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» How to Overcome User Adoption Issues for CRM Systems

May 8th, 2012

Implementing a CRM (customer relationship management) system is an overwhelming task – selecting what system you will purchase, customizing the system, getting your data into the system, and training all of your personnel on the system. In addition, you have to make sure that your personnel –the people using the system every day, are actually going to use the system.

Sure, there are reports you can run that show when and how often a user logs into the system, and how many records they created or edited. But are they really getting value out of the system, because if the answer is no, then you will most likely lose these users as active participants rather quickly.

How do you keep your users excited and engaged in your CRM system?

The following bullets outline the key steps:

• Build excitement during the development process
• Maintain the excitement level during training and rollout process
• Make sure their needs match the value they are getting from the system
• Documentation, documentation, documentation
• Keep it simple
• Get periodic feedback.

Build Excitement During the Development Process
As you begin your journey through the CRM implementation process, you will need to keep your users in mind. After all, they will be the ones that will determine the success of the implementation! If they don’t use it, you just took all of that money spent on a system that is supposed to improve your business, and threw it away.

First, make sure all necessary personnel (the people that will end up using the system on a regular basis) are aware that you as a company will be implementing a CRM system, and what it can do to improve their day-to-day lives. This is important – because if they think it’s just another software tool you will be requiring them to learn and use, you will have an uphill battle to fight. Instead, outline the key features and benefits the system will be providing them. If you have diverse user groups in your company, then spend some time breaking out these features and benefits for each distinct user group. Spending the time upfront now to break out this information will pay off tremendously when you look back on the success of the implementation!

Second, once you have begun to build momentum and excitement amongst the users, make sure you keep that morale up throughout the entire process. Some CRM implementations take 6-12 months to complete, from beginning to end, so you want to make sure that they do not forget about why they are excited.

Maintain the Excitement Level During Training and Roll Out Process
Now that you’ve spent the last few months maintaining a level of excitement amongst the users, it’s time to introduce the product to them. You’ve been working hard for the past several months with the development team to make sure the product meets everyone’s needs and the data is ready for use. You want to make sure your hard work is revealed with the same level of excitement (if not more) that you’ve built up to this day.

Depending on your company’s culture, there are several methods to maintaining this level of excitement. One is to make the training sessions fun and interactive. Turn it into a game, give out prizes for correct answers (chocolate always works well!), or come up with a fun idea of your own.

If you are not able to make the training “fun”, see if you can use the post-training follow-up as a way to instill fun into the process. Turn regular use of the system into a contest – create teams of people or keep it “every man for himself”. Of course, the prize at the end needs to be something of value to the users, otherwise the contest will be a flop.

Regardless of the type of training and follow-up stimulation you use, the key is to make sure the users feel the excitement level coming from the implementation team, and that it translates to immediate value to the user.

Make Sure Their Needs Match the Value They Are Getting From the System
This is a fairly simple concept, but easier said than done. Needs matching value is something that should be considered from the onset of the CRM implementation, and not just as you roll out the product to the users. Did you interview several people from each user group to find out what their needs are – what is their current process to complete certain tasks, and how can a CRM system improve upon that process? Did you communicate to the users how you will resolve some of their concerns/problems by utilizing the system?

Constant communication is key – to build the excitement and morale, and to ensure their needs are being met. The value of the system will automatically be translated once this is communicated clearly and often. If your implementation process is going to take six months to complete before the users actually see the system and get trained on it, then make sure to check in with them, either through an email, a memo, or a team meeting, at least every other month, if not monthly.

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation
Both during and after training, it is vital that you provide clear and consistent documentation for your users. This can be in the form of a user’s manual that covers all aspects of the system they will need; how-to documents that are short one-page documents walking the user through specific steps to complete tasks within the system; or an electronic knowledgebase, which stores all documentation in the form of help menus, Word documents, PDFs, etc.

Whatever format or combination of documentation formats you choose to use, make sure that it is easy to understand and follow. If it is written with technical jargon the user is not familiar with, you are leaving yourself open to a slew of support calls from your users with questions.

Aside from a full user’s manual, the other documentation you provide should be in simplistic, bite-size portions, allowing the users to comprehend what they’ve been given without providing too much information all at once.

Lastly, as new features and/or functionalities are released for the system, whether by the vendor or by your own development process, make sure the information is shared with all necessary users in a timely manner. They will appreciate the upfront knowledge of such changes/additions, otherwise the next time they log into the system, they will be very frustrated and/or confused, which will only create more work for you in the end through additional support calls or usage drop-off.

Keep it Simple
As you are implementing the system, think about the different user groups you have in your organization. Then break out the different key areas of the system, identifying which user group(s) need each area. For example, if your system includes a Case Management/Support area and the only people that need to use this area are your implementation team and the IT department, then make sure no other user has access to this area.

Not only should they not have access to this area of the system, but they shouldn’t even know it exists! In the world of CRM and user adoption, less is more! The less extras a user sees that are not relevant to them, the less confused they will be over how to navigate through the system to do their critical day-to-day tasks. So make their lives easier from the start and you will see the benefits in the end – less support calls from the users, and easier user adoption from them.

Get Periodic Feedback
Once your system is up and running, and your users are trained, your job is not quite complete. Equally as important as a quality training program, the post-training follow-up is essential to the implementation’s success. A couple of weeks after the training is complete, reach out to your users and find out how they are feeling about the system – is it easy to navigate through? are they finding it is improving on their job productivity? do they have any specific questions or suggestions for improvements? These and other questions are critical to the success of your system implementation.

In addition, by asking your users directly how they feel and what they think about the system, you are keeping them engaged and involved, which should translate to them feeling like a valued part of the process. And if they feel valued, they will most likely continue to use the system and talk to others in the organization about how well it is working for them.

If you would like to learn more about how to ensure your system implementation is successful through user adoption, contact Kendra Von Achen at DB Pros at (732) 682-4692. DB Pros is equipped to help you conduct a successful and productive system implementation.
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Kendra Von Achen is President of DB Pros, a database & business consulting company based in NJ. For more information on this and other database-related topics, contact her at kendra@dbprosconsulting.com or visit their website at www.dbprosconsulting.com.

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Posted in CRM Implementation, DB Pros Blog |

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