Getting Used to CRM in Your Office

Employees in any office, especially many senior staff who have developed business processes which they are very proud of react with fear of change when they are told that they have to start doing their work on a CRM Program. Most of these employees worry that their performance will suffer because they cannot do the work in the manner they are used to. This is a common misconception about CRM and enterprise software that makes people feel that they will lose control of the process. What employees should be told is that the way they work, their data collection needs and the forms and reports they need will become a part of the new system. One-on-one and group training will be offered, and needs of different employees can be discovered. If your company is installing a CRM system with excellent customization capabilities like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, your consultant will be able to take the most important customizations requested by your employees will be easily added. Reports should resemble the original reports so that they can work with the same data. Most of the invoices, faxes, letters, memos and e-mails in any office can be categorized by business purpose and are almost identical in language and intent. One characteristic common to successful implementations of CRM is that there are as many templates as possible to handle at least 90% of your employees’ daily correspondence if you are in a service industry. Your employees already produce these documents using programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Publisher. Each time your employees make one of these standardized documents the way they do now, they are creating each one from scratch and spending additional time filing the information in cabinets. In a collaborative CRM environment, the entire organization shares all the necessary data for each of you customers. Because of this, most of the documents they used to make from scratch can be immediately issued at the touch of a button. This is not only an incredible time saver, allowing your customer service staff to spend more time on the phone with your customers now that they do not need to create documents repeatedly from scratch. Your staff will notice the different too. Repeated clerical work not only slows down your staff but it is also distracting and demotivating to many employees. They may not even realize it until they have had some months with the new system and find their jobs more exciting and fulfilling. Another benefit is that having your employees work in one system means that they do not need to spend time trying to get information from other employees and departments about the customer they are speaking to. Every interaction with the customer by any employee is documented: now any good customer service agent can solve any issue your customers have immediately. In an office without CRM, different employees doing different kinds of work related to the same customers, a great deal of information is repeatedly gathered by many people. In a CRM system the information is shared, so the first person to collect information saves the data for everyone to use. Others can correct mistakes or amend records due to change, but the collection of information is not duplicated. Reducing duplication of information collection has been important to sophisticated managers long before there was CRM software. It has been shown in a number of studies (citations to follow soon) that duplication of information collection not only is inefficient because work should be performed only once but also the statistical likelihood of introducing errors. During the process of collecting information by even the best staff, the statistical likelihood of data entry errors can be predicted for tasks of different complexities and amount of data entry the staff performed. Staffs that do more data entry are apparently more accurate. In addition to reading in my field that I do, I noticed an aggregation of statistics from existing studies that I looked at to make these statements came from Professor Raymond Panko of the University of Hawaii. Seeing more than one study come up with error rates that are similar for data entry related jobs and also present studies with error rates in other kinds of work helped me to appreciate that there is always some error. When you duplicate effort repeatedly, the errors that are introduced will be exponential compared to organizations with enterprise CRM systems. Another benefit is that errors in the original data in CRM systems gets corrected because everyone is repeatedly exposed to the same data and can point out errors or correct them on their own and for the benefit of all concerned.

As soon as your employees see that they can work with all of the features and functionalities they are used to and now improved by CRM. Companies that learn about the way their best employees perform business processes best when key employees all can work with an engineer to help them learn to get the most out of the software and to also create the reports and correspondence as system templates. These employees feel more confident because their needs are taken into consideration. It is at this point that, organizations adopting CRM start to enjoy the many benefits of implementation. There is less repetitive work and less repetitive requests to other employees for information. Your employees are happier because they feel empowered to work better and faster. Your managers tell you that the business can now grow without increasing staff. Executive staff are able to see and measure and report on all work being done and immediately spot issues. Customers experiencing growing respect for your company because every representative they speak to delivers a consistent message and accesses the same information. In the short-term there will be some uncertainty and resistance by your employees.

Your resisting employees are not resisting because they are bad employees in any way. Resistance is a sign of pride in workmanship. This is why a good consultant will embrace resistance. Those who resist the change tend to bring up objections that can tell your systems engineer how to make sure that these issues are all addressed either with education, a custom report or form or field, or a security consideration involving allowing different access to different data for different people. The more information your systems engineer has about your needs and the way you do business, the more he or she can tailor the software in the best way for your company.

For very large companies, there is a very lengthy and expensive implementation process for new enterprise software. With small businesses this can be very streamlined and much less expensive. Most of the consulting is done with all employees individually, not only through training but through careful customization so that all employees are saving time. Our advice is that implementing CRM software is like when one first learns to hit a baseball and comes to the realization that one must commit to action wholeheartedly to get the best benefits.

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