CRM Implementation Success Psychology

CRM is a process not software.

Many organizations believe that if you buy CRM software then you will have better customer relations.  The truth is far from it.  While CRM systems are designed to facilitate better communications, automated follow-ups, and the like, successful CRM implementations require  defining a formal process. If you want to transform your customer relationships, you may need to transform the processes.  CRM software can be help you automate, measure and refine these processes.

Management commitment

Management needs to demonstrate commitment to the success of the project before, during, and after the software is installed and tailored to your formal processes. You need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  This means that management needs to use the system and be unified in presenting the benefits and commitment to the entire organization. This is definitely a situation where one bad apple can spoil the entire barrel.  Top and middle management must set example and demonstrate a consistent supportive attitude throughout.

Goal setting and limits

We favor the David Letterman approach, "the top 10" goals for each CRM initiative rather than trying to do too much at one time.  Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be implemented using an evolutionary process using smaller initiatives to get to the end goal rather than doing it all in one project.  It’s best to limit the scope of each new CRM initiative to minimize impact on the users.  Since CRM implementations are an investment in your company’s future, you should consider goals with a measurable ROI and prioritize appropriately.

The delicate balance between usability and data collection

Since CRM is designed to store lots of information, management wants more information collected and stored while users may not have the time to collect it.  If you attempt to require too much information, the system may become unusable and you end up getting no information at all. Make sure that the information you are collecting has real value. Since it’s very easy to add additional data elements to a Microsoft Dynamics CRM database and forms in later project phases, capture only the data you need and avoid the "capture everything we can think of" at the early stages of the project.

Stakeholder motivation

User acceptance is key to CRM return on investment and it’s best to use the carrot versus the stick.  It’s critical that you design forms and other components of CRM with an eye towards providing strong benefit to each end-user.  Presenting the new system with a strong focus on end-user WIIFM (what’s in it for me) will result in faster user adoption rates. It’s important to understand the end user’s needs during the design phase, to help build ownership and excitement. Getting end-user buy-in from the very start will pay dividends when it’s time to go live. This approach will generally succeed much better than a "use it or else" style.

User Training investment

Converting a to new CRM software can be traumatic for users. Your staff deserves the training they need to start using the new system right away. CRM training for user can be accomplished in two sessions of about four hours.  Trained users are better motivated, more productive and more likely to look favorably upon the new system.  This almost invariably leads to faster user adoption, dramatically affecting the ROI curve in a positive way.

The psychology of a successful customer relationship management software implementation is based upon a clear understanding of the above points.  Keeping them in mind will maximize the ROI of your customer relationship management initiative. Set the proper example, define your processes, involve the stakeholders early in the process, provide the tools to succeed and you will reap the rewards of your CRM investment sooner.

Steve Noe

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About stephenvnoe

CRM & XRM solution architect and project lead. I provide CRM design, services, mentoring & support to all manner of front office solutions and CRM projects.
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