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The Art of Human-Centric CRM Integrated With AI: Insights From Our Experts




Overwhelmed with all the AI talk? Feeling the pressure of not missing the boat? Ready to leverage AI, but don’t yet see how it’ll work in and for your business? Plain intimidated by the whole topic? 

We’re hearing it all in the world of customer relationship management, as generative AI and CRM are now closely interlinked: almost 80% of CRM buyers search for AI capabilities when they’re deciding what product to roll out for their teams. 

We brought together Sara Tatam, Head of Sales at Provident CRM, and George Walker, Regional Sales Manager at SugarCRM, to share their take. 

Fundamentally, Sara and George agree that artificial intelligence should enhance, and not replace, human interactions. AI is the next wave of tools that will give your teams the insights — and regained time — they need to build and nurture relationships, to grow customer loyalty. Ultimately, strengthening your market position and competitive edge through your customer-centric commitment.


Human-centric CRM integrated with AI: What does that mean, and why does it matter?

Human-centric CRM integrated with AI combines the strengths of technology and human expertise to create more personalised, efficient and empathetic customer experiences. 

It allows businesses to harness the power of AI to enhance their customer relationship management while ensuring the human element — their team — stays central in those customer interactions. Maintaining this human-centric focus means keeping your customers at the core of your CRM strategy. From that foundation, you’ll use AI to support and augment the human interactions between your customers and your business, not replace them. 

Because that’s the claim/fear we’ve all been hearing, isn’t it: AI will replace humans, swiping jobs and leaving us talking to empathy-lacking robots. But with quality CRM strategy, that’s not the case. Instead, as George puts it, AI mixed with CRM will be a dynamic duo for excellent customer relations. Not taking away the all-important human element, but using technology to enhance those personal connections. 

Data collection alone doesn’t get any business to a place where it truly understands its customers. For that, you need authentic, ongoing relationships between customers and your sales/customer service teams. And customers do want businesses to understand them better and better; showing up with what they need, when they need it, from tailored marketing to smarter logistics. So the best way to think of AI is as a digital sidekick for your human team. Rapidly analysing data and predicting customer behaviour, needs and wants, so your reps can make every customer interaction smoother, more valuable and more personalised. AI does the background, contextual and repetitive work, priming your teams to perfect the human touches that matter for quality service that exceeds expectations.

For customer service/experience, sales and marketing, AI will give you the information you need (perhaps even before you’ve fully realised you need it). Summarising interactions and conversations, it’ll hand reps a 360-degree view of customer accounts, priorities, tasks and next steps. Serving up more intelligent, rounded information, to power better customer interactions. All in even fewer clicks, saving precious minutes that turn into more time to add value for customers. 

For sales teams, AI-powered lead scoring, predictive analytics and opportunity forecasting take the guesswork out of how reps should allocate their time and efforts. They can focus on high-potential prospects and high-value customers, complemented with the deeper understanding of market trends, customer behaviour and external influences that AI will provide. 

For the wider business, AI empowers employees at all levels to make informed and strategic choices. It can instantly source the insights you need from your CRM system, so you might ask it to:

  • Identify your 3 top deals
  • List deals that have been in the pipeline for over 6 months
  • Create a report on customers that have dropped off by a certain %

Team and business leaders can see, quickly and easily, where things may be going wrong, then delve into what issues to address and how. AI will help you spot patterns (are deals getting stuck based on location, product or price point?), and create strategies to remedy issues and improve results. And with more accurate predictions of future sales performance, teams can plan resources, personnel and operations adaptably and cost-effectively. 

You can already build these types of reports in SugarCRM, as well as schedule them to automatically update you. But adding AI cuts out even this quick report-building process, saving you minutes that snowball over time. For deeper insights, delivered quicker and more flexibly. 


How can CRM leverage AI to enhance customer interactions, while staying human and helpful?

Better customer service, for better customer experiences
In Sara’s experience, AI has the potential to take about 70% of customer service cases off your team’s hands. It’ll provide solutions and interactions that are all those customers need, using pre-set responses and drawing on data from your CRM system. 

With AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants handling those routine customer queries, your team will have the time and energy they need for complex cases that need the human touch. For more efficient and effective customer service, freeing up your agents to engage in thoughtful, high-value interactions with your customers. 


Personalisation, to avoid churn and nurture loyalty
It’s a tough balance to strike: making sure (potential) customers receive the offers and nudges they need to see how your products and services can help them, but not blasting them with irrelevant spam. But with AI analysing all your customer data, you can tailor your outreach much, much better. 

AI can find and categorise preferences, past purchases, customer behaviour and relevant trends for you, so you can adjust interactions, marketing content, products and services to each customer’s preferences. You’ll be able to create relationships where you add value and avoid cluttering feeds or inboxes. And your customer interactions will land how you want them to, informed by the timing, feel and content of past conversations. Making more effective — and more rewarding — use of your teams’ time, and boosting customer satisfaction.

