Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some things that really do work

There should be no doubt in your minds that I have become a cynic when it comes to activity controls. You will be happy to learn that there are areas and methodologies that I have found really do work.

Over the past year, I have been working exclusively for a very young, progressive entrepreneur starting out what will someday be a very large and successful corporation. I have had the freedom to try out many new systems and methodologies designed to carry his companies through future growth.

At any given time, we have had over twenty projects on the go with varying levels of complexity. These projects have involved both internal and external resources and keeping everyone on track with their tasks has been critical to the success of the companies. These projects have included such things as:

  • Developing and publishing an employee handbook
  • Several large construction projects
  • Regulatory and funding projects
  • New product development and launches
  • Patent and confidentiality work
  • Mechanical automation, design, and the moving of an industrial site in the dead of winter
  • Working with individual employees on time management and organization
  • Conducting and organizing research projects
  • Expense reporting and management
  • Safety and security audits
  • Organizing and facilitating regular brainstorming and strategic planning sessions
  • Developing internal and external communications systems
  • Cost analysis of mobile devices and the switching of vendors
  • Creating vendor evaluation systems
  • ERP systems and vendor analysis (Future planning)
  • Discovering and implementing an employee time-clock software system
All these were done with tight timelines and budgetary constraints

With limited resources, I have had to be very creative in discovering and developing systems to achieve a successful outcome to each project or determine and defend an no-go position.

Internal Systems and Applications Initially Added

  • Exchange server
  • SQL server (For Outlook Business Contact Management database)
  • BES Blackberry server
  • Shared drive
  • Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Management (My first project with them)
  • Office 2007 suite

Other factors:
  • SharePoint was cost-prohibitive
  • The owner of the companies uses email as his primary form of communication (Literally hundreds)
  • Seven business units, all under two years old
  • No middle managers
  • Overwhelmed, individual employees working on multiple projects in multiple business units
  • Accounting, legal, HR, marketing, coaching, and IT support, all outsourced to small companies
Those of you in the consulting profession are probably thinking that I was out of my mind to jump in to this quagmire with both feet and I think you are probably right :-)

Since the theme of this post is what went right, let me share some fantastic tools I discovered to address some of the many challenges I faced in the past year and four months. I was also able to clearly define the shortcomings in systems and applications that I previously thought would fit the bill for a growing enterprise.

Challenge #1 - Email overload
  • How many emails can you handle each day?
  • How much time do you spend searching for past emails?
  • How many tasks sent via email get missed in your world?
  • How many "Let's meet Thursday at 2:00" emails result in a forgotten meeting?
  • How many times do you end up endlessly and needlessly cc'd on email conversations?
  • What if your boss works weekends, sending you twenty "important" emails that greet you Monday morning?
Let me say that I know everything there is to know about Outlook. I know every trick and tool; setting up folders, email rules, customizing views, categories, drag-and-drop emails to task and calendar buttons, the works. I have done programming, customizations, and training. You may think as I did that with so many ways to handle basic functions and look at information, Outlook should work great for every user regardless of technical expertise provided there was proper training and "one sheet" guides. Perhaps in your environment your employees have mastered Outlook, if this is the case I applaud you.

If, on the other hand, like me you discovered valuable, frustrated employees that lived in fear of Outlook because of sheer volumes of emails and wrongly-formatted information, here are some tools that worked well for certain employees. As always, a warning that users will usually say that every new tool will help them, but explore key functions to discover the true intention to use before purchasing these add-ons. Fortunately, most come with extended trial periods of full versions. I do not resell or receive compensation for any of the applications mentioned in any post I make, nor am I affiliated with, or shareholder of any company mentioned. I pay rack rate for all applications.

Integrated Outlook Add-On
30 day trial - $90 to buy

Despite it's steep price tag, this is one application that I use every single day and have been for the past few years. A major new release came out a few months ago and I happily paid the upgrade cost for it.

