The success of any software application hinges on many factors. They include:
- 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 & 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 the goal. The key here is to not look at this as matching features & 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 and can leverage was 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 adapt to something new. I’m suggesting that there needs to be both a carrot and a stick to be successful.
- The culture of the customer’s organization may have to be changed to accept the changing paradigm. It is human nature to resist change and every effort to this is critical. Resistance to 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).
- Stick – there needs to be an edict/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 needs 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, more efficiently while making them more productive. If it is perceived that “it only is causing them to do more work” then 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 so they feel their input was incorporated…this will also make sure they have skin in the game.
- The customer’s business model never remains static over time. It’s dynamic and constantly changing to keep up with an ever-changing business environment. To ensure the effectiveness and usefulness of the application remains optimal & the user adoption stays high, 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. It also imperative that the CRM vendor provide continuous & frequent training to ensure proper usage. It is also 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 usage 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.