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IDC shares how generative AI transforms business processes within marketing, sales, and service 

This post is authored by Gerry Murray, Marketing and Sales Technology Research Director, IDC; and coauthored by Carlena Neely, Product Marketing Manager, Business Applications, Microsoft.

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Learn about the latest AI breakthroughs with Microsoft Sales Copilot.

Delving into the realm of customer-centric strategies, IDC analyst Gerry Murray casts a visionary light on the transformative influence of generative AI (Gen AI) on sales and service. Murray’s perspective resonates powerfully with the groundbreaking nature of Gen AI, which is reshaping customer interactions into a new era of efficiency and effectiveness.

Gen AI isn’t just another technology; it’s a strategic leap that orchestrates seamless data and workflows across marketing, sales, and service touchpoints. Gerry Murray emphasizes its potential to eliminate mundane tasks, such as drafting emails and preparing for meetings, while providing real-time support during crucial interactions. It is also extremely exciting to have covered the addition of Microsoft Sales Copilot, providing a more streamlined and AI-powered selling experience.

The true potential of Gen AI infused in tools such as Microsoft Sales Copilot unfolds when it seamlessly integrates with other applications such as CRM systems, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft Teams, presenting a harmony that minimizes risks while maximizing benefits. This strategic synergy aligns with industry best practices and fosters an environment of innovation.

Gen AI transcends the realm of ordinary tools; it’s an enabler propelling business toward an era of seamless experiences and unparalleled efficiency.

AI-powered customer and seller experiences

Customers have extremely high expectations for a vendor’s ability to personalize everything about their experiences pre- and post-sale. Consumers expect each touchpoint in their journey to be informed and enhanced by all the previous touchpoints. Business buyers have the same expectations, but they take much more work on the part of sellers to fulfill as everything about the B2B sales process is far more complex than B2C. In both cases, the days of relying on customers to continually explain the context of their situation to the next point of contact are over.

To achieve today’s new level of continuity, the data from every touchpoint needs to be available to every other system within brand and regulatory policy. Giving all customer-facing functions equal insights into behaviors such as social sentiment, sales engagement, purchase histories, late payments, product returns, and support consumption can greatly improve business performance across the board. That improvement requires the underlying infrastructure supporting front-office applications to enable the customer’s data to be available to service them wherever they go next, which is a daunting challenge for large enterprises with fragmented data silos.

Generative AI (Gen AI) for front office applications can manage the data and workflow triggers between customer interactions across marketing, sales, and service enabling these employees to be more helpful faster, which in turn raises customer satisfaction, advocacy, and lifetime value.

Generative AI for sales

AI-powered role-based assistants can help sales reps increase productivity and personalize every customer interaction so they can close more deals. Gen AI can be present in the tools sellers use daily such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, or Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, and connects to other CRM systems. AI alleviates the tedium and time sinks of endless click loops through menus, drop downs, pick lists, and check boxes. The impact on employee experience will be significant as AI will enable sellers to:

  • Get auto-generated opportunity summaries including status, progress, and highlights of key changes.
  • Create contextual emails that utilize customer CRM data to pull in product, customer, and opportunity information.
  • Prepare for customer meetings with a summary view including account information, recent notes, highlights of any issues or concerns, customer news, and more.
  • Get real-time tips and suggested answers during video meetings prompted by competitor or brand mentions by the customers to stay ready to handle objections.

Augmenting the front office with insight

But AI in and of itself is not enough, as it requires a great deal of data. To help organizations increase the speed of acting on customer insights and orchestrating personalized customer journeys, data infrastructure must offer both customer data platform and customer journey orchestration capabilities as a single solution and continue investments into real-time marketing.

The most effective way to optimize the benefits of AI and minimize the risks at the same time is to put AI in the context of other applications. This approach makes AI effective at completing repetitive tasks for customer-facing employees in marketing, sales, commerce, merchandising, point of sale, customer service and support, call center, loyalty, and so forth, all functions in which decision quality and cycle time are essential to customer satisfaction. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Copilot can eliminate repetitive tasks such as:

  • Drafting messages and project plans.
  • Scheduling and summarizing sales calls.
  • Creating, testing, and fine-tuning audience segments.
  • Matching brand guidelines for emails, forms, and event registration pages using natural language to deliver a consistent brand narrative and customer experience.
  • Orchestrating customer journeys across marketing, sales, and service, so customer actions can be responded to appropriately and quickly, generating sales leads or increasing customer satisfaction.

AI significantly impacts customer-facing employees, improving their experience and enabling them to focus on higher-value tasks. It accelerates decision-making, improves productivity, and enhances the coordination of interactions with customers across various touchpoints.

Enhancing business efficiency

Gen AI is new and evolving at warp speed. IDC expects there to be a great deal of innovation in terms of future capabilities and a wide range of use cases across multiple front-office functions. Examples of how Gen AI can enhance work processes for sales and marketing include:

  • Additional sales use cases for Gen AI could include request for proposal (RFP) creation and response, upselling recommendations, price optimization, contract generation and review, account planning, territory optimization, and more.
  • In marketing, Gen AI can describe their customer segment in their own words to create a target segment with the query assist feature. Marketers can also use Gen AI to get inspiration for email campaign content based on a simple request. Gen AI can make suggestions based on key topics entered by the marketer and the organization’s existing marketing emails, as well as from a range of internet sources to increase the relevance of generated ideas. Additional use cases could include fine-tuned segmentation, send time optimization, content generation, testing and optimization, attribution, media mix modeling, and more.

IDC conclusion

Gen AI is one of the most significant technological advances of the last decade, it is as much of a quantum leap as the graphical user interface, the Internet, and smartphones. Gen AI is a major advancement for line-of-business people who can now explain what they want to do to an AI assistant instead of having to learn how to do it in a graphical user interface (GUI) that might involve hundreds of mouse clicks on menu calls, dialog boxes, drop downs, radio buttons, application switching, and so forth.

Learn more about the latest AI breakthroughs with Microsoft Sales Copilot on the Dynamics 365 AI webpage.