There are essentially three issues that a company must address in order to organise around customers. They are: (1) The organisational structure that will most effectively optimize customer relationships (2) The related owners of customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives in the organisation and (3) Employee training. All three of these issues deserve explanation in the context of an overarching CRM transformation. We reviewed the first two essentials last week. Today, we go up to the third component.
One of the most common reasons for a failed CRM system implementation is that not all the employees have embraced the project. Accusations usually fall on the technology but the truth is that if the workers do not accept the new means to do their job, no CRM system in the world could achieve the management’s desires. In this context, it is of great importance how the management will communicate the idea to the employees. More than anything, CRM means relationships.
The software, technology, improvement of data integrity and accountability – these are secondary benefits; the most important thing in CRM is the improvement of relationships. Therefore, that’s where the focus should be. All the desired business results – increased revenue, return on campaigns and so on – come as a result of the improved relationships. Le’s answer few questions now.
What goals do employees see before themselves?
The management knows what they want to achieve. They know the financial goals, the objectives on attracting new customers, improving campaigns, etc. The same can’t be said about the service technician– the only goal that he knows about is that he must close 10 job cards for the day.
To achieve the positive effect of CRM implementation, the employees in the organisation need to know why this change is necessary. The management only can help them understand what benefits the project will bring to the company - as well as to the employees.
How do you communicate the goals?
The most important step in the implementation of CRM is the explanation of project goals to the employees. In no case should this be done with a series of emails, telling people what the company executives have decided to do. What’s necessary is a complete communication campaign, which introduces the goals in an understandable, clear way. This campaign must explain to the employees what is happening and why. It’s also vital that it gives them a means for fast and easy two-way communication. Above all, it’s important to tell the employees what the new project will benefit them. If they clearly see how the project will help them work more easily and more efficiently and will achieve better results with less effort, then their support is won. If they understand the convenience that it brings them, the employees will accept the idea – and they will help to make it happen. In short, the management should ‘advertise’ their project to their employees.
What type of a training programme is ideal?
CRM implementation needs to use a well-thought-out, organised and evaluated training programme for the employees. It is important that this programme starts as soon as possible, so the employees can know how to work with the new system and have enough time to get used to it, to be able to provide useful feedback.
Should employees participate in system design?
In the implementation of CRM, it is advisable to involve the employees in the design process of the system. After all, who knows the business processes in the company better than its own employees? They are the ones who know how their work could be smoother and easier, what exactly can allow them to become more effective. Their involvement is particularly valuable in the design of any components or structure. Sometimes some of their decisions may sound counterintuitive but in the end, CRM concerns relationships and it’s natural for it to match the actual interaction flow with the users.
How much time should be given for change and readjustment?
It takes time for the employees to get used to the new system, to learn how to use it, to gain from it. They need to adjust to new processes, new applications and interfaces. That takes time – and the management should allow time for adaptation. Resistance to change is a common occurrence. Few people like to get out of their ‘comfort zone’ and change their habits. Those who worked successfully under ‘the old way’ naturally ask why they have to change something that has allowed them to work effectively so far. Those who didn’t have much success with the old system might get frightened.
Right communication regarding the change should give the employees confidence and comfort in the fact that something is changing. Instead of worries, it should cause curiosity, an interest, a feeling that work is getting easier. Of course, all of this must be declared in a measured way, because it shouldn’t create hyper-optimism or even worse - too high expectations.
Are there different types of knowledge?
CRM training needs to review two types of knowledge: relational and technological. Relational knowledge consists of managing the information of the current customers and organising leads to generate new business. Your employees need to understand your company values and functionality and how it affects customer relations. The employees who are experienced in working with a well-organised CRM plan are ideal to increase sales and profit exponentially. Technological knowledge implies that your staff must have a classroom-based instruction to show how to easily operate and implement the CRM system into your business effectively. However, this instruction does not meet the specific needs of your staff, so implementing multiple learning styles to meet the needs of a wide variety of employees is ideal. Repetition is more helpful and effective than reviewing an array of topics in one setting, so you should combine different teaching techniques in an organised schedule that will keep repetition and clarification of CRMs.
Let’s give you three tips of how to train your employees to improve the success of your CRM implementation:
1. Train them how to use the tools effectively.
First and foremost train your users how to effectively use the tools that they’re given. A famous management guru once said - People who don’t get properly trained may not be doing things the wrong way but they’re almost certainly doing things the long way. In most cases this really holds true. What’s the point of implementing a solution that supposedly makes your workers more efficient if they don’t know how to efficiently use the product?
2. Train them to be the advocates of the change.
Get the employees excited about organisational change. It is never an easy feat, even if that change is for the better. Inspire your employees to be advocates for change and get them to start thinking about different and creative ways to incorporate the solutions into their daily workflow. There is no better way for leadership to let the employees know they’re serious about the success of an implementation than by arming them with all the tools they need to be successful.
3. Train them how to empower themselves.
Train your employees to make changes on their own and take control of how they use the CRM. That is empowering them. Reporting is a good example. There are organisations that have a single admin officer who generates any and all reports their users request. While this isn’t necessarily a bad strategy, it can lead to a bottleneck when an admin officer can’t keep up with all the requests being made. Training empowers users to take control of their own data and get access to good information when they need it.
(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)