Author: Brian McLaughlin, CEO/CTO of Redtail Technology
Whatever CRM system you may use, user adoption is one of the biggest challenges facing any organization. Brian McLaughlin, CEO/CTO of Retail Technology, provides some insight into how to maximize your CRM adoption and ensure your investment in CRM technology really pays off.
If your office has implemented a CRM tool, or if you are considering doing so, you should be aware of one of the biggest barriers to achieving the goals that prompted your decision to begin using a CRM. You don’t have to spend much time Googling the topic of CRM user adoption to discover tons of articles and polls reflecting the fact that user adoption can be a challenge. User adoption almost always tops the list in these types of polls as a potential stumbling block to a successful CRM implementation. Still, if you’ve come to understand the integral nature that CRM can and should play in your daily practice, you probably also see the need to buck this trend that afflicts approximately 2 out of 5 offices that have attempted to implement CRM.
After all, you or someone in your office has spent the time required to research and/or put into place your chosen CRM. And, while costs vary between CRM providers, your office has either already made a monetary investment in the technology or is seriously considering doing so. To avoid the lack of user adoption trap entirely, or to correct a problem that already exists, we can share some tips that we’ve learned from the thousands of offices that have effectively adopted Redtail as an integral component of their technology platform.
1. Announce and Get Others Involved — The realization that a solid CRM system is needed occurs pretty quickly as your business grows. Oftentimes, a definitive decision to seek out a solution is precipitated by a mix-up in scheduling, or something of that nature, that leads to an unhappy client or prospect. While these certainly aren’t instances to celebrate, they do provide teachable moments where you can explain to your staff why you will be adopting a CRM platform.
Whether you will be involving others in the CRM search or not, it is helpful to get others in the office involved in and excited about the change early on. This gives them an opportunity to provide feedback as to where they perceive bottlenecks in your current procedures, where the greatest possibility for missteps currently lies and what about their jobs could be improved through automation to ensure accuracy and compliance. Carefully listening to staff feedback ensures both that they feel like the upcoming change will be beneficial to them and, consequently, creates champions within the organization for the change.
For larger offices, it can be beneficial to enlist the aid of a power user or two, particularly if you have either some tech savvy employees or others skilled in workflows or automation, and encourage them to assist you with adoption within the office. Oftentimes, it is not necessarily change that is feared, but rather the unknown. If a power user is around to assist others and show them how the shiny new CRM makes their lives easier, one instance of adoption can quickly lead to others.
2. Don't Shortchange Training - In effect, when you introduce a technological component as crucial as CRM into your practice, you’re introducing a cultural change. You should not expect a cultural change to be embraced overnight.
While “mandate” is a strong word, we do see greater adoption rates by those offices who expect staff members to take advantage of the training opportunities offered by Redtail, whether that takes the form of reading our First Steps Guide, watching our tutorials for new users, sitting in on our live webinars, or attending a Redtail University event. Key to success in the early stages is to keep things as simple as possible — allow your staff to begin by using the basic functionalities such as Notes and Calendaring, and transition over a scheduled timeframe into usage of Checklists, Workflows, Opportunity Tracker, etc. You don’t want to overwhelm your staff initially, but you do want to make sure that they are on track to make the most of your CRM implementation. At the same time, they need to be aware that more will be expected of them in terms of CRM usage over time; that it will be, in fact, a crucial tool in their day-to-day operations.
3. Refine and Reward - Look for ways to adapt Redtail CRM to your existing business processes. The hallmark of a great CRM is that it allows you to incorporate your existing processes while also streamlining them for greater efficiency. Redtail makes it easy to customize your database to reflect the terminology used within your practice and provides tools to facilitate automation of everyday processes. As you refine Redtail to meet your office’s needs, you will witness increased efficiencies and greater teamwork across departments, leading ultimately to happier clients. As these changes should be largely transparent, staff members with the best interests of the firm at heart will not only embrace the culture change, but also actively seek out other ways that the CRM can be adapted to encourage greater efficiencies. When this happens, those employees should be rewarded for their initiative in whatever manner that best suits your particular situation.
4. Employee Accountability - finding ways to motivate your employees to use the CRM is certainly the preferred method of achieving full user adoption. Motivation, of course, can come in many forms, and each office should seek out the motivators that drive adoption. This could come in the form of raises, bonuses, time off or any other incentive that proves effective in your office. Your end goal is to get staff using the CRM so that they begin to experience themselves the ways that it makes both their jobs easier and your business stronger.
5. Define Expectations - This may be the last step we are listing, but there are components of this one that should be sprinkled throughout the other three. First and foremost, use the CRM yourself to set an example. You may not be responsible for any necessary data entry, but if you are not using the CRM for those parts of your job for which it is custom-tailored, you shouldn’t necessarily expect buy-in from those you are expecting to use it. Your usage indicates your commitment and removes what may be a lingering suspicion among some staff (often justified from their past experiences) that usage is optional. Discuss the CRM as it relates to daily tasks during office meetings and promote it as a means of addressing challenges your office faces. All of these actions on your part help to erase any doubt that CRM usage is required. In the end, the success or failure of CRM implementation hinges upon the example set by management. Your active engagement with the tool you are championing sends the clear signal that this is now the way your office will be handling contact management.
It is inevitable in some cases, however, that some employees may resist CRM usage. When this happens, you must move to address it — the stubborn employee should not be allowed to derail your efforts to strengthen your business. Mandating usage, while a last resort, should be employed when leading by example and providing motivators don’t do the trick. The most straightforward way to mandate usage is by tying remuneration at review time to those employee actions that are measurable within the CRM. As all employees should be operating from the same playbook in order to bolster client confidence in your firm, those employees who don’t contribute their knowledge of and their history with your clients to the CRM are setting roadblocks to achieving that client confidence. An internal saying we practice is “if it isn’t in Redtail, it didn’t happen.” It’s a great point to hammer home with any reluctant employees — the client information that they may have saved on a scrap of paper, or discussed briefly at the water cooler, or simply kept to themselves, could be a deal breaker if not readily accessible within the CRM when another employee interacts with the client and appears uninformed about what should be common knowledge within the office.
We strive to encourage user adoption in everything we do here at Redtail — hopefully the tips above will provide you with some ideas to further encourage adoption on your end.