Getting User Buy-in for CRM

You can roll out the most effective, user-friendly technology and still have problems getting people to adopt it. Why? In many deployments there is a tendency to focus on the technology, instead of explaining its value to the user. The strategies below will help employees to embrace change. 1. Communicate a clear vision Begin communicating the vision of your implementation months before the rollout and throughout the entire process. Setting the stage early is particularly important, because you may be asking your employees to take actions even before the deployment begins, such as updating their contacts and participating in requirements meetings. The vision should be easy for people to understand and accept, and the message needs to come from the highest levels in your organization. It should also convey a sense of urgency to help shake complacency and create momentum. 2. Listen to your user community
Conduct focus groups with users to identify their areas of concern. Share these issues with the IT team and find out which ones can be addressed by technology, or by providing additional training and more effective communications. You may need to create separate FAQs, presentations, instructional guides, editorials, or conduct one-on-one briefings. Examine user concerns and provide feedback promptly. Follow up with all users on their suggestions. Even if you can't make all the requested changes, your users will respect the fact that you kept them informed. 3. Develop messages based on "What's in it for me?" Your communication plan should identify the target audiences, establish which messages are relevant to each audience, and determine when those messages should be delivered and how they should be communicated. The plan should also cover audience-specific key changes, benefits, and objections. Develop separate messages for users by job role. Employees in some organizations may not need to use the technology, but they will have to understand its value. 4.Understand the objections by audience and provide customized, personal communications based on individual needs. Develop a central location on a Web site where employees can go based on their job functions to find the latest information about the deployment and its impact on them. It should include details on how their jobs will change, the benefits of the change, training, and other information. Don't forget to address the needs of executive sponsors and change team members, who have unique requirements for helping to reach your objectives. 5. Communicate frequently through many channels People need to hear the same message in many ways before they remember it. The changes may be communicated through Web messages, employee activities, company publications, hallway conversations, staff meetings, emails, and in executive briefings. Don't underestimate the importance of one-on-one sessions, where you can meet with key groups and review the status of your upcoming deployment, its vision, and details about the benefits and changes that will result. 6. Let your change team and superusers do the talking While executive sponsorship is key to your success, you also need leaders from the functional organizations to help convey messages about the value of the implementation. In addition, leverage the superusers, people who embrace the technology and can influence others. Solicit their ideas on the deployment and the new features that will aid them in their jobs. Help these people to develop messages that can be disseminated throughout your communications channels. 7. Be consistent, open, and honest Although your team should provide consistent messages to targeted groups, these messages may change based on where you are in the deployment. Early messages will include the vision and any actions employees need to take to get ready. If there will be system outages during the upgrade, they must be communicated in advance, along with the workarounds. Acknowledge that initially the change will require employees to learn how to use the technology and new processes, but keep promoting the vision so that people can see why it's vital. 8. Measure progress and communicate quick wins Measure the success of the deployment and provide users with details on benefits as they become available. Congratulate them for embracing this technology. If people used to process orders manually before the rollout, and they are now processing them electronically, this could generate substantial savings. Translate savings-per-order to dollars and communicate its value. If employees are saving 30 minutes a day per customer because they don't have to make a lot of calls to find information, then publicize this productivity improvement. 9. Have fun and bring food If you pick a theme that employees enjoy, you can help them create ownership of the technology. Activities, graphics, prizes, videos, etc. can support your theme. For example, sports themes have been very successful. If you know that your deployment is global, pick a sport that will be acceptable worldwide. What's my secret ingredient for getting users to attend a meeting about a new deployment? Bring donuts, bagels, or cookies, and let users know that food will be served. You'd be surprised at how many people will let you discuss an upcoming deployment during one of their staff meetings if you volunteer to bring snacks. The process of changing a culture is a journey. It takes time, but these steps for effective communications should help you reach your destination sooner. This article is copyright Expedite CRM, 2003 About the Author Linda Donovan is a CRM change-management consultant for Expedite CRM. Donovan been recognized by the analyst community and by leading business journals for her successful communications campaign strategies for CRM. Contact her at
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