The purpose of a CRM system is to foster the creation and preservation of meaningful and lasting customer relationships. CRM systems track historical customer details that will help businesses tailor solutions to fit the exact needs of a customer, and they can help employees understand how to best communicate with particular customers. Moreover, CRM systems ensure that critical customer knowledge is shared among employees, so that if one employee leaves the company, organizational knowledge does not go with that employee. CRM systems also track employee progress so that everyone is held accountable for their work. While the benefits of a CRM system are many, the adoption of a CRM system often proves more complicated than anticipated.
Obviously there are many questions an organization needs to ask before it adopts a CRM system. Every organization has different internal requirements and customer needs that must be met, so before looking for a system every organization should determine its requirements for features, metrics, capabilities, plug-ins, level of customization needed, hardware integration, etc. But after an organization has determined all its requirements and sorted out all the technical details of the CRM system, from our data we find there are a number of basic issues that organizations tend to overlook before rolling out the system. These issues relate not to the way the new system operates, but to the readiness of the organization itself to adopt the system. Beyond all the fundamental technical details of setting up a CRM system are five critical questions that an organization must ask before the CRM rollout happens.
- Has Leadership Bought In?
Management must be on board in order to successfully adopt a new system. Often CRM adoption means that processes must change, and sometimes the company must shift its entire mindset with regard to customer relationships. It is therefore crucial that a company’s leadership is both invested in the adoption and proactive in communicating its importance to the entire company. If one department is not on board, the rhythm of the entire system can be marred. If upper management is not invested, adoption will be slow and painful, even if it does not implode entirely. If management plans to use the system, all managers should be fully trained and ready to support their team members in adopting the system.
- Is the System Ready for Rollout?
A common issue that arises is the rollout of a CRM system before the system is ready for the organization, as well as vice versa. Although sticking to an established timeline is important, it is just as important to ensure that the system is properly set up and bug-free before employees begin to use it. If employees are introduced to something that is difficult to use or does not have the features they expect to see, they may be more reluctant to adopt it. It is usually a good plan to have a few champion users test the system out to make sure it works the way it is supposed to before rolling it out to the entire organization.
- Is the System Integrated?
It is also important to ensure that the new CRM system integrates smoothly with all processes currently in place. In order to integrate the system properly, often a new workflow must be established, and the way a department interacts and collaborates with other departments may also change. Internal communication methods may be altered, so the department implementing CRM must make sure that team culture will not interfere with the system. The CRM system should increase efficiency and collaboration rather than inhibit it. In one data set, for example, employees noted that their culture of communication through email reduced the value of their new CRM tool, as people were not using the system’s communication tools to communicate and collaborate in a better way.
- Has Everyone Been Sufficiently Trained?
Although training may seem like an obvious step in the process of adopting a CRM system, more often than not we find that either employees have not received enough training or the training they have received has not addressed their needs. A high-level overview for how the system works certainly will help employees understand the purpose for the adoption, and it will aid them in navigating the system. When it comes to how they will use the system to perform their daily tasks, however, employees usually call for more hands-on, in-depth training that shows them how they will actually use the tool on a day-to-day basis.
- Do Employees Understand the Value?
Finally, in order to guarantee a successful rollout, it is imperative that employees understand the full value of the CRM system. Many employees will likely be reluctant to give up their old way of doing things, even if the new system is superior. In order to be fully invested, they need to see the direct benefits of switching to the new system:how it will make their work easier or faster, and what it will replace in their toolset. In one engagement, employees noted that the new tool seemed like “just another tool” in a sea of management tools, and many did not see a compelling reason to adopt it into their daily routines. Most times, actually using the tool will aid employee understanding of its full potential and value, so workshops and training sessions that teach employees how to use it in their everyday tasks are critical.
Ultimately, adopting a new CRM system means uprooting old habits. Even though a new CRM system may be worlds better than whatever customer tracking system an organization used previously, many employees are likely comfortable with that system and may be reluctant to change. In order to adopt a CRM system effectively, an organization needs to ensure that its employees thoroughly understand and appreciate the full worth of the new system.
An organization that takes the time to ask these five questions will be far better prepared to introduce a CRM system. After the rollout, an organization would do well to follow up with its employees to gather feedback around the usefulness and value perception of the tool, making further improvements if necessary and establishing ROI.