Keys to CRM System Adoption: Executive Involvement and Commitment

In previous articles in this series we pointed out that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. In subsequent articles we described the drivers to user adoption, and the best ways to make them part of your corporate DNA. This is the final article in this series.

An old joke:   What is it that no man wants but no man wants to lose? A bald head! It seems that we could easily paraphrase this to fit the topic. What is it that no Executive uses but no Executive wants to lose? A CRM system! It has been proven over and over in thousands of CRM implementations (in fact in just about any corporate initiative) that the number one success factor in the implementation is early commitment to the system and early adoption of the system by the Executive team. It is the #1 success factor for 2 reasons; 1.) The commitment leads to adequate funding and resources, and 2.) The adoption by the Executives drives adoption by the other employees in the company.   Unfortunately, many CRM systems deliver far less value than they should because the Executives, who committed millions of dollars to the system in hopes of a healthy improvement to the bottom line, never fully commit to or adopt the system. Ask any executive at a company with a comprehensive investment in a troubled CRM system if they want to lose the information and functionality that it provides and you will get 2 answers, both start with NO! You will either hear; “NO! We have the right system and we get some valuable information, we just need more participation.” or you will hear “NO! We are evaluating a new system that will be easier to use so that we can get more information and functionality.”

Assuming that they have addressed the other factors that drive user adoption (Pay for Play, EASE, and Coaching) it can be safe to say that if the CRM system is still suffering from user adoption issues (to mangle Shakespeare) the fault, dear executives, lies not in your users but in yourselves. This can be quickly and easily fixed, but it means that executives, who likely brought the change of a CRM system to the company, will have to move to the front and lead that change!

Another old joke to demonstrate the difference between commitment and involvement: At a bacon and egg breakfast – the pig was committed and the chicken was involved. Executives must be committed and demonstrate it by:

  1. Including the CRM system as a budget category for all business departments
  2. Creating channels for corporate change management messages about the system and ensuring that a pipeline of messages is queued up in each channel
  3. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to develop the system
  4. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to train the users
  5. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to maintain and improve the system
  6. Committing to joining and participating in industry councils
  7. Committed to the CRM System to gain a sustainable advantage in the marketplace
  8. Commit to be a key member of the executive steering committee

Executives must adopt the system and demonstrate it by:

  1. Personally using the system for forecasting, quota management, and pipeline analysis (sales). This means, no ‘one off’ out of the system spreadsheets or databases with layers of analysts between the executives and the rest of the user community
  2. Using the system for measuring performance to SLA’s, customer satisfaction, cost of service, and cross sell revenue (service)
  3. Using the system to see the ROI and effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to understand the handoff from marketing to sales and finally to service
  4. Using the system for the corporate intranet, internal communications, file transfers and storage, collaboration, and event management

Most importantly, you have to do all this with a smile on your face (and in your heart!) and you have to be the first in line to do it! Here is a quick check list of questions to ask yourself as an executive:

  1. Am I leading the change management effort for the CRM system?g. Did I organize and chair the committee? Am I involved daily in promoting the system in some way?
  2. Am I the best trained user in the company?
  3. Do I get 100% of my analyses from the CRM system for Sales, Service, and Marketing?
  4. Do I have a road map for what improvements need to be made and when to make them? Do I even have a process in place for continuous system improvement?
  5. Do my teams see me using the system proficiently?

Final old joke: Doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ask yourself, “Did I invest millions in a CRM system, expect everyone else to change, while I remained the same and still get different results?” Instead, isn’t it time to pick up the flag, face the line of retreating users, and charge right back at the competition with a renewed commitment to the system and a promise to be the first and most important adopter!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Keys to CRM System Adoption: EASE

Previously we’ve seen that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Are you one of the many companies that have invested millions in software licenses, maintenance, and services to install a CRM application, but haven’t invested the time and energy to create a true CRM Culture – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers? While all of the components of your CRM System are critical, your CRM Culture cannot be created without your Employee users.

Earlier articles outline the 5 key areas to investigate and correct if you are having an employee-system adoption issue: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching. We have already discussed pay for play, and coaching in earlier postings. It is time to look at the importance of the EASE formula as it relates to system adoption.

Fear and Love are great personal motivators, but employees can’t be expected to always respond professionally to them (e.g. if they fear for their job, they may find a new one rather than do more work in a current one). The best professional motivators, the ones that encourage employees (and customers as well) to act are those that fit the EASE formula. That is, the new course of action must be: Effective (or more effective than the current course of action); Accurate (or more accurate than the current course of action); Speedier (time to result is less than the current course of action); Economical (costs less than the current course of action). Of course, EASE implies that this effective, accurate, speedy, and economical course will also be easy to follow.   If you have an adoption problem, you most likely have not applied the EASE formula to fix it.   Here is the corrective action we recommend.

