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Forcing your teams to use a CRM. A mistake ?

Author: David Derrier, Regional Manager, Nexell GmbH



Why are we in this situation in the first place?
A CRM implementation often focusses on Return On Investment, and a tool that is not used correctly, or not used at all, won’t be satisfactory.

Even if you have the best car in the world, you won’t go anywhere without a driver driving it. The same applies for CRM tools. As decision-makers or project managers, you want to ensure that users' onboarding is as good as possible, to get the most out of the solution, in terms of efficiency and profitability.

Let’s be clear, we are not saying that a CRM system can survive on its own and that you should not worry when users are reluctant to use it. This reluctance is not the core of the problem, but only a consequence of one or more issues that you may face internally. And forcing reluctant users to use the CRM is probably one of the worst options if you want them on board and back in the loop.

You should rather ask yourself “Why are we in this situation in the first place?”.

Pinpointing the root cause
We all know that human beings can be complex and unpredictable. Nonetheless, when human beings are not keen to do something new, we can usually identify 3 main reasons, that also equally relates to CRM projects:

  What happens in everyday situations What happens in CRM Projects
Ignorance I don’t really know why I would or should do that I don’t see why I should use this tool because it would be a waste of time for me
Fear I am not keen to do that, this is too risky or complex for me I don’t know how to use this new system, it is too complex
Ego This is not my idea, I don’t like it and I won’t do that anyways The solution does not meet my needs and I won’t use it


At the end of the day, the result is the same, and you face inaction or opposition to change. This is nothing new, but it is always better to anticipate and understand these issues rather than trying to solve them down the line. Most of the projects fail because of human behaviors and relationships, and NOT because of technical reasons. If you don’t understand people’s expectations and frustrations, you will not be able to engage them enough to ensure long-term success. Even worse, it may be too late to react, and the project could already be seen as a failure by both users and top management.

What then, can be done?



Engage: communicate around the project (WIIFM)
Each CRM project should be in line with a business strategy and users should understand the purpose of such a project. Involving the team in the project, will increase their engagement as they will clearly understand how the solution will serve the business and how it can help them personally. Communication is key at a strategic and personal level, to make sure every single user can see a benefit in the project.

This is what we call the WIIFM (What’s in it for me) and it is the most efficient way to set expectations.

Motivate: Set KPIs
KPIs should not be seen as a way of controlling users but as performance indicators that will tell users how they are doing in relation to the overall CRM strategy and business objectives. It will also give them priceless information about the business, the industry and of their clients. The CRM is meant to be a tool that boosts performance and effectiveness by making the right information available at the right time. It is crucial to communicate management expectations, and what metrics would be used to evaluate the success of the project and individual performances. 

To get everyone to move in the right direction, a reviews and rewards system on how employees have used the CRM system, has proved its worth.

Secure: design a user adoption and support strategy
User Adoption is defined as “the acceptance and use of a system based on usefulness, ease of use, or other factors” (IGI Global). Adoption is often confused with training, which is only one part of the user adoption process. Engaging and involving people is not only a post go-live achievement, but starts before the project is even launched. Involving people in the scoping phase is a mid-term investment and it will facilitate user adoption for 2 reasons: You gather and collect needs from the most relevant stakeholders, and you also take care of their ego by asking them to participate actively in the reflection and design phases.

Once you have implemented a solution that meets business needs, you are one step ahead. But you also need to ensure that users are not left alone and can count on your continuous support, also in case of an issue or enhancement request. A dedicated CRM ambassador, champion or superuser can help to create routines and guidelines, provide ongoing direction and follow-up with users if they have questions or are doing something wrong.

Companies tend to congratulate project managers when the CRM goes live, but there is still a long way to go. In addition, providing feedback to the users on how they are doing and on data quality and on management’s satisfaction is a good way to keep motivation and engagement at a high level. 

If you need to force users to use your CRM, you probably missed something during the project scoping / planning. User Adoption is not an exact science and it is not easily measurable. It is never too late to correct things, and the sooner the better. Early action is key: involve and know your stakeholders as soon as possible to ensure a smooth and effective transition. It is all about Change Management and Managing Change.


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Nexell GmbH mit Sitz in der Schweiz ist Ihr offizieller, zertifizierter Partner für und, Pardot und Fonteva.

Seit der Gründung im Jahr 2002 unterstützen wir unsere Kunden und non-profit Organizationen im Bereich CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Unser Dienstleistungsangebot und unsere Technologien greifen auf langjährige Erfahrung mit kleine wie grossen Firmen, lokal wie international, zurück. Diese Erfahrung führte zu einer Reihe von Best Practices, welche wir heute auf jedes Projekt anwenden, ob gross oder klein, national oder international.

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