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Don’t stay stuck – refreshing SaaS CRM systems

22nd Nov 2018
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Everything tends to go in cycles. Innovative companies spring up to solve problems that companies have, and grow rapidly based on that initial demand. These new companies can compete effectively against other businesses by taking a new approach to the issue that actually fits with what customers want and need. They are “just right” for the market.

However, over time, these innovators expand their offerings, increasing the depth and breadth of their solutions. Fast forward a few years, and the “innovative” company now provides a wide stack of increasingly complex and intricate products. Essentially, the “innovator” has become the same as those companies they initially competed with.

In the technology sector, we have seen this happen across a variety of companies, from infrastructure markets like databases through to new applications and cloud-based services. Today, this phenomenon -- of formerly nimble and novel solutions becoming overly-complex and counterintuitive -- is rampant among Software-as-a-Service Customer Relationship Management providers.

Finding out the real problem

Forrester Research recently compiled a report, Riding The Next Wave Of SaaS CRM, which found that more than half of companies are considering changing their current CRM platform within two years. Around 25 per cent of those surveyed – a quarter of all companies that have CRM in place – were already in the process of making a change.

Rather than avoiding this cross-industry trend, it seems that SaaS CRM solutions have fallen into the same trap of mistaking more functionality for what customers actually want. Instead of focusing on their customers’ needs, these providers have grown bloated and, in the process, neglected what customers value the most.

The pressing issue here is that CRM buyers are not CRM users. While Forrester’s research found that a majority of those responsible for buying CRM solutions were happy, those using the systems every day were not. Around 45 per cent of buyers thought their training programmes for their CRM implementations was sufficient, while only 19 per cent of CRM users agreed with this. Similarly, 46 per cent of buyers thought they had chosen a solution that was simple to use, while only 36 per cent of users thought their existing CRM was easy to use.

This gap between buyers’ expectations and users’ experience is significant. Over time, it leads to frustration and, most importantly, wasted time and money. This can be exacerbated by poor integration and support – the very things that switching to the Cloud was supposed to stop.

What is next?

The volume of migrations reported in the research shows that companies are still looking for CRM systems that will meaningfully help them deliver better service to their customers. So what should you be looking for?

  1. What is the user experience really like?

For most users, getting information into a CRM system can be a frustrating experience. Making this process simple is essential in order to gain acceptance by users. Running a user acceptance trial should help, particularly if you have staff that are mobile. Without this, it is difficult to implement CRM that employees actually use.

  1. What are your processes?

User experience is important when using a tool, but you should also consider the data that you ask users to put in. Can you automate steps in your processes to pull in data, or avoid having users rekeying information multiple times?

Alternatively, you can examine how you can integrate other systems of record like customer service and support to provide you with insights and data automatically.

  1. What is your culture around data?

Even with the best experience and easy tools, having the right culture in place around data is just as important. Without the right information, your sales team may be unable to follow up effectively.

Finding those sales people who do use data to their advantage can prove invaluable to building a wider culture around CRM usage. By showing how data can improve selling, you can demonstrate that your CRM implementation is designed to help your sales team be more effective, rather than solely providing data for sales managers. Think insight, not oversight.

  1. How can you keep ahead of customers?

With the right data, you can work on engaging customers, rather than just managing their experience alone. Customer engagement management relies on successful use of data, but it also aims to make each interaction beneficial for both the customer and the salesperson. By examining this in more detail, you should be able to capitalise on investing in better usability and better processes.

Getting CRM right - for buyers and users

For buyers, cost effectiveness and relevant functionality remain the key factors in choosing a CRM system. For users, ease of use and simplicity around functions are more important over time. Instead of repeating the process of implementing a SaaS CRM system that eventually gets too deep or clunky, it’s important to keep things “just right” over time. This should be a refreshing approach for buyers and users.


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