More than automation
Automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks is a key benefit of CRM systems in general. Add AI, though, and you’ll level it up. Deeper personalisation will mean your chatbots and virtual assistants perform better, so they’re genuinely a help to your customer service team, not frustrating customers to the point they give up! 

AI-powered automation will hoover up the humdrum work beyond customer service, too. So your people, the experts in their roles and fields, can focus on understanding your customers and knowing the wants, needs and quirks of all their points of contact. Building meaningful relationships, and adding the thoughtful, bespoke extras that make the difference.

Ready to scale
With AI turning large volumes of data into insights your teams can use — and taking care of quick-fix customer interactions — it’ll be far easier for your business to scale its CRM as it grows. As your customer base expands, this AI-backed scalability will make sure you can manage, and enhance, your customer relationships. 


AI and SugarCRM

SugarCRM is releasing further generative AI capabilities soon — which you can see firsthand in our recent webinar. Watch as Sara and George explore how to leverage the power of artificial intelligence to gain better customer insights, streamline workflows, and improve efficiency.

We’ll share an overview below, though, on the 4 key areas these genAI tools cover: composing, finding, summarising and creating.

Summarising account insights: Helping sales and customer service make the most of customer data
SugarCRM’s new AI delivers instant account insights, summarised on each customer’s profile. You’ll be able to see what’s happened with that account recently, latest purchases, any cases or issues, key competitors, key contacts and who your team have engaged with. 

It’s an accurate snapshot, in a few sentences. All summarised and waiting for you, so you don’t have to sift through the account to catch up on interactions, opportunities and cases raised, and when and how they happened. So every time you interact with your customers, they’ll feel you truly know them, their account and your interaction history. 

Finding answers and creating workflows: Sentiment analysis and intelligent follow-ups
You can use Sugar’s new AI to analyse your customer communications, to understand how customers feel about your brand, products, responses and so on. Then, you could set positive sentiments to trigger a follow-up message expressing appreciation for your customer’s enthusiasm. Negative sentiments, by contrast, might prompt sending a feedback survey, or notify one of your reps to call the customer. 

Composing: Personalised sales and marketing content

  • Proposals
    This new AI functionality makes generating proposals in SugarCRM even easier. When it’s time to convert an opportunity into a proposal, it’ll pull in the relevant information to deliver a document tailored to the customer. It goes beyond instantly getting the right revenue line items filled, to work in the conversational elements of your lead conversion process. That shapes a proposal featuring the specific benefits and outcomes each customer is looking to achieve.
  • Personalised emails
    Using the data you have for each account (numbers and conversations), Sugar’s new AI can build you emails tailored per customer. Featuring relevant text and images across your products, services and offers, bringing customers just what they want to see from you.
  • Call scripts
    They’ll be quality assets, but your reps won’t follow these AI-generated scripts word for word. They’ll use them for guidance and prompts, as they’re tailored to what’s happened previously with each customer, and what your rep’s aiming to achieve from each call. Then, they’ll be able to layer their personality, empathy and expertise on top.

… All while keeping customer data secure
These new AI tools maintain SugarCRM’s standards for robust, secure data management. And they’ll help you manage your customer data to comply with individual preferences and privacy requirements, fuss-free. 

Let’s take content management as an example. SugarCRM already includes features enabling you to manage customer content preferences. Your audiences can explicitly specify how they want to receive your communication, in line with data-protection regulations. Now, the AI comes in: assisting with automating content, ensuring it’s reaching the right customers and continually aligning your marketing communications with customers’ (changing) opt-in preferences. 

With SugarCRM’s upcoming AI tools, you’ll also be able to automate data cleansing. Powered algorithms will identify and fix duplicate and outdated entries in your customer database, keeping it clean and avoiding mix-ups. Leading to reliable insights, better customer relationships and improved decision-making across all your teams. 

The genAI will also check data accuracy and enrich your records. It’ll validate the information your customers provide and fill in any blanks you need. For example, it could automatically update details by cross-referencing with external data sources (if a prospect had only filled in their name and company, it could find and add their role and office location). 

This all links back to using SugarCRM’s new genAI for the personalisation that elevates customer experience. Tailored interactions, meeting each customer’s preferences and consent, ensure you won’t risk sending irrelevant, unwanted communications. 




Need sound advice on bringing AI into your business?

As you’d imagine, both Sara and George have been hearing plenty of AI-related requests from existing customers and prospects. Everyone wants to make sure they’re not missing out! 

Their starting point is supporting clients to pinpoint exactly what they want to achieve from AI. How you can enhance your processes and performance; how you can make your teams’ lives easier; and how you’ll need to develop your existing CRM system for it to properly work with AI. 

The teams at Provident CRM and SugarCRM are listening to our own customers and prospects, plus conducting plenty of research, to develop AI offerings that you’ll find valuable. So wherever you are with AI now, we’re on hand to guide your next steps.  

To find out more about what Sugar’s AI can do for your business, watch our recent webinar The Future of CRM: Navigating AI Trends here.



Want to see SugarCRM’s new AI tools in action?

Book your demo via the link below.

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