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User First The CRM User First Implementation Approach

  1. Business Intelligence. Sir Francis Bacon is generally credited for the phrase, "knowledge is power". I would actually suggest knowledge is not power unless it is acted upon. Business intelligence (BI) is the long heralded but seldom achieved capability to get the right information to the right decision maker at the right time. And for the record, decision makers are not found in just the C-suite. Too often, business intelligence is narrowly viewed as something for corporate leaders, somehow suggesting that remaining staff can operate just fine without intelligence.

    Many industries are incurring accelerated change which is re-ordering the competitive landscape more frequently. The paradox of being data rich and information poor will accelerate this change.

    Successful businesses will be defined by their ability to collect and curate the right data, use data to create differentiating customer experiences and apply analytics in order to make insights actionable at the point of decision. It's a complex undertaking which is why those who succeed will achieve competitive advantage over those who don't.

    The right company culture and an information feedback loop are keys to being successful. Management must adopt a culture which discourages subjective, gut or intuitive decision making (aka institutionalized risk taking) and instead favor data driven, fact based and evidence supported decision making.

    You also need a closed loop information reporting system that captures exceptions, operational deviations or poor performance measures, so that when something happens that shouldn't, that event, activity or transaction becomes visible in some form of analytics display and allows somebody to take action that changes that outcome in the future. This feedback loop isn't just recording things or acknowledging happy path work streams, but instead is highlighting exceptions, relating them back to their source and taking action to eliminate them.

    Once you have the feedback loop, you can make information visible in role-based dashboards. Good dashboards prioritize actions, facilitate guided behaviors and aid time management. Really good dashboards appear almost psychic. For example, as a salesperson, don't show me 50 prospects that I could call today, instead show me the 5 that are most likely to buy. Technologies such as machine learning and algorithms can consider the prospect profile, opportunity data, alignment with company solutions, level of engagement, competitor solutions and other variables that have historically demonstrated influence in sales wins and losses and prioritize tasks or opportunities according to "best bets" and confidence levels.

    I think Peter Drucker said it best, "Knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant–and perhaps even the only–source of competitive advantage."

  2. Organizational Change Management (OCM). A new CRM system brings new processes, automation, information, roles, responsibilities and control ― or oftentimes an actual or perceived loss of control. That's a lot of change, and the problem with change is that it causes anxiety for users, and is often endorsed by the few imposing the change but is not so well accepted or is even contested by the majority receiving the change. To bridge this gap, a change management program can systemically shift individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state while mitigating productivity loss during the transition, creating an environment for sustained change and realizing the benefits of change more quickly.

    Some of the more common change management events and artifacts to make this happen include a change readiness assessment, Communications Plan, business and technology impact analysis, learning and training tools, post go-live intermediation measures (such as a user adoption dashboard) and value realization measurements. These steps provide users a pathway from the current to the future and provide assurance to stakeholders that resistance to change will not delay or derail project objectives.

  3. Training. Most CRM implementations under-estimate the hours needed for training and deliver less than impressive training classes. Too often, training is delivered by trainers that know the software but don't really understand what's most important to the users. This problem is exacerbated when trainers focus on software capabilities in a vacuum, as opposed to focusing on how specific software capabilities can enable the objectives and processes most important to users.

    User training is a critical success factor in adoption and utilization. When users believe they become net beneficiaries of the application, that is, they can get more out of the CRM system than they put in, they will embrace the system. Training classes must demonstrate measurable benefits with plenty of supporting WIFFM (What's In It For Me) examples to clearly show how each role becomes a net beneficiary.

    The training programs that I have found most successful are designed for the employee experience and change the objective from delivering training to measuring learning. I personally prefer the four stage progressive training model of See it, Know it, Try it and Do it. Regardless of method, a comprehensive training program should include a training strategy, training plan, curriculum of role-based of courses and training assets which may include:

    1. Aids such as reference guides, cheat sheets, custom help, on screen prompts, videos and infographics
    2. Events such as periodic conference call updates, town hall meetings, lunch and learns, webinars and recordings
    3. Self-service training courses and knowledgebase support
    4. Guided instruction or technology aids using products such as Walk Me, or guided user navigation tools such as online prompts and guides that deliver step by step process or task sequence to completion

    In addition to the above points, five CRM training best practices that I recommend include i) a user approved training curriculum designed to demonstrate staff processes enabled by software (as opposed to delivering instruction on software capabilities that are not aligned to the staff objectives), ii) bite sized training programs that make training more focused, faster to consume and easier to remember, iii) live training supplemented with leave behind collaterals, iv) a user steering committee that reviews new software releases in order to gauge which new capabilities are relevant and deserve continued training, and v) a recurring training cadence aligned with new software releases.

Next - User First CRM Deployment continued >>



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Successful businesses will be defined by their ability to collect and curate the right data, use that data to create differentiating customer experiences, and apply analytics in order to make insights actionable at the point of decision.


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