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CRM User Adoption Best Practices

Achieving high CRM user adoption rates is paramount to the success of any CRM.  When poor user adoption occurs, frustration mounts at every level of an organization.   Why does this happen and how can it be avoided?  This blog addresses common reasons for poor user adoption and best practices for avoiding it.

What Causes Poor CRM User Adoption

Poor CRM user adoption can generally be mapped to one of the following complaints:

  • The CRM is too difficult to use

    No one has time these days to deal with a difficult to use CRM.  Difficulty can be defined in many ways, but more often than not, the CRM is not enabling easy data entry, ease of access to data or ease in reporting.  Any one of these issues alone will cause users to shy away from using a CRM.

  • The CRM is too time consuming to use.

    Too many clicks and too many steps take time and frustrate users.  Ease of use is important to end users, and when this does not occur, problems arise.

  • The CRM does not meet the needs of the end users .  

    When a CRM does not meet the day-to-day needs of end users, user will avoid the system. Not meeting user needs can occur because the CRM was not for the end users, or the organization has outgrown its CRM, or business processes have changed over time which are not reflected in the CRM.

  • Users were not adequately trained.

    Implementing a CRM without providing solid training can cause a CRM to fail quickly. Rolling out a CRM does translate into users using the CRM.  Most CRM users are not technical, and many organizations, including consulting companies, are not committed to training.

  • I cannot get data out of the CRM

    Not all CRMs are created equally when it comes to reporting.  If a user must work too hard to get data out of the system, what is the point of the system. Selecting a best-fit CRM is critical to insure reporting needs are met as is designing the system well.

  • The data I need is not in the CRM

    This can occur for multiple reasons: 1) not all users are working in the CRM leaving gaps in the data, 2) the CRM is not integrated to other applications where needed data resides, 3) there are reporting issues within the CRM, or 4) users do not understand how to use the CRM.

In the end, poor user adoption can often be boiled down to:

  • A poorly designed system which causes users to work too hard or causes the CRM to not perform as needed
  • A CRM which has not kept current and evolved with the business
  • Poor user training and/or poor user support
  • A lack of commitment by management regarding organizational wide use of the CRM
  • A CRM, which does not provide access to needed data, due to a lack of integrations to other systems

How to Achieve High CRM User Adoption Rates

Antero developed a methodology to helping organizations achieve high CRM user adoptions rates, which has been highly successful. Our guidelines (some of which are included here) represent an understanding of who uses CRM, how they use CRM and what CRM needs to achieve for an organization.

  • Best-Fit CRM Selection

High CRM user adoption starts at the very beginning with selecting a best-fit CRM.  CRM products vary substantially in terms of what they can do, how they do it and pricing.  Take a step back and determine over-arching CRM requirements before selecting a product.  Match these requirements to a CRM’s capabilities.  Demo the systems to get a feel for how the users interface looks-and-feels.  Whenever possible, avoid vendor demos of the CRM products as their goal is to sell you product.  Evaluate short and long-term software pricing implications as well as availability of support and its associated costs.

  • Designing a CRM – It Takes a Village

Designing a CRM takes a village. IT, finance, sales, customer service, marketing, management and any number of end users may need to be involved in the design process.  Select a representative team of stakeholders, who understand what is needed and how the system will be used every day. Involve this team in the project lifecycle. These stakeholders will become your champions and super users. They will guide your design team on what users’ needs and how they need it.

When designing a CRM, think about what data needs to come out of the CRM from the get-go.  If you cannot get the data out of the CRM that you need, the CRM will fall flat.  This is important and generally opposite of the way IT approaches a design.

Lastly, think about your business processes. If your business processes are onerous or do not flow well, neither will the CRM.  We recommend re-engineering your business process in concert with CRM design. CRM are off-the-shelf products.  Each CRM has its own way of doing “things”. If your business process fights the CRM, you may need to overly customize the CRM, which drives up costs.

  • CEO: Drive CRM From the Top Down

For a CRM to work well, everyone in an organization needs to use it insuring data is in one place and is accurate.  The head of the organization must be committed to everyone using the CRM, and this message must be shared loudly, clearly and often.  Once the CRM is released, only management can make the statement: “you must use the CRM”.  Old mechanisms should be shut down wherever viable to encourage use.

  • Training, More Training & Support

Documentation and training must accommodate a non-technical audience. Leave adequate budget for training when implementing a new system.  The best training is hands-on training where users can work in the “final” version of the CRM before it goes live. Include hands-on, realistic exercises to build user confidence and knowledge. Deliver training immediately prior to go-live where it will remain fresh in everyone’s minds. Provide usable documentation including cheat sheets. After go-live, continue training with follow-up sessions, lunch-and-learns and a support help desk.  Extra support is always recommended the first month after go-live.  Have a phone hotline or on call consultants to help.  Avoiding user frustration is key to high user adoption.

High user adoption needs to start at the beginning of the CRM process when you are selecting a CRM and/or beginning implementation. Following some of the above steps will go a long way in helping you achieve high CRM user adoption.

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