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A little more than half a year ago, the start-up knowledge services firm ChaCha was dancing just as fast as it could. The next step for the company, which provides answers to wide-ranging questions sent in by mobile users, was to start rolling out local sales teams, and the person expected to choreograph that piece of fancy footwork was Chris Brown, the company’s president and chief financial officer. But any step forward, Brown recalls, meant first taking a step back—namely, retooling ChaCha’s CRM processes in order to get those incoming salespeople up to speed without stepping on each other’s toes.
“We needed to have a quick and easy way to get humans into the sales-and-prospecting process,” Brown recalls, “a tool that was lightweight and didn’t require a lot of training.”
Brown chose as his partner a relative newcomer to the CRM dance: Jesubi, a recently launched Web-based sales solution that claims to require 12 times fewer clicks than a comparable sales offering from Salesforce.com.
Bill Johnson, Jesubi’s president and CEO, says his company has a single value proposition. “Basically, as a sales professional, you either reach a prospect or you don’t,” he says. “If you didn’t, it’s one click in our system. If you did, it’s a few clicks to categorize the conversation quickly.”
With Jesubi, a single view allows users to automatically record inbound responses, check voicemail, log an email, see activity history, and view status. Furthermore, line of business users can customize the different categories and bring about a definable “professional persistency,” Johnson says, looking
to help sales pros get back to selling. Statistics put forth by Kevin Bandy, global lead at Accenture, find representatives only sell an average of 37 percent of the time. The rest is spent on administrative tasks including logging calls and sales compensation.
“The product is made for a more streamlined sales process,” says Denis Pombriant, founder and managing principal at CRM consultancy Beagle Research Group. “Conventional sales force automation and CRM products…are geared more toward ad hoc sales processes [that] people try to pursue in a solution-oriented mode.”
The focus on streamlining processes and improving the experience for the actual users of CRM technology is being emphasized much more, as companies are being tasked to do more with less, including training and on-boarding. But what does usability really mean? The Usability Professionals Association cites ISO 9241-11: “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction in a specified context of use.”
Sage, a CRM provider, undertook several benchmark usability tests—including summative usability testing and keystroke level modeling (KLM)—when working on Act! 2010. According to Dean Barker, Sage’s director of user experience, in the past year the company “sought to put the 'u' back in user experience.” To Barker, this means having the right philosophy and mindset before using the techniques—best practices and processes for user-centered design.
After a battery of usability tests, Act! 2010 scored 81.7 out of 100 on the System Usability Scale, a 10-question survey developed by John Brooke at Digital Equipment Corporation. The industry average is a 66.2. Using KLM to compare itself against QuickBooks, Maximizer Software, multiple offerings from Microsoft, and Salesforce.com, Act! 2010 ranked first in user productivity and efficiency, averaging 17 percent higher productivity than competitors.
Barker says instead of sitting on its laurels, Sage still more work to do, saying that there is an art to making changes that will resonate with users and improve efficiency. “The most important thing for us from a usability standpoint is to continue to make it better,” he adds. “There is no perfect product. Also, we must strike a delicate balance between making the product easy to use for new users and for our [existing] users.”
Barker, who was a consultant with regard to user experience and usability before coming to Sage a little more than a year ago, says CRM as an industry has a long way to go compared to others. “CRM is a bit behind the curve but it’s getting better,” he says. “The financial services industry is faring well right now. We have a little ways to go yet.”
For ChaCha’s Brown, though, Jesubi’s tool and consequent streamlined user experience was just what his field sales reps needed. “Look at Salesforce.com and the amount of effort it took to enter in new business, and get it set up,” he says. “It was so much more burdensome. There was no way we could get people to use it. We’ve had no problem getting folks to use Jesubi.”
COMMON TASKS ASSESSED FOR KLM
- Find information about last meeting with a contact.
- Create a new contact.
- Search for all contacts in a specific area.
- Schedule a call.
- Record notes about a customer/contact meeting.
- View workweek calendar.
- Mark an activity complete and schedule follow-up.
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