User Adoption Insights From Tri Tuns

Watch out, SaaS vendors…your customers have a BS detector!

In the olden days (you know, about a week ago), before the rise of cloud computing, software vendors could use a lot of big words, slick demos, and fancy marketing props to entice people to buy a system. They were selling hope.

Sales are easy. Customer Retention is hard.

And many vendors are feeling the pain. The above video from Adobe does a great job of highlighting the issue. SaaS systems, with low upfront fees and the relatively easy ability to switch to a completely different system, enables customers to learn for themselves what your system can deliver.

Subscription pricing means you need to prove your worth. Everyday.

The impact: every time you have a renewal sales discussion, your customer immediately knows if you are BSing them or not. And they won’t tolerate BS.

Ensure your customers' success if you want to keep them.

What this means is SaaS vendors need to ensure they stop BSing customers and start ensuring their success. Make sure your customer has achieved measurable business value from investing in your system. To do this, evolve your sales, implementation, and customer management processes.

Help customers address the two biggest issues they face  – namely, driving and maintaining full, effective user adoption of the system AND realizing the clear, measurable business benefits. If you can’t do this, your only choice is to try to BS your customer.

Good luck with that.

Do you have a Customer Success Management program? If not, why not? If so, how has it affected your customer churn? 

Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.

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8 Factors to Review BEFORE Investing in CRM

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced new rules for mortgages that will take affect in 2014. An article on reported eight factors the CFPB requires lenders to examine before making a loan. We have previously identified that lenders (and others) should treat their CRM investments with the same care and scrutiny that they do when making loans to others. So, here are 8 factors that you need to consider before investing in CRM systems.

1. Expected ROI over the life of the CRM investment

Don’t just look at implementation costs or total cost of ownership (TCO). Make sure the expected return and lifetime value is both positive and significant enough to warrant the time and effort required to implement and maintain the system. Perform a scenario analysis to weight the expected ROI to adjust for different levels of user adoption. Will this still seem like a good investment if you don’t get effective adoption?

2. Current level of user adoption of existing systems

A good guideline to follow is that just switching to a new system without any focused plan to drive and sustain user adoption of the new technology will result in the same or lower levels of user adoption of the new system. Quite simply, if you have low user adoption today, chances are good that you will have lower user adoption tomorrow, regardless of the IT. (User adoption is a people-based issue.) That is, unless you do something to address this problem.

3. Impact of future changes to users’ jobs and performance requirements

Implementing a CRM system doesn’t make users' jobs easier – it fundamentally changes the jobs. A new CRM can alter job responsibilities and how people spend their time. It changes the skills and competencies they need. In short, it changes performance expectations. Understand the extent of the changes to users jobs and then determine what you need to do to address these changes.

4. Identification of all drivers and barriers to IT user adoption

All too often we see that there are barriers to adoption that prevent people from using the system – even when they want to use it! These organizational barriers take many forms and they lie outside the users ability to control them. Executive action is required to address these items, yet often executives are not even aware that they exist, let alone know that they need to take action.

When starting a CRM implementation, ensure someone is assigned responsibility -- and accountability -- for CRM success.5. Formal assignment of responsibility, authority and accountability for ROI

A senior executive needs to be formally charged with ensuring the CRM investment is a success. This needs to include some very real reward or consequence (such as a major impact to their compensation) for hitting or missing ROI goals for the CRM investment. If you don’t have this, you are sunk.

6. Identification of resources & budget required to drive initial user adoption

Stop thinking that you only need training! Training is necessary, but insufficient, for ensuring CRM success. You need a plan for how you will quickly align users behavior and job performance (using the CRM tool) with organizational goals. If you are only focused on training or go-live focused change management, you are in for trouble.

7. Plan and budget resources for sustaining user adoption over the life of the system

The ROI on a CRM investment is just like the ROI on any 401-K or other financial investment: returns can be up one year and then down the next. So, put a plan in place for how you’ll monitor your CRM ROI and then make adjustments as necessary to get the returns you need.

