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Many small businesses use a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to document every interaction with every customer in one central location. This data helps sales, marketing, and customer service teams improve the customer experience. By seeing the entire relationship history in one record, your business can identify sales opportunities, record service issues, manage marketing campaigns and more.

However, tracking all this information is often repetitive and time-consuming – making it the perfect activity for artificial intelligence to handle. As AI becomes more mainstream, businesses of all sizes are able to use this technology to automate and improve CRM tasks.

Here’s how some small businesses are integrating AI and their CRM systems to save time, access data faster and improve their customer relationship management practice.

How does AI in CRM work?

The combination of artificial intelligence and CRM software is still relatively new, but the integrations have proven to be extremely valuable to growing businesses. Platforms that integrate AI and traditional CRM tools are able to optimize every customer interaction without the need for additional resources and hiring.

“It leverages advanced algorithms, machine learning, and natural language processing to analyze vast amounts of customer data, extract valuable insights, and automate various tasks, thereby streamlining customer relationship management processes,” explained ActiveCampaign.

“At its core, AI CRM software is designed to help businesses build stronger, more personalized relationships with their customers.”

A recent survey by HubSpot found 81% of participants believe AI could help them spend less time on manual tasks. In the case of CRM, that could mean data entry, reporting, customer segmentation and routine outreach could all be handled by AI.

What can AI do in CRMs?

Though integrations are still developing, there are some early use cases that prove artificial intelligence can help businesses improve the overall customer experience.

First, AI can help personalize marketing outreach. AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard can help provide written content that is customized to your CRM audience segments. “Within CRM systems, AI can improve email content, help you develop ideas for your blog and more. AI’s data analysis can help you discover the type of content your audience wants to receive so you can create it in a way that lands,” wrote HubSpot.

AI also helps sales segment customer groups more accurately. CRM systems offer a way to report on customer segments, spending patterns and spending history. However, these reports can be tedious to produce. “Rather than running often complex report requests, users from across the marketing and sales team can use natural language to identify prospects instantly,” wrote Dr. Martin De Saulles in CIO.

Likewise, AI can help identify prospects with a high chance of converting, freeing your sales team to focus on the leads that truly matter.

AI can also help your customer service team improve their targets. “AI CRM software enables businesses to provide proactive customer support by analyzing customer interactions, sentiment and behavior. It can identify potential issues, detect patterns of dissatisfaction, and trigger timely interventions to resolve problems before they escalate,” reported ActiveCampaign.

How to get started with AI CRM tools

Currently, there are a handful of CRM systems that have added AI to their functionality. HubSpot, ActiveCampaign, Salesforce, and Zoho are among the brands that offer artificial intelligence tools in their CRM platforms. Microsoft is also working on an AI CRM product.

If you’re looking for a new CRM, consider a platform that already has AI or has plans to develop AI on its development roadmap. If you have an existing CRM with AI functionality, but haven’t started using it, start small. Choose a few key tasks and explore how AI can improve your efficiency. Over time, and as the tool learns your workflows and customer preferences, it can help your business grow.