CRM Consulting Best Practice

“Does your new CRM allow to create a new customer report?”

Last week we went for the demo to one of the potential customers. Generally, it all went well. I was talking a lot about new features of MS CRM 2016. I like showing new functionality to my customers, it’s incredible how the system changed in a past 10 years.

In the middle of the demo, one of the managers asked me that question. He said: “Well, I can see that a new version is better in many ways. But can it solve my problem? The old one couldn’t solve it.

*Does your new CRM allow to create a new customer report?*

My boss and I became speechless for 30 seconds. Then we started talking the same time trying to figure out what exactly he meant.

“What do you mean?”

Well, after the short spontaneous 5 minutes workshop we discovered that “a new customer” issue is related to the way data got imported into the system. After the import, for some reason, all accounts in the system became new, so there is no way to identify which account is old and which is not by just looking at the Create Date.

So many questions popped up in my head after the conversation but I haven’t asked them that day. I believe I even tried to suggest something which wasn’t 100% right. Clear as a day that the issue was not about an old system is not good, no. This is about something else. The customer may think that your system or their system is rubbish because it doesn’t solve the problem.  But, in reality, all the customer needs is some sort of training or guidance. Not the system itself, but the way it’s being used caused the problem.

What happens to the system after Go Live? Are your customers trained enough to use it? Does anyone own it? The end-user adoption is a very important thing which requires some of your attention. The system is not 100% alive if no one uses it or it’s not being used the way it supposed to be used, no matter how good it is.

Trying to combine my own thoughts about this topic I googled a bit and found a very good article here: Most of the statements I have already had in my mind and some are valid but they are difficult to implement. I listed them here below with my comments.

Define your business processes early in the planning phase, and implement Dynamics CRM around them.

Sometimes customers cannot define their own processes from the beginning. For them, it’s an interesting journey and the opportunity to discover a lot about their own business. Don’t be surprised to hear “we don’t have any processes” and be prepared to help them to figure things out before you start implementing it in CRM.

Involve your end users from start to finish, and then involve them again.

This is a good one. For me, the main reason why it works so well is that they got attached to the things they spent so much time and effort for. They are not just owners, they are builders and creators. They feel personally involved and responsible for the product.

Follow up consistently with end users after the solution is implemented.

This is about managing customer expectations. It’s a very important and continuous process. People tend to forget things so we have to come back and repeat; again and again. 

Identify the metrics to help you demonstrate success.

True. Which problem does it solve and how do we measure the results? It’s not always about figures. What are their benefits from using the system? For example, before the implementation, it was difficult to report on the data because all records were only on paper. Previously we cannot report and now we can. Not everything is that easy to measure but this is definitely a good option.

Encourage buy-in and user adoption from all levels of management.

I am sure we all understand that it’s a right thing to do but it’s not always possible. In the ideal world, you have your consultants working with the customer on different levels: sales directors at the level of top managers, project delivery managers working with the customer delivery team and support consultants helping end users; not mentioning functional consultants training and capturing the feedback to identify new opportunities.

You may have your own bullet points in the list but it’s clear the following is the key thing if you plan to have a long-term relationship with the customer.  If the customer knows the system then he uses the system, if he uses the system he loves the system, if he loves the system he comes and asks for more. Even if it needs some improvements, it may not be perfect but it needs to be of use. In this case, if something is not 100% working they will ask to repair not to replace it with a better one.

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