  1. Is your CRM system effective in doing what it is supposed to do? Remember that the goal of every CRM system is to get the right person/offer, in front of the right customer, at the right time, with the right information. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WWID-FM (what will it do for me). If your employees use the system are they more effective at selling and thereby making more sales and money while better meeting customer needs and situation? Are they more effective at providing customer service and satisfying the customer? If you have truly designed to the system to make your sales and service channels more effective, has that message been sent clearly to your teams?
  2. Is the data (base and transactional) in your system accurate? Can sales users rely on the territory alignments, the sales figures, the lead assignments, the compensation comparisons, and the pipeline and forecast analysis? Is your knowledge base for customer service current and complete? Do you enrich, standardize, and cleanse the base data for customers. Have you done a complete job of transforming and incorporating data from acquired and sunset systems?
  3. Is your CRM system fast? Is your CRM system performance optimized? Have you minimized the clicks to result? Have you eliminated wasteful cycles that were added in different times and are now obsolete? Are you persisting with complex coverage models that slow down the assignment process? Are you persisting with complex compensation models that slow down reporting on results?
  4. Are you treating your CRM system like a cost center or a selling/service investment? Are you limiting access to the system to only a few employees due to the cost of the user licenses? Do you have success metrics in place to show the return on investment in the system and are you focused on the customer as a way to improving those measurements?

Finally, is your system easy to use? Can it be accessed from multiple devices for many purposes? Have employees been trained and re-trained to use it in the context of their roles? Have you looked at it from both a function and usability perspective?

You can begin to eliminate your adoption issues if you apply the EASE formula – make sure the system is effective, accurate, speedy, and economical and wrap that in an easy to use package. The value of your system grows exponentially with each dedicated user and once it becomes part of your culture, adoption issues disappear completely.

 

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Keys to CRM System Adoption – Pay for Play

In a previous article, we discussed how high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. This article is another on what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Pay for Play is a sophisticated version of the “carrot” (positive action or reward) that many organizations routinely use to influence employee behavior. It is well documented that employees take behavioral clues from the compensation and reward/recognition programs offered by the company. In short, if you want an employee to play the game (i.e. use the CRM Application) by the company rules, you must pay them to do so. If your company is experiencing user adoption problems for your CRM Application, investigate whether or not your compensation and/or rewards and recognition programs have a neutral or even worse, a negative impact on user adoption. Start the investigation with these questions:

  1. Is use of the CRM Application specifically mentioned in the compensation agreement established with all employees who are licensed to use it?
  2. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically detailed in the company’s rewards and recognition programs for these employees?
  3. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically part of formal employee reviews?

Next ask these questions:

  1. Is there any portion of the compensation plan that might conflict with use expert use of the CRM Application? For example, are sales reps compensated for the number of calls rather than the quality of calls? Are Customer Service Representatives paid strictly on improving measures such as average handle time, average talk time, and calls per hour?
  2. Is there any portion of the rewards and recognition program that would encourage using non-standard business process to earn recognition or a reward? For example, are sales reps inadvertently rewarded for their own prospecting disproportionately instead of following up on marketing leads? Can a Customer Service Representative be rewarded for using unofficial channels to resolve a common customer issue?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the first 3 questions and ‘Yes’ to either or both of the last 2 questions, then by definition you have a Pay for Play problem that might be the source of reduced user adoption for your CRM Application. The good news is that you have found the issue; the bad news is that finding that there is a problem is easier than pinpointing the various solutions that it will remove these roadblocks from user adoption.

If you have found from the analysis in questions 1, 2 and 3 that you are not rewarding the use of the CRM Application, your company is faced with the need to create compensation plans that reward this desired behavior. That is usually a difficult task for any organization because it is difficult to establish the value of the enhanced information and benefits from a new or re-released CRM Application. In addition most companies are already at either an optimal or even sub-optimal compensation ratio, so adding even a little more cost to employee compensation is difficult to manage. This is where the importance of having executive sponsorship and comprehensive system planning prove to be so important. The return on investment planned for the system should be adjusted for any planned increase in compensation costs. In addition, a change to the compensation program that is concurrent with a CRM Application release can send a powerful message that a system is being put in place to enhance customer experience.

If it truly isn’t possible to make immediate changes to the compensation program to provide financial rewards for expert use of the CRM Application, then be sure to include recognition in any local/regional/corporate recognition programs. While this is not the most effective Pay for Play option, it can be very effective if done correctly.

Some creative suggestions for rewarding CRM Application usage that have been successfully used:

Compensation:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage and tie a certain portion of future base pay increases to positive ratings
  • Offer different rates of incentive compensation (commissions) based on the way a sale is documented in the CRM Application
  • Offer compensation to employees who convince current customers to act as references and document this properly in the CRM Application

Recognition:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage of the CRM Application and award employees who consistently attain those levels a small memento/award that they could not obtain any other way than through this program
  • Set aside a small portion of every rewards ceremony to recognize effective CRM Application usage

Finally, if you discover that your current compensation and/or recognition programs discourage CRM Application usage, take the opportunity to modify this with any new or re-release of the CRM Application. If this cuts across the grain of your current company culture, remember you are introducing the CRM System to build a new customer oriented culture and this is certainaly the best place to start.

Remember, if you truly believe in the CRM system and continue with the appropriate levels of commitment, the cost of the additional rewards and compensation will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company. In addition the message sent throughout the organization will help enhanced Customer Experience become part of your company culture.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.