5 tips for improving CRM usage

The list of reasons why manufacturers utilize CRM is as long as it is compelling. From accurate demand forecasts to improved product quality to a more intelligent supply chain, CRM is a tool that can help manufacturers stand out in a highly competitive industry.

Unfortunately, too many manufacturers think that an initial investment in a CRM is all that is required to reap the system’s many potential benefits. In fact, a survey of large manufacturers by Manufacturing Business Technology found that a third of respondents are working with CRMs that are as much as a decade old.

Here’s the reality: Like everything else in life and business, CRM systems only work well—and, importantly, can only achieve always-evolving business objectives—when they are monitored and assessed regularly. One big hint that your CRM isn’t doing all that it can to achieve your company’s most important business priorities is when usage among your staff drops. That is a clear indication that the software isn’t as useful and intuitive as it was when it was first implemented.

While this is a sign you might want to consider a CRM upgrade, that doesn’t solve the more immediate problem of decreasing usage. And it’s a problem you want to solve sooner rather than later.

Increase usage to improve data integrity

One of the biggest benefits of a CRM is visibility. When employees stop using the CRM regularly, the visibility you’re counting on is compromised by incomplete data. The picture you get isn’t accurate, and that affects things like forecasting and inventory and resource planning. That means it’s critical to nip usage problems in the bud, even if the ultimate solution is upgrading your CRM.

Here are five ways to do that.

 

Have a quarterly meeting with key members of each user group and the system administrators to discuss issues and changes that may affect usage. The easiest way to solve a problem is to ask about it, so do that regularly. This allows you to head off issues before they grow into something unmanageable.
Have tools in the CRM that track usage. What was the old saying, trust but verify? Even if employees are telling you that they are using the CRM, there are ways to track whether or not they actually are. Having those tools in your CRM can help you ensure data integrity.
Have top management issue reminders that they continue to fully support usage of the system. Sometimes a simple reminder that usage is the expectation can get people back on track. In that reminder, include the reasons why usage is critical. It’s because strategic company decisions depend on the accurate data that comes from high usage.
Ask for your vendor’s advice. Even if they treat you that way, you aren’t your CRM vendor’s only customer. And your usage issues probably aren’t unique to you. Ask your vendor what they’d suggest to increase usage. Ask what tactics they’ve seen others use. Your vendor is a resource for more than just software. Use them.
Use gamification. Some people are motivated by competition. By tying prizes and rewards to CRM usage you incentivize participation.