Deciding to invest in a CRM software solution is probably the easiest, as well as the first step towards improving your organization’s standard of customer service.
With that decision made though, the road to implementation can be a daunting one to travel.
To help you avoid some of the pitfalls of CRM implementation, here are a few tips which, if followed, will smooth the way by addressing the human, as opposed to the technical side of implementing a CRM application.
Get True Buy-in at the Top
Former CRM Magazine Associate Editor, Colin Beasty, put it very well, way back in his 2005 article 11 Ways to Ensure CRM Success. Colin wrote that it’s simply not enough for executives to approve your CRM project and release the funding. It’s not enough for those same executives to attend the occasional project update either. If your new CRM solution is to be believed in and adopted by your workforce, senior leaders must be visibly committed to it and active in their involvement.
If you’re an executive then, be prepared to actively drive your company’s CRM project. If you’re not an exec and have simply built and presented the case for CRM, make sure your C-Suite superiors are truly ready to proactively champion your cause.
Pay Attention to Change Management
Analyst William Band revealed some startling figures from a CRM survey in 2013, in his Forrester blog post called How To Succeed With CRM: The Critical Success Factors, Part 3.
For example, more than 40% of participating companies said they had problems with user adoption when implementing CRM software. To address the adoption issue, your implementation program should include a fully planned and manned change management project, designed to involve and engage the future system users in CRM selection, design, testing, and implementation.
Test, Test and Test Again
The importance of testing a new CRM system before implementing cannot be overemphasized. Bugs that linger in a system after go-live have a highly negative effect on user adoption. An article on the MyCustomer website, titled CRM troubleshooting: How to ensure a smooth and successful implementation, quotes consultant Richard Boardman as saying that user confidence, once undermined by glitches in a brand new system, is extremely hard to rebuild.
For the best chance of implementing a largely bug-free CRM application, a number of rounds of testing should take place at varying stages in the build process. However, the last round of testing, just before go-live is probably the most important.
This “user acceptance” testing allows the end users to test processes and identify problems. Apart from being a critical check for system readiness, user acceptance testing is invaluable for involving end users in the solution and thereby acquiring some adoption “currency”.
People: The Common Theme in Successful CRM Implementation
As you’ve probably discerned, people, more than technology, are the pivotal element in deriving a return on CRM investment. Of course it’s vital to select a software product that’s a good fit for your organization. At the same time though, you should never lose sight of the need to prepare people for the inevitable changes that implementation will bring about.