8. Defined approach for ensuring the CRM system stays relevant

Change doesn't just happen at go-live. Your business will change. Your customers will change. Your workforce will change. The economy, regulatory environment, and competitive landscape will all change. Make sure that your CRM system continues to evolve as your needs change. 

More on CRM Success

Sub-Prime CRM? What IT Needs to Learn From the New Mortgage Rules

A recent article on reports that lenders will face new rules for extending credit in January 2014. The rules are an attempt to prevent breakdowns in the financial industry and help ensure that organizations be repaid when they lend money.

There are many lessons here for IT departments (and, arguably, the organization as a whole) before it invests in a CRM System.

New 2014 mortgage rules require lenders consider customers’ ability to repay a loan before extending credit

Yup, at the crux of the regulations, is the idea that lenders need to make sure they will be paid back for any money they lend – before they lend it. Hmmm, that's a bold concept. 
You would think that organizations would not need to be told that before they give away a pile of money they need to be sure they will get it (and more) back. Yet, this happens every day when it comes to organizations deciding how they will invest in CRM systems.

Lenders (and others) need to consider their ability to achieve ROI before investing in CRM systems

Organizations need to treat their CRM investments just like a lender approaches (or will, come January 2014) making a loan. They should:

1. Look at how much money you send out now (license and implementation costs) and how much value demand to get back (increase in sales, decrease in costs, or other measures of ROI on your CRM investment).

2. Critically examine and rate your ability to actually achieve the returns you require (ability to drive and sustain user adoption and benefits realization). 

3. Oh, and depending on the size of the investment, you may require some sort of collateral to help incentivize successful payback of your investment (for CRM investments, this may be tying executive compensation to CRM success).

Many organizations don’t do this – or at least, not really. They may say that they have defined a “business case”, but typically this is a largely fictional piece of work that is not based on a thorough understanding or assessment of the likelihood that the system will actually get adopted and used effectively by end-users. And as we all know, if a system isn’t used, it isn’t delivering any value.

Don’t invest in Sub-Prime CRM.
Require a User Adoption & ROI Plan before you spend a dime on CRM!

Before you write a check for any CRM system, make sure it is worth it. It is better to not make any investment than to throw away a pile of money and waste tons of time on a system that is doomed to failure before it even begins. 
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Is there a written plan for how we will ensure a positive ROI on our CRM investment? 
2. Have we done a thorough analysis to identify all the drivers and barriers that will affect user adoption (and ROI)? 
3. Have we defined exactly what ROI goals must be achieved in what amount of time before we proceed?
4. Is there a single, senior executive who will be held accountable (including having a personal financial stake) for meeting ROI goals on the CRM investment?

7 Lessons From the Gym for Improved IT User Adoption

I do some of my best thinking when I’m exercising. My mind shuts off all the day-to-day life noise and drifts off into uncharted areas.

With the holiday season upon us, and the inevitable (though often short-lived) rise in people wanting to make changes in their lives (can you say “new years’ resolutions to get in shape”?) it occurred to me that there are a lot of lessons one can learn from the gym that can help us improve adoption of IT systems.

Look around the gym (it’s OK) to see how you can deliver successful IT adoption

Pretty much no matter what gym you go to, you’ll see all different kinds of people, in all different stages of fitness. There are people who are clearly new to the healthy lifestyle arena. And there are specimens that could be on the cover of a fitness magazine. The range of ages, comfort, skill, and experience of the people in the gym is quite similar to the diverse stakeholders that you must get to adopt your new technology.

Getting people to adopt regular, sustained, effective fitness into their lives requires that they change their behavior. They have to change how they conduct their daily personal life activities. This is very similar to getting people to adopt your IT systems. It’s about getting people – all sorts of diverse groups of people – to change their behavior and how they conduct their daily work life activities.

So, what can we learn?

1. Take a holistic, systemic approach

Achieving a healthy lifestyle includes many things, not just exercise. You need to look at multiple areas of your life – diet, drinking, smoking, sleeping – all affect your level of fitness. People who are truly looking to get in shape realize they need to look at ALL of the elements that affect their life, and it’s not just plugging in 30 minutes on the bike every other day. The may end up changing how they shop for groceries, where, when and what they eat, how they spend their free time, and even the people with whom they associate.