Two main application features I and others use
  1. Project (Folder) creation and assignment - Which provides #2
  2. Project (Folder) Dashboard
The biggest benefit of this program to me is also its main pitfall for some. I call it "the nag". Every time I send or receive an email that has not been assigned to a Project folder, a list of current Projects pops up to select from or type in a new one. Once selected or created, subsequent reply or conversation emails and attachments are automatically or selectively added to that Project folder. Appointments and tasks can also be assigned to these Projects and it all comes together in the Clear Context Dashboard that saves me many hours each week.

Unfortunately, if you tick the "Don't ask me again to assign a Project" box at the bottom of "The nag" dialog, you lose what I see as the main benefits of the program. Once you get used to assigning projects, this program becomes an application you will never want to be without.

Email and contact scoring are Clear Context features I do not use although the inbox cleaning features can help you go from over 1500 unfiled emails (you know who you are) to zero in about an hour. I have worked through this process several times with users and it really is impressive.

Again the caution here, in my opinion, if a user prefers to turn off "The nag" function, this program is not worth the investment, despite the other noteworthy features.

Pocketday Personal (Or Pro) for Blackberry

PD is one of the least expensive PIM programs that works as advertised. Their web site and update systems suck and I keep expecting Cross River to disappear, but there are a few gems in this program. I honestly tried to use and appreciate the (seemingly) more advanced (and more expensive) E-Mobile Today Pro, but PD remains far superior for user customization.
  • Send an email to calendar or task - Most PIM programs have the ability to add the contents of an email read on your Blackberry to an appointment or task. This is a great feature because it helps avoid missed items read on the fly
  • Dashboard View - Pocketday has one of the most customizable dashboards and I appreciate being able to set it up the way I like
  • If you can get past the lousy web site, this program can help you stay organized while also being mobile and the price is right.
MS OneNote
Included with certain MS Office versions - $65 stand alone

While I personally do not use OneNote much, I have found for certain overwhelmed employees it can be just what they need. Designed primarily as a program for students, I have found it also works extremely well for employees that spend a lot of time pouring through online research and receiving many emails on the topics they are researching. OneNote provides yet another way of looking at accumulated information that suits the needs of some employees and executives in electronic binder format.

In my next post, I will speak on project management which I spend a great deal of my consulting time on. I have discovered a reasonably-priced project management application that allows for internal and external resources to be integrated in an easy-to-use format.

Until then, best regards and it is nice to be back!
Arne Huse

Testing My CRM Dilemma

One of the services I provide to clients in my practice is brainstorming sessions. I have created a system that involves using large sheets of easel paper, about twenty different colors and shapes of Post-It notes, matching colors of Sharpie pens, and colored stars that represent particular employees. It occurred to me that this system could be used to test how CRM is planned to be used by companies.

The theory is that each employee document on a Post-It note what they do during each hour of each day. The color of Post-It note used will be determined by the category of work he or she does during that hour and these categories will be decided in advance. Each employee will have a colored star that is also stuck to the Post-It note to identify that they did the activity. The Post-It notes will be put on the easel sheets with each sheet representing a day of the week or month. These sheets are to be placed in the company lunch room or other common area so anyone having access to that area can see and read them. This is CRM in a completely manual form but I hope you can see the similarities to a central database system used by most companies attempting to launch a CRM system.

As the Post-It notes were added, they could be sorted by employee (Stars), activity category (Post-It color), and by day, all in reporting fashion.

What do you think would happen? Here's what I think would happen:

  1. The grumbling would begin immediately - "The Post-It notes are too small", "It takes too long to fill them out", "The trip to the posting area takes time out of my day", "The sheet provided for each day isn't big enough".
  2. Larger Post-It notes and posting sheets will have to be ordered and a daily pickup of Post-It notes will be done by a junior staff member to accommodate the complaints.
  3. Many employees will stop using the system while they wait for the new supplies to arrive.
  4. The other employees, noticing they are the only ones posting, will also stop.
  5. New supplies will arrive and will be distributed to staff with the assumption posting will begin again.
  6. It has been noted that company executives have not been posting to the activity wall. This is unfortunate for employees because they were looking forward to reading them. Executives have stated they are "too busy to post" even though each of them has an administrator. They do however insist that employees go back to posting their activities.
  7. It has also been noted that several executives have not been going down to read the Post-It wall and are staying in their executive area instead.
  8. Employees begin to wonder why executives insist on the postings when they are clearly not going down to read them.
Let the Gaming Begin!

