Now that the preparations for your Journey to CRM Success are complete (see complete series to this point), it is time to start thinking about the passengers – those who will be daily users of the system. Our discussion now covers the essentials of creating a successful user journey. 

It can be tempting to work the preparation and development stages in the background with the intent of heading toward a grand unveiling of the new and wonderful system you have purchased. 

This is not the optimal approach. 

The users’ need to know what is coming, understand its value, and get comfortable with the impending change start well before the day they first log in to the new system. 

Once in place, thorough testing, training, follow-up, and the need for ongoing support are critical drivers of the overall project success.  A successful CRM initiative requires close attention to users and their usage patterns. 

The following seven-step outline provides a useful overview of critical points along the journey for users.               

1) Preview the System and Preparations

Giving users information about the selected system and why it is the solution of choice for your business while you are still working on preparation and development is a great way to help them acclimate to the idea that change is coming.  Openly discussing the considerations and choices made through the selection process is one of the best ways to secure buy-in from team members at all levels. Sharing information about your preparation and implementation process will help them understand what is coming enabling them to begin to prepare mentally for the new system.

2) Demonstrate Ties to Daily Work

Users will always be concerned about how their regular tasks and workflows will be changed and how difficult it will be to make the transition. Spending time to demonstrate how tasks and workflows will be different – and better – before it is time to make the change gives them an opportunity to process the information and begin thinking through their personal transition. 

3) Advantages to Users

What are the intended benefits to regular users of the system?  Although the benefits may be very clear and easy to understand for you, they may not be quite so obvious to the users themselves.  While benefits to the business on an organizational level are important and interesting – don’t miss the benefits that get down to the individual user.  You need their participation to achieve the organizational benefits, so don’t overlook directly stating how the system benefits users individually.  Does it make their work faster? Easier? More efficient?

4) Regular Updates

Are we there yet?!  Any parent on a road trip has heard this, and ironically it is the same question you can expect to hear from your CRM users on this journey. Once users know change is on the way, keeping them up to date on the status of the project and when they can expect to be trained and when they will need to start using the new system is key. Regular updates and early communication of dates that require action from the users is the best way to keep them comfortable and as ready for change as they can be. 
These updates are a great time for you internal champions and early-adopters to talk up the new system and begin creating a sense of excitement about what is to come. Setting the tone and expectations should be kept in mind throughout the journey. 

5) Training

A training plan that is well designed and effectively communicated will ease the transition and speed up adoption by your users.  Breaking training into stages and continuously building on concepts learned and then practiced allows for best absorption of the materials covered. Once users have seen a new concept and can practice its application in their daily work, they can begin to feel ownership of it. Advisors have specific expectations on how they need to be trained and the more directly related it is to their daily lives the better. This is discussed in more detail in the CRM Software Key Insights Report. 

Training doesn’t end once your team has started using the system, it is iterative and ongoing and should last the lifetime of the system – just like keeping the kids busy throughout a long car ride.

6) Driving Utilization

Users need continual encouragement and reasons to use the system once it is implemented. Your CRM champions and leadership team need to continually set clear expectations about usage and follow through regularly to make sure users are working in alignment. 

One of the most effective tools leaders can use are the CRM reports, if a leader uses a report to run a regular staff meeting it will encourage users to adopt the system because their activity won’t show up if they haven’t used the CRM. 

Over time the volume of nudges and reminders needed will lessen as the team gets comfortable with their new routines and workflows. Verification that users on board should never slow down, managing accountability for use the system and completion of tasks is the best way to ensure your database remains clean and relevant.

With 100% of the return on investment in technology tied to people actually using the software, a carefully designed user journey can mean the difference between success and mediocrity.  My next post will discuss technology and owner essentials – equally important yet worlds different than the user essentials we’ve just discussed.