A larger role for Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI for short, is something you hear about a lot lately. Gartner Research expects that more and more companies will begin to make use of AI. But what exactly does AI mean? Can it be applied to CRM? And what kind of added value could it offer?


CRM and Artificial Intelligence


As defined by Merriam-Webster, artificial intelligence is ‘the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior’. The public at large was introduced to this concept as early as 1997, when an IBM computer took on chess world champion Kasparov. Alan Turing, founder of computer science, believed that if a machine could fool someone into thinking they were interacting with another human, that meant it had passed the test for artificial intelligence. In other words, a machine has to imitate human behavior in such a way that an actual human won’t realize they’re communicating with a computer. Both definitions or explanations allow for a broad, perhaps subjective, interpretation. While one customer may not realize they’re dealing with a computer, it’s possible that another would have realized right away.

Efficient CRM process

Today, AI is used for a great many purposes. We already interact with AI frequently, perhaps even without realizing it. AI is sometimes used from the moment a customer starts a call. Caller ID, location, speech and image recognition ensure that all information about a customer is immediately accessible, even before a single word has been said. The employee is fully up-to-date. This makes the CRM process very efficient: it reduces waiting times and improves customer satisfaction.

Chat bots are AI too

Following from the previous example, there’s the use of chat bots. Chat bots can answer frequently asked questions. Truly intelligent? Just as long as the question is known to the system. When it comes to unique questions, chat bots can unfortunately lead to frustration by continuously asking ‘did you mean this, did you mean that?’ and pointing you to a subject that the question wasn’t about. If the system doesn’t provide a direct link to a real-life customer-service representative who does know how to address questions that haven’t been asked before, this could be a significant blow to the customer experience.

AI responds to customer needs

As a company, you want a CRM system to be useful in responding to your customers’ needs. This is where AI offers added value. Tailored advice can be given based on customer-specific data and algorithms. Connections are drawn by the intelligent computer instead of the account manager. In the world of finance, AI is used to present financial solutions when it comes to personal finance. And in the healthcare sector, AI can use a variety of data to make life-saving diagnoses, in cases where the human brain might miss certain connections or pieces of information. But also think of the potential benefit to stock monitoring. Based on order history, the system can make predictions regarding what will be needed when. A simple reminder for the customer, who can then place a new order with one click, can be impactful – both on the customer experience and on the operating result. In this way, data from the CRM system and the possibilities of AI can benefit each other immensely.

AI to play a larger role

For most companies, AI is still in its infancy. The examples above are fairly simple first steps in getting started with AI. Research by Gartner among CIOs reveals 1 in 25 companies have implemented AI, 1 in 5 say they intend to start applying it in the near future, and 1 in 4 include it in their medium- to long-term planning. As with CRM itself, it is important not to see this as a standalone project, but rather as part of a larger whole. That’s why Gartner emphasizes the fact that one shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture. AI holds the future, but first determine whether and how it can contribute to the organization’s goals – then you can trace out your strategy to get started with the implementation.