Voice-Powered AI Ushers in the Next Chapter in CRM Evolution

"OK Google…"

"Hey Siri…


"Record Monday Night Football" (Xfinity X1 Voice Remote)

These common voice prompts are now part of everyday consumer vocabulary. Talking to intelligent devices is now normal, so much so that consumers often say "thank you" following an interaction, even though devices aren't programmed to respond in kind. What's also becoming normal is the expectation for artificial intelligence-powered personalization, giving users better experiences and recommendations based on patterns of engagement. In 2020, intelligent voice interactions will also move firmly into the enterprise, setting the stage for a post-digital transformation era of enterprise process, experience, and service innovation.

Intelligent voice capabilities will transform the enterprise in two phases. Phase one focuses on CRM. AI-driven voice applications will power new employee experiences in how they work with data and insights. Voice-powered CRM will also evolve customer experiences in how companies and people interact more contextually and personally throughout the customer journey. In phase two, also taking shape in 2020, voice-powered AI and cognitive automation will take shape through enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. Voice-powered ERP will create a business operating system that enables a layer of intelligence and automation to unlock unprecedented, automated operational insights, capabilities and outcomes.

Through AI-powered voice, organizations are already starting to gain access to voice intelligence for a variety of everyday and mission-critical enterprise applications. In CRM, for example, Salesforce recently announced intelligent Einstein Voice Skills for its Salesforce Customer 360 Platform. In the ERP space, Aera Technology introduced its pioneering business OS for self-driving enterprises.

Phase 1: AI-powered Voice Platforms Gain Early Support Through Next-Generation CRM

Like cloud, mobile, and social before it, voice and AI represent the next generation in CRM's evolution. Prior to voice, CRM systems always faced an input challenge. Users struggled ensuring records were up to data and complete. Voice changes that, making input more natural and even mobile. When it comes to AI, the better the data, of course, the better the insights.

Having a robust voice-enabled, AI-powered CRM is only part of the solution, through. The rest is activated through user experience design for employees and customers where applicable.

User interface and user experience change the game beyond entering data in rectangular boxes or simply visualizing information as output. Voice adds a new dimension and needs an experiential construct for all new employee and customer touchpoints and applications. Add to that, AI-driven platforms will also need further architectural development to deliver iterative and completely new, value-added intelligence and insights to platform capabilities. This is why AI-powered voice platforms are just the beginning. Customization into the workflow and customer-facing applications is where the magic happens and competitive advantages start to shine.

This means that how people work with information and insights and how customers engage with businesses throughout their journey require new skills and management systems to unleash the full potential of these new platforms. The future of work takes nothing less than operational, service, and experience innovation.

Voice + AI-Powered CRM = The Voice of the Customer and the Foundation for Personalized Relationships

When it comes to employee experience and customer experience, vendors and businesses that implement next-generation CRM need to take their design cues from popular consumer-facing devices and apps.

To everyday users, AI-powered voice assistants are the new standard for device engagement. Through voice, Alexa, Siri, Google, and others deliver simple, useful, user-centered experiences that consumers have come to expect as the new normal. It's how consumers are learning to interact with information and it's changing the customer journey in the process. Now, compare this behavior with conventional voice experiences customers have when they make contact with businesses in times of need, i.e. today's all-too-common interactive voice response (IVR) platforms. The experiences are profoundly opposite. One is personal, instant, smart, and dynamic. The other is functional, yet linear, inhuman, and often frustrating.

Voice and AI systems are making it easier for people to interact with complex information internally and externally. With the right vision, the next chapter of CRM, powered by voice + AI, will usher in an era of hyper-personalization that truly places the C and R of CRM front and center. But, this time around, the customer is both the enterprise user and the ultimate customer.

With a little imagination and ingenuity, the architects of a post-digital transformation era will reimagine the relationship between people and data and processes to enhance customer and employee journeys. In this next chapter of CRM, experience design will now become a differentiator for how enterprise users and ultimately customers interact with CRM applications.

Vendors that partner with enterprise customers on employee and customer experience design will also earn a competitive advantage. By introducing intelligent, voice-based touchpoints and delivering actionable insights, value-added information and next-best actions on demand, everyone wins—vendors, organizations, and customers.

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