Poor user adoption is consistently cited as the main reason why CRM projects fail to deliver against expectations. Indeed, when Forrester Research asked companies about the top pain points they’d experienced when implementing a new CRM system, user adoption came top of the list.
If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. One day, users are happily working away on systems they’re comfortable with and know inside out. OK – these may have some limitations, but your users have come up with some highly creative work-rounds to get things done. And while these might seem time and labour intensive, from their perspective it all works – and ‘if it ain’t broke – why fix it?’
Then, out of the blue, they’re presented with a brand new shiny CRM system, given half a day’s training and told to get on with it. Suddenly, the rules of the game have changed: they’re being told to work with a new system they didn’t ask for, weren’t consulted about, and now have to learn overnight. Little wonder many revert to the old ways of doing things – or won’t play ball at all.
Fact is that all too frequently, the issue of user adoption is a bit of an after-thought for CRM project teams – and take my word for it, scheduling some training for people post-implementation isn’t going to be enough to win hearts and minds, or boost user uptake.
Here are my top five recommendations for getting everyone onboard with CRM:
1. Involve Users From Day One
For any CRM system to be considered a success, it must meet the needs of its users. So when you first start out and begin to define your CRM requirements, it’s going to be vital to talk to the individuals and teams that ultimately will be using the new system. That means that from day one you’ll need to be transparent about what you’re planning and clear that you want to give them a voice in the planning and implementation process.
Because successful CRM isn’t a single department solution, getting different teams together early on so they can discuss how information needs to flow across the organisation will help you map out key processes and agree standardised definitions and terms between teams – sales might have a very different perspective on what constitutes a ‘lead’ compared to their marketing colleagues. All of which is a sure fire way of ensuring that your CRM initiative doesn’t fall short of user expectations and captures every opportunity for improving operating efficiency.
2. Sell The Benefits: What’s In It For Me?
Personalise your pre-implementation discussions about CRM. At the initial discovery stage, when you’re talking to key stakeholders, the message should be ‘We’re implementing a new system to make your working lives easier’. Demonstrate in words and actions that their input at this early stage will be invaluable to making sure that the functionality individual teams would benefit from – and would like to use – is incorporated.
For example, demonstrate how manual tasks can be automated to save time and effort for them. Similarly, how would their lives be different if they could take advantage of on-demand reporting? Ask questions about what insights and reports would be valuable to the. Would it be useful to be able to ‘see’ the entire sales funnel, without having to spend hours collating this information from disparate sources? Ask users; ‘What’s tricky or time consuming for you to do today – and how can we make this better?’
3. Replicate Social Tools
Users will find CRM a more relevant experience if they can apply functions they are already familiar with. Increasingly, this includes social tools. Check user sentiment on how useful they would find these type of features – for example, social tools that enable them to ‘follow’ accounts, sales opportunities and other records. So they get alerts whenever important interactions occur.
Initiating ‘like’ CRM posts and the ability to share entries that promote better team collaboration will help unleash more streamlined and time efficient ways for cross-functional working to take place – without anyone having to lift a finger to stay on top of what’s happening right now to their accounts. Connecting CRM with social networks can also help users develop closer relationships with customers and other contacts, by enabling them to follow social network updates in the CRM interface. Making the CRM system a ‘one stop shop’ for everything they need to know and do is a great way of ensuring they’ll embrace and actively use this powerful new tool.
4. Start Simple & Evolve
A phased implementation will help users build confidence with the application, allowing people to master the basics without feeling overwhelmed by a project that attempts to achieve too much, too quickly. CRM systems have a great many features to choose from – but do users need them all right now? Overcomplicating things at the outset can create an immediate barrier to adoption. Ideally, start with simple interfaces that incorporate only the features that individual user groups will need. More CRM functions can always be switched on later, as and when these are needed.
That’s the problem that faced Drax UK after an over-ambitious CRM implementation turned users off. The project team had to take a step back – making the system more accessible and rolling out incremental changes as users became more comfortable and confident. Remember – it’s a great idea to beta test your system with users – not just members of the IT team – before the ‘go live’. That way, if screens aren’t clear, data input fields are missing, or process flows don’t work – users can tell you early on what needs to be revisited or looked at again to make the system usable for them.
5. Appoint CRM Super Users
Once the dust has settled, and all company-wide training has been completed, make sure you’ve appointed super users across the organisation who will be the ‘go to’ point that teams and individuals can go to for additional help and support. These should be people who are knowledgeable about the departmental area users are working in – and understand the day-to-day tasks users encounter.
Regularly poll your super users to identify that issues or challenges users are encountering – so you can move fast to review and fix these problems. This will go a long way to minimising any damage to user adoption or motivation and clearly demonstrate your commitment to users. Once the system has bedded in, your CRM super users should become your eyes and ears on the ground. Providing intelligence and updates on how the CRM system needs to be evolved over time to keep pace with new requirements and future changes.
Time and time again I come across organisations that invest significant time and effort comparing the features of different CRM solutions, without focusing on what matters most – user needs. Without involving users early on, you’re likely to find that you’ve implemented a hugely complicated white elephant that doesn’t let them do the things they need to do to get the job done – or the functionality they need to work effectively. In other words, getting your CRM implementation right will depend on:
- Ensuring the CRM platform is designed specifically to meet the needs of users
- Communicating the benefits to users – and motivating them to get on board
- Ensuring users understand how to use the system – and are confident to do so.