(This article originally appeared in Forbes)
Customer Relationship Management systems, despite what all the vendors will advertise, are nothing more than databases. And the best CRM systems I know of at my clients have the most accurate, up-to-date and complete data that their sales, marketing and service teams use to generate new business from both existing and new customers.
It’s easier said than done. But a sweeping changes are happening. That’s artificial intelligence. New AI technology are powering a myriad of cutting-edge tools that are helping businesses of all sizes achieve database nirvana. Here are five that recently caught my eye.
Headquartered in Miami and with offices in the U.S., the U.K, Canada and India, Introhive recently raised $100 million in a Series C round of funding to do strategic acquisitions and expand its global footprint and I can understand the attraction for investors. The 240 person company makes an AI-based application that synchronizes information from emails and other business systems into various CRM systems and then helps identify, score and map relationships across an organization’s team. The tool is used by larger companies from PwC to Colliers International but it’s technology certainly could be helpful for smaller and mid-sized organizations that prioritize having the most accurate and updated data possible.
Brands like Adobe, Staples and SAP use True Influence’s “triangulation” tools to help marketing and sales people leverage their CRM data to identify the intent of B2B decision makers, wherever they are engaging with a company’s content. The company recently announced that is now offering 80 million verified professional contacts in its marketing cloud that will “allow customers to extend the value of their campaigns by supplementing the leads delivered with additional intent-driven contacts at similarly targeted companies.” The company says it validates all contact records it provides to CRM systems for complete and up-to-date information so that they are “real, employed, and reachable.”
Conversation intelligence platform Chorus.ai released a new product that’s native for Salesforce called Momentum. What it does is aggregate every interaction from emails, calls, and video meetings and then uses its propriety AI technology to highlight key moments across the relationship history so that a sales team can better evaluate deal risks and pipeline opportunities.
“Bringing the voice of the customer to the CRM has always been a challenge and something that has always been missing,” Chorus.ai’s vice president of product and engineering said in a statement. “Momentum delivers that customer context in the form of conversations, messages, and any type of interaction that revenue teams have with their clients. It goes so far as to literally bring the customer’s voice from actual calls or video meetings via a native video player viewable in your client account in the CRM.”
Database company ZoomInfo has been around for a while, but remains a very reliable source of marketing intelligence info that’s used by many of my CRM clients. The company recently announced new features to help people opt-out of inclusion in their database which, in my opinion, will improve the overall integrity of the data collected. ZoomInfo has many integrations to CRM platforms and will not only provide initial data, but continuous updates of information based on which plans a customer chooses.
Searchable and updatable data is critical for customer service. Yext is an AI-powered natural language platforms that allows both customers and internal users to search across the web and inside of company databases like CRM systems. Recently, the company launched a new suite of artificial intelligence-powered enterprise search solutions built for customer support teams. It gives these teams the power to not only do internal searches from any database or file system, but use its Knowledge Base (which can be integrated with CRM databases), the ability to search and then store, view, edit, and approve all of their support-related information (and the relationships among that data).
Of course, there are other AI-based data migration, search and integrity tools that may be of use which I haven’t included above. But the takeaway is that the landscape has significantly changed over the past few years and companies using these tools are creating mission critical CRM databases that not only serve a current function but are also building their companies’ ultimate value over the long term.