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Tips for Maximizing CRM Investments
It's good to have a powerful CRM system, but one that is useful offers the best payoff
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In a sense, managers and members of the C-suite have their work cut out for them. But it is tricky, because overly strict policies could lead to culture clashes. They must exercise good judgment in determining just how much they want to police the use of CRM, Pozil says.

Pozil also points out that some companies can get along just fine despite relatively low CRM adoption rates. “We’ve got to look at the broader picture,” he says, “not just the nuts and bolts of tweaking and changing systems.”

Firms also have to be wary of rocking the boat with their employees, especially sales organizations, where employee churn tends to be high. “The CRM system,” he reminds, “is just an overall small part of the decision making that the company’s going to have to do.”

SUPPORTING USERS

To get returns from CRM implementations, everyone should know how to use the tools. In addition to striving for extraordinary simplicity with screen layouts, Pozil says, companies should stress user education.

Pozil advises having a “center of excellence,” in which a few select users oversee the system and provide guidance when their colleagues need help. CRM “is just like any IT system. If someone’s having an issue, you want to be able to help him,” he advises. And it’s critical the means for help are clear, whether it’s through a ticketing service, a phone call, or an email.

To keep business users informed, Pozil suggests regularly publishing information about the systems. It can be “a regular newsletter or an internal location they can go to that gives them the updated, Reader’s Digest version of what to do, what’s changed, and what’s being worked on,” he says.

Users often can’t readily access the data or products they need to make a sale, so they have to refer to multiple systems to get their work done before returning to the CRM system. For them, having systems that can talk to one another is important, and so it’s very useful to know which integrations are in the pipeline and when they will be available, for example. “That’s something to look forward to, and that’s a nice communication path,” Pozil says.

Turning CRM into another job is not the way to go, Pozil emphasizes. “People don’t want to read through all the user guides, through the vendor’s feature list. They just want to know what’s relevant to them and helpful.”

EDUCATING EXECUTIVES

As important as it is for business users to understand how to use CRM, it’s also critical that those overseeing the technology initiatives understand how personnel are putting it to use.

“Without understanding the business outcomes you’re trying to achieve, it’s impossible to create good experiences, because there’s no consistency for internal and external operations,” Sklar says. “A business outcomes framework provides transparency that drives better collaboration and communication and creates better customer experiences.”

Pozil advocates for regularly gathering requirements. This can reveal how processes are being handled and allow companies to map those to corresponding elements within the CRM system. If the processes match the CRM, that is a great sign, but if not, companies can figure out how to make the necessary changes. While this isn’t unique to CRM, it could require changes to either the process or the system.

Companies shouldn’t just gather the requirements, either. They have to live the requirements, Pozil says. “You really need to understand how a process works, and you need to play the process over with multiple individuals or multiple teams,” whether they’re in the field, operations, support, or any area of customer service, he notes.

Companies that have spent thousands—or, more likely, millions—of dollars on their CRM systems and related consulting services are still likely to see less than half of their employees adopt the tools they’re assigned. “When we go to interview the people about why they don’t use the systems, a lot of the times they say, ‘Well, it’s because they don’t work the way we work,’” Pozil says. “Whoever’s going to touch customers and use the system, you really need to understand how they work. Even if there’s an assigned process, understand what they’re actually doing today. A lot of the times, they’re not following their own processes. They find workarounds, shortcuts, or better ways to do things.”

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