What is Ahead for CRM in 2024

Written by Val Riley – Insightly

Customer Relationship Management or CRM trends are a leading indicator of overall trends in SaaS. Why? Because, according to BigCommerce.com and many other historical accounts, CRM is commonly thought of as the first SaaS application that was ever available. Therefore, a quick look back in history shows that features and data sets available in CRM quickly permeate other areas of SaaS.

The CRM industry, like the rest of SaaS, has been experiencing rapid growth and constant change as businesses prioritize customer relationships and experience. With an ever-evolving technological landscape, CRM solutions are becoming increasingly essential for organizations seeking to maintain a competitive edge.

This blog post will explore the current trends in CRM and what’s to come in 2024.

CRM Trend: AI

If 2023 was the year to panic about AI, 2024 is the year to relax.

“AI is an ingredient, not an entree,” according to marketing strategist Jay Baer. Just like data, he says, you’ll find AI as a way to help you do your job better, not avoid your job altogether.

Another way to think about AI is that instead of stepping through a series of commands with a computer, it takes natural language from your input and ‘understands’ what you want. This is why it is often referred to as the word “smart.”

Most professionals in 2023 were worried about how and when to use AI in their day-to-day operations, but SaaS providers have essentially done that work for you.

Applications are releasing updates with AI functions built in. Maybe you’ve seen your marketing automation platform suggest a subject line for you? Maybe you’ve had your web publishing software provide a draft meta description? Is your chat bot able to supply answers based on inputs and context? This is AI showing up.

Rather than hopping into Jasper or ChatGPT, some users can access AI right in your CRM. AI technology allows CRM solutions to collect and analyze vast amounts of data from various sources, enabling businesses to gain deeper insights into customer preferences and behavior patterns.

What will AI look like in CRM? It will do tasks and make observations and recommendations to the humans who work within it.

  • Email content – Following up with a lead? Your AI-enabled CRM could soon find current news and social content about a company to help your email personalization
  • Sales forecasting – Beyond looking only at current data, AI-powered forecasting in your CRM could look at all data over time to provide a more accurate forecast.
  • Entering data – Tell your CRM (in natural language) to add a contact with this email address and remind me in two days to send that person a message. When your AI-enabled CRM understands your request, it could create the contact and set the reminder.

There are many areas to explore AI in CRM, and CRM providers are looking at which features to add that will bring the most value to end-users in 2024.

CRM Trend: Automation

CRMs want to continue to provide more value to their customers and enhancing automation capabilities will do just that. No one likes to do repetitive, manual tasks. People are by far the most expensive resource a company has, so when a CRM can promise to make those people more efficient, it pays for itself quickly.

Examples of CRM automation:

  • Welcome email:  A closed-won deal automatically kicks off a welcome email to your new customer.
  • Lead scoring: Automatically assign value to a lead based on attributes like industry, company size and geographic location.
  • Lead grading: Automatically assign value to a lead based on actions taken by that lead.
  • Lead assignment: Rather than have leads wait for a manual assignment, automate this process based on lead attributes.
  • Pre-renewal emails: Email customers in advance of their renewals to anticipate and resolve issues that might affect their satisfaction.

The trend in CRM is to look for more opportunities to automate and get those automations in place. With so many businesses reducing headcount, it’s the ideal time to get more ROI from your CRM, and automations are the way to do it.

The best way to take advantage of the automation power of your CRM is to set a call with your customer success representative and see what automations are most popular/common among other users. Then, get them rolling in your instance.

CRM Trend: Integrations for improved tracking

Another key trend in the CRM industry is the growing focus on omnichannel customer engagement. Today’s consumers interact with brands through various touch points such as websites, social media platforms, mobile apps, email campaigns, and in-person interactions. A robust CRM solution must provide cohesive, seamless experiences across all channels by integrating with other business systems like e-commerce platforms or customer support software. This level of connectivity ensures that companies can track customer interactions throughout their entire lifecycle and tailor strategies accordingly.

CRM Trend: CRM mobile apps

No mobile app? Then you’re not even on the CRM consideration list. Today’s CRM buyers won’t look at a CRM without a mobile app. Mobile app usage is on the rise as more customers and employees require access to CRM systems on their smartphones and tablets. Mobile CRM solutions help sales representatives stay connected with their clients while in the field and allow them to respond promptly to inquiries or service requests.

CRM providers know that they must provide seamless customer experiences across various devices and platforms. With the growing use of smartphones and tablets for browsing products or services or completing transactions, it becomes imperative for businesses to offer mobile-friendly CRM applications that enable users to access vital customer information on the go.

The 2024 and beyond trend is to ensure that CRM mobile apps continue to deliver the features and experience that on-the-go users need to be successful. Regular updates and enhancements are a must.

CRM Trend: Self-service options

As big tech lays off thousands of employees, it spurs the creation of new businesses. Out of the gate, these startups and small businesses need a CRM, but can’t afford an expensive, legacy system. A 2024 trend in CRM is to offer a freemium model that helps  businesses grow. These may be self-service options with knowledge bases and online communities available to help. This allows businesses to access a premium CRM but doesn’t increase the workload on the vendor’s customer support teams.

CRM Trend: Data Security and Privacy Compliance

With increasing regulations such as GDPR and CCPA, data security and privacy compliance are significant concerns in CRM.

Cyber threats are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated, so organizations must be prepared to protect sensitive information from breaches or unauthorized access. This goes beyond simply having firewalls or antivirus software — businesses will need comprehensive security strategies encompassing employee training on best practices for handling confidential data and monitoring systems that proactively detect and mitigate risks. They will only choose SaaS vendors who hold these same safeguards.

Your CRM contains information that you agree to hold secure, therefore your CRM vendor must have security protocols in place. Additionally, if you are the the healthcare space, HIPAA compliance is mandatory.

The CRM trend here is nothing new, but rather a continued focus on ensuring that the most current and effective tactics are in place with the CRM provider you choose.

CRM Trend: Reliable, affordable integrations

Integrating CRM systems with other business applications such as marketing automation, e-commerce platforms, and ERP systems is essential for streamlining operations. Businesses choosing a CRM in 2024 expect that integrations will be simple to execute and maintain. Gone are the days when legacy CRM providers could command hundreds of thousands of dollars in consulting fees to create and execute integrations. What was worse, is that when software updates would be released, integrations would break and those expensive integrators would be called back in to fix their work.

Today’s modern CRMs include drag and drop integration builders that require low or no code are the rule rather than the exception.

CRM Trend: Customer experience reigns

Customer experience is a holistic approach to improving the overall customer experience, including aspects beyond sales and support, was a key focus. It involved mapping the entire customer journey and identifying pain points.

According to research from Ascend2, 22% of companies say their tech stack doesn’t have the ability to help them improve CX (customer experience).

As budgets tighten, the buying committee’s conversation about any SaaS investment will include questions like, “What is the impact on our customers?” and “How will this impact our NPS (Net Promoter Score)?” Tech doesn’t solve a people problem, but it can support the people who address the problem. The applications that win purchase approval will be the ones that can demonstrate positive CX impact in 2024 and beyond. CRM is closely tied to CX, and therefore CRM providers will need to continue to show how specific features and use cases make CRM a smart investment.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.

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