  • Opting out of posting waiting for the new supplies to arrive, employees have gotten out of the habit of posting their notes. Several meetings are held to get them posting again.
  • Several middle managers, following the lead of executives have decided they also do not need to post to the wall but continue to insist their employees must do so.
  • Some top performers are permitted to not post their activities to the wall because they are too busy being top performers and it is obvious they are doing all the right things.
  • Those that are left posting, in fear of being judged on their activities, begin to fabricate what they do each day. Great time is consumed doing this.
  • They begin to post nonsense items to see if anyone is actually reading them.
  • The number of postings is steadily declining
  • When asked, employees report they have run out of Post-It category colors and new weekly sheets are not being put up fast enough.
  • With so few employees posting, the system is unusable due to the information gaps.
  • Within a short time, the Post-It wall, created with such promise and enthusiasm, remains unused because the system "just didn't suit our needs".
Do any of you see a way to have a different result? I can't, I would love to, but I can't. Look at a company bulletin board where people post things of interest to them. Filled with pictures, current events, the latest Fail Blog post. People have no problem finding the time for these things but ask them to post their activities and it all falls apart.

See you again very soon. Thanks to all my fans for hanging in during my absence.
Best Regards,
Arne Huse

Arne Huse Consulting

Monday, February 8, 2010

Back again!

To all my loyal readers,
I am now finishing up a hectic year-long contract and will get a big chunk of my life back march 1st. I will begin to add posts as well as update my research in the next while. I am now convinced more than ever that my research conclusions have merit. I have also found new tools for dealing with bureaucrats that have been extremely effective for me in the past 1.5 years.
Please keep reading and commenting and I look forward to being more involved.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Empirical Evidence Builds

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. I have been very busy putting my theories into practice. Although I consider myself a general business consultant specializing in systems, I am finding the demand for CRM consulting is very high. When I sit down with a client to discover their business needs, CRM keeps rising to the top because every business needs CRM. There is simply no escaping the reality that many top business problems today can be solved by effective use of a CRM system. Interestingly, Project Management is higher on the list than I anticipated. I am now working with a program designed for small-to-mid sized businesses that incorporates project management into CRM. The program is Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager. In typical MS fashion, Outlook 2007 BCM is not without "issues." It is big, ram hungry, somewhat crash-prone and awkward at times. But this program that sells for under $200 as a stand alone, or comes standard in some Office packages, is surprisingly feature-rich. I have been using BCM myself for some time, and am increasingly impressed with the tools that have been included in this program. I am now implementing this program for six of my clients and the list is growing. But this blog is about "The CRM Dilemma" so I want to share some of the results I am getting in regards to using Outlook BCM as a PACT system.

Client #1
An industrial manufacturer that has a large customer base in a declining market. They had implemented Goldmine but had abandoned the program due to lack of usage by sales reps. I was asked to meet with the entire team to demo Outlook 2007 BCM. During my initial meeting with the business owner, he had shown me a cold call spread sheet he was implementing with his sales force to bring accountability to their daily activities. After explaining my CRM Dilemma research to him, he decided to accept my research and abandon his plan to add activity controls for his sales force. With his acceptance of my research, I was able to design my demo to focus on the following key business problems:

  • Knowing the right customers to target
  • Knowing when to target them
  • Knowing how to reach them
  • Knowing the right message for those customers
  • Knowing what is going on with your customers


  • Easily getting your message to customers
  • Gathering and viewing customer feedback
  • Linking customer communications to accounts and contacts
  • Managing projects internally
  • Easily communicating internally that which needs to be communicated, to advance the sale and excellence in customer service

When I presented my Outlook 2007 BCM demo, I also spoke of my research and the agreement by the business owner to not use the system to bring activity controls into the equation. As expected, the response from the sales reps to the demo was very positive. Being suspicious of such feedback, because I know from past experience that sales reps will not reveal their fears about CRM in front of their bosses, I met with each of them individually and as a group after the demo. I assured them our conversations would be kept confidential and I would not share their feedback with management. Although the fear of activity controls was still evident, they all stated that the demo I presented, along with assurances of the system being used for PACT only, gave them confidence the system would actually be a useful tool for them. I feel these conversations illustrate the following important points:

