When the year-end arrives, all of us find the incessant urge to recall the various things that happened, going down the memory lane and refresh the timeline to view the goals that were fulfilled with the passing year.
We live in the age of the customer, where consumers (not business executives) decide on how customer-centric companies are.
Since in 2018, among many other things, we understood that good customer experience can help to control cost, and so business executives in both small and large B2B organizations are presently more interested in their potential to fuel sustainable top-line growth.
Easy to use CRM software platforms like ConvergeHub is the foundation building block of an organization’s customer experience strategy to win, serve, and retain their customers, enabling organizations to integrate many new technologies and business strategies, which are constantly being rejuvenated by new trends.
Nowadays, consumers across all industries want to connect easily with companies to interact, make a purchase, or get services from organizations.
In a recent survey done by Forrester, it was found that:
More than 72% of consumers say that they value their time and consider it to be the most important thing that an organization can do to provide them with good service.
Therefore 2018 showed organizations that they must offer customers means to easily engage with them to foster an ongoing relationship based on omnichannel dialogue that can enhance loyalty and strengthen retention.
Here are a few notable trends that we saw in the B2B industry using CRM software in 2018:
CRMs Have Split Out By Vertical
In the past CRM has been largely kept as its own category of software, more like a separate companion to whatever other business systems, you are already using for your industry.
Implying, when you purchase an easy to use CRM platform, it does not necessarily mean that the software will have all the compatibility and functionalities for what you do every day.
However, over the last few years and more so in 2018, CRM companies have realized that there is a critical need for highly specialized CRM software platforms. Therefore, 2018 has been a year which showed the mushrooming growth of vertically specialized CRM solutions, which are specific to such B2B industries like Real Estate, Merchant Cash Advance business, E-commerce, Field Services, Legal and others.
It has been predicted by renowned CRM vendors and stalwarts that it is extremely likely that within the next 5-10 years CRM platforms will no longer come as a standalone solution, but will be a part of industry-specific requirements.
Personalized Workflow Automation Through AI Technology Platforms
Another most important and prominent advances that this year has shown, is that Artificial Intelligence will power up our CRM platforms to learn from our sales, marketing, and support rep’s interactions by analyzing data, helping AI to find answers to our questions, predict our requirements, or take care of forgotten and tedious tasks so that we can focus on more important issues.
2018 has been the take-offyear which illustrated how AI-powered CRM systems can access untapped and unseen activity patterns to uncover insights on leads or an existing customer, predict trends, and make critical decisions which will significantly reduce cold calls and save hours of work.
For example, in 2018 we have seen how B2B organizations will continue using AI-powered analytics to prescribe the right action for customer-facing employees and use prescriptive advice to identify high-quality leads, send relevant sales collaterals to the buyers, or use optimal discounting to maximize revenue per contract to enhance business growth.
This year has shown us how AI-powered rules can help pinpoint the right prospect, recommend issue resolutions, use machine learning and predictive analysis to uproot guesswork out of critical marketing decisions, help create appealing and innovative campaigns, and route leads to appropriate resources in the organization.
Businesses Are Supporting Digital Customer Journeys Evermore
The present year has seen a sporadic growth in personalized product recommendations, automated product configuration, price negotiations, and order taking. Even for post-purchase support, we have seen more B2B companies offering customer facilities for online issue submission, tracking and scheduling for service technicians, apart from exploring the value of offering automated conversational interactions with chat-bots and virtual agents.
Hence, small business CRM software platforms like ConvergeHub has taken a step ahead in 2018 for providing the right customer experience for the right customer at the right time in his or her customer journey.
Tighter Integration With External Tools
Another noteworthy trend that we have visualized this year is the improvement of tighter integrations of CRM software with external tools and services to improve the usage of small business CRM software systems.
CRM developers in 2018 are keen on understanding the need for industry-standard interfaces to connect multiple B2B solutions and services, integrating new technologies across sales, marketing, business accounts, and customer support.
For example, successful collaborations with accounting application like QuickBooks CRM that allow intelligent synchronization across platforms using REST-based APIs are the key to winning collaborations by permitting systems to effortlessly communicate with one another privately and securely for enhanced user productivity of the CRM software.
In the days to come, the future of CRM technology will definitely see the need for the growth of integrating mobile and web-based solutions with a CRM for using information from different but tightly related sources to generate meaningful relationship intelligence.
Social And Mobile CRM Are Flying High
This year has witnessed a surge in social CRM technology as CRM vendors have realized that the key to keeping your customers engaged lies in harnessing the power of social media channels for marketing and customer support.
This surge in the growth in social CRM technology and increasing emphasis on customer sentiment analysis and social influence in B2B organizations are factors that not going to determine where your business is today, but where you want to be a year from now, once the pace of sales and customer acquisition has gained its speed.
Moreover, in this time of change, CRM companies in 2018 have also recognized the need for enhanced mobile CRM technology as they have recognized most of their B2B customers want to be able to take their CRM system with them everywhere, as this year we can see creation of CRM brands that are solely available via app, focusing on mobile-first.
Big Data Is Getting Into The Legal Weeds
In the present times, B2B companies are now having an insane amount of information about their customers, data that could (in theory) be used to really invade someone’s personal life.
Therefore, governments across the world have started paying attention and growing interest in protecting their citizens from businesses’ interests in their personal lives.
The European Union, in particular, is interested in setting up laws surrounding adoption of Big Data in CRM technology, and so this year CRM users and vendors have started learning how they should be storing and collecting personal data of their customers, now that General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has come into effect to support the collection and management of personal data in a secure way.
Finally- CRM Adoption Will Rise
Looking for technology to help the CRM industry to overcome the adoption challenge (that has long been one of its greatest obstacles), 2018 has seen the rise of ‘Gamification’, by which several CRM vendors are making it more enjoyable for the B2B users to easily adopt this excellent and unparallel business tool.
By stimulating competition and participation while using the CRM software among employees, this year B2B organizations are driving engagement across the board, by applying easy to use gaming procedures to non-gaming business applications, which is the latest elements to motivate and inspire employees, praise their accomplishments, improve their performance and eventually maximize returns for business growth.
Do you have any other ideas of new trends that we saw in the B2B industry using CRM software in 2018? Share it with us in the comments section below!