Simplicity is not the first thing that comes into the heads of most sales professionals when they think of customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Yet that is the most important thing to achieve says Stephen Todd, director webCRM UK. He and fellow director, James Bogue, set up the UK arm of the Danish parent company after trying to find a way to bring CRM systems to a wider commercial audience.
Todd told SI: “Back in 2009 we wanted to get involved in the Cloud technology which was emerging. Up to that time we had been installing very large very expensive CRM systems.”
“So we looked for a different solution. We came across webCRM, which is a Danish company and we liked the offering they had and signed an exclusivity agreement to work within the UK.”
While many professionals may think that one CRM is not unlike another but with a different package and price ticket, Todd argues it’s important to match the system with the businesses requirements and, even more importantly, with the day-to-day end-user of the system.
Todd explained: “All CRM systems have different ways of tackling the same problems. Our biggest unique selling point is that we’re always trying to find ways of simplifying things for CRM users. These systems have come on leaps and bounds in the last four or five years. We do a lot of online webinars to ask people what they want from CRM and they say they want a simple system but when you ask what they want from it they say, ‘we want it to link to our website, we want it to track social media, we want it to monitor users, we want to improve organisational efficiency, we want to link with our account system, etc.”
“So not a simple solution at all. However, where they should be simple is at the point of delivery – from the user perspective. It is interesting to see, across the CRM systems available, how many manage to defy that simple premise or requirement.
“The majority of the time, the user wants to pick up a phone, call somebody for a chat, see what was said before and who said it, progress that relationship on further, maybe, send an email or book a meeting and then move to the next call. Yet, the more complex you make that situation it will, firstly, discourage the user and if the notes are not to hand, they go
into the conversation totally blind and, thirdly, if the follow-up action is not very, very simple, it won’t have the desired effect.
“Everything that we do revolves around activity management focused on the end-user.”
Todd said the SI reader survey (See November/December 2013 special supplement) on CRMs highlights much of what is going wrong with the application of systems without adequately considering the needs of the end-user.
He said: “With the Cloud environment, we have seen people trying to sell more and more complex solutions at arms length and customers are left not fully understanding how to deploy those solutions in the best possible way. In the end, they are left with a rather miserable experience as revealed in the results of the SI CRM survey.
“That survey revealed people were asking for training, for more support that’s because in terms of deploying CRM systems most companies don’t know where to start.”
Todd said that while the CRM systems have to handle a complex array of functions within a sales organisation, the aim is to ensure the end- user is not having to handle his or her own complex experience when putting the system to use in a busy sales environment.
He said: “To illustrate this, we could spend up to five days getting all of the required complexity to get all the client’s CRM functions linked up. But at the ‘coal face’ we are able to train someone within 15 minutes to use the system and pre-populate it with work that has come from existing software tools such as Outlook.”
“Because we can do that, the users engage with the activity management and think, ‘this is very easy and efficient and, therefore, I like using this’. It’s a ‘win’ situation for them and they are not left feeling they’ve just had to fill out as something as onerous as a government tax form every time they are trying to make a phone call.”
“In this way, while they are being monitored, they are not filling out forms that have been asked for by some higher authority leaving them feeling they are being watched all the time. Instead, this is a value solution for the user making their day easier, faster and productive.”