The most important value proposition for any CRM application (or any software application for that matter) should always be to ensure a high user adoption rate over the lifetime of the customer’s experience. There are many CRM industry experts such as ISM’s Barton Goldberg that have shaped my thoughts on this subject over the years. My 10 years of application & implementation experience have validated those views. Here’s my take, as well as how C2CRM is deployed:
Factors of a successful application:
- Procuring a CRM system with the latest technology that fits your needs. It may be obvious, but if the software you are implementing does not have the features and functionality needed to satisfy your CRM requirements, the other factors listed below will have minimal impact. The key here is to not overpay for software for features you will not need.
- Configure the CRM software to not only closely mirror the client’s business model, but also recommend more efficient ways to achieve their goal. The key here is to not look at this as matching features and functions to meet CRM requirements but to solve the client’s business problems. This requires a very experienced and knowledgeable implementation team that is great at consulting that can leverage what has worked in past applications as well as incorporating best practices. In the end, the user interface of the software should be optimized for each type of user, making it intuitive and easy to use.
- Ensuring the customer obtains both top-down and bottom-up support for the software. Typically this is referred to as the “carrot vs. stick” approach to getting people to adopt something new. I’m suggesting that there needs to be both a carrot and a stick to be successful.
- Stick – there needs to support from executive level management that the software is always to be used and is critical to the success of the company down to the individual level. There need to be consequences if the directive is not followed.
- Carrot – The users of the system need to be sold on the increased benefit that the software can help them do their jobs better and more efficiently while making them more productive. If it is perceived that “it is only causing them to do more work”, they won’t buy-in. In the case of sales reps, it should be demonstrated that using the system has a direct correlation to putting more money in their pocket. Finally, the CRM vendor must involve the users when customizing the software. This will make them feel as though their input was incorporated, also making sure they have skin in the game.
- The culture of the customer’s organization may have to be changed to accept the changing model. Resistance to this change will mostly surface at a user level. A person’s background can dictate the level of receptiveness (i.e. a more computer-savvy person may adapt better to using CRM software).
- To ensure the effectiveness and usefulness of, the CRM application must change to match the customer’s business model. This requires the CRM vendor to have an open communication channel to constantly stay involved with the client and identify potential modifications to the software. The CRM vendor must also provide continuous and frequent training to ensure proper usage. It is critical that the CRM vendor does not “nickel & dime” the customer to make the necessary post-implementation software modifications. It is much easier and cost-effective to accomplish this when the software provider, implementer, and support are the same company…there is accountability as well as no partners that will pass the buck.
Compliance with all the factors above will increase the probability of more efficient use of your CRM application. This, in turn, will ensure more accurate information is in the system, which will have a positive impact on strategic decision-making from executives.