AI’s Untapped Potential for CRM—and Why It Starts With IT
You know that enormous tech stack most companies deal with? Where does all that software come from? It all starts with IT.
Sure, sometimes the inspiration comes from the leadership team, sometimes it’s a specific department with a hankering to use the software. But no matter where the request came from, new software implementation isn’t going to happen until the IT department approves it.
Who’s Steering This Ship?
Information technology departments play an incredibly important role in any organization. Once IT signs off on software, an entire business unit can transform how it works. Likewise, if IT sees a problem with an existing layer of the tech stack, they are the surgeons who remove it. The IT department serves as the control room on the ship that is your company.
Sometimes, software doesn’t help everyone it ought to. It can be siloed, only bringing value to certain teams and individuals. This is what often happens with AI-powered CRM: 57 percent of CRM users say it’s fragmented across their organization, with some departments even using separate CRM tools.
But the truth is, AI for CRM has evolved in a huge way, and it’s time for IT to know about it. So, what are the untapped benefits of AI for CRM when it comes to the rest of the business?
It All Starts With Data
To understand the difficulty in implementing AI-powered CRM systems, we need to start with what’s holding companies back from using CRM in the first place.
Implementing any new software can be intimidating, scary even. Of the many fears that come with launching a CRM system, the volume of data to process leads the pack. This issue contributes to the fact that only 45 percent of organizations use a CRM system to store their lead and customer data, and less than 40 percent of companies have a CRM adoption rate of over 90 percent, according to CSO Insights.
The goal of any new software is that it improves operations, increases efficiency, and frees up teams to work on other items by automating existing processes. If a software tool gives teams a headache before they’ve had a chance to begin using it, it’s already off to a poor start.
Other issues adding to the stress of adding another technology to a company’s stack include the amount of employee time required, IT resourcing, and the effort required to set up new software and integrate into the team’s existing workflow.
These fears are not unwarranted because SaaS products have a history of long and painful implementation stages. Luckily, the time to implement has improved for newer CRM software and it’s easier than ever before.
Using AI for your CRM may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter which CRM you implement, you can bring in AI to support automation across the workflow, from inputting CRM data to putting that data to work.
Pretty soon, it will make a team wonder how they operated without it.
Turbocharge Your Operations
Once an AI-powered CRM is implemented, it saves teams hundreds of hours of time. Even better from an operational standpoint, it kicks off the insights that AI can extrapolate from all that clean and timely data.
Using AI for CRM means capturing all past contacts; organizing contacts; flagging incomplete and duplicate contacts; discovering contacts that might have been forgotten, lost, or neglected during employee transitions; and accurately identifying the relationships with the contact.
It also handles the problem of data decay. As contact information changes, the AI automatically cleans its data to reflect these changes.
Add the next layer of relationship mapping, and AI can help guide the optimal next steps with a contact, moving it from being a data management tool to a revenue accelerator. CRM without AI is like having a high-performance sports car but not using the turbo function. Sure, the car can be driven, but it’s not being experienced at the level and the way it was designed to. AI for CRM is the same way, and it helps to intelligently help employees to do their job better.
Not Just for Sales
Using AI for CRM benefits multiple departments beyond the sales team, including the customer success or service team, business development, marketing, product, and more. Having access to who’s who and how they interact with a company—as a recurring customer or a prospect that keeps getting dropped—can help you make smarter decisions about its products and services.
The best part is the more data an AI-powered CRM software has, the better the AI gets. Unfortunately, the larger a company, the more likely there’s a drop or disconnect in communication when it comes to customers. However, a company can use a consistent system to ensure all communications and relationships are accurately recorded to maximize its ability to retain or increase business.
The IT Advocate
But who sees across all these departments and knows which tools or software everyone is using? The IT department, of course.
The IT department is the unsung hero here, and if a company can streamline communication and improve business by using AI with their CRM, they’re doing a disservice by not recommending it internally. With AI, departments can see their contacts automated from their emails and existing CRM software and increase visibility and accountability beyond their business unit.
This transparency can go beyond customer-facing teams and be utilized by upper management as well as the engineering departments.
Transform Your Business
CRM itself is a valuable and highly recommended tool for any customer-facing role, but with AI, it becomes a companywide relationship asset that can transform how a company does business.
Retaining and increasing customers not only becomes easier, but also everyone gets an improved understanding of how a customer or prospect has interacted with your company which is a huge boon for marketing in particular. In addition, data from customer support interactions can help product and engineering teams understand user feedback and experience.
Using AI for CRM transforms CRM because it goes beyond data management and turns the software into an intelligent revenue accelerator.
Jody Glidden is cofounder and CEO of Introhive. Founded in 2012, Introhive is the fastest-growing B2B relationship intelligence and revenue acceleration platform. Glidden is an experienced business leader with start-up tenacity, public company rigor, and an innovative passion for technology. Introhive is the fifth company he’s been involved in founding and building, with three successful exits including Chalk Media, icGlobal, and Scholars.com.