Deploying a CRM solution across the enterprise can be a daunting proposition. Scores of books have been written about the proper way to implement a user-friendly solution that meets the needs of both management and end-users, and yet user adoption and engagement continue to suffer. In this article, I’ll touch on why I think that trend is changing, but first let’s take a quick look at the current state of affairs.
When implementing CRM, companies generally start with a well-prepared roadmap and seek buy-in from all parties before embarking on what can take several weeks to several years, depending on the size of the organization and the complexity of the requirements. Enterprise-wide implementations almost always require lots of data cleansing, software configuration and integrations with other pertinent systems.
The scary part about undertaking such a project is that, even if you get everything right during planning and implementation, you still aren’t guaranteed that the end-users will pick it up and use it. That’s because, for most people, change is difficult, and asking people to do things differently is often met with resistance.
Why Is Change So Difficult?
When it comes to CRM, the change you’re asking end-users to make generally involves lots of training on how to use the new system. These trainings cover questions like: how do I enter a new prospect? How do I create and manage my opportunities? How and where exactly do I capture meeting notes and follow-up activities? How do I find all of my top prospects in Charlotte, NC?
Today’s CRM systems are about as user-friendly as they will ever be, yet they all require users to learn how to work with the new tool and, more often than not, to spend more time in front of their computers than they did prior to CRM.
How Is the Current Approach Working?
Survey after survey shines a very bright light on the reality of most CRM deployments. CSO Insights, for example, reports that less than 37% of sales reps actually use their company’s CRM system. CSO Insights also found that less than 40% of CRM customers have end-user adoption rates above 90%.
CRM systems hit the market in the early 80s and have steadily evolved in terms of their flexibility to be configured and to integrate with other systems. They can satisfy most any requirement one could dream up today, yet here we sit with the same poor adoption rates. A quick Google search will find dozens of CRM products that all claim to have the easiest user interface in the market, but we keep seeing the same results. So what gives?
Most people do not have the patience for navigating through multiple screens to complete what should be a very simple task: for example, creating an opportunity or capturing a quick note about a conversation they just had with a prospect. Pretty soon they begin to feel like the only reason they put anything in CRM at all is to satisfy management’s desire to see what they are doing every day. They struggle to find any personal benefit from using CRM on a daily basis, so slowly but surely users begin using CRM less and less – just enough to check the box with management.
Changing the Game
Thanks to advances in Artificial Intelligence, there’s a better way to interact with software today, and it’s not dependent on yet another fancy UI which does the same thing but maybe in a slightly different way.
People don’t think twice about asking Siri for directions or asking Alexa to set a reminder to pick up the kids from school. People don’t sit through training sessions or sift through user training guides to learn how to do these things either. They just do what is most natural to them which is using their voice to say exactly what they need – when they need it.
Smart speakers and digital assistants have become as commonplace as televisions in the consumer world. We are now seeing a rapid increase in utilizing this same type of technology in the workplace.
People are using voice to work with business systems like CRM. If a sales rep is preparing for a meeting and wants to see recent orders or recent interactions with the company she is visiting, she can ask her CRM to provide that information or simply request it by text. Instead of opening up CRM and navigating to find the information she is looking for, she just interacts with CRM the same way she would interact with a human assistant.
This new way of working with business systems will inevitably become the norm in the coming years. Many companies are already using digital assistant technology or are in the process of implementing it. That’s because, change – when done right – feels less like a burden and more like a burden lifted. The very sales reps who have resisted adopting CRM will likely have a whole new appreciation for what it can do for them, and that’s a direct result of the digital assistants adapting to them instead of asking them to adapt to the software.