(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
We’ve been hearing a lot about artificial intelligence – AI – particularly when it comes to customer relationship management. Just do a quick Google search of AI and CRM and you’ll see countless companies in the space announcing new tools, features and services leveraging AI to – as so many claim – increase productivity, grow sales and improve customer retention.
It all sounds great, but unfortunately no one seems to be taking notice.
That’s according to a new survey from small business CRM provider Freshworks. The report – which compiled responses from more than 500 CRM users – found that only 12 percent of them actually use a specific AI-based tool, and only 11 percent say AI in their CRM allows them to focus on high-value customers. Sadly, almost three in four CRM users (73 percent) say that AI has yet to deliver on its transformative promise for business operations, only one in three CRM users (36 percent) can say AI is a strong value for the money and nearly all CRM users think AI is either too expensive (97 percent) or isn’t extremely useful (89 percent).
“AI offers an opportunity to transform customer support, engagement and, ultimately, success,” said veteran tech/equities analyst Fred McClimans of Futurum Research. “But, as confirmed by the recent Freshworks study, despite aggressive hype by many CRM providers, we’re not seeing the widespread user awareness, adoption or satisfaction we’d expect.”
Yikes. That’s not good is it? Seems like most CRM users aren’t yet thrilled by AI. So is artificial intelligence a bust? A scam? Over hyped? Not at all.
This is not going to last. What we’re seeing right now is people’s responses to a brand new technology that will likely have a significant impact on their business. It’s a technology that takes time to learn and think about how it will be used. It’s also a technology that will be extremely disruptive. In many cases AI will change how our employees are doing their jobs. It will result in some workers losing their jobs. That’s just a fact.
But here’s another fact: my clients who best use their CRM systems will be leveraging AI in the future and the best CRM companies – from Freshworks to Salesforce – will continuously be providing more intuitive, faster, and powerful AI tools for their customers. It’s a natural evolution in CRM and I don’t think anyone in the industry is surprised at the initial tentativeness from users. This evolution will take time and as AI tech evolves over the next few years, CRM systems will become more essential for all companies, big and small.
Just you wait.