The Role of User Adoption in Maximising CRM ROI

An organisations ability to drive customer engagement, build loyalty and increase revenue is intrinsically linked to its ability to leverage its CRM. Read on to learn how to maximise user buy-in.

Like any tool, the CRM can only provide value when it is well used. User adoption is integral to a CRM deployment’s success or failure. Low user adoption is almost always why CRMs don’t deliver the expected return on investment (ROI). Acknowledging this risk enables you to prepare accordingly and eliminate those issues that obstruct or dilute a successful CRM deployment.

Equally, so is understanding the human factor behind low user adoption. Some team members may fear the technology, and others may fear for their jobs. In most cases, the reluctance to adopt any new solution usually comes from a lack of understanding.

This is entirely forgivable considering how broad the term CRM has become and how complex a platform like Dynamics 365 can be.

While it may seem straightforward to state the benefits of a CRM, the reality is getting to grips with Dynamics CRM takes time, support and training.

However, before you can consider training you first need to establish what you hope to gain from deploying a CRM. Defining what success from your CRM project is fundamental to its success from the perspectives of user adoption and ROI.

How to calculate the ROI of a CRM

Return on investment, or ROI, is a simple measurement to evaluate how well an investment has performed. For something like an ad campaign, this is straightforward: the cost of the campaign versus the revenue it generated. Calculating the value of your CRM can be harder to quantify. It’s not easy to put a price on better customer service. Similarly, it’s not always apparent how many opportunities would be lost by team members not being able to collaborate via a single platform.

As with other SaaS platforms, establishing a means of measuring performance will indicate how your CRM is performing.  For example:

  • Time to close – With a stronger customer relationship and a better-informed approach, it should be easier to close deals, reducing the time spent on each sale.
  • Increased deal size – As above, a CRM supports sales and should help increase the value of every deal.
  • More sales – With a smarter sales approach, you should also be able to increase the number of deals closed.
  • More repeat customers – Happy customers return for more, so if you’re using the CRM to strengthen the customer relationship you should see customers returning and referring.

There are, of course, additional benefits that may be harder to monitor. Closer collaboration across departments results in an improved work environment. Happier staff stay in their jobs for longer, meaning your team gains experience. It must be said, though, that a good CRM tool alone cannot achieve all these things. It’s just a tool – designed to make the job easier, not to replace people or the relationships they form. So, the number one key to CRM success is user adoption.

an isometric illustration of the evolution of business and product adoption with people interacting at the different stages.

User adoption – the make or breaker

The success of any software deployment hinges on both the rate and duration of user adoption. The faster your team picks it up and the longer they use it, the more successful that deployment is.

In our experience, low user adoption is the main reason CRM systems fail to deliver the expected ROI.

Despite the sophisticated capabilities of modern CRM systems, you have to think of them as a tool, just like any other. Any tool used incorrectly will, over time, degrade or even break.

This is true whether you’re using a hammer, machinery or sophisticated software. But rather than blame our poor adoption or lack of training, we usually blame the tool, replace it and the whole thing starts again. The frequency and severity of the misuse will directly correlate to the speed at which it becomes unusable.  

User adoption is a journey; it cannot be forced, although many try. In WalkMe’s annual report State of Digital Adoption 2022, 60% of decision-makers are concerned about whether digital projects will provide the expected ROI because end-users aren’t adopting the technology quickly enough.

Low user uptake results in poor performance and poor performance results in lower user uptake. It becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.  The key, therefore, is understanding what obstacles exist in your organisation that could hamper adoption.

This is something of a hard look-in-the-mirror conversation, as those obstacles can be anything from capacity to budget to individuals.

Failure to Adopt

There are many reasons why users don’t engage with new software. The first and most obvious is resistance to change. People may not be entirely happy with the status quo, but at least they know where they stand. Introducing new software, especially something as vast as a CRM, can be intimidating. Not least because it can often mean a change in process, or a formalisation of processes when historically team members have been free to operate as they saw fit. Some may perceive the CRM deployment as an unnecessary change – especially if they haven’t understood the benefits.