  1. Never assume the enthusiasm for CRM displayed by sales reps in a group setting, reveals what they are really feeling.
  2. The suspicion and fear of activity controls by sales reps is not overcome by words alone.
  3. PACT is much more acceptable to sales reps than traditional CRM

Over the next few days, I will post regarding the other implementations I am involved in.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Classic Example of CRM Failure

I was contacted by a company that has experienced "The CRM Dilemma" through what is now two full CRM implementations. After reading my research, this particular executive now understands why his sales force has been giving nothing more than "Lip service" to CRM, for several years. Each time the company has met with the sales force to determine the reasons behind their lack of CRM usage, sales reps have provided a long list of excuses.

Each time, changes and upgrades were made to accomodate the concerns expressed by the sales force. Extra training was provided, mobile devices for real-time CRM were purchased, system speed was upgraded, and additional data integration was done. The sales reps had all agreed that with these upgrades, CRM would be a "Great Tool" for them.

After the second launch, of the second CRM system was completed, executives anticipated finally having a 360 degree, collaborative view of their customer relationships. Unfortunately, despite all efforts and expenditures, CRM usage by sales reps, remained the same as
before - Zero.

After reading my research, this executive had several sales reps in the company read it and provide their opinions on it. Because the sales reps felt validated in their fear of activity controls, their response was to state that "The CRM Dilemma is bang on!"

Because the original intent of CRM at this company was not to control the activities of sales reps, my research has provided an avenue to finally get some value out of the system. I will be working with this company to determine the truth behind their CRM failures, and institue PACT for them. This company has decided there is enough value in CRM without using it for activity controls, that they are willing to make the additional investment to try to finally obtain some value from their CRM system.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Don't Fall On Your Sword - Steps to Introducing "The CRM Dilemma"

With the large number of readers this blog and my research have attracted, I can only assume some of you are preparing to "Spread the news" regarding my research.

Since I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this subject, please accept advice that I wish someone had given me.

  1. Be strategic and move slowly

  2. Don't try to go it alone

  3. Build a strong team of supporters

"The CRM Dilemma" can itself be threatening, particularly if the CRM initiative hasn't failed yet. A slow, strategic approach to this massive change in corporate mindset, is required.

Don't Try To Go It Alone

If you have accepted my research findings, you now know the quickest way to ensure your sales force will undermine your CRM initiative, is to have "Low Card" activity controls included in your implementation. If your CRM program is currently implemented, but sitting unused by your sales force, the job of introducing "The CRM Dilemma", and my PACT solution, become somewhat easier. I have now developed situational analysis templates and refined the presentation of my research findings to assist in gaining acceptance of this phenomenon. I will address post-implementation and pre-implementation individually.

CRM Has Been Implemented, But Remains Unused

  • Review the original goals of the project with management
  • Focus on "High Card" benefits not being achieved (Customer feedback, planning tools, communications)
  • Gain agreement on the critical values that are missing because the system is not being used
  • Presentation of "The CRM Dilemma" research
  • Review the current CRM application with management, to identify "Low Card" activity recording elements
  • Present the PACT solution
  • Gain management agreement on the value of the components in PACT, versus CRM with activity controls
  • Gain agreement to conduct sales force workshop, to validate if "The CRM Dilemma" is in fact driving the lack of CRM usage
  • Conduct confidential, one-on-one interviews with sales reps and sales managers, that were involved in the original CRM implementation
  • Stress that the truth, not blame, is the goal of all interviews
  • Conduct one or more confidential focus group session(s) with sales reps, not involved in the original CRM implementation
  • Review the current CRM program with sales reps to identify "Low Card" reporting elements
  • Present and validate the PACT solution
  • Once the truth about "The CRM Dilemma" has been acknowledged by sales reps, the PACT solution can be reviewed honestly through the same lens.
  • Gain agreement on the value of the PACT solution
  • Discover and document sales planning informational requirements
  • Present aggregate interview results and PACT agreements to management
  • Plan the IT side of providing informational requirements of sales planning reports
  • Work towards relaunching CRM as PACT

