Amey Brown
posted by Amey Brown on November 20, 2018

Photo credit: Eva Gross

If your organisation is looking to implement a new CRM system, and you’ve considered the technical and infrastructure requirements, what else is needed to ensure the project succeeds?

We would suggest that this where soft skills and people come in. It’s the processes which, over time, are essential for growing and developing the system. With so many stakeholders and processes involved in the CRM journey, getting communication right is not optional.

Communication could take place on a daily, weekly or monthly occurrence, depending on the size of your business, the communication methods and the level of urgency in the message. How you communicate becomes key, and there are several factors to consider when engaging with your CRM stakeholders. Like the old cliché, communication isn’t so much about quantity as it is about quality. The way you communicate with your CRM stakeholders i.e. your communication style must reflect the character of your corporate culture.

Face-to-face beats emails and project plans

Surveys show that most people prefer human interaction over an automated response. Keeping your CRM users happy by engaging personally with them will benefit them as individuals as well as your team as a whole. Furthermore, happy users will influence others to also use the CRM system more!

If engaging with your stakeholders on a face-to-face isn’t practical, make sure your emails are warm and personal. Even a simple thing like using a person’s name in an email as well as your own will help create an emotional connection with that person. So, for example, if you need to update your users about something technical, instead of ending with ‘the support team’, end with your name. It will give the users comfort and reassurance that you’re there for them for any queries and problems that may arise.

Remember, one size doesn’t fit all! The best way to really get users to get the most out of any updates and changes is by segmented communication. Send targeted information to specific stakeholders, ensuring the message is actually relevant to those people and that your communication doesn’t drown in a sea of other messages.

Good manners cost nothing

Another key communication point is to say ‘Thank You’. Whether it’s feedback from your CRM users or a complaint, say Thank You. This is because although that person is complaining, they may not be the only one who is experiencing the issue. Odds are that when someone complains, there will be others who have the same experiences but choose to remain silent about it. Therefore, those complaining will not only help highlight any problems for you to fix – it will also reduce the risk of other CRM users losing faith in using the system.

Saying thank you doesn’t just keep your CRM users happy – it will help keep them loyal to your CRM culture and help grow and develop your CRM journey along the way.

How you say it is as important as what you say

The tone of voice of your communications will affect how your CRM users receive the information, so choose wisely how you phrase and express your words, spoken or written.  The language and structure of the message should also depend on the situation you’re dealing with. It’s often hard to choose between being formal or informal and of course, this will depend on numerous factors such as your company culture, who you’re communicating to, the nature of the message etc. Generally speaking, being informal with a friendly tone is still regarded as professional and will help your users feel at ease. However, when a user has a complaint or puts forward a specific request, it’s probably best for both parties to be more formal with the reply.

Always try to be positive, removing negative words such as ‘but’ or ‘actually’. For example, changing “Actually, you can do this under ‘settings’” to “Sure thing, you can do this under settings!” creates a much more pleasant tone. Using a positive tone when providing updates will reassure your CRM stakeholders that they’re being acknowledged, that their work for you is important and the CRM project is moving forward. So a positive tone is a great way of keeping your CRM users satisfied, thereby maximising user adoption rates.

Here is the news

Delivering news can be hard and sometimes there’s bad news to deliver. For example, there may be delays with the CRM implementation phase; some issues were unearthed that need to be fixed etc.

Studies have shown that if good news is delivered before the bad news, people will only react to the bad. However, by breaking the bad news first followed by the good, this can actually make the recipient feel more satisfied with the news. This positive reaction can be reaffirmed by highlighting a solution or alternative for the bad news to assure the stakeholders that the situation is under control and that they’re not being left with a bad situation.

When there are updates and/or changes to your CRM system, let your users know! People like to be kept up to date and it can exciting for them to know that they have the latest version of the software with handy new features. Therefore, making your stakeholders aware of new modifications will give them food for thought on how it could work for them.

Explain it like I’m 5

OK, this might be a slight exaggeration, to “explain it like I’m 5” when communicating with your CRM stakeholders, but the philosophy behind it goes a long way. So, when explaining a situation, clarify why it’s like that in the first place and what steps are being taken moving forward – in a simple and broken down way.

Technical lingo and industry-specific jargon is confusing to those “not in the know”, so consider the background of your CRM stakeholders and adapt the language you use to make them feel at ease – and to be sure your message is understood. If, for example, your message contains a set of instructions or lots of complex data, include links for further information and contact details so your stakeholders never feel alone and confused.

My word is my bond!

Always promise a result. Always keep your CRM stakeholders updated and let them know when they might expect to hear from you. Always communicate on time so that they don’t have to chase you for updates, answers or general information.

In summary, there are many CRM implementation guides out there – but most of them focus on bits and bytes. Great CRM is more than technology, it’s about people and how you engage them in your CRM journey. By following these suggestions, you won’t underestimate the importance of communication – and the quality of your messages – to ensuring CRM success.

 

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