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11 CRM Trends for 2020: Top Predictions to Watch Out For

Category: B2B News

These days, having the best products and services isn’t enough to ensure business profitability. Building relationships with customers to foster loyalty and retention, for instance, can significantly influence your bottom line. Customer relationship management remains a huge part of the game, and staying ahead of CRM trends can help give your business an edge over the competition. 

Running a business is difficult enough, so we’ve done some of the research for you. In this article, we’ve gathered the top CRM trends you should know for 2020 and beyond. You can use this forecast as a guide for what to expect from CRM platforms in the future

crm trends web main

The customer may not always be right, but it never hurts to cultivate positive relationships with customers. This is why the CRM software market continues to enjoy robust growth. In 2017 alone, the market managed to take the top spot from database management systems as the largest software market. By 2025, the global CRM market is expected to grow to an impressive $81.9 billion

CRM Global Revenue by Vendor

BILLION DOLLARS

Salesforce

SAP

Oracle

Adobe

Microsoft

Others

Source: Statista 2018

Designed by

The demand for CRM software solutions grows as companies seek new ways to analyze information from a growing customer base and develop customer service into maturity. Along with its growth, CRM continues to evolve, as well. The top CRM trends 2020 involve technology and its capabilities to aggregate customer data and transform the customer experience. B2B CRM trends also predict the rise of CRM solutions for specific vertical markets, like healthcare and manufacturing.

1. The merging of big data, AI-powered analytics, and CRM

The success of CRM relies on data, which drives the personalization of customer experience. These solutions are evolving to make it easier for users to collect data on leads and contacts, with systems applying real-time updates to this information whenever possible. Big data and customer data platform software also make it possible for CRM to facilitate a continuous flow of data. 

Trends in CRM systems point to these platforms soon being able to collect and analyze customer data from various touchpoints, including sales, marketing campaigns, social media, and contact centers. Furthermore, the most advanced CRM software has evolved to bridge the gap between big data and strategies, and the rest of the market is expected to follow suit. 

Cutting-edge CRM tools will soon provide companies with data-driven, 360-degree insights on their customers, and a single, unified view of the customer experience. As a result, marketing strategies and customer retention schemes can be powered by customer data that are as accurate as can be.

Want to learn more about big data? Check out our article on the top big data trends for 2020.

Companies can also look forward to CRM platforms that harness the power of artificial intelligence for analytics. The technology fuels predictive analytics, enhancing CRM software’s capabilities to provide forecasts out of the data it collects. Through AI-powered analytics, CRM tools can provide real-time insights on customer behavior, identifying buying patterns that can be turned into conversion opportunities. 

Key takeaways:

  • The integration of big data allows CRM platforms to provide a continuous flow of data.
  • More CRM software solutions will also be able to consolidate data from various touchpoints.
  • Artificial intelligence will soon allow CRM tools to provide advanced analytics.

2. From omnichannel to one-channel

Most CRM strategies focus on an omnichannel or a multi-channel approach, where companies make themselves available on communication channels commonly used by customers. These strategies have their benefits, as they allow companies to maximize customer engagement. The omnichannel strategy also makes the customer experience seamless, even as customers move from channel to channel.

However, CRM trends for 2020 indicate a growing movement towards a single-channel approach to CRM. CRM experts predict that these communication channels will soon be unified into a single piece of software that handles all channels. This streamlines workflows for sales and customer service agents. They’ll no longer have to switch between multiple channels to maintain communication with customers.

Such trends put less focus on the channels customers use and emphasize the importance of making a connection with the customer. By centralizing customer interactions across various channels, advanced CRM technology can help companies smoothen out internal operations. Service agents get a single platform with all the information they need to preempt customer needs if necessary.

The future may even make it possible for companies to have a “channel-less” CRM strategy. This is largely thanks to artificial intelligence. The technology will be able to recognize the same customer profile interacting with the company through different channels. Such systems can handle even simultaneous communications from the same customer at various touchpoints.

Which customer service channel do customers prefer?

Email

%

Phone

%

Contact Forms

%

Live Chat

%

Source: Hubspot, 2019

Designed by

Key takeaways:

  • CRM strategies will soon move from omnichannel to single-channel.
  • Single-channel CRM will streamline internal operations for companies.
  • Channel-less CRM platforms may also be developed soon.

