Maximizing User Adoption in CRM Deployment

October 9, 2012   //   Customer Relationship Management, , , , , ,

There are several best practices for encouraging Customer Relationship Management (CRM) user engagement that will promote long-term adoption of the platform. When I say complete adoption, I mean the entire customer lifecycle can be managed through the solution, from initial outreach, through marketing, to end-user support. Adoption is not only vital for staff members and the continuity of data; but it also is the ultimate driver of revenue and customer satisfaction.

Making a Plan

To increase the odds of widespread usage, companies need to have a sustained adoption plan in place before launch. For some organizations, the use of a new CRM platform can be a significant shift in processes and even culture. Management first needs to tell staff that a change is coming and then provide the business case for the new system and what are the expected longer-term results. Some vendors will work closely with a company to help them educate staff and to generate excitement about the product. They might create customized videos or intuitive guidebooks to alleviate any initial concerns about the switch to CRM.

Firms that are working with a top IT consulting firm for implementation should feel the focus of the conversation is more about process than it is technology. A quality consulting outfit will focus initial conversations on what exact tasks and goals the sales, marketing and other teams need to complete on a daily basis. Company management and the consultants should present CRM as a tool instead of a task, and explicitly state the value statement before actual launch.

Adoption Starts at the Top

Once launched, the adoption of a CRM platform should be a top-down approach, meaning executive and manager-level staff need to be the front-runners using the solution. If they are active users and participants they are not only leading by example, but are also able to describe and quantify the business value of the platform. One way of showing the inherent value is to encourage the management of data all in one place. In a sales environment, sales managers need to fully embrace the CRM to pull forecast reports and other needed data. Typical disconnects in some organizations find the sales manager asking for individual Excel sheets from each sales member that must then be aggregated. This is the type of situation that the right CRM solution should render obsolete, the double entry of information. Management needs to invest their own time in learning the system in order to have the trickle down adoption and resulting efficiency gains from their team members.

Another tactic to drive adoption is to introduce a phased approach, where an organization might offer the CRM to the department where adoption is likely to be highest. Once some “super users” are identified and encouraged, the company can develop usage cases to clearly show the value of the CRM platform to other departments.

Once launched, some staff members might complain there is not yet enough data within the CRM for them to actually do tangible work. Management needs things for the staff to complete right away. Creating a “competition” is a good tactic, especially in a sales setting where a level of competition already exists. Managers could offer coffee gift cards or some other reward for the sales staff who inserts the most prospect customers into the system within a certain time frame. Or marketing staff bonuses could be held back until all campaigns are placed into the CRM tool.

Choosing the Right CRM to Drive Adoption – Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics

For the business that needs several integrated apps in order to conduct core business functions, Salesforce.com is leading the way with their own app marketplace and exchange. Microsoft Dynamics also is driving forward with app integration, but it does not yet have the breadth found with Salesforce.com. They have very quickly opened up to the usage of third-party apps which can add more value to marketing, sales, or service. For example, CRM tools usually have basic functions for email campaigns, but are mainly relying on third-party partners such as Marketo which allows the business to create campaigns, track customer behavior, and other functions.

Salesforce.com can be expensive, with user fees ranging from $65 to $250 per user per month, but it is embracing innovation and offers advanced features that bring value. Alternatively, Microsoft Dynamics On Demand version is only $44 per user per month.

Both solutions are becoming more accepting of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, with Salesforce.com users able to access any needed CRM data through their phone. This access is free, but a top tier subscription is required for customizations. Microsoft is announcing enhanced mobile capabilities in Q4 of this year, and access will likely have a $30 per user per month charge.

Microsoft Dynamics is a winner when it comes to on-premises capability (not an option with Salesforce.com) and document management capabilities which are managed through SharePoint.

Salesforce.com and Microsoft Dynamics are also moving towards becoming part of the “social enterprise,” where key business applications are built to allow easier sharing and team collaboration. Such features can drive adoption, but there are some hurdles, especially with sales teams that might compete with one another. With either solution, the rate of adoption still mainly rests with the efforts of individual users to find value and share their positive experience with others.

To learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com system solutions, please join SWC for our next Customer Relationship Management event.

If you enjoyed this post, take a moment to read Todd Wickens’ other CRM posts.