CRM and User Adoption

When it comes to CRM and user adoption, there seems to be a false sense of "if we build it, they will come." Not. True. Sure, customer facing employees want and almost always need tools to make the job of serving the customer easier. However, there are so many reasons why CRM doesn't end up either meeting those needs or just causing more work on these already overtaxed resources. So where are we going wrong and how do we begin to turn it around?

Sin #1: It’s Too Complicated

When an organization is first getting started with a CRM platform, the number one piece of advice we provide is to keep it simple. Sure your inside sales reps and customer service teams are technology pros, they can adapt to changes in technology and roll with the punches, because they're in the tools all day, every day. However, when it comes to your outside sales and marketing teams, that's a different story. Marketing may be tech savvy, but CRM isn't typically their primary tool. CRM is usually just a tool that integrates with their marketing automation platform, providing the latest, greatest customer information. Outside sales is whole other ball game. These folks tend to be much less tech savvy, and they're sometimes using two or three different devices depending upon the location they're in at the time. The role of this individual is to form the relationship, educate the client, close the deal and nurture after the sale to increase the lifetime value of the customer. It is not to learn how to use the latest, greatest technology with no less than a thousand bells and whistles on three different devices at the same time.

So, what can you do?

  1. Clean up the user interface and only show users what they absolutely need to see.
  2. Limit the number of forms and fields they have to interact with.
  3. Ensure you're optimizing the solution to meet the needs of their primary device.
  4. Train them on the ONE WAY to do things to start with. As they get more comfortable with the tool, you can introduce new ways of navigating, new features or new devices.

Sin #2: Too Many Silos

If you're a typical organization, you've got some sort of accounting platform, some sort of collaboration or document management tool, perhaps some ancillary apps for expense reporting, travel management, typical desktop tools like Office, instant messenger apps, etc. and now you're piling CRM on top of all of that. We've worked with some clients who have reported up to 50, yes 50, different apps or systems that their employees are expected to use at some point during their work week. Does this sound like you? If so, how many of these systems share common information like customer name, address, contact information, phone numbers, email addresses, product information, orders, invoices, the list goes on…? Are you still asking your employees to log this information into multiple systems, creating duplicate data entry? Guilty!

So, what can you do?

  1. Identify the common fields between systems or apps.
  2. Decide upon the system of record (a.k.a. the single version of truth).
  3. Determine what other tools or apps could benefit from that information because it could increase efficiency and reduce employee frustration.
  4. Outline a plan to work towards integrating the appropriate fields between those applications. News flash - it doesn't always have to be REAL TIME. Sure that would be nice, but even a nightly batch sync on some fields is more helpful than having to log in and out of multiple systems throughout the day.

Sin #3: Lack of Leadership Engagement

Did your leadership team sign off on the business case to implement CRM and then just ask for updates on status throughout the implementation? Where are they now? Still asking for the same data that's getting entered into CRM to be supplied to them via Excel spreadsheets? You aren't alone. If management and leadership don’t view the data in CRM as a critical source of knowledge to help run the business, then employees won’t see the point in entering data into it. And if they're asking for the data but want it in Excel, they're just creating one more silo for employees to have manage.

So, what can you do? (This is a tough one, we know!)

  1. Begin by sharing the tremendous amount of information you can now see and share within the CRM application.
  2. When leadership asks for some specific information, send them a link to the view, chart or dashboard that contains what they're looking for. (Be sure they have a login first!)
  3. Spend some time teaching them how they could be self-serving to get the data they want and need, rather than being dependent on someone else's timeline to get it to them.
  4. Coach them on how they can change the communication within their team from one-way to bi-directional.

Sin #4: Status Quo, Here We Go

Many organizations get stuck in the rut of "this is how we've always done it", or "I'm not sure who owns that", or they're growing at such a rapid pace that the people and processes can't keep up with the demands of the customer, so they're making up policy and procedure on the fly and many times forgetting to document it. When this happens, employees are living in reactionary mode, rarely getting the opportunity to think about better ways to do things, afraid to hold one another accountable for getting things done, and almost never taking the time to share the fleeting ideas they may have, because no one has time to implement them anyway. But, if the business culture doesn’t require healthy accountability and continuous improvement, then employees will not only view CRM as extra work – but as a threat. Because now they're expected to use this new tool and continue to get the rest of their job done, and it is easy for their leaders to see if they aren't.

So, what can you do?

  1. Listen. No really… Listen. Provide a mechanism for employees to share feedback and then let them know what you're going to do with it, even if it's nothing for the time being.
  2. Evaluate and prioritize the requests that employees are making and try to act on some.
  3. Ask them to get involved in the solution to issues that may be raised. Because they are closest to the work at hand, they may be the best ones to provide some recommendations on what could make it better.
  4. Embrace change. Be proactive about it. Always be looking for ways to improve process, technology and ultimately the employee and customer experience. They'll thank you for it.

Sin #5: The Benefits Haven’t Been Shared

One of the biggest obstacles in initial CRM adoption is getting past the "CRM is big brother" mentality and getting to the heart of what's in it for the user. Each and every customer facing role has something to gain by using the tool. Getting them to embrace this and helping them to realize the value is critical to getting it off the ground successfully. If they can't envision it, they may get on board for a little bit but their interest will eventually wane, leaving you with an overpriced rolodex.

So, what can you do?

  1. Identify the WIIFM's early for each and every persona that you expect to use the tool.
  2. Share these benefits with them before the project even launches.
  3. Share them again.
  4. Did we say to share them again? Yep, share them again.
  5. SHOW THEM how the work they do within the tool equates to those benefits.
  6. Share with them how they work they do benefits others up and downstream from them.

Sin #6: Your Employees Don’t Have a Number

Remember that big brother reference? This is where employees could really think it's true. But it's really not, it's simply measuring the WIIFM's. Believe it or not, each and every person in the organization should have a number. They should have a very clear understanding how they contribute to the success or failure of the company. And that number should be something they have direct influence over. And ultimately, that number should be used to measure and improve their performance over time. Since they are customer facing employees and CRM should be their primary tool, if CRM isn’t used to measure, and improve employee performance, then it gives employees one more reason to question why they're using it.

So, what can you do?

  1. Identify the most important lagging measures for your customer facing teams. Think profit, revenue, etc..
  2. Identify the behaviors that employees can engage in that could help to increase (or decrease - depending what you're measuring) those measures? Think increase outbound calls, decrease office expenses, increase in person visits, etc..
  3. Turn those behaviors into leading metrics. Think each inside sales rep will increase the number of outbound calls from 5 to 10 per day between now and the end of the year and assign this to the entire team.
  4. As a team, measure the results, hold each other accountable, celebrate the achievements and learn from the misses.

Sin #7: It’s Recommended, Not Required

You've shared all the reasons why it's great for the organization, you've integrated it with the necessary systems, you've shared the WIIFM's for each role at least a hundred times, you've given each person a leading metric and they still aren't using CRM. Sometimes, it's an incredibly tough crowd and you need to not just recommend using CRM, you need to require it as a part of the job.

So, what can you do?

  1. Add CRM usage to the job description.
  2. Tie the leading metrics to performance plans.
  3. Adopt the, "if it's not in CRM, it didn't happen" mentality.
  4. Review the metrics often and discuss the challenges and opportunities.
  5. Use the stick if you have to, and deliver the consequences as much as you might not want to.

It's a lot. We know. We're here to help. If you've got some tried and true methods that have worked well for your organization, please share them with us. If you're struggling and would like a coach to help you through the process, contact us, we're happy to get engaged in order to get you on the path to increased adoption. It's never too late to start!