People aren’t using the CRM – Is it due to the wrong product, or the wrong deployment approach?

Too often people blame the product and not the project! 

At CRM Insights we’ve helped a lot of people switch to a different CRM system. At the same time, we’ve probably helped a similar number to avoid switching by maximising the value of the system that they already have in place.

One of the reasons that people fail to maximise the value from the system that they have – especially so when it’s a newly implemented system – is that they don't give sufficient consideration to the transformation aspect of their project. Instead, efforts often stop after the implementation.

The reality is that a more holistic approach is needed to ensure successful adoption of new software. This is sometime referred to as the Customer Experience, or CX for short. For the remainder of this article I’m going to handover to Susannah Simmons, The Software Adoption Doctor from ProductivIT.

A project is not complete simply because a product has users

So you’ve invested the time and money in a new CRM system but it isn’t delivering the return on investment that you expected. Understandably, you might be wondering whether you made the right product choice. But before you throw out the baby with the bath water, it’s worth considering whether your problem is one of software adoption rather than having chosen the wrong product.

Software adoption concerns getting all desired people in your business successfully using the software to achieve their business goals. Unfortunately, many software implementation projects fall short and only get as far as software usage (how much the software is used) or even worse software deployment (the activities that make a software system available for use).

For successful software adoption, it’s crucial to consider what is known as the Customer Experience Chasm. Or the CX Chasm.

The CX Chasm results in one of three scenarios, depicted in the image below.

Scenario 1 - Left to your own devices

In the first scenario the salesperson shakes the hand of the customer and leaves them to the fate of the chasm. The service team spends its time helping customers climb out of the chasm. If this is your experience you’re likely still stuck at the deployment phase, trying to make sure the system is available to everyone who needs it and that it is configured appropriately somewhat on the fly. That is, you are in a reactionary state.

Scenario 2 - Being shown the way

In the second scenario the salesperson is waving the customer across the bridge, and the service representative is giving them a welcoming wave. The difference in this scenario is that you have a way across the chasm that helps you get your new system both deployed and in use. The challenge is that you’re left to walk the bridge alone and it’s very easy to find yourself falling off!

Scenario 3 - We're in this together

In the third and final scenario a supplier representative is with you all the way across the bridge helping you with whatever is needed to be successful. This will include helping you to involve and manage all stakeholders, configuring the system to meet the needs of all users, and making sure everyone has not only the knowledge and skills to use the system but also the desire to use it. In the scenario everyone understands what’s in it for them. They’re not asking themselves, and others, “Why should I bother using this new system?” but “Why wouldn’t I/you use this fabulous new system?”

Wrong product, wrong implementation - which is it?

Now that you understand the CX Chasm, reflecting on your own experience, do you still have a product choice problem, or is it a software adoption problem?

If it’s the latter, below are the 7 pillars I've learned ensure successful software adoption. Together they'll help you to ensure that your software deployment is a success – whether you’re only just starting on your journey, or have already implemented the product.

Pillar 1: Understand the aims

Make sure that you can clearly define:

  • The business aims of the new system
  • What the measures of success will be and how they will be determined
  • What your employees will need to be doing differently

Pillar 2: Identify and manage stakeholders

Clearly define:

  • Who all of the stakeholders are
  • What their impact on the project could be – positive or negative
  • How involved they need to be and who and how you will manage them

Pillar 3: Alignment with business processes

Clearly define:

  • The roles of all the people that would and could be using the system
  • The current systems and as-is business processes that the new system will impact - determine what is/was working well and not so well with them
  • The new or to-be business processes and their impact (and hopefully improvements) that they will have

Pillar 4: A task-focused approach

Focus on:

  • The tasks users need to complete rather than the features of the system
  • What users needed to be able to do and what their priorities are

Pillar 5: Understand your users

When communicating with, and training users, consider:

  • Who they are e.g. demographics, psychographics, attitudes towards technology, their learning and communication preferences
  • How they might be feeling about this change
  • How involved they will be in the change process

Pillar 6: Having the right skills

Ensure the implementation team has:

  • The right knowledge, skills and behaviours
  • Play to their core strengths

Pillar 7: Follow Up

Did you define:

  • How you would gather and respond to feedback during and after implementation?
  • Who users could contact for help after “go live”?
  • How further questions and feedback would be gathered, and used, to continuously improve the new process and use of the system?

By methodically working through these 7 pillars you stand a much greater chance of software implementation and adoption success.  

If, however, you're still struggling to get your CRM successfully adopted, or simply require some additional advice and guidance, then schedule a free consultation with one of our CRM experts to talk through your project challenges.