The CRM Implementation Has Begun, But Not Been Completed

The same steps as above apply, but additional up-front work must be done to convince management of the inevitable failure of the program due to "The CRM Dilemma"

The CRM Implementation Has Not Begun

This one is tricky. Likely you are in a CRM consulting role, and you may be wondering how your clients will accept the inevitable failure of their CRM project. On the other hand, you will be the hero if you provide them with a valuable solution that will actually be used by the sales force. The best way to approach this I feel is to utilize me to present "The CRM Dilemma" research to clients. The question then will be:

"Do you think this will apply to your CRM implementation?" If they say no, you have done your honest due dilligence. If they say yes, once again you are the hero for saving what would have been an expensive disaster. At the very least, if the client feels "The CRM Dilemma" will not apply to them, you have opened the door to being brought back in to rescue them when their sales force is not using CRM.

As I said before, I have developed some great tools to assist you in bringing this new concept to businesses. With the high number of failed CRM initiatives out there, the opportunitity for success by "Taking the high road" is much larger, than ignoring this research and staying on the "Low road" to failure. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"The Patient Has Died" - A Pre-mortem

I read a great article in the September, 2007 issue of HBR. In the article, Gary Klein writes on the value of determining the death of a project, before it starts.

Prior to my research on "The CRM Dilemma", a pre-mortem on my CRM project, would not have included the certainty of death that my research revealed. I now know that activity controls are like a surgeon carrying the plague.
(The analogy carries on from here and although it might be "Over the top," I had a lot of fun writing it and I believe the points are valid - AH)

If the infection is allowed anywhere near the patient, the patient will die a painful death. For years, few have suspected this "Deadly surgeon" but has instead blamed other people and circumstances. Over and over the operation is performed using different techniques and people, but someone keeps inviting the "deadly surgeon" into the room. The patient rarely recovers after the operation and most often dies.

There are groups of upcoming patients that suspect the "deadly surgeon," but they are afraid to say anything because he is so well liked and accepted by the medical team. The "deadly surgeon" has become such a part of the medical team that they can't imagine the operation would work without him. Yet up to 80% or more of these operations fail and the patient dies because no one will take the "deadly surgeon" out of the room.

So what do you do once the finger has been pointed squarely at the "deadly surgeon"?

Are you willing to take responsibility for asking him to sit out of a few operations?

There are people that you report to that really like the "deadly surgeon" and what he brings to each operation. They may not be willing to accept his culpability in all those past patient deaths.

You may end up with a severance package, writing a blog, and changing careers if they would rather keep their "angel of death" in the operating room.

But isn't the overall health of the patient more important? Now that you know CRM will die if activity controls are allowed in, are you willing to force "Him" to sit out a few operations?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

CRM and The Law of Unintended Consequences

When a mechanism is installed in the world, things can happen as a result, that the original creator of the mechanism may not have intended. These consequences may also run completely contrary to the original intent of the mechanism. There are three basic reasons for this phenomenon:

  1. Exploitation - The mechanism is used for purposes other than was originally intended. (Examples: GPS for finding the nearest Starbucks, or fertilizer being used in bomb making)

  2. Avoidance - Because the mechanism exists, people change their behaviors (Examples: Tax avoidance strategies, driving habits in a GPS tracked vehicle)

  3. Culture Shift - The mechanism has created a cultural expectation and people come to expect things they otherwise would not expect (Example: Cell phones)

Here are a three classic examples:
  • Sophisticated alarms and immobilizers on vehicles, have resulted in more violent and dangerous carjackings, because the thieves needs to have keys directly from drivers in order to steal vehicles.
  • The popularity of cell phones has been putting pay-phone companies out of business, while forcing more people to get cell phones because of the shortage of available pay-phones.
  • Telephone systems adding prompts, ie: "For customer service, press 3" have resulted in less customer service communications being done over the phone
CRM is very interesting because it has had unintended consequences due Exploitation, Avoidance, and Culture Shift.


