Thursday, November 13, 2014

Virtual Customer Assistants and Self-Service Used to Enhance CRM Platforms

Photo Credit: vocalcom.com
Last week, ComputerWorld published an article on Microsoft’s newest CRM suite, fully equipped with their Personal Virtual Assistant, Cortana. “Tasks available via Cortana voice commands will include setting up meetings and reminders, searching for contacts, accounts and activities, calling up customer lists and creating new records” (Cortana to Give Voice and Ears to Dynamics CRM).

It seems like Microsoft is making the right moves, at the right time by enhancing their Dynamics CRM platform. Research from trusted analyst firms in the industry are advocating for a shift to omni-channel CRM systems; that is, moving from a Contact Center to a Customer Engagement Center (CEC). According to one of the leading analyst firms, it is imperative for companies to include multiple business applications and technologies that will coexist and work cohesively. Some examples of functions that incorporate to create the full CEC ecosystem are: knowledge management solutions, social media channels for customer to receive support (including blogs, communities, and forums), providing mobile support options, and more.

Other CRM vendors are further validating the need for omni-channel CRM platforms. Recently, the customer service and engagement vendor, [24]7, acquired Virtual Assistant company, Intelliresponse. Another example is Nuance’s acquisition of VirtuOz a while back. These CRM vendors are realizing the value of adding Virtual Customer Assistants as another channel to enhance their CECs. Since self-service is becoming one of the most preferred means for communicating with a company, it is going to be key for CRM vendors to incorporate a way for customers to self-serve if they are on the web, social media, forums, mobile, or at kiosks.  

Do you think other vendors will follow suit with Microsoft? How do you think these acquisitions of Virtual Assistant companies will change the way we use CRM?