With 3 out of 4 economists predicting a U.S. recession by 2021, uncertainty around the United Kingdom and the European Union trade agreements, and global economic confidence weining, how is your business protecting itself from a downturn?
When recession looms, leaders look to the levers within their business they can influence – focusing on retaining current customers, closing best case sales opportunities in pipeline and protecting cash reserves. Many will resort to cost cutting to further mitigate risk or postpone investments in new technology that had been forecasted to drive innovation and competitive advantage.
While many leaders will shy away from investing into new technology, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have surfaced low risk, high reward business solutions to ensure your organization continues to thrive while weathering the effects of an economic downturn.
Common applications of AI technology already in use today include:
- automation solutions are eliminating hours of administrative tasks for employees, increasing productivity and time utilization
- advanced relationship mapping tools are driving faster and smarter ways to approach new business development
- AI powered data enrichment is delivering unparalleled data quality for sales and marketing teams
- Passive, intelligent data collection is helping increase adoption of historically under-utilized technology, proving out better ROI on large investments
These current applications are a few ways AI can help recession proof your business growth, while increasing your company’s competitive edge, even in trying economic climates. Implementing the practices outlined below will help ensure your business not only survives a pending recession, but also thrives during tough economic times.
1. Measure Customer Engagement In Real-Time
A study by Invespcro found that increasing customer retention rates by only 5% can lead to a 25-95% boost in profitability. So much effort goes into closing new business, but does your company focus enough energy on customer success and client management after the ink has dried on the contract?
While dedicated teams are likely focused on maintaining and building client relations, do you have a quantitative way to measure how often your teams are actually engaging with customers? Do you have line of sight into which accounts and contacts haven’t been communicated within the last 10, 30, 90 days?
To more successfully measure customer sentiment, your business needs a way for every customer facing professional to see how often key accounts are being engaged with and by whom. AI tools, like relationships intelligence, help measure how customer relationships are trending – up or down – and proactively notify you of accounts that require attention to ensure you’re not jeopardizing customer retention.
Keeping customers happy is an important part of recession protection, but can also be a direct path to growing account revenues and profitability during tough times.
2. Keep your data clean to maximize new business growth potential
Poor data quality costs businesses around $700 billion a year, or 30% of an average company’s revenue. And according to a Salesforce Research report, up to 70% of your data in your CRM will become obsolete or out-of-date in a given year. Here is another area of your business that can benefit from recent advances in AI technology.
Specifically, CRM data automation technologies have made it possible for organizations to maximize CRM input from sales professionals without adding extra tasks to their already overflowing workloads. Passive data collection and proactive email widgets and panel solutions, equip teams with a simple way to create new information in CRM without disrupting their daily workflows.
Data automation works by providing professionals with an automated way to sync new contacts, activities, tasks and more from their email client directly into CRM. With 27% of salespeople reporting they spending an hour or more on data entry each day, automating administrative work can directly impact a professional’s performance and productivity.
Not only does this help drive better productivity, greater data accuracy on leads, accounts and contacts in your CRM, but it can lead to more insights into business development opportunities. Additionally, artificial intelligence can boost ongoing data accuracy up to 90%+ by mapping contact information from email exchange, the web, social media and more to keep data quality high over time.
3. Have a key account succession plan in place
Revisiting the importance of measuring customer engagement, relationship mapping is a seamless way to not only measure the frequency of communication at key accounts, but also an effective way to manage succession planning to ensure there isn’t ever a disruption in your customer’s experience.
Relationship mapping helps a business visualize who-knows-who and how well across the business. If a key account manager puts in their 2 week notice or a senior partner at your firm is planning to retire, you aren’t scrambling to replace or educate a new manager on the ins and outs of the account.
Machine learning and AI algorithms can advise who else at your company has the best relationships at the account to ensure a swift transition to an already trusted colleague.
4. Map cross sell and upsell opportunities for quick wins in the short term
Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and will spend 31% more with your business compared to new customers, which validates investing more time into mapping cross sell and upsell opportunities for most organizations looking to grow.
And according to a study by Accenture, the impact of AI technologies on business is projected to increase labor productivity by up to 40% and enable people to make more efficient use of their time.
One of the biggest transformations for most businesses is the transference of unproductive task management into time spent with customers uncovering new ways to grow revenue.
5. Free up more time for employees to sell and manage client experience
23% of salespeople cite manual data entry as the biggest challenge when using their existing CRM. Advances in AI and data automation have made it easier than ever before to leverage technology to automate mundane administrative tasks for sales, business development and marketing professionals.
Speaking from our own customer experiences, Introhive’s data automation solution syncs contact and activity records into CRM for busy professionals saving over 5.5 hours per week, per employee. That adds up to 22 hours per month and 286 hours a year that can be redirected towards prospecting new business or managing customer experience.
On top of those savings, pre-meeting digest reports save employees an addition 7.2 hours per week chasing down information to prepare for calls and in person meetings. All in, that equates to an average of 12.7 hours of time savings that can be directed towards nurturing deals and customer needs.
Wrapping it all up
In conclusion, economists will speculate around impending economic depressions, but for your business what are you doing to create a competitive edge and position your company for growth during hard times?
I’ll leave you with a recent PwC study of 2,500 U.S. consumers and business decision makers that found they believe AI is going to be fundamental in the future. In fact, 72% termed it a “business advantage.” Have you considered how AI can help your business?
To explore how AI is driving digital transformation, I encourage you to download Introhive’s free playbook to learn more.