  • Credit card data from massive amounts of customers is stolen from a major retailer's database
  • An employee takes customer data when moving to a competitor
  • Data provided by a customer results in the customer being "Value classified" in no receiving a lower level of service than before the data was provided


  • Consumers not wishing to provide personal information, intentionally forgo "Loyalty Club" discounts provided by retailers.
  • Users avoid CRM due to fear of the information being used in performance measures
  • False email addresses are created in order to avoid providing an avenue to send marketing materials
  • Callers press "0" to avoid phone prompts and go directly to the switchboard

Culture Shift

  • Consumers expect their contact information to be transferred along with their call and remembered for the next time
  • The details of a transaction should be available long after the transaction is complete

None of the examples given above have been taken through their full progression. Avoidance is fascinating in that there is usually an escalation for each avoidance:

  • Retailers create larger pricing disparities for those refusing to join their "Loyalty club"
  • Fake email addresses, led to requiring email verification before the services are delivered.
  • Because people learned that pressing "0" on their phone, would connect them with the switchboard and avoid the prompts, companies disabled this feature, forcing the prompts to be used
  • Companies create performance measures for CRM users, that are based on CRM usage as a performance measure

Do you see the pattern here? That which was created to make things better, is perceived as making things worse, by those that were supposed to see an improvement. Avoidance of that which was created to improve service, leads to escalations, in order to force those that are avoiding the improvements, to accept that which they see as negative.

CRM was not created to become an instrument of fear for customers or employees.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Riddle Within The Logo

The game of Tic-Tac-Toe has been around since the 50s. In the logo to the right, the game that has begun cannot be won, only tied. In Tic-Tac-Toe, there are three possible outcomes; Win, Lose, or Draw. When both players understand the game however, there can only be draw, after draw, after draw. In this game, a draw is ok because it means you had the best possible outcome you could have.

I have taught many people the two moves seen in the logo. If I hand you a piece of paper with four lines and an X in the corner, if you do not put your O in the middle square, you will lose. So the best outcome of this game is to not expect to win, but to obtain the best possible outcome - A draw - With neither side winning or losing.

Winning is nice, but if you can't win, does that mean you don't play the game at all? In CRM, there is much more value in a "Draw" than in Tic-Tac-Toe.

The message of my research is that we need to fully understand the value in the "Draw" of PACT. CRM users, fully understand the game they are playing, and they know where to put their "O". If they are willing to play in a game that ends in a draw. Are we?

Lies, Damned Lies, and CRM Reports has just released a report by CSO Insights, on how to benchmark your sales force. This report is called the "Sales Performance Optimization Report."

A year ago, I would have read this report much differently. Through the lens of "The CRM Dilemma", it was like listening to Michael Scott from "The Office" speak his words of wisdom. I had tears rolling down my cheeks I was laughing so hard. The assumption is now that CRM is fast, mobile, and user friendly, sales reps will tell you every activity they are doing. This activity data can be used to evaluate their performance through the wonderful charts, graphs, and reports available in today's CRM. This is known as "Magical Thinking."

Does anyone really think that sales people will faithfully provide their activity data, so their performance can be optimized?

Talk about "Carrying the stick you will be beaten with!"

CSO Insights put a lot of work into this report. Like all CRM sales documents, they use the word "Can", like it is actually the word "Will."

Sales data from your ERP system is usually pretty reliable, so go ahead and make charts, graphs, and analytical reports to your heart's content. Why did we ever get the impression that sales reps would provide all this data that can be used against them? I am amazed now that I used to think they would, and I was a sales rep.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Invisible Precipice - User-Created Solutions to Combat Fear of Performance Measures in CRM

As I delve even further into my research, I am discovering yet more implications about the effect "The CRM Dilemma" may have on CRM users. There are two important things to remember whenever CRM users feel threatened by what they are asked to enter into CRM:
  1. One or more of them will figure out a way to avoid the threat
  2. The threat, and the user-created solution, will be shared amongst users, and any complicit managers
  3. For every accountability measure you come up with to combat user-created solutions, users will create several more

Indicators of these user-created solutions can be extremely subtle:

  • A pad of writing paper on every desk in a call center.
  • Increased usage of Gmail or Yahoo Mail by employees
  • A decrease in VPN usage by sales people

The fine line between users viewing CRM as a "Great tool", and CRM as "A threat that must be eliminated."