Likewise, achieving effective use of your IT systems also requires that you take a look at all of the elements that affect user behavior.  You should: 

    • Look beyond system functionality and business processes
    • Address organizational policies
    • Examine your rewards and incentives
    • Consider your communication and employee engagement approaches
    • Look at how you manage user performance

2. Get expert help

When people join a gym for the first time they often consult a personal trainer. The trainer helps guide you through the process of learning how to exercise and increase our comfort level using the equipment and will often offer suggestions of how to change things outside the gym in order to achieve success inside the gym. The trainer makes it easy for you to through the initial adoption of a healthy lifestyle and then assists you in keeping it going.

Similarly, consulting an expert in IT user adoption can help you drive initial use when a system is first live and then help you sustain it over the long term. Many organizations assume user adoption will just happen – or that it will be mandatory – only to find that they experience difficult, expensive, avoidable problems.

3. Have a plan

People who are serious about their fitness develop a plan (often with help of an expert). The plan is customized (such as losing 100 pounds or training for an Iron Man) based on the goals of the individual or a group. 

Having a plan makes achieving your goal easy. It lets you break things into small, manageable chunks. It gives you a schedule and structure for taking action. It lets you know what you need to do from one day to the next. It lets you make the best use of your time and resources.

Many IT projects have a plan and project schedule for how they will build, test, and deploy the system. But they do not have a plan for how they will ensure it is used and delivering business value

Before you even think about moving forward with funding an IT project, make sure you have identified all of the issues that you need to address in order to drive user adoption. And make sure you have a written plan for how you will make sure these issues are addressed, at every level of your organization.

4. Motivation is key

People find all sorts of tricks to motivate themselves at the gym. Some work with a trainer. Others have a gym buddy. Others yet take classes for that group motivation. And others do it by spending an exorbitant amount of time admiring themselves in the mirror.

The point is, knowing how to exercise and use the equipment is worthless unless people are actually inspired enough to go and do it.

The same is true with the adoption of IT systems. Develop incentive and reward systems to encourage adoption. This may include adjusting compensation plans – especially for commission-based staff. And it may involve things like helping managers to recognize and reward people who do an exceptional job incorporating the new technology into their daily work practices.

5. Set goals, measure progress

Look around the gym and you will see lots of people who have set goals and measure progress. People often print out their workouts and then mark their progress. Others carry around notebooks that they update after every set. And some go for the good old fallback position of just stepping on the scale every day. 

The point is, they know the direction they want to go, they are taking steps to get there, and they are measuring results so they know if they are succeeding or if they need to make adjustments.

Do the exact same thing with your user adoption program. For example, I helped one organization set specific weekly goals for how people should use the new CRM. We specified the minimum number of records each person needed to create and update each week. We identified which modules they needed to use. And then we measured the results. 

So what happened? We had very quick adoption of the system and we were able to sustain it over the long-term.

6. Make it fun

Working out doesn’t need to be a drag. People find all sorts of ways to enjoy it. They try new things. They try classes, they work out in groups, and they get dirty. The point is that doing something that is challenging and good for you doesn’t have to be hard or annoying. There are lots of ways that you can find fun in what you do.

The same is true when it comes to embracing technology. There are all sorts of ways to engage your user base to help them find the fun in learning a new system. You can run contests. You can make it a team effort. You can give prizes. You can change the physical environment to make the learning experience enjoyable.

Challenge yourself to find new ways of learning new systems and behaviors. If you embrace your creativity, you will be surprised what you can achieve. Oh, and you can even make the fabled ‘user resistance’ a thing of the past.

7. Keep going

OK, this one is a no-brainer. Fitness is not a one-and-done adventure. You need to incorporate it into your life and keep it going throughout your life.

The same is true with user adoption. Getting initial adoption of your system at the time of go-live is of no real value if a year or two later people are not using the system. To get full value from your IT investment you need to sustain effective user adoption over the life of the system.

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