AI key to customer growth

Dubai - 96 per cent of UAE sales people say operations are becoming more strategic.

Great customer experiences and a high quality of engagement will be the key for businesses for thrive.
Great customer experiences and a high quality of engagement will be the key for businesses for thrive.

Sandhya D'Mello

Published: Mon 1 Feb 2021, 11:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 7 Mar 2021, 1:17 PM

Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling businesses to be innovative when it comes to customer relationship management (CRM) as think tanks estimate that CRM-related AI would raise global business revenue by $1.1 trillion by the end of 2021.

CRM has gained a top priority as the world and businesses are compelled to deal with faceless consumers. The outbreak of Covid-19 accelerated digital marketing, making it mandatory to enrich personal experience of consumers that helps to consolidate long-term brand loyalty.

New strategies, data-driven methodologies, and evolving roles are leading sales operations towards exciting places, according to a latest report by Salesforce.

The report indicates that 96 per cent of UAE sales people say operations are becoming more strategic. So it’s clear that leveraging good data is the key to thriving in today’s sales landscape. With a world of information now at the fingertips of salespeople — who are suddenly free to work from anywhere, at any time — the future of sales in the UAE looks bright.

Shehbaz Shaikh, chief retail officer, Redtag, said: “2021 will see a greater emphasis on businesses gaining a deeper understanding of their customers. Great customer experiences and a high quality of engagement will be the key for businesses to thrive. Redtag’s highly successful ‘RT Rewards’ loyalty programme was a result of implementing AI, as part of our CRM initiatives. It currently has over 14 million members and over 90 per cent of our transactions now come from repeat customers. AI enabled us to tailor our offerings and special rewards, as part of this loyalty programme, and gave us tremendous insight into our customer’s preferences. We see the use of AI increasing, both for ourselves as well as the market at large.”

Acoording to US-based Trujay, AI in the CRM market will be worth about $72.9 billion in the next couple of years. The CRM software is now the biggest software market in the world and the growth isn’t slowing down. In fact, CRM is now expected to reach more than $80 billion in revenues by 2025, informs European CRM provider, SuperOffice.

“AI will certainly be centrestage, in the context of CRM, in 2021. In addition, voice activated Conversational UI will become increasingly sophisticated. Integration of social media platforms with CRM will escalate and with smart homes and wearables becoming increasingly commonplace, IoT will also assume a more important role,” said Sajid Azmi, founder and chief executive officer, Yegertek.

“Collecting, storing and interpreting customer data can quickly become a daunting task. In this scenario, enhancing CRM capabilities with the use of AI is not just gamechanging, it is imperative. AI is critical to extracting actionable insights from aggregated data, enabling business to retain existing customers as well as gain new ones. Customer experience is now the key differentiator and AI enabled CRM enables the delivery of personalised services and offers, which will set businesses apart from their competitors.”

AI can help salespeople organise their schedules and prioritise their activities to understand which leads to pursue first, so they have a higher chance of converting them into deals. Also, a lot of time is wasted on unanswered calls and emails. AI can help sales reps understand the best times to schedule these calls so they have a higher response rate. AI-based automation can also streamline mundane activities like data entry, retrieval, updating etc. This is important because one of the largest problems with most CRM deployments today is data quality; and what you sow is what you reap. Once companies embrace AI in their CRM, a lot of these activities can be automated, resulting in much better data quality.

Ali Shabdar, regional director - MEA, Zoho Corp, said: “Most businesses had to move to a no-touch model of operation in the last few months. The contact-less experiences are here to stay, and that’s now evident in customer preferences. For example, customers today are likely to opt for self-checkout at supermarkets or avoid physical stores altogether. From an SME perspective, even if you consider a small neighborhood store, such contact-less experiences are increasingly preferred. We believe this will continue even after the pandemic ends because of the sheer agility this model offers, among other benefits like speed and ease of use.

“The UAE businesses that will succeed are those that are intelligently acquiring customer data and using it to understand customer choice and behaviours. So, if you are running a business, be it a retail outlet, restaurant or an airline, you need AI-powered CRM in order to understand your customer’s preferences. By really knowing your customer and pre-empting their choices, this usage of AI in CRM is going to be your secret to future success,” said Shane O’ Hara, chief executive officer of Paymentology.

“The use of artificial intelligence in all sectors, including payments, is already increasing dramatically and will continue to do so. As it is, most businesses are in the process of upgrading their systems to make them ready for this technological revolution. However, Covid-19 that forced us to live and work in isolation and in lockdown is a wake-up call for all. Those who were lagging behind are now catching up to ensure they do not lose out. As the revolution has come faster than expected, they are finding that they need to source and install the right kind of IT solutions to quickly enable their businesses. During this past year technology companies have grown faster than many bricks-and-mortar businesses which have faced a decline, and even closure in some cases. This is further confirmation that digitisation is key to future survival.”

O’ Hara advises that data analytics and understanding consumer behaviour patterns are some of the areas in which companies must invest heavily. Instead of market intelligence, consumer behaviour patterns and their choice of products, services and lifestyle will be monitored by companies in order to target their products and services.Customer experience is going to dictate who gets more business than others. Instead of people going to shops, the virtual shops will be coming to the consumers and the products that they want will be presented to them. This can be met through more proactive use of technology and data. Competition will boil down to customer satisfaction and the overall experience. When this is done well, the customer does not feel pressured – they simply feel that they have had an enjoyable engagement.Big data analytics to understand consumer behaviour will be crucial and the most sought after thing in business in the coming years. Technology, especially AI and CRM are going to give the age-old adage – ‘Customer is King’ – a new meaning. This has already started and AI is playing a big role in it. —

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