Low-code bids to elevate customer relationship management

Are there are any depths to which low-code software application development cannot reach… and should that actually be heights? Among the principle practices within information technology potentially about to grow its usage of low-code functionality is Customer Relationship Management (CRM).


With the templates, short-cuts, reference guides and pre-configurations that low-code software offers, its ability to make things simpler for programmer-developers is widely lauded as means of building modern IT systems more quickly with expanded functionality. Where low-code strays into some even lower no-code drag-and-drop, it may also have applicability for some business users to help create software too.

Given this backdrop then, is low-code Customer Relationship Management really a sub-discipline in and of itself, or is this spin adding to an already quite noisy din?

Salesforce: no hard-code software

It would feel remiss not to start with Salesforce. Known for its ‘No Software’ brand -- intended to tell customers that all technology should come from the cloud and not from legacy mainframe systems as explained here -- whether Salesforce will ever sell its low-code proposition with a new ‘No Hard-Coded Software’ slogan remains to be seen.

Never knowingly unexplained, Salesforce this quarter has detailed low-code functionality in its extremely-logically-named Salesforce Platform product. Of particular note is a tool called Dynamic Interactions, which simplifies the process for building apps with components that communicate with each other and are able to pass data back and forth as they react to user actions.

Crowd-sourced business review website Yelp is a good use case example here. When a user selects a business name from a list, that organisation’s location is automatically highlighted in an embedded map, so there has been a connection between company name and company map location and that action is displayed on screen. That application component connectivity has been linked by the Dynamic Interactions tool.

Where this comes into low-code is that traditionally, developers had to build custom components and program their interactions every time they spun up a new app, which obviously put a certain constrain on developer resources and the delivery of business-critical apps.

Now, because the component connectivity is automatic, Salesforce says that IT administrators and even business users can start to build software application interactions. Given that CRM is all about getting software to look after customers by connecting more information about their preferences, status, location and other key characteristics, automating application interactions together appears to make a lot of sense.

“Dynamic Interactions starts with developers who build the interactive components — basically, anything on a web page users can interact with, such as a list, a data entry form, a chart or a map. Once created, IT users can dictate when components will react to different actions, such as when someone visiting the page clicks their mouse or presses specific buttons, and how the components interact with each other on a given page, all in the App Builder interface,” notes Salesforce, in a product blog.

Major macro-trends driving CRM

CEO and founder at low-code CRM and process management company Creatio is Katherine Kostereva. Keen to validate the use and wider development of her firm’s approach, she thinks that there are several macro-trends that are accelerating change for CRM.

“First, implementation time has decreased dramatically. In 2004, it could take three years to roll out a brand-new CRM (developing a solution like Salesforce or Oracle CRM). In 2019, that came down to 18 months. Today, that could be six months depending on size and scale. Second, the focus on CRM applications is all about automating workflow and being able to configure and deliver new capabilities in days, not months. Third, CRM needs to serve multi-channel business demands (companies selling online, in-store and via third parties like Amazon), so the winds of change are strong,” said Kostereva.

To take advantage of market trends for CRM, organisations must have a strategy to effectively manage all their complex workflows and processes involved in CRM in an agile manner. After all says Kostereva, CRM is fundamentally about workflow and process management. She insists that this is where low-code comes in for CRM and why it’s an effective solution to help organisations automate and change operational and customer-facing processes.

The team at Creatio has had success providing low-code tools to enable process modeling. This means giving cross-functional (sometimes virtual) teams the ability to make changes to an application function inside a Creatio’s CRM platform and the power to approve, deploy and monitor afterwards.

Using low code to build CRM

The suggestion here is that low-code technology enables wider transparency in terms of the process of making changes to any given CRM implementation from day one.

The Creatio product engineering teams have developed low-code CRM tools for sales, marketing and customer service departments. Its CRM platform powered by low-code gives an organisation’s non technical users the ability to build customised workflows designed to help increase customer acquisition and retention. It also opens up a chance to swiftly adapt sales strategies and processes to a changing business environment, primarily because the sales support element of CRM can happen faster and in a more tuned, changeable and controllable way.

As noted, there are wider low-code CRM applications for the sales and marketing function i.e. it can be used to integrate systems using APIs to create a 360° customer view, so yet more component connectivity there. Use of Machine Learning (ML) algorithms is said to speed up customer segmentation, for sharper targeting and interactions.

Add these use cases to low-code CRM in the customer service department and we can build and constantly modernise customer self-service portals. We can build chatbots to reduce response time and provide 24/7 support, plus also deploy ML models to analyse customer requests and understand customer behaviour.

A common question that comes up at this point in the low-code CRM discussion is: does the use and popularisation of low-code decrease the need for CRM technology teams in organisations?

“The answer is no. What it will do is change what CRM teams do from day-to-day. With low-code tech as a part of its CRM platform, CRM teams will be able to achieve much more in a shorter amount of time. Rather than getting a request to add a new sales workflow, spending months working with a third-party developer or coding internally, applying for budget against the needed IT resources, business CRM users (aka ‘citizen developers’) can configure workflows themselves, get the new workflow tested and activated in days and move to the next project without the huge backlog of IT requests,” said Kostereva.

A growing market

The global CRM software market is forecast to grow to $43.5B by 2024 (Statista). By the end of this year (2021), AI associated with CRM activities was expected to boost global business revenue from the beginning of 2017 by $1.1 trillion (IDC).

Low-code appears to be a natural fit for CRM in many ways, how this space develops next with the no-code end of the road is perhaps the next chapter in automated business. Customers will still be required, but the Artificial Intelligence (AI) in these systems may start to deliver your products and services before you even think about them.