Driving CRM adoption

Resistance to CRM adoption can be overcome by satisfactorily answering a number of key questions.

Answering the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question. This implies demonstrating the value and utility of the CRM application. In other words it’s about ensuring that the CRM implementation addresses recognised business needs. Answering this question is fundamental to successful adoption as it facilitates the buy-in and embedment process.

Have users at all levels been involved in the initial and ongoing design? This is important to build a sense of ownership, overcome us versus them thinking and incorporating the ‘what’ and ‘how’ aspects of the application. Many times a solution design which does not involve users will meet the requirements but not in the way that the impacted users expect the requirement to be addressed which means that their experience will be less than optimal and usage will suffer. This must also, importantly, address expectations of how data will be captured, processes will be made easier and data from other systems will be surfaced in the CRM application. 

Has the change been communicated effectively and is there evidence that it has been understood in the context of the impact on users current way of doing things? Often overlooked, communicating the rationale for and positive impact of the CRM application will reduce noise, aid adoption and align expectations. 

Is there adequate training material across a variety of training modalities? Good training and related training material are essential to overcome the initial friction users will experience when starting to use the CRM application. It’s frustrating when starting to use an application for the first time and not having the right training guides readily available. It’s also beneficial to make liberal use of inline help and context aware help tools.

How will data quality be managed? The single biggest inherent risk to the success of a CRM application is poor data quality. Poor data quality seriously undermines the credibility of the application and will retard adoption and usage. Data quality should address accuracy, completeness, relevancy and currency of data.

How will ongoing enhancements and support be managed? Effective CRM applications evolve with business and user needs. Enhancements ensure that the application remains relevant to the business, smooths over user frustrations and aids with maintaining good data quality. A good support model addresses support resource constraints, user issues, provides useful input to training content and potentially reduces commonly occurring issues by implementing enhancements to address these issues.  

 Zaheer Ismail

CRM and the Cloud

CRM in the Cloud or Cloud services refers to CRM software applications which are hosted on the Web and made available through a Web Browser.

In this way there is no need to manage hardware and software on premise.

CRM and Big Data

Big data, in the context of CRM, relates to large volumes of data used for (mostly predictive) analytics.
Data can be collected from various sources including customer channels, transactions and other customer activities such as product usage.

By applying analytics to these large volumes of data customer patterns, associations and trends can be identified. This can then be used to predict behaviours and outcomes.

Benefits can include better decision making, predictive modeling, and benchmarking.

This means that, for example, Marketing, Sales or Service reps can be equipped with insights to identify hot leads, close sales faster, predict when service issues can blow up.

CRM Vendors

CRM vendors include:

  • Salesforce.com
  • Microsoft CRM Dynamics (online and on-premise solutions)
  • SAP CRM & Cloud for Sales
  • Oracle (Sales Cloud & Siebel CRM)
  • CRMNext
  • Zoho CRM (Free / Community version available)
  • SugarCRM (Free / Community version available)
  • SuiteCRM (Open source CRM – Sugar CRM fork)
  • Capsule CRM
  • Insightly.com
  • Infusionsoft
  • AgileCRM (Free / Community version available)
  • You don’t need a CRM
  • Nutshell
  • OnePageCRM
  • Pipeliner CRM
  • Pipedrive
  • Capsule CRM
  • webCRM
  • BluWave
  • Odyssey CRM
  • vTiger (Free / Community version available)
  • SplendidCRM
  • Zurmo (Free / Community version available)
  • Salesbox
  • Highrise CRM
  • Teamgate
  • Skyward CRM
  • Really Simple Systems (Free / Community version available)
  • Batchbook CRM
  • Accelo
  • Fat Free CRM (Open source CRM)
  • Bluecamroo
  • Hubspot CRM (Free version)
  • EspoCRM (Open source CRM)
  • Oro CRM (Open source CRM)
  • Salesflare

Many of the above applications are suitable for small businesses and SMEs

Marketing functionality

CRM Marketing refers to tools or features which automate or help manage marketing processes.
This could include:

  • Campaign management
  • Lead management
  • Web and social media management
  • Multi-channel customer journey management

CRM software applications

A multitude of software solutions have been developed to manage customer relationships.

While there are differences between these applications there are a number of common features which provide functionality to manage key aspects of the customer lifecycle.

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Service

Social, mobile and analytics (including big data) are new generation features.

These solutions address the key customer management processes: targeting, acquisition, retention and collaboration. Underlying these pillars and core to the success of the organisation and the CRM application is understanding the customer and managing the experience.

Enhancing CRM functionality

The CRM application will require enhancements as needs change. This can be done in-house or can be outsourced.

  • Designing and developing new reports
  • Adding and updating fields
  • Managing workflows and processes
  • Performing data imports
  • Updating page layouts
  • Maintaining user profiles to manage data visibility
  • Integrating with other applications and data sources
  • Adding new functionality

Data management

Data in the CRM application is the lifeblood of a successful implementation. The benefits of CRM cannot be realized without relevant and current data.

Typical data management tasks are:

    • Managing duplicate data
    • Ensuring that data is correct, up to date and comprehensive to meet business needs
    • Maintaining data integrity when sourcing data from other applications
    • In general data quality management encompasses accuracy, completeness and currency (how up to date is the data)

To limit bad quality data from entering the crm application do the following:
Identify each point of data entry; this could be manually by users, third party applications or databases, or other internal systems.

For each source assess the data quality level, and identify the specific problem areas.

For users this could be:

  • Lack of training
  • Ambiguous field names
  • Lack of data validation

There may be different reasons where data is sourced from third party and internal systems.

Zaheer Ismail