Sneaky CRM Trick Improves Customer Service Power


Share on LinkedIn

What happens when you can’t find any more superheroes?

When it comes to any technology project, never forget the users. You can build the best system in the world, but if you force employees to use it, don’t be surprised if the workers revolt.

In the case of CRM, the majority of these user-adoption challenges involve salespeople. Too often, project teams simply implement a CRM system, without ensuring–and communicating–that the system will help salespeople to sell more.

But what happens when the CRM holdouts aren’t your salespeople, but customer service team? That was the challenge faced by a company I recently met with, which manufactures highly technical products that support power grids, power stations, and the industrial-strength backup generators used by hospitals, government agencies, and other facilities that can’t afford to experience power failures.

Superhero Contact Center Holdouts

When it comes to businesses facing CRM adoption problems, tales of customer service holdouts are unusual. Typically, the customer service department must use the tools that are presented to them, or they simply can’t do their job. Managing cases often involves the telephony system delivering callers to the agent, while information about the customer automatically appears on the agent’s customer-care dashboard. The agent resolves or escalates a call, then the system routes another customer to them. Every agent’s job requires them to live in the system.

But in the case of the company I met with, contact center agents operate under different rules. For starters, the agents have a somewhat heroic or romanticized vision of their impact, and they’re not keen on sharing. Notably, they don’t want to spend time sharing knowledge via a knowledgebase or customer support forum. Instead, they just want to spend time directly fixing things.

Previously, that approach worked fine for the technical company. But it’s caused problems more recently, for the simple reason that the firm wants to expand, and needs to use more systematic ways of doing business to support its growth. Notably, the company doesn’t want to hire five, 10, or however many more new “superheroes” it might take to support the larger customer base, not least because it’s not sure where it might find these experts. But with current contact center agents unwilling to share, what’s the business to do?

CRM Secret: This System Runs Meetings

To solve this problem, rely on my one secret for CRM adoption: whether it’s for sales, marketing, or as in this case, customer service teams, managers need to run their meetings with front-line staff entirely from within the CRM system. Do this, and adoption levels will be higher than ever before.

Now, I’m not claiming that this is an over-arching change management methodology. Rather, this is just practical, common-sense advice. How does it work? Imagine Joe, the sales guy for Atlanta, meets with Barbara, the southern regional sales VP, and she pulls up–on-screen–the CRM client, be it Microsoft Dynamics CRM,, Oracle CRM On Demand, or whatever the business might use.

From within the CRM system, Barbara reviews with Joe the standing meeting agenda:

  • past activities
  • upcoming proposals
  • deals that haven’t been updated in the past week
  • changes in opportunities
  • scheduled and planned activities for the next week

During the course of the meeting, if Barbara sees that Joe doesn’t have any meetings planned for the next week, she’s going to ask why. Joe might say that he does have a meeting scheduled with a prospect, but he forgot to add it to the CRM system, to which Barbara replies: “Fine, but how are any of your colleagues supposed to know?”

Take this approach to the next level in group meetings, in which higher-ups meet with their regional managers, for example to review the sales pipeline and opportunities. Again, let the CRM system drive the meeting. You can bet that any managers that have poor-looking pipelines–thanks to their salespeople failing to share prospect or sales data via the CRM system–will soon