2017 Small Business Trends
It’s time to get serious about how your small business handles it’s CRM activities

It’s the burning question on everyone’s minds right now—What new trends are we going to see come out of the CRM space in 2017? Well, maybe not everyone’s mind, but for small businesses it is important to note the developing technologies that will help them attract new customers and turn existing customers into repeat purchasers and close more sales. Here are four trends we’re seeing in CRM that will help you earn life-long customers:

1 // Predictive analytics will become more advanced

Good CRM software will help you determine how often your customers want to hear from you, at what time of day, and whether it should be by email, phone, or text. But in 2017, CRM predictive analytics technology will give small businesses even greater insight into the way they approach customer engagement and sales by drilling deeper into existing customer information the company aggregates.

The key to finding success with these advanced predicative analytics is to be clear on what you’re trying to accomplish and precisely how the data will serve your sales and marketing efforts. For example, if you want to expand your customer offering with a premium service to save them time and energy, you’ll want to know how much time they’re currently spending and how many steps they have to take to receive the full value of your product or service. You’ll want to know how they are over-compensating by not getting that full benefit and how you could support them in providing a better solution.

Pro-Tip: Knowing what data would help you serve your customers best will allow you to choose the right tools. Using automated sequences that gather information through clicks allows you to deliver hyper-targeted messages that can be enhanced with one-off communications that are extremely timely and topical. What decisions and steps can you relieve your customers of having to address, simply by building thoughtful systems and more responsive communications?

2 // Mobile app adoption will become essential

Over the past few years, small and midsized businesses have begun to truly embrace streamlined CRM tools built specifically for companies of their size, and now the focus is turning toward taking their CRM with them. From last year through the end of 2017, mobile app adoption is expected to grow 140 percent and use of mobile apps to assist customer service roles will increase 219 percent. In short: Your CRM is most effective when it’s at your fingertips. Top solutions now provide apps you and your team can use from any mobile device to receive notifications, capture relevant notes, and email or call contacts directly within the app.

Whereas mobile apps have previously been an option to be used in a pinch while on-the-go, the newest waves of mobile app design seeks to make their use an integral and regular part of managing your customer relationships. With the power of today’s smartphones and the ease of using native-built apps, we will see more and more reliance on these powerful tools.

Pro-Tip: Before you greet a customer, utilize your CRM app to review which products or services they’ve most recently expressed an interest in. Use their recent interests to ask follow-up questions to get to the heart of what challenges are most pressing to them. Once you’ve concluded your conversation, jump right back into your app and email them with additional resources or solutions before you transition into your next customer interaction.

3 // Integrations will skyrocket

When it comes to CRM, even the best solutions aren’t going to be the best at everything by themselves. However, the great ones do make it easy to integrate the best third party tools. Connectivity and integration are only going to increase, and small businesses are going to begin to look at the incorporation of additional products and services into their CRM to be a must.

Within good CRM solutions with the right integrations, customer sales, workflows, product tracking, and social media can be easily monitored, thus providing a central hub that empowers members of your team with a current and holistic snapshot during customer interactions.

Pro-Tip: Make it easier to deliver great service to your customers by adopting CRM solutions that integrate with tools you already use. Check to see if the CRM solution you’re considering has a partnership with integration powerhouse Zapier to help connect your favorite tools. Third party integrations through tools like Zapier are an inexpensive way to use automation in ways that will benefit both you and your customers.

4 // Social networks will play an increasingly significant role in the CRM ecosystem

Your customer service team (which, as a small business owner, may primarily be you!) likely has set hours and days off; but customers are less and less likely to wait when they expect they may get a faster response by going online, especially to Twitter. Or if they’re not feeling heard by your traditional communication channels, they might just tag your company in a post to inform you of their status.

When you are responsive on your social media channels—and you should be—you will find more customers utilizing social to ask for what they need. And when customers have positive experiences on social channels, they’re 71 percent more likely to recommend the brand to others. Given that so much communication is now done through social channels, it’s important that you recognize to what degree your customers prefer it. Meet them where they are and effectively manage your social engagements by employing a CRM solution with strong social media capabilities in 2017.

Pro-Tip: Instead of manually logging in and out of each social channel, look for tools that centralize communications for all your social streams. CRM solutions now help you to take action through social channels and organize your strategy through the CRM platform itself.

These four CRM trends to look for in 2017 build upon some exciting developments we’ve seen over the last couple years, underscoring just how critical “custom” is to your customer experience. The right CRM solution will give you the foundation you need to capture the right data, develop meaningful predictive analytics, utilizing integrated tools and social to make your customer feel that despite all the technology you’re giving them individualized attention. In 2017, that is what will get the customers’ attention and drive sales in small business.