Managing Staff Expectations and the Real Benefits of CRM

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No matter how advanced business software becomes, it will never be able to function without the right inputs. Similarly, its outputs are only as valuable as the staff members who analyze and discern real insight from the collected data. That isn't to say platforms like customer relationship management software are limited in usefulness or scope. CRM is extremely valuable for operations, but it needs to be approached by employees and business leaders with the right perspectives and the most accurate expectations in mind. A company whose staff members have a good understanding of such software will be able to use it more efficiently as well as better understand the real benefits of CRM and return on investment of a new platform.

Here are a few major areas where businesses should manage staff expectations and provide some specific instructions:

The benefits on the individual employee level
CRM won't instantly make the daily duties of a sales or marketing staff member easier or less taxing. The same can be said for any employee interacting with the software throughout the business. CRM needs accurate and current information to be effective. This means there are plenty of areas where staff will have to continue paying attention, accurately recording information and properly inputting it into the system.

An easy way to make this distinction is by pointing out that CRM doesn't do the job of employees. What it does when used correctly, however, certainly helps manage information, extract valuable insights and automate many tedious processes that previously had to be completed manually. Helping staff members understand early on what CRM can and can't do - while highlighting the specific benefits that the new software will provide - can put them in the right mindset and even create an eagerness to learn how to best use a system. Managing expectations in this area is crucial because a failure to do so can lead to resentment and disengagement on the part of employees. A jaded workforce is a tough obstacle in the drive for optimal CRM use and deriving the real benefits of CRM, but it's a largely avoidable one with the right approach during the implementation phase.

Work that is needed ahead of the go-live date
This concern isn't just limited to CRM software, but applies to any major change at a company. Businesses that have previously made a significant process alteration, upgraded infrastructure, expanded into new product lines or dealt with another kind of significant alteration to operations understand that time and effort are required to make an addition or alteration a success. It's important that the decision-makers behind the push for a new CRM system, as well as the implementation team, explain this fact to the rest of the staff. Without this realization, employees may be surprised or upset to learn that they'll need to take some extra steps and spend time learning how to use the new software.

Employees will need to attend training sessions, and for commission-based salespeople, this may be a difficult proposition at first. The earlier that the work needed ahead of the go-live date is explained to staff, the less contentious this situation can be.

Time to realize return on investment
With CRM, as with many other major business investments, achieving a return on investment isn't a particularly fast process. While benefits will certainly be realized over the course of the system's useful life, they won't be seen in the days, weeks and months immediately after the go-live date. This concept is especially important for the higher-level leaders and financial departments to understand, as those who weren't particularly involved in the implementation process may have unrealistic expectations.

By The TM Group

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