Every user-created solution to combat "The CRM Dilemma", is a slippery slope to total CRM failure within that user group. Here are some examples from an actual CRM implementation, to illustrate the point.

1) Call Center CRM

Call Center CRM viewed as a great tool by users (Spoken)

  • Recording customer feedback
  • Providing easy access to customer data
  • CRM linkage to phone system for customer information pop-ups

Call center CRM viewed as a threat by users:

  • Time-stamped input in CRM, may or is used in employee or departmental performance measures

Call center - User-created solutions to combat the threat:

  • Pads of paper may be used to record information prior to entry into CRM. There will be many excuses given as to why this "provides better service to customers".
  • By limiting "Real Time" usage of CRM, users negate any value in time-stamped data, so the threat is eliminated.

2) Call Center Complaint Handling

CRM for Complaint Handling viewed as a great tool by users:

  • Intuitive solutions are provided based on user input
  • Easy access to solution documentation is provided
  • User is able to choose from a list of approved solutions provided to them in CRM.

CRM for Complaint Handling viewed as a threat by users:

  • Users are required to create and document their own solutions
  • User solutions may be deemed as right or wrong
  • Complaints that come in through the web or email will be particularly challenging if a user-created solution, must be provided to the customer, and the solution provided may be right or wrong.

Complaint handling - User-created solutions to combat the threat:

  • Because solutions will have to be validated before being documented, phoned-in complaints will either be kept outside of CRM (Paper), or delayed while conferring with others
  • Users may avoid responding in writing, choosing instead to phone the customer to avoid documentation. This is done "To provide better personalized service."

If CRM is not being used "Real Time" for customer complaint handling, it is little more than a costly drain on valuable resources. If there is a pad of paper on the desk, demanding it be removed will not work by the way. Quietly ignore most of what is said in the excuse category as well:

  • Ignore the excuses about system speed, when you know the page-load time is two seconds.
  • Ignore that if the system goes down during entry, the information will lost. Yes, it did happen a few times during the initial roll out!
  • Ignore that crap about the customer refusing to provide their name when they call in a complaint
  • Ignore the calls for more training after the deskside trainer has spent months working with users

You will not succeed in CRM, unless you understand the truth that comes out by the water cooler, in the breakroom, and at the bar after work on a Friday.

3) Linking customer emails to the customer record in CRM

Customer - linked emails viewed as a great tool by users:

  • Seamless integration within outlook
  • The user chooses which emails are "important enough" to be linked to the customer
  • Confidential emails are linked, but with limited viewing by other employees

Customer - linked emails viewed as a threat by users:

  • All customer emails are linked to the customer record
  • Negative emails regarding employees, may be recorded in the customer record, with access by all

User-created solutions to combat the threat:

  • Employees may use secondary email (Gmail) to avoid linking all their customer communications to the customer record
  • Company web mail client may see increased usage if it is not linked to CRM

These are just a few examples of how user perception is affected by the smallest details. Make no mistake, users will evaluate every angle of how their employer can turn any piece of data into a performance measure. Time-stamping of data entry will likely only be deemed a threat to users, if the corporate culture or management of a company lends to using such data. In this case, a policy (Before implementation) of never using TS data in performance measures, would ease user fears.

Unfortunately, policies and statements will not combat "The CRM Dilemma," when any reasonable person must assume that user- provided data in CRM, must at some time be used in performance measures.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

To all you CRM Developers out there....

I know "The CRM Dilemma" blog has a following from the Developer community. I would like to ask a favor of you. Please send a link to the page that has my basic research paper to some sales reps in your company. Here is the link:

I have gotten a lot of great feedback from the development community but I am lacking in feedback from the sales community.
Everything I have heard says that CRM sales reps don't use CRM to record their activities, any more than non-CRM sales rep do. I would very much appreciate hearing from more sales reps and sales managers. I am hoping I can rely on my readers to forward this link around. Thank you very much.