Last week, we participated in bpm’online’s Miami ACCELERATE event. The two-day extravaganza featured multiple tracks of educational content to help business leaders get new ideas for accelerating their business and understanding the coming software trends. Here are a few of the tips and takeaways I found most interesting:
The Future of Sales: Humans vs. AI
In a panel discussion on the future of sales, participants were asked about the role of AI in the sales process and how they believed it could reshape -- or even completely transform -- selling.
Perhaps the most stand-out comment from that discussion came from one of our customers. While other panelists generally agreed that AI would take over sales in the future, he disagreed. His reasoning? Human beings will always be purchasers; therefore, we will always need other human beings to help us with complex problems. There are certain things an AI just can’t do.
One example that came up continuously was the concept of empathy. AI can imitate empathy and even learn what it means, but true human empathy is the basis for lasting relationships, and it can only be shared between two humans.
Business Processes are Essential for an Excellent Customer Experience
The argument made during this session was straightforward: it’s difficult to build a great customer experience without some repeatable processes. As many CRM providers are now orienting their systems around business process automation, this becomes even more relevant.
Professionals shared their successes (and horror stories) with customer experience to illustrate this point. For example, one gentleman pointed out that his company closes only 1% of the deals they go after, which may be just fine if they knew the reasoning for it. They don’t understand the customer’s experience and therefore aren’t sure if they’re performing well or missing the mark.
He recognized his company’s need to build standardized processes within the CRM to fill in the blanks. With an arsenal of knowledge about the customer experience, the team would finally have the groundwork to make changes and close more deals. Without it, they remain lost in the abyss.
CRM Adoption Tips from the Pros
Our CEO lent his 32+ years of CRM implementation experience to this conversation. He pointed out that roadblocks to CRM adoption can stem from many places, but the root of successful adoption lies in the CRM implementation.
Specifically, he noted the importance of a phased implementation approach. Simply put, this means the first phase of implementation is focused on mastering “the basics”, with subsequent roll outs for more complex tasks like customizations and integrations.
Once the basics are mastered and the employees have had some time to get acquainted with the system, a second, third, and even fourth phase of implementation can commence.
It is much more beneficial to stagger these implementations rather than trying to perform them in one shot.
When you overwhelm your users with bells and whistles, they lose sight of the bigger picture: learning how to use a new software. Too many moving parts feed confusion, frustration, and error. The more complicated the system, the less successful the adoption. Take your time, phase your approach, and emphasize the importance of training.
Also consider phasing the training the same way. Start with a small group of early adopters. Once they’ve become advocates of the system, use their support to roll out to other departments and teams.
Keys to Being Customer Centric
Several business leaders were asked to comment on their best practices for being customer centric. The most popular answers to this question were:
- Listen with intent. We can hear what someone is saying but we need active listening to help us empathize and understand the underlying motivations.
- Our attention spans are getting shorter and our communication pathways are morphing. An omnichannel approach gives your clients the channels they need to reach you quickly and get their issues resolved with minimal friction.
- Be creative in how you nurture your customers. To highlight this, one presenter commented on his approach to birthdays. When he knows a customer’s birthday is coming up, he reaches out three days prior instead of on her actual birthday. While 45 other people are bombarding her with well wishes on her special day, he stands apart from the crowd.
Everyone’s a Developer
Bpm’online themed the event on their prediction for the future of technology and software: that regular software users will become developers with the use of low-code and no-code solutions. Market predictions see low code development growing exponentially, so this concept may not be that far off.
If software can become straightforward and dynamic enough to empower even non-technical users to build processes and streamline systems, it could result in some monumental changes in how we run businesses. However, there are still pros and cons to consider. The pro is the endless options we’d have by enabling users to “build their own destiny”. The con? Give too many people the power to alter a process and the unified message may get lost. It’s a balance we need to keep in mind, but it’s also a very interesting evolution to watch for.