Implementing CRM - Getting Results

"Getting Results" is the third in the Implementing CRM advice series from our Principal Consultant and Managing Director Ian Wallace

Getting Results

OK, so your systems been installed and everyone has been trained. What else can you do to help ensure that you get the results from the system that you were seeking?  Here are a few things which in my view are the key to the long term success of your CRM project.

Ian Wallace

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Insist on Adoption
CRM projects that fail often end up this way due to poor system adoption.  If you’ve planned your project well, implemented processes that are easy to follow and involved your staff, then you should be off to a good start.  However, here are my suggestions of some do’s and don’ts.  Your entire system can be undermined by one person if you do not take a firm stand on adoption particularly at the start.  For example, how useful will your sales forecast be with one of your sales person’s figures missing or completely out of date?

Do encourage senior management to set a good example.  Make it known that they are users and that they rely on the system too.

Don’t let anyone get away with an excuse for not using the system, if they missed the original training get them trained on another date - insist on it!

Do recognise good use of the system, make a point to highlight situations where correct use of the system has saved your company money/improved your reputation etc.

Don’t leave the old systems in place, make and enforce strong rules about this.  For example, remove card boxes and uninstall or make old applications read only.  If only a few people continue to work the old way, confidence in the content of your system can be quickly undermined.  Your systems reputation will be diminished if staff looking for information are not sure it will be there!

Do be prepared to discipline staff if the system is not used in accordance with your business policies.  Don’t accept the fact that your best sales person made his numbers anyway.  They should be your best example and if they can get away with it, others will think so too.  You have to take the long term view on this, even if in the short term it may be painful to implement.

Do monitor the systems general usage as well as your business KPIs, review reports of activity, know what's normal and what's not.  You will find that you can actually feel the pulse of your system and your business!

Don’t let things slip.  Keep your rules and make sure that your managers are doing this too.

You may think that this is all rather draconian but it takes very little to undermine confidence in an information system.   The natural level of adoption of CRM systems varies and depends on the type of department using the system and the activity that it is being used to support. 

In many pressured sales and service environments it is often possible to interact with a customer without making the necessary record of the event.  When the priority is getting the job done, recording it can seem an overhead.  You must ensure that everyone understands the value of an accurate and adequate client history.

Manage through your CRM
It never ceases to amaze me how many times I find people who have installed CRM systems that can and should be giving them the management information they need to control their business, but who rely on other (often new) external systems for key management information.

Management of your business through the information recorded in your CRM is also a valuable contributor to ensuring good adoption.  Why would you ask your reps to report every month how many visits they’ve done on an excel worksheet?  Recording visit reports in the system, and then reporting on these directly ensures adoption, reduces the effort of data collection and improves the records you keep for each client!

Review and revisit
Your CRM should hopefully be delivering the benefits your were anticipating.   The system is still probably capable of helping you much more than it is.  Take time to review regularly the new pressures in your business and consider if your CRM can help take the strain.   Remember that the most effective way to get results, is through continuous improvement of the way you use the system. Its a good idea to keep the project team going long after the initial deployment.
Keep a lookout
Keep an eye out for new data sources that appear in your business, should they really be a part of your CRM database?  Staff may not always have the 'company perspective' you took when you invested in your CRM,  often they will start to create new islands of information just because they didn't think to use the CRM, or didn't appreciate what else it could do.
Keep your knowledge current
Often when we are invited to help clients who are having problems with their CRM we find that the root cause is a lack f current knowledge about the tools they have available.  After the initial project it is important to continue to ensure that as staff change you maintain adequate knowledge about what your system can do.  Ensure you have an education process for new staff.   It's incredibly frustrating as a consultant to return to a client and find that their CRM system has become a relic and that staff are working around the system in inefficient ways building new islands of data just because they either don’t know how to use the system or have forgotten what their CRM can do.  In the end this costs much more and often contributes to the undermining of the system.


Download the 'Getting Results from your CRM' whitepaper PDF version of this series