It's widely acknowledged across industries that while technology is imperative for smooth business operation and competitive advantage, an organisation's culture can be one of the biggest inhibitors to its adoption.
Initiating cultural change to facilitate technology adoption isn't impossible, it just requires diligence and a 'making it happen' approach. This involves an understanding of the why the firm is looking to adopt a piece of software, matching the needs of the business and its employees via the application and meticulousness on the part of the organisation to remove impractical and 'mindset' obstacles by demonstrating value.
Based on my experience of working as an InterAction CRM Manager at law firms, three things can expedite a cultural transformation to ensure successful adoption of CRM technology:
1. Understanding the value of CRM for employees
Undoubtedly, the business reason for CRM is critical to define, but equally, it's important for the firm to understand how CRM technology will enable its employees – from Managing Partners to personal assistants and administrative staff – to perform better and achieve their objectives within the company. This insight is essential to demonstrate the value of CRM technology to employees and 'what's in it for them', which in turn will unleash the change in mindset to facilitate a more favourable attitude to CRM. Crucially, it will help overcome the common refrain – "we don't have time to use the CRM system".
Illustrate valuable outputs based on the time spent by different groups of employees on CRM to help them see the benefits of the solution. It will encourage them to use the solution. In fact, with InterAction IQ and InterAction for Microsoft Outlook (IMO), much of the data collection is passive, which reduced the need for manual input by employees. Consequently, it's easy to provide end users with business intelligence, which they thought was unavailable and demonstrate value.
2. Defining processes
Often employees don't use the CRM system in the firm because there aren't any defined processes or guidelines for its usage. On a fundamental level, all users must know when and how best to use the system. For example, every time a fee earner returns from an event, it should be standard practice for the fee earner or personal assistant to record the details of any new contacts met with and conversations held into the CRM system as activities. This understanding of what data needs to be inputted, where in the system, how to input and why is essential.
Similarly, a process for marketing and business development professionals where creating a report post event of attendees, communication and outcome, to the relevant department head would demonstrate return on investment for running those events.
Not only are processes important for guiding usage, they also define the most efficient and effective methods of using the solution, allowing users to spend less time to achieve the desired outcomes.
3. Training, Training, Training
Education of these best practice processes must underpin training as the procedures will be different for different groups – marketing and business development, secretaries, fee earners, and so on.
So, firms must identify who needs training, what skillsets they already have, where the CRM skills needs to be bolstered, which processes the individual groups need to be aware of, and the best methods to impart that education. The training and its focus are likely to vary between users, but the common goal must always be the same – i.e. to encourage the use of and understand the value of CRM for business.
CRM managers devising and executing the training programme must prepare responses to "why" type questions for each group. For instance, if you ask a fee earner to ensure that every time they interact with a contact, they need to take 30 seconds to log that activity in the CRM– the response to their "why" may be that if all fee earners in the firm do this, overtime, they will know the strength of the firm's relationship with that individual based on the level of interaction and engagement. This business intelligence could prove essential for cross-selling, lead generation and organic growth.
Taking this approach to training for every role-based group will help the firm overcome users' resistance to using the CRM technology.
Additionally, critical to training is follow up – be it via materials, one-on-one sessions, emails or any such. Appointing 'super users/CRM champions' in every user group type is a great way of spreading practical knowledge of how to use a CRM system optimally while promoting its use and benefits.
As time goes by and users improve their usage of the solution, the cultural change in the business develops a momentum of its own, incrementally propelling the transformation.
How do you know that cultural change in underway?
CRM managers frequently use metrics such as increase in number of users, number of reports generated and so on, to highlight success of the discipline's adoption by the business. However, more meaningful metrics would be: the CRM system becomes the default resource for client information reports for the firm, business development is able to track ROI of events, new business pipeline reports can demonstrate the progress of key targets converted to clients and so on. These are just some of the indicators that will tell you, that you are doing CRM right!