We talk a lot about CRM being a journey – and with good reason. It can be arduous and challenging. You’ll encounter obstacles and almost certainly need to make a few detours along the way. And you’ll need to ensure your fellow travellers are well-equipped and well-prepared – because this journey is a shared one. You can’t make it to your destination alone.

From the CEO to the office junior, everyone who uses your CRM needs to be on board and ready to embrace the change. This means being not only technically competent, but also emotionally invested – in other words, as well as the ‘how’ they need to also understand the ‘why’.

Successful user adoption is a long term play: there’s no quick fix. It starts at the very beginning of the project, builds throughout the implementation process and requires ongoing maintenance post-rollout. Here are five valuable techniques which will help you support your users along their journey – and ensure no one is left behind.

1. Show users how it will make their lives easier.

Communicating the value of your new system is essential. You need to educate your users not just on why CRM matters to the business, but why it matters to them. We call this the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) effect.

One way to do this is by meeting with users to showcase the value of the CRM system. In this meeting you should:

  • Share the strategic vision and make sure users know the big picture ‘why’ behind the decision.
  • If you’re already past the initial rollout phase, evaluate how they’re using the system currently and suggest ways to expand usage.
  • Highlight the specific benefits of the CRM. Make it relatable and relevant.
  • Take advantage of tools and resources provided by your CRM partner. Training is critical to a successful rollout and boosts user confidence.
  • Get the right trainer – someone who can speak to the value and not just how to use it. Messaging is critical for quality adoption with users.
  • Use specific use cases and examples to show how the new system will help users perform their jobs better.
  • Keep it simple. Introduce functionality in phases, starting with features that will immediately empower users.
  • Emphasize the WIIFM story. Consider an internal marketing initiative to ensure users understand the benefit and value they will get with CRM adoption.

2. Recognise and reward users for successful usage.

Most people are naturally resistant to enforced change, but incentivisation is a powerful tool. Get creative and make it fun for your users to want to adopt the system:

  • Provide rewards as a way to reinforce their adoption, such as points or small gift cards for completing certain tasks.
  • Incorporate gamification and create a friendly competition. Motivate users with a leaderboard and point system to make it more rewarding.
  • Offer peer recognition via team meetings or social media: public acknowledgment is a powerful motivator.

3. Identify and empower internal champions

Users who see the value of CRM and adopt it successfully are more likely to share their positive experiences with others – so recruiting these influential users as CRM champions can be a highly effective technique.

Look for people with the following characteristics:

  • Positive demeanor and the trust of their colleagues
  • Supports the usage of CRM to their team
  • Asks for feedback and ways to improve the CRM experience
  • Eager to learn about the CRM and use creative ways to make it relevant to daily usage

Once you’ve found them, the next step is to empower your champions and their followers by providing a variety of group training methods. This might include live training, written documentation or recorded videos.

4. Devise a change management plan to handle pushback

When you’re implementing a new system, pushback is inevitable. Some of the most common reasons users resist the change are:

  • Inadequate user training and communications
  • Lack of investment because they weren’t engaged in the decision-making process
  • Product functionality is not as expected
  • Lack of internal champion to advocate positive adoption

To mitigate these potential issues, make sure your change management plan covers off the following actions:

  • Engage users early for both feedback and evangelism. Poll users afterwards for continuous feedback.
  • Establish implementation as a program. Develop a project plan for progressive implementation with reasonable milestones leading up to a launch event.
  • Customize training materials and develop gamification during onboarding to make it fun.
  • Conduct listening sessions to document feedback from users and provide this to your implementation partner for enhancements and usability improvements.
  • Involve executive leadership support and make sure they are across the messaging.
  • Establish a program to reward users with high usage and effective adoption.

5. Play the long game

Even if initial adoption is high, remember that things can always change. Your long term goal should be to keep users committed to CRM usage and consistently engaged with the system on a long term basis – and to do this, you need happy users.

Continue to monitor adoption and usage and maintain user satisfaction levels by:

  • Tracking the right metrics such as user logins and granular usage metrics.
  • Evaluating product functionality and usability to ensure it’s meeting the business needs.
  • Being proactive: offer continuous education and keep the feedback conversation open.
  • Thanking and recognizing users for their efforts.

Whatever stage you’re at in your CRM journey, having a user adoption plan is essential to success. If you’d like to know more about how you can better engage and train your users, your implementation partner is a good place to start. Contact us on info@evolutionmarketing.com.au to find out how we can help your users embrace the change.