficiently.
Start Centralizing Client Communication
Another strategy to future-proof your CRM is to start centralizing customer communication as soon as possible.
When companies centralize customer communication, they can communicate efficiently with every single one of their contacts.
The best way to centralize communication is to look for a CRM provider with email integration.
Email integrations allow teams to do the following things:
- Automatically log the emails your team sends
- Keep track of all your interactions with potential and existing clients
- Utilize personalized email templates to save time and customize communication
Centralizing communication comes with several advantages because CRM data is extremely powerful!
For instance, when teams keep customer communications in one place, the following things can happen:
- Teams can meet customer expectations.
- Every department can access the same customer profiles with real-time updates.
- There is less confusion
- Teams can build more in-depth customer profiles
One way to get ready for all the amazing CRM trends is to get your communications in one central location!
Automate Sales Processes
Lastly, teams can future-proof their CRM by automating sales processes.
Sales teams spend considerable time on administrative tasks, such as:
- Sending emails
- Scheduling meetings
- Follow up with prospects
- Cold calling
- Manual data entry
However, CRMs can now automate several of these repetitive tasks, freeing up your sales department’s time!
When teams choose the right CRM tool for their needs, they can see a summary of the sales pipeline and daily activities.
Therefore, these summaries ensure each sales agent is on the same page.
When everyone is on the same page, the following things can happen:
- More timely follow-ups with prospects
- Fewer sales leads slip through the cracks
- More streamlined sales activities
- More efficient employees
Further, sales processes aren’t the only form of business operations that can be automated.
Several tasks in the customer service and marketing department can also be automated with CRM!
Looking Ahead for Small Businesses
So, is CRM software still advancing? Yes!
However, these changes aren’t anything to be afraid of. In fact, small business owners should be excited about these advances because they’ll allow their company to compete with larger enterprises.
The most exciting advancements include automation features and more in-depth customer data!
What CRM advancements are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section!