TOPIC // Corporate Banking

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in CRM: It’s not Skynet. Yet.

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere all of a sudden. It’s on our phones, in our homes (I’m looking at you, Alexa) and peppered throughout our online experiences. It’s the hot topic from the water cooler to analysts to the media to the major industry players. (I think we all know where Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg stand on AI by now.)

The financial services industry is far from exempt from the AI discussion. Many firms are investigating how intelligent CRM can change the way bankers and advisors do business. Firms that haven’t adopted it yet or aren’t considering do so in the near future are in serious danger of falling far behind in the customer acquisition and retention race.

Skeptical? Not convinced there’s AI in your CRM? Look again, it’s probably there. It may not be what you think of when you hear “AI”, that’s all. The movies have painted AI as evil overlords a la Skynet, when really, at this point, it’s more like KITT, the friendly car from Knight Rider (please tell me you’re not too young to understand that reference.) Rather than doing all the work and making human action obsolete, AI in CRM is helping and guiding our actions:

  • Providing helpful suggestions for interactions and product recommendations
  • Taking over some of the simple tasks so we can focus on revenue generation and customer experience
  • Analyzing massive amounts of customer data to improve forecasting and continuously refine sales and service activities

SkyNet is pure AI: the type that powers machines whose reasoning, problem solving, and intelligence is equal to or greater than that of humans. The AI that permeates technology today is pragmatic AI, also called applied AI. Pragmatic AI is made up of a number of technologies and capabilities, such as machine learning, image analysis, and natural language processing. These technologies work behind the scenes in intelligent CRM, in combination or separately, to enable more personalized and enjoyable customer experiences, improve user efficiency and productivity, align sales and marketing processes with proven best practices, and create opportunities with a higher propensity to close.

Forrester Research Inc. believes that, “AI is at the core of the digital transformation that is improving the economics and capabilities of all aspects of business, including customer service.” (K. Leggett, Forrester Research Inc., How AI Will Transform Customer Service, June 16, 2017.) Ms. Leggett notes that, “Pragmatic AI provides measurable value to customer service operations at all stages of the customer service journey: prepurchase support, guiding customers to the right product choices, onboarding, and post-purchase support.”

Destination CRM also weighs on the need for AI in CRM. “A CRM without AI, machine learning, and predictive analytics is like searching for a needle in a haystack … AI-infused CRM software will enable teams to prioritize audiences, alerting them to the prospects that have the highest propensity to make a purchase.” (C. Matty,, Artificial Intelligence is the Next Step in CRM’s Evolution, Feb. 2, 2017)

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the kind of AI I want in my CRM solution. Helpful, useful, and, beneficial and not remotely self-aware. Skynet, in my mind, can stay in the movies.

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