A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform is an integrated and automated solution for all Sales, Marketing, and Services teams to manage the entire Customer landscape and ecosystem. This includes the storage, collation, processing, and management of all customer data coupled with the requisite processes, workflows and analytics.
Plausibly, Salesforce is the world’s no. 1 CRM as of today. As per the following cumulative statistics published on their website, post onboarding
"Salesforce customers report 37% more sales revenue, 45% higher customer satisfaction, 43% better marketing ROI* "
Specifically speaking about Salesforce as a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, it is an extremely generic, hugely flexible, and adaptive solution.
This also means that a business needs a sufficient amount of configuration and customization on the standard Salesforce objects, fields, workflows, business processes, notifications, triggers, integrations to make it mirror its business ecosystem and subsequently resolving its digital needs. Now once the technical hard work is done and the salesforce solution is ready to wow your business end-users, comes the mundane but rather more challenging part.
How do you transition your traditionally run corporate’s BAU work to be NOT handled now by using the age-old favorite tool Excel but would rather be accomplished using the world’s no. 1 CRM.
The obstacles in this digital journey are not the seemingly obvious ones of lack of intent or funding from the top management. Surprisingly, the biggest challenge here, from my humble experience across projects, is the adoption of CRM by ground personnel.
You may be wondering why you would have adoption challenges for the CRM that has amazed you all in different showcases and presentations! Sure enough, let's dig into some obvious and some not so obvious reasons behind these hurdles:
- Human psychology: Aversion to change
- Learning Curve
- Fear of transparency as now the data is always available for higher-ups perusal.
- Unwarranted fear of data getting shared with peers, rivals, competitors
So on and so forth…..
The list is endless and at varying degrees of application; as unique as maybe the business, geography, implementations, and outcomes.
The crux of above pointers is that besides providing the requisite monetary assistance and intent to push for automation with Salesforce engagement, the onboarding organization would need to embrace the simple fact that technology implementation is just a stepping stone and the drum rolls would need to wait till users have finally started using all CRM critical path features. In other words, Salesforce unfortunately is welcomed into an organization with this huge baggage of expectation that its magic word from day 1.
Alas, it isn’t!
One would have to accept the fact that CRM adoption will not be a sprint rather a marathon to be won by perseverance.
Let us go through some of the top reasons for disappointment on CRM rollout# 1, the very first release:
- Gaps between rolled out CRM solution and the actual business processes.
- System usage is not picking up.
- Presence of unused fancy automation features but ironically missing quite a many seemingly simple pain points of users.
Following on Pareto principle, above points comprising of 80% of the problems can very well be handled by some simple suggestions
1. Problem: Gaps between rolled out CRM solution and the actual business processes.
More often than not, the first CRM implementation of a business is usually done with a waterfall management methodology by a development team that has spent limited sessions in understanding business but has never experienced or seen the domain activities requiring automation over a period of time.
Now let us break down this statement; So, What is “Waterfall Methodology?”
Waterfall methodology: According to Wikipedia,
“The waterfall model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one and corresponds to a specialisation of tasks.”
- Here lies the problem, an end-user cannot see or use the CRM solution till the end to end system has gone through all phases of requirements, design, implementation, testing and finally go-live release.
- Suggested approach: Use of Agile methodology would be a more effective approach with incremental and iterative releases with Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) as planned with a Product manager
2. Problem: System usage is not picking up.
The importance of having a well-drafted Plan of Action (POA) for driving system usage needs to be rightly enforced here.
- First and foremost, the sponsors of this automation drive need to accept the fact that CRM adoption and training have to be taken up as a major milestone in the overall CRM release plan and needs to be thought through with a detailed project plan.
- Each business unit further broken down to departments and or geographies would need to have their own CRM champions who can have their task force depending on the size and complexity of their module scope.
- These key personnel coupled with clear objectives, support tools (like adoption usage reports) and processes would ensure the CRM adoption in their domain till the ground level
3. Problem: Presence of unused fancy automation features but ironically missing quite a many seemingly simple pain points of users.
When you do a thorough root cause analysis of this problem across projects, you would realize that the gaps between what is required and what is wanted would have been bridged by an IT (preferably Salesforce ) Business Analyst.
An effective and experienced Business Analyst would be proactive in identifying and highlighting the validity or the need for features.
An excessively intense notification mechanism around escalations is a very relevant example of an automation feature gone wrong when you know the higher-ups come to the CRM team for the very reduction or closure of notifications that were thought of as game-changer during requirements/design sessions. So the right dosage of escalations at each level in iterative fashion woud have been advised by an effective Business Analyst
A timely and accurate listing of needs vs wants would not only keep the implementation budget in check but also ensure pareto (80-20) happy scenarios are in place in phase 1 hence encouraging the adoption amongst users.
In short, invest surely and very carefully in evaluating the Business Analyst for your CRM implementation. A focused Business Analyst who can empathize with users and see the system challenges and resolution from their perspective might just turn out to be a bigger asset than technical personnel.
Concluding and summarizing all the above points, here is a gist of some suggestions accumulated from working across CRM projects:
- Opt-in for an iterative and incremental release plan instead of a big bang rollout.
- Have a clear and concise adoption plan with SPOCs (champions) armed with available tools and data and most importantly a genuine desire to go digital and automate.
- Invest in an empathetic business analyst to bridge the gap between technical and non-technical teams of your automation drive
Above was a short synopsis of how Centelon helps drive digital transformation journey in organizations while steering businesses from Excel to the world’s no 1 CRM!