3. Artificial intelligence is coming to CRM

There’s much hype surrounding artificial intelligence these days, and CRM won’t be spared from the trend. In fact, some estimates see AI associated with CRM activities will push global business revenue by $1.1 trillion by the end of 2021

Market reports also say that AI in the CRM market will be worth around $72.9 billion in the next couple of years

The most significant changes AI will bring to CRM involves automation and the improvement of existing conversational tools. AI enables CRM in automating time-consuming manual tasks, which, in turn, result in improved productivity for service agents. In the next few years, AI-powered CRM chatbots will be able to use data points to predict customers’ next questions or make predictions about additional information customers may need. These insights will help service agents to be more proactive about resolving customer issues. 

Conversational features of chatbots are currently limited to basic inquiries, but AI has the potential to push these limits further. With AI and machine learning, advanced chatbots may be able to execute the next best action while handling multiple queries. Through natural language processing, these chatbots will be sophisticated enough that customers won’t be able to tell if they’re talking to a machine. 

If you want to learn more about AI applications in CRM, check out our article on how AI is changing the face of CRM.

Key takeaways:

  • By 2020, AI will augment the primary sales processes of 30% of all companies.
  • AI will boost productivity by automating time-consuming manual tasks.
  • AI-powered chatbots will also be able to predict customers’ needs and make recommendations to service agents.

4. CRM will harness the power of voice technology

With Salesforce investing in Einstein Voice Assistant and other CRM leaders like SAP following suit, voice technology is expected to make even bigger waves for CRM systems. Voice engagement is looking to be one of the next frontiers CRM platforms will be exploring, with Microsoft and Salesforce providing funding to Tact.ai, a company that owns smart voice assistant technology for B2B enterprises.

Experts expect CRM platforms to utilize voice technology with AI and machine learning. This way, CRM systems provide their customers not only with data but also insights and analytics. 

crm and voice technology

Key takeaways:

  • Leading CRM platforms are investing in smart voice assistant technology.
  • CRM platforms must also offer voice technology with AI and machine learning to provide both data and insights.

5. A new customer journey through AR & VR

Immersive technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality can change the way companies engage their customers. AR and VR are also quickly becoming realities in experiential marketing, and CRM with these technologies will give companies a distinct edge. 

For instance, the retail sector is starting to see the adoption of AR and VR technology. Several retailers have begun using smart mirrors, while some furniture stores allow customers to use virtual reality in browsing and “trying out” products. 

CRM platforms that integrate AR and VR give companies more advanced tools for marketing campaigns and sales. Such tools can greatly enhance the buyer experience and can mean the difference in conversion success. These technologies can play a crucial role in transforming buying behavior, which companies can leverage in their favor. 

Augmented reality also offers the potential for improving the efficiency of sales training and coaching. AR hardware can provide real-time information that employees can use in the hands-on application of knowledge and skills. The same hardware can be used to provide trainees real-time remote assistance from more qualified experts when needed. 

new customer journey through AR

Key takeaways:

  • AR and VR are changing the way companies engage customers.
  • The retail sector is starting to adopt these technologies.
  • Augmented reality can also make internal employee training more efficient.

6. CRM fits right into IoT

We’ve already talked about how customer engagement can benefit from CRM’s integration into the Internet of Things (IoT), and it looks like companies will be reaping these benefits soon. 

According to experts, IoT will continue to make significant improvements in the way CRM is done. Research predicts that IoT devices will grow in number to 39 billion by 2025. Advanced CRM systems are taking advantage of this trend by incorporating connections to IoT feeds from devices. These smart devices can provide a treasure trove of insights on customer use, and companies can leverage these insights to deliver not only improved customer service but also more personalized marketing campaigns.

For instance, customers can use IoT devices to relay information about product issues and maintenance to the concerned company. Similarly, IoT-connect CRM software can help companies proactively detect product performance issues and identify potential problems with customer satisfaction. 

Key takeaways:

  • IoT devices will grow to 39 billion by 2025.
  • Advanced CRM platforms are already connecting to feeds from IoT devices.
  • Customers will soon be able to use IoT devices to send company information on product performance issues.

7. CX is king

The customer experience (CX) continues to shape the future of CRM. This is true for both the companies that use CRM and the customers of these companies. 

Usability has always been a challenge to CRM platforms, so the most successful CRM systems of the future will have an interface that focuses on ease of use. Experts predict that CRM systems will soon evolve to be simpler to use, making data easier to access and analyze. We may also see CRM features that will make it more convenient for sales and customer service agents to initiate contact with customers. 

With CRM platforms becoming easier to use, companies can also be expected to provide improved, more personalized customer service. These systems will be able to provide content that accurately fulfills customers’ needs and guides them deeper into the marketing funnel. Companies can expect this focused targeting and intelligent segmentation from CRM systems of the future.

cx is king

Key takeaways:

  • Good CX remains a crucial aspect of effective CRM strategies.
  • CRM platforms will soon evolve to be easier to use.
  • With user-friendly CRM platforms, companies can also provide more personalized customer service.

8. Tailor-made CRM for vertical markets

According to experts, the next step in the evolution of CRM may involve a degree of verticalization. As CRM grows, platforms will evolve to be more niche-oriented.

New systems aimed explicitly at vertical markets may even be developed. Existing vertical CRM will soon offer more advanced features. Highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance, and manufacturing may soon be able to choose from a variety of CRM platforms that have built-in functions to ensure that companies meet industry regulations. 

For instance, CRM is projected to play a bigger role in revolutionizing the healthcare industry’s use of technology. EHR software already fulfills record-keeping needs for the industry. Still, healthcare workers and HMOs may soon be able to enjoy using platforms that integrate call center functions for automatically contacting patients when they’re discharged.

Key takeaways:

  • The verticalization of CRMs may be more evident in the coming years.
  • Highly regulated industries like healthcare and manufacturing stand to benefit from niche-oriented CRMs.

9. More powerful CRM through integrations

According to a Salesforce study, marketers used as many as 12 sources of data in 2018. Future CRM platforms will offer more advanced integrations with these data sources and other third-party software to provide even more information on customers and expand platform functionality. 

By being integrated with other business systems and data sources like software for marketing automation and analytics, CRM platforms will be able to track external interactions with customers. This way, companies get a unified view of the customer journey and deliver more relevant, usable data. 

Once CRM is integrated with various types of accounting tools, companies can streamline the billing process and get more ways to implement customer segmentation. As we’ve previously stated, IoT devices also offer a multitude of integration possibilities that CRM companies can take advantage of. 

CRM Integration with Marketing Technology

Companies with full integration Companies with partial integration Companies with no integration
Companies with full integration (52%) Companies with partial integration (39%) Companies with no integration (9%)

Source: Salesforce

Designed by

Key takeaways:

  • CRM platforms will soon offer more advanced integrations with third-party business systems.
  • As a result, CRM systems will provide a unified view of the customer journey.
  • IoT devices will also offer a wealth of integration opportunities for CRM.

10. Mobile and social CRM gain momentum

Mobile CRM and social CRM are not new technologies, and these are only going to gain momentum in 2020 and beyond. Advancements in mobile technology and customers’ increasing need for constant connectivity indicate a push for CRM platforms to provide more mobile functionalities.

In the future, more CRM systems will provide the full experience on smartphones, tablets, and other devices that can be connected to the Internet. More importantly, these systems will be able to provide complete functionality without compromising the security of user data. 

Plus, with the prevalence of social media, it’s understandable why social CRM poses widespread adoption in the future. Many CRM systems today offer integrations with Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, but future platforms may offer integrations with more social media platforms and networks.

Facebook and Twitter Users Who Expect a Same-Day Response from Companies

71%

Facebook

83%

Twitter

Source: Nucleus Research

Designed by

Key takeaways:

  • More CRM systems will provide full mobile functionality.
  • CRM platforms will also offer integrations with more social networks.
  • Employees report productivity gains from mobile and social CRM.

11. A new type of CRM user

As millennials take over the workplace, the user base of CRM software shifts to a younger generation. Twenty-eight percent of millennials think that CRM software is critical to their success, while only 18% of Generation X and 9% of Baby Boomers share the same point of view. This trend may be further influenced by the tendency of today’s businesses to be more tech-centric.

Freelancers may also be a growing user segment from CRM, as more freelancer tools are providing CRM functionalities. 

new type of CRM user

Key takeaways:

  • Compared to other age groups, more millennials think CRM software is critical to their success.
  • Freelancers also make up an active market for CRM platforms.

Enjoy the benefits of advanced CRM systems

CRM commands a massive share of the software market, and it’s only going to grow bigger in the coming years. By getting ahead of these CRM trends, you’ll find out which features to look for in a CRM platform for your business.

You can also make sure you choose the best CRM software for your business by checking out our article on the most common mistakes in choosing CRM software

CRM companies themselves can also use these trends to gain insights on what customers expect from CRM platforms. Voice assistants and more user-friendly interfaces, for instance, are two of the most important features CRM companies can look into when developing their products. 

By Jenny Chang

Senior writer at FinancesOnline who writes about a wide range of SaaS and B2B products, including trends and issues on e-commerce, accounting and customer service software. She’s also covered a wide range of topics in business, science, and technology for websites in the U.S., Australia and Singapore, keeping tabs on edge tech like 3D printed health monitoring tattoos and SpaceX’s exploration plans.

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