If you’ve ever researched customer relationship management (CRM) applications or systems, you’ve likely encountered your fair share of yearly CRM trends blogs. Though they can be informative, these posts are often fairly uniform across different sites, and many recycle the same trends year after year — this is a problem considering there are only so many years in a row that “personalization” and “omnichannel” can realistically top trends lists.
That’s why, when creating our own list of CRM trends for 2019, we wanted it to be bigger in scope and to encompass not only trends that will affect the CRM market at large, but Salesforce-specific trends, too.
Stop us if you’ve heard any of these before — or read on to get our unique take.
Top CRM (and Salesforce) Trends for 2019
Integration is Everything
Third-party integration has long been seen as something that’s nice to have, but not an absolute necessity. That’s all set to change this year because businesses are no longer interested in wasting users’ valuable time manually transferring data between systems. In fact, there’s a growing trend in general toward the democratization of integration in people’s personal lives, spearheaded by companies such as IFTTT and Zapier, making this a trend that extends beyond CRM. Given the availability of integration in the personal sphere, it only makes sense that people expect the same level of system integration in their professional lives, as well.
Pricing on Demand
Nothing slows down a sale quite like having to configure a quote for a lead, especially if your sales reps don’t have up-to-date pricing information. CPQ software —short for configure, price, quote — aims to resolve this issue by automating the entire process based on a preprogrammed set of rules. Most CPQ software accounts for quantities, discounts, customizations, upsell opportunities, and deals offered by your competition, so you can be sure that the quote you’re generating is accurate.
CPQ software has been around for some time, so it might not seem like a radical addition to a CRM trends list for 2019, but let’s walk things back for a second. Remember what we said about integration? Most CPQ solutions run externally, meaning they take extra effort to integrate with other systems. If you’re a Salesforce customer, the company offers a native CPQ module with an extensive set of configuration, pricing, quoting, and productivity features, as well as value-added features such as automatically generated renewal opportunities and community support.
Lightning is Here to Stay
Speaking of Salesforce, let’s take a moment to talk about Salesforce Lightning. The Salesforce Lightning Platform is the latest version of Salesforce’s CRM user interface and improves on Salesforce Classic by providing administrators with a wider toolset to customize the look, feel, functionality, and automation of a Salesforce instance.
Many Salesforce users have been dragging their feet over making the switch from Classic to Lightning, but the fact of the matter is that Lightning is here to stay. Salesforce is in the process of gradually deprecating Classic, which means changing over to Lightning isn’t so much an option — or a trend, for that matter — as it is an inevitable requirement. The emphasis Salesforce has placed on Lightning does, however, indicate something about the way the CRM industry is trending, specifically about user experience. Which takes us to our next point…
User Experience Matters
The biggest draw to the Salesforce Lightning Experience is that it creates a cohesive UX across all devices through which users access Salesforce, including desktop, tablet, and mobile.
In addition to providing Salesforce admins with a more robust toolset, its design is far cleaner than that of its predecessor, making it easier to use; this all contributes to an overall more modern UX.
It should go without saying that UX should be central to any CRM implementation, but what makes UX one of the top CRM trends for 2019 is that more people are spending time using CRM systems to create engaging platforms for both internal and external use. It only makes sense to motivate end users by ensuring that their experience is as pleasant as possible.
Customer engagement — that is, the ongoing relationship between businesses and their customers — has long been a powerful motivator for organizations to implement CRM technology. In 2019, customer engagement is poised to become even more significant, especially due to the rise of customer engagement platforms. Rather than invest in yet another system, many business leaders have found ways to strategically leverage their existing CRM implementation to enhance customer engagement.
From consolidating messages from different social channels for more responsive communication to testing different engagement styles across different channels to see which is most effective, there are a number of ways to maximize your CRM’s customer engagement capabilities.
Another way to drive customer engagement is through branded customer communities. Customer communities give customers a dedicated space to share information, collaborate, and seek assistance (either from each other or from your employees).
Salesforce Community Cloud makes it easy for organizations to create communities with premade templates, prebuilt themes, partner accelerators, and mobile functionality. For additional customization capabilities, businesses can use Lightning Community Builder to tailor their customer community to match their organization’s brand.
Spotlight on Security
We know what you’re thinking: “Security? For 2019? Groundbreaking.”
We get that security might not be the most cutting edge of CRM trends but with 773 million unique email address and 21 million unique passwords stolen — in a single breach — in 2019 alone, people are understandably on edge when it comes to protecting their data and privacy, and businesses need to respond accordingly. That rings doubly true given that the amount of sensitive data being stored in CRM systems is increasing at a rapid rate. Once upon a time, businesses only stored basic information about their customers and prospects in their CRM, such as their phone number, email address, and birthday; today’s CRMs also store sensitive health and financial data.
Too often, businesses fixate on preventing external breaches from hackers and the like, but in 2019 and looking ahead, there will be a new emphasis on internal security measures. As a business’ CRM data footprint grows, so, too, will the number of users with access to that data. It’s imperative that organizations of all stripes — even those that don’t traffic in sensitive data — up their security game in the years to come.
Compliance Isn’t an Option
2018 was the year of GDPR and saw businesses around the world scrambling to implement internal policies and procedures in order to comply with this new set of regulatory standards. Based on this experience, business leaders entered 2019 with a newfound appreciation for regulatory compliance — especially with the possibility of similar regulations in the United States looming large.
As a CRM technology trend, compliance is twofold: One, businesses need to ensure that their CRM is compliant with new and pending regulations, and two, businesses need to leverage their CRM systems to ensure compliance. In order to be truly GDPR-ready (and compliance-ready, in general), businesses need to:
- Raise awareness within their organization
- Obtain executive support
- Identify and monitor all systems in which data is stored
- Review existing privacy and security efforts to identify weak spots
- Implement data usage and access controls
- Implement user authentication policies
- Maintain detailed documentation of all compliance efforts
- Designate a data protection officer
For additional tips on how to ensure regulatory compliance, Salesforce offers a great overview on GDPR.
Get Smart With AI
It’s 2019 and artificial intelligence is no longer aspirational — in fact, it’s become a core functionality in many CRM systems. It’s how CRM providers are leveraging AI that keeps it firmly at the top of CRM trends lists year after year.
For example, Einstein — Salesforce’s AI platform — acts as a CRM assistant and combines machine learning, deep learning, smart data discovery, predictive analytics, and natural language processing to provide businesses with a deeper understanding of their customers. Salesforce Einstein is capable of:
- Identifying data patterns
- Delivering smart insights
- Predicting customer behavior
- Creating personalized customer experiences
- Identifying and recommending upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- Embedding repeatable next steps
- Automating data entry
- Automating workflows
- Resolving support cases quickly and efficiently
Prepare for the Future With VennScience
Want to learn more CRM or Salesforce trends for 2019, or how you can incorporate the trends you see here into your CRM strategy? You’ve come to the right place. VennScience specializes in helping businesses like yours take advantage of the latest trends and reach new heights in the process. Our team of top technologists and consultants have the experience and expertise to help you not only stay on-trend for 2019, but to set trends in the year to come.
Ready to get started? Drop us a line — we look forward to hearing from you.