• January 7, 2019

More Experts Weigh In on What 2019 Will Bring for CRM

In the January/February issue of CRM magazine, we featured an Insight article, titled "What Will 2019 Bring for CRM?," in which we highlighted some of the predictions that CRM industry insiders have made for marketing, sales, and customer service in 2019. Since that article went to press, many more pundits have reached out with a few predictions of their own. Below are some of them:

"As we shift towards a single customer view, there will be a breakdown in what's considered digital marketing. As marketers are forced to focus on the individual customer journey rather than the channel, silos within the marketing channel will disappear entirely and teams will be set up more along the lines of customer acquisition or customer retention consisting of different skill sets rather than channel ownership." --- Cat Prestipino, chief marketing officer at Employment Hero.

"Historically, digital marketers have thought about personalization and conversion rate optimization as separate things, and in 2019 the lines will blur significantly. Marketers will increase use of artificial intelligence-based tools to optimize conversion rates to yield better results than the current winner-take-all approaches that treat all prospects the same. In 2019, we will also see time-starved marketing leaders use machine learning to automate more of the rote work their teams do." --- Guy Yalif, CEO of Intellimize.

"Great digital marketing communications are built on the foundation of intelligently designed customer communications journeys that feed into well-crafted full customer experiences. Marketers must start to realize digital marketing is just part of marketing, and smart marketers will start to use large networks, like Instagram and Facebook, to help with the awareness/brand layer of their customer journeys, as well as the bottom-of-the-funnel, call-to-action response advertising." --- Justin Cannon, CEO of Cooperate.

"2019 will be the death of the phone as a primary customer service channel, as digital customer service gains ground. The shift from voice-based customer service to digital is moving quicker than most realize, creating a space for asynchronous, messaging-based services to thrive. AI and bot-based automation will see an increase in adoption as a result." --- Abinash Tripathy, founder and chief strategy officer at Helpshift.

"Increased focus on hyper-personalization was a major highlight of 2018. Enterprises strove to provide the best customer experience by offering the right content to the right customer at the right time and via channel of their choice. In 2019, companies will focus on their data management strategies and use modern data management technologies to create reliable data foundations. They will keep investing in artificial intelligence/machine learning technologies to learn about their customers to offer better targeted information." --- Ajay Khanna, vice president of marketing at Reltio.

"On average, sales reps spend 64 percent of their time on non-selling tasks, like data entry. In 2019, sales reps will maximize the time they spend selling by taking advantage of automated data capture." --- Robin Grochol, vice president of product management, Salesforce Sales Cloud.

"Traditionally customer service has been about reacting to problems: Now, with the rise of connected, with AI being used to support customer service agents in their jobs, with advancements in the workflow capabilities of customer service technologies, and a host of other innovations, we are now seeing customer service fundamentally re-orient from reactive to proactive. In 2019, we'll see more companies resolving problems almost at the point of origin, often doing so without the customer even having to report it, which will lead to more uptime and, most important, happy customers." --- Bill Patterson, executive vice president and general manager of Salesforce Service Cloud.

"2018 was the year of [the General Data Protection Regulation] (GDPR) and data breaches. In 2019, IT will take a lead role in rebuilding trust with consumers that their data is only being used to give them the great experiences they deserve, and that it's being done in a secure manner. This is no easy task, however, and it will require IT to take a lead role in creating the necessary boundaries that ensure data is ONLY being used to provide personalized, contextual experiences to consumers, while they establish the right services to ensure they know exactly where that data resides and what's being done with it." --- Anne DelSanto, executive vice president and general manager of platform at Salesforce.

"With GDPR now in effect and the very real possibility of similar regulations in the U.S. and elsewhere, companies now absolutely have to finally take control of their customer data. It's crucial that each organization have an air traffic controller who can unify that data, partner with IT to roll out systems for customer data management and security, establish the right processes, and partner with customer experience teams to ensure customer data is being surfaced across teams appropriately."; --- Patrick Stokes, senior vice president of product management, Salesforce Customer 360.

"Companies that prioritize experiences, both offline and online, will continue to differentiate through exceptional CX. Best-in-class brands will provide hyper-personalized experiences to meet the ever-evolving customer expectations associated with the feeling of a brand truly knowing them, which translates to perceived value for the customer and loyalty to the brand. We can expect to see companies investing in people, processes, and technologies that drive hyper-personalized experiences as a differentiation strategy." --- Janelle Estes, chief insights officer at UserTesting.

"CX is no longer a niche role, but the evolution must continue. Successful customer experience professionals will position themselves as the CX coach within their companies. Stand-alone CX departments simply add another silo, which is the last thing any business needs! The time has come for CX experts to advise, guide, and support other teams by providing the insight they need to take action to make smarter decisions and faster actions." --- Claire Sporton, senior vice president of customer experience innovation at Confirmit.

"Customer service agents will play a more strategic role as machine learning-based applications become widely adopted. In 2019, as machine learning is applied and AI becomes integrated into contact center technology systems, customer service agents will be able to focus on having more intelligent, authentic conversations with customers, rather than performing rote actions. Businesses will be more visible on messaging apps like WhatsApp, Apple iMessage, and Facebook Messenger. 2019 will be the year when business use will accelerate, as these apps open up to developers. Businesses will use these apps as new channels to engage customers into conversations with richer experiences, such as Instagram-style stories." --- Devang Sachdev, director of product marketing, Twilio Flex.

"Despite fear-mongering claims that seem to run rampant, 2019 will not be the year that bots take over the world. In customer service, for example, chatbots are helping lighten the load of agents by taking on the simple, repetitive questions that plague their days, but human agents are still a crucial component for those complicated questions, and more sensitive engagements will always need a human touch. That is not something that AI will be able to replace. AI cannot replace the flexibility and empathy of a person, and it won't." ---Ryan Lester, director of customer engagement technologies at LogMeIn.

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