A CRM Initiative's Bermuda Triangle

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You think you've done it right--you spent the money, time, and effort to secure and configure state-of-the-art CRM software. You incorporated valuable customer-facing business processes into the CRM application. You integrated the application with relevant back-office and e-customer systems, and you completed what you thought was excellent application training. After system launch, usage grows for three straight weeks; high-fives abound. But then you notice a few user-adoption early warning signals: less daily updating, incomplete customer profiles, few report requests. You quickly poll users online to determine the problem. They confirm that the system works just fine, but that it's just not relevant to their day-to-day efforts. One person even says, "The value add just isn't there." You've realized your worst fear: The initiative has entered the user-adoption Bermuda Triangle and is vanishing fast. Here are my top two suggestions for securing high user adoption. Ensure the 3X Factor For every one piece of information that you ask users to put into the system, it must return at least three pieces of valuable information to the user. Deliver fewer than three and your CRM initiative is doomed to failure. Deliver three pieces of valuable information or more, and you're well on your way to success. What constitutes valuable information? Ask your users--they'll let you know. One of the best ways to realize the 3X factor is to deliver comprehensive customer profiles in the first iteration of your CRM system. A leading financial services company locked on to three different types of customer profiles: the internal broker profile, the external independent broker profile, and the ultimate customer profile. To specify profile requirements, the company had a brainstorming session among customer-facing personnel to identify and then prioritize what information each profile needed. The prioritized list of profile requirements included information from multiple systems including back-office financial, customer service, marketing, and analytical systems. As each user entered a piece of information into the customer profile, all other users had instant access to enhanced customer profile information coming from multiple system users, which is what ensured the 3X factor. Using the 3X factor can make the difference between high and low user-adoption rates. Get Your Communications and Training Right
Too often companies think communication happens at the CRM initiative launch and that training happens just prior to the launch of the CRM system. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Successful CRM initiatives include a communication plan that describes which users/influencers will receive what types of information about the CRM initiative when, and in what format. This means you need to take the time to think through where user hesitancy and even resistance is most likely to play out, and turn this around. A manufacturing firm instituted a communication and training profile for each of its CRM system users. Next to the user name were two columns: The first described what communications would be going to that user and when, and how to connect with strategically placed CRM champions throughout the organization. The second column described when the user would receive training in one or more of these areas: computer literacy training, business process training, CRM application training, remedial training, and/or new user training. Twelve months after system launch this manufacturer touts a 98 percent user-adoption rate. It's plain to see: High user adoption results when users find value in a firm's CRM systems and processes. Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM real-time enterprise consulting firm in Bethesda, MD. He is the author of CRM Automation and the publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com.
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