Measure CRM Usage to Optimize Business Processes

CRM has burgeoned over the last decade. The CRM community is large, committed, and, judging by the enthusiasm seen at industry events, almost evangelical. Many sales and marketing professionals have found that they can rely on CRM to drive successful customer engagements across the sales pipeline, from new customer acquisition to customer retention and brand loyalty.

Of course, much of CRM's success can be attributed to product innovation. Industry leaders have done a great job of extending system capabilities way beyond their original vision to create a unified customer-facing experience across the enterprise.

However, when you reflect on CRM's core value, what's really behind its ascendance is its ability to support enterprise business processes. Most organizations today recognize the link between business processes and top-line sales revenue.

In fact, a recent study by CSO Insights, a leading research organization, confirms that adherence to sales processes results in a greater likelihood of success across a wide variety of sales analysis metrics, including higher expectations to understand the buyer's process, higher expectations to understand accounts to focus on, lower sales rep turnover, higher achievement of forecast deals, higher percentage of sales reps meeting or beating goals, and higher percentage of annual sales revenue attained.

Adherence to business processes also underlines the significance of custom CRM deployments. World-class consulting organizations are frequently engaged to design CRM deployments that tightly align with processes. They begin with a strategic assessment of competitive advantage and end with an implementation that has been tailored to meet the business requirements of divisions, groups, and departments. As a result, modern CRM implementations are deployed across hundreds of tasks geared to support thousands of employees, a daunting project that can take years.

Despite its value, compliance with business processes, at the employee level, remains difficult to measure. In many instances, sales associates who are successful, and seem to be following business processes are not following those processes at all. They often rely on their Rolodex and personal networks to identify new opportunities, nurture relationships, and close deals. Making matters worse are their managers, who often look the other way."Who cares about business processes as long as sales quotas are being met?"

All this means that tracking employees' adherence to business processes has become increasingly critical, to optimize individual performance and assure return on investment. Yet how can organizations measure employee compliance with processes?

CRM is the answer. CRM, and the depth of employee interactions that are generated from it, is a proxy for adherence to business processes. CRM is a repository of all customer-facing data within an enterprise. Knowledge of employee usage can reveal if business processes are being followed or being broken.

Not everyone in the enterprise uses CRM properly. They are skipping steps, using alternative tasks to accomplish goals, or ignoring processes entirely.

Who are these offenders? Not surprisingly, many are successful in their roles. They log into their CRM systems periodically, just to meet minimal requirements. Others may be sandbagging, holding back entering sales opportunities, waiting for the sales cycle to end to avoid being assigned a higher quota when the next cycle begins. Still others may have failed to update leads on a timely basis, indicating potential pipeline problems ahead. Incidents of noncompliance can be extensive. Imagine the power of competitive advantage if all these employees comply with processes.

Yet, measuring employee usage remains elusive. This is largely because measuring usage relies on conventional methodologies that generate aggregate user log-in reports, providing no visibility into individual activity and adoption levels.

CRM business intelligence tools are of little value in this regard. BI tools generally scan the data employees enter in CRM records for predictive analytics. These tools do not measure how employees are interacting with the system, leaving a gaping hole in CRM measurement.

What's needed is a deeper view of each employee's interactions and a simple way to determine if business processes are being broken. This approach would provide granular information about how users are interacting with the system, the frequency of their activities across all complex CRM business processes, and a simple way to spot noncompliance.

Only then can administrators and managers reach out to these employees in a positive fashion, to take corrective action. But first they need a fast and simple way to find them.

Daniel Sarfati is the CEO at Applango.

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