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One of the biggest issues facing companies that deploy a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is user acceptance. Over the years the CRM industry has gained lots of wisdom about user acceptance but I'm still surprised to see how many companies struggle to get their users to buy in and actually use CRM. In this post, I will outline what I see as the top six reasons why user acceptance is still a big problem for so many companies. Then in a series of future blog posts, I will dive into each of these reasons in detail, exploring why each is such a problem and offering some guidance on overcoming user acceptance pitfalls, based on W-Systems' experience working with our customers. The decision to purchase and deploy a CRM system is usually based on solid business logic. But once the decision has been made to deploy, many projects go off track. Here are the top reasons why.
Sure it was the Senior VP of Sales or the CEO of the company who came up with the idea to deploy CRM in the first place, but these people are seldom actively involved in the deployment project. The reasons why, the ramifications, and ways to correct this situation, all hold valuable lessons on how to improve system acceptance.
Managers, the consumers of information from a CRM system, are typically the decision makers when it comes to system selection and customization. But the real users of the system are the sales reps and customer support staff who must enter and manage information. Often little or no thought is given to the needs of these users and the system deployed often does not meet their needs. Ultimately, a CRM system should make users more productive. But all too often the new system is perceived (correctly or incorrectly) as additional work for already busy employees.
We have learned over the years that there is no such thing as too much training. Training increases comfort with the system, allows users to become more efficient, and overcomes reluctance to change. But few companies invest adequately in training. Why is this the case and what can be done to make training more effective and economical?
When managers do not rely on the information in a CRM system as the "gold standard" for decision making in the organization, how can they expect end-users to take the system seriously? By conducting the daily operations of the organization through the CRM system, user acceptance is reinforced, data quality improves, and decision making becomes more efficient and accurate. We call that "living in the system."
One of the easiest ways to get employees to use a CRM system is to tie system use to their compensation plan. We'll dig into this technique and offer some suggestions on how to make it work.
At the end of the day, any CRM system is only as good as the data in it. During deployment, many companies migrate legacy databases from multiple sources, create large amounts of duplicate data, and don't take the time to "scrub" data so that it's valuable and meaningful to users. We'll address techniques for making this process less painful and more affordable. Stay tuned in the coming days for in-depth posts on each of these user acceptance issues. And feel free to post your own thoughts and experiences here on the blog.