Technology and patience have forever changed the way we expect to interact with brands, products and services. It’s no longer just about what the outcome that product or service provides, but the overall experience it delivers. This is true across nearly every industry imaginable from retail to healthcare to finance to higher education and beyond.
Long gone are the days when customers would take the time to send in a written request for more information or make a purchase from a mail-order catalogue then wait weeks for it to arrive. We’ve rapidly grown accustomed to getting what we need or want with just a few taps on a smartphone, clicks of a mouse or voice request made to a device.
This has placed immense pressure on businesses to rethink their digital footprint and how they will deliver an unforgettable and seamless experience in a way that differentiates them. In fact, according to “Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer” report, 80% of customers surveyed (both consumers and business buyers) said the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. And this is where the modern-day CRM (customer relationship management) platform comes into play.
The vast majority of businesses today are implementing some type of CRM like Salesforce –– CRM has actually grown to a $36-billion industry. Still, depending which analyst report you reference, CRM project failure rates range between 18-69%. That is –– the CRM didn’t meet the expectations.
Top reasons for CRM failure
There are any number of variables that can impact the success of a CRM implementation or project, but in most scenarios it boils down to a few core issues that arise before, during and after implementation. We commonly see this with Salesforce implementations, and naturally, when it fails to deliver on expectations, internal adoption plummets leaving the organization with hefty investment that isn’t performing to the best of its ability.
1. Goals were not defined at the start. Before investing in a CRM like Salesforce, define your purpose or your “why”. Why are you implementing the technology? What processes do you want it to improve?
2. A standardized process for collecting data was not established. This is one of the top reasons for CRM failure. A CRM is only as good as the data flowing into it. Incorrect or incomplete data can lead to errors, frustration and eventual abandonment of the system. To avoid this fate, you have to have a standardized (and documented) process in place for data collection.
3. Training was an afterthought. Most organizations will provide general onboarding and initial training, but don’t take advantage of in-depth onboarding to get users off on the right foot or they miss the boat when it comes to ongoing training. Particularly with a tool like Salesforce that is continually making updates and introducing feature rollouts, setting up a cadence for regular trainings and sharing best practices is imperative.
4. All stakeholders were not taken into account. Often, the CRM implementation will become the responsibility of the company’s IT team or IT director. It should be a collaborative endeavor, involving those who will be using it on a daily basis to help. If the tool doesn’t fit into their workflow, adoption will be a challenge.
Setting up for long-term success
To avoid meeting the fate of CRM failure or to ensure you get the most out of your Salesforce implementation, we recommend getting the following in place prior to making the investment:
- Identify your business goals –– What do you want to accomplish? And what data do you need to accomplish it? Once you understand what your needs are you can prioritize the use cases that will drive the implementation.
- Outline the process you want to improve –– start with one process or use case. This helps keep it manageable and measurable. Once you refine it and prove it out, you can implement it across other use cases.
- Develop an onboarding and training plan –– part of this will include leadership adoption as they will be key in getting others bought-in to use it. Identify who your power users will be and leverage them as champions for the project. You’ll also want to have a cadence for training and auditing so everyone knows what to expect.
- Get all stakeholders involved –– this will be important to facilitate adoption. If all stakeholders can contribute to how the tool will be implemented and see how it will improve their workflow, they’ll be more apt to adopt it and advocate for it.
- Have a multi-device mobile strategy –– making your CRM available when and where your team wants to use it will also help improve adoption.
- Identify manual processes –– take some time to map out manual processes that can be automated, paying particular attention to your most critical workflows and core processes.
- Develop a process for documenting –– this should include documenting the overall system as well as any updates or changes made, and policies and procedures. This will help ensure your Salesforce intelligence doesn’t leave the organization if the person administering it leaves. Additionally, be sure that user permissions and classifications are updated regularly to ensure that the right members have admin access and the system isn’t exposed to users who are no longer with the organization.
- Have a point person or team to manage it all –– having an internal administrator and/or outside team to help implement and manage Salesforce will help ensure technical issues are quickly taken care of, new feature rollouts are quickly implemented, and that the tool evolves with your organization as you grow.
CRMs are a significant investment of resources ––time, money and people. You want to be sure you get the highest rate of return on that investment, and doing so requires far more than simply finding the right solution. That’s just the first step. When implemented correctly, CRMs can increase revenue streams upwards of 40%, increase productivity by 50% and even drive down costs by 40%, according to a report compiled by IBM.
Keep in mind too, 70% of customers say connected processes are very important to winning their business and 56% actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies, according to the Salesforce “State of the Connected Customer” report.
In a world where customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations, operating without a well-oiled and efficient CRM can quickly lead to irrelevance. Future proof your organization by thinking through your digital strategy.
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