Do a Google search for “why people hate CRM” and you will find a lot of thoughts. The common thread in all of them was put well by Gene Marks in his late 2012 Forbes article What Salesforce.com Won’t Tell You:
“…the problem with your CRM system isn’t usually about your CRM system. It’s about you. It’s the way it’s been setup. It’s the way it’s been implemented. It’s the way it’s managed. Wake up. Stop your finger pointing. Enough with the whining. Look in the mirror.”
John Rymer from Forrester Research spoke at the InRule User Community Meeting a few years ago and put it another way. He said most people hate using CRM systems because they get in the way of doing their jobs.
Most people with customer-facing roles get into that line of work because they like working with people, solving problems and delighting customers. Often, the CRM system is at the least an annoyance, requiring its users to go through fiery hoops hat take time away from prospect calls, fixing customer issues or delivering services on time. No wonder CRM has a bad reputation!
So why do companies subject their valuable customer-facing people to the pain of a poorly designed CRM System? Because mangers know that to manage something you have to measure it. CRM systems are essentially giant databases that can be used to measure all sorts of things: salesperson performance, lifetime customer value, cross-sell/upsell opportunities and a virtually infinite number of other things important to the survival of an organization.
When the situation is framed like that, it is pretty easy to see the root of the problem: CRM Systems and processes are typically designed with managers in mind. The irony of designing things that way is that management does not ultimately get what it wants. Instead, they get their top performers ignoring the system and everyone else doing the bare minimum with it. There are always a few good corporate citizens that go above and beyond but they tend to be the exception. What management gets is a CRM System full of incomplete and outdated data that produces incorrect information.
The solution to this problem is very clear: Make the system work for the front-line people instead of against them and everything else will follow.
In a future post, I’ll outline just how to make that happen.