Be under no illusions, you need to get your deployment right. Bad software deployment can cost time and money to remedy or replace. In extreme cases, they can be an existential threat when you factor in the potential data loss that can ensue.

To make your deployment successful, you must treat your team like customers. Take them on a journey of the new CRM and get their buy-in.

Another common reason for low user adoption is poor communication around the new system. This encompasses both the ‘why’ – the reason for bringing in a new CRM – and the ‘how’. If users aren’t properly trained to use the CRM, they won’t understand how to maximise the benefits. It’s unreasonable to expect users to ‘have a play’ and ‘come back to us if you have any questions’. Especially with something so complex and feature-rich as a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365.  Take a user-centric approach to both CRM design and rollout to ensure maximum adoption.

Anything that stands between your CRM and user adoption also stands between your CRM and ROI.

It’s critical to think about CRM rollout and onboarding while you’re choosing which CRM to go with. Not only the functionality and how quickly it can be deployed but how quickly it can be adopted.

Illustration of a man trying determine which communication channels to use 1

How to improve user adoption

The best way to improve CRM user adoption is to help users understand the WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Communication is key, and it must start before you introduce the new system.

Involve users in the selection process

Talk to users about what they like or don’t like about the current way of working. This will allow you to build a picture of what they need from a new CRM system. Make sure they understand the change is to benefit them, so you need their feedback on what ‘better’ looks like. Of course, they won’t necessarily know all the capabilities a CRM can offer and what those benefits could be. Take the time to introduce the options fully before making a decision.

Talk up the benefits

You know the pain points from both a business and user perspective. Use this information to communicate the benefits of the chosen CRM – and communicate them widely. Don’t rely on sporadic updates to get the message across. Think about what channels are available to you and how they can be used to get your message out. Put posters on the wall if that’s what it takes.

Build a pilot team

Often when new software is rolled out across a business, you start with a core team who are committed to the project and willing to be the guinea pigs. Starting small doesn’t enable you to get the full benefit of the CRM, but you can hope to develop an evangelical group of ‘experts’ who have familiarised themselves with the system enough to help communicate those benefits to the wider team. These evangelists will help boost adoption.

Streamline and customise the CRM to meet user needs

As a result of that earlier work liaising with and seeking feedback from users, you should have a good idea of what you want to achieve with your CRM and how you can tailor the system to meet your usage. Customising the interface to directly align with those needs demonstrates that you’ve listened to and understood your users’ WIIFM and ensures they can get maximum use out of the CRM.

Provide comprehensive training and support

If people don’t know how to use the CRM, they won’t use it. Or they’ll use it poorly, which amounts to the same thing – a low ROI. We would suggest training is offered on both a mandated, regular basis during rollout and on-demand long term. Easy-to-access resources allow users to solve issues as they arise. Long, information-heavy, webinars are unlikely to inspire anyone; you’re better off with a little-and-often approach, such as weekly ‘lunch and learns’ that break down the CRM’s capabilities piece by piece.

Establish clear expectations The less people use a CRM, the less effective it is. Make it clear from the outset that this tool is not optional; it is mandatory – not just for the individual user’s benefit, but for the entire business. Be strategic about the rollout and set clear goals. Your CRM provider should be able to help define those with you and set out ways to measure progress so that you can assess how successful your rollout has been.

Illustration of a user accessing support resources.

Pulling the Trigger

An advanced, customised CRM system can transform your business through effective management of customer relationships throughout the sales and after-sales process. But this is only made possible by people using it properly and often. Low user adoption is the number one reason CRM implementation fails, so getting users onboard from the outset is critical.

Think about this as a sale – you’re selling users on the concept of CRM, so you need to pull out all the same tools you would ordinarily deploy to close a deal. Understanding their pain points; refining the solution; talking up the benefits and supporting them once the deal is done to ensure you end up with a happy customer. This is how you guarantee a good ROI.

If you want to ensure a successful CRM implementation, talk to us about how we can help you maximise your ROI.

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Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we help businesses like yours navigate Microsoft Dynamics 365 recovery and deployments.

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