Anyone who has gone through the pain and suffering associated with implementing new CRM software knows the potential cost of discovering too late that the wrong choice was made. Often the error occurred on the front end, when not enough time was spent documenting business requirements and searching for — and testing — potential solutions to ensure they could adequately fulfill those requirements before selecting the winning solution. The stakes are high: Wrong choices can not only mean lost revenue and productivity, but can also cause someone to lose their job.
How can retailers keep up with the competition when they have older CRM solutions with limited functionality? Or, even if you’re working in a newer CRM environment, can you afford to wait for new personalization and artificial intelligence (AI) features to be released for your system? Read on to learn more about six of the best new CRM software solutions that can help you get current now without blowing the budget.
New CRM Software Trends
Today, we’re lucky to have alternatives to big, costly (and risky) CRM solutions. We’re beginning to see a trend towards smaller, more nimble CRM applications that can plug into existing legacy platforms or off-the-shelf solutions. In fact, the best CRM software may be a synergistic collection of CRM applications and solutions.
These applications typically focus on customer engagement and personalization. They’re made to work with your existing systems that are already providing fundamental CRM functionality, such as basic data warehousing and data hygiene, like house-holding and de-duping. So they allow you to extend the functionality of what you already have — without having to throw out the old and start all over again. This approach can save you time and money, not to mention the headaches of integrating a new solution into your ecosystem.
New CRM Software List
The following CRM software list highlights six up-and-coming plug-in applications that use AI to enhance your ability to build customer engagement and personalization.
About: Sentient’s Aware CRM product provides website visitors with an AI-driven shopping assistant. It works as if the customer walked into a store and interacted with a physical shopping assistant who showed them products in which they were interested. Aware does this by tapping into a retailer’s product feed, building a specific AI model for the retailer’s online catalog and then conducting the interaction based on the product images the customer has viewed. The beauty of Aware is that it does not need historical data or tagging to understand the retailer’s catalog and react to shopper interactions. It just needs images.
Clients: Shoes.com, Maui Jim, Cosabella, Skechers, Sunglass Hut, Maurices, Tumi
About: Jetlore’s AI-powered CRM tool maps consumer behavior into structured predictive attributes, like size, color, fit or style preferences. This allows you to optimize content and communication for your customers. Plus, it can help you make better merchandising decisions and optimize your search strategies.
Clients: eBay, LG, Nordstrom Rack, Uniqlo, Secret Escapes
About: Artifacia’s CRM application makes your Instagram feed shoppable with AI-based product tagging. It also allows your followers to take action on Instagram content — which, in turn, drives high-quality traffic and revenue from Instagram to your website.
Clients: Nicobar, Zahana, Pretty Secrets, KD New York, Good Earth
About: Monetate drives 1-to-1 personalization by recognizing your customers as unique individuals and prescribing the ideal experience for those individuals across your touchpoints. Their open architecture CRM software solution leverages machine learning to make complex decisions fast at scale, providing every customer with a personal and relevant experience.
Clients: Front Gate, Newegg, Brooks Brothers, Johnston & Murphy, Destination XL, Best Buy, QVC, Godiva and OfficeMax
About: Zendesk’s suite of products fits well in the modern retail world, where the functions of customer relationship management and customer service continue to merge and evolve. These CRM tools represent the shift the company has made from a single customer service product to a unified suite focused on improving customer relationships. The products have a common user interface, and are being developed to provide a single log-in and a shared customer data platform. The suite includes solutions to support, guide, connect, explore, help, chat, talk and message.
Clients: Zappos, Grows Up, Groupon, Tesco, AllSaints
About: Mode.ai provides an AI-powered virtual stylist bot that provides a visual, conversational and personalized user experience. It leverages Facebook Messenger to let customers interact with the bot in group or one-to-one message threads. Previously, chatbots were largely considered a preliminary step to reaching a human customer service rep. But the mode.ai bot can participate in the ongoing chat, as well as gather information on the customer’s fashion preferences, with the goal of improving the overall brand experience.
More new CRM software is on the horizon, as well, with developers continuing to improve on technology that supports functions like voice or visual recognition. For instance, visual patterning recognition technology is being developed that could lessen friction points in the customer journey. With this type of CRM tool, a customer who receives damaged merchandise could conceivably take a picture of the damage to have the system automatically generate a return label.
The Realities of New CRM Software
Traditionally, the practice of customer relationship management (and marketing) has been very reactive to customer data. These modern CRM tools will enable organizations to take a more proactive stance. Gone are the days of a 12-month implementation process. An organization could literally sign up with several CRM products and A/B test to determine the best fit for their environment. All with a low cost of entry.
A word of caution: This tactic isn’t for everyone. It requires you to be nimble and somewhat entrepreneurial. And you may face a trade-off for this ability to utilize leading-edge technology. For instance, newer applications may have more bugs to work out, presenting more challenges or risk than some organizations are willing to accept
That said, the trend towards plug-and-play CRM applications is continuing, and an exciting future awaits!
Are you looking for a new CRM solution? CCG’s retail marketing experts have the hands-on experience to assist in the hunt and the implementation. Plus, our technology-agnostic approach helps ensure that every promising solution is considered. Learn more about CCG and how we can help. Email us today or call 800.525.0313.