IV. It's a Sin to Not Plan For User Adoption Challenges
Browser-based SaaS CRM solutions have definitely changed user interfaces, learning curves and the user experience for the better. However, change management and user adoption challenges persist.
Institutionalizing CRM is a cultural change. Such change often moves people from their comfort zone and therefore requires a well balanced change management combination of sponsorship, incentives, self serving benefits and effective training tools.
While user adoption challenges are many and varied, the single-most cited user objection is hard to use CRM software. As Forrester's
Bill Band writes, "In the past, the clumsy user interfaces (UI) of CRM solutions have turned off users, causing them to reject the solutions offered by their IT departments." Therefore, invest some extra time to evaluate CRM software solutions for several key elements which can positively influence user adoption.
- While ease of use is a subjective factor, it can be measured and compared by things such as counting the number of keystrokes to perform the most common activities or the number of screens necessary to get to a destination page. When evaluating CRM software systems, make sure to give your staff hands on keyboard trials so they can experience the products logic and intuitiveness.
- Assess system usability with volumes of data in mind. Reviewing CRM usability while only looking at accounts with a few records or minimal history is of little help. Recognize that over the course of a customer relationship the account information will grow substantially. To review the account presentation in a real world environment, enter several contacts for an account, several dozen activities or correspondence items and several sale opportunities and then determine usability.
- System navigation which requires users to drill-down through multiple screens to get to the desired data or record detail and then drill back up through those pages before being able to move to the next desired account or other location are cumbersome, counter productive and prone to relentless user complaints. Ease-of-use is scored when a user can get to wherever they want from wherever they are. Test this requirement thoroughly.
- Look for well organized and indexed online instruction and documentation. Applications which provide page level context-sensitive help put assistance directly at the source of the question and applications which go a step further to provide help for all fields on the page further reduce user questions.
- Look for applications which provide online training vehicles such as computer-based (video, Flash or wizard driven) online tutorials which allow users to consume visual training at any time and at their own pace.
- Evaluate whether you can supplement online resources with live vendor recurring or on-demand classroom instruction, offered over the Internet or on-site.
- Validate that users can easily customize views, navigation and queries. Requiring different roles and even different individuals in the same role to view the same pages in the same workflow or work sequence fashion is a recipe for failed user adoption. People work differently and their system information must support what individuals do best to be successful.
- Don't underestimate the training required. While vendor claims of reduced training are somewhat founded, user training will always be required and organizations typically under-budget this line item.
Sharing Data May Be a New Concept
Opening up customer information to the enterprise can sometimes appear concerning to the primary account manager who controls an individual customer relationship. Not knowing who is potentially making changes to the account or deleting account information can leave sales professionals and account managers uneasy. To empower all staff with customer information while at the same time countering the concerns of customer record integrity, a CRM system should provide account level security and a detailed audit trail for any and all customer record modifications. The audit trial should display all changes made to a customer record and indicate the user, date and time changes were made.
Lastly, don't begin a CRM software implementation without a proactive change management plan.
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While user adoption challenges are many and varied, the single-greatest cited user objection is hard to use CRM systems. Therefore, invest some extra time to review CRM software solutions for several key factors which can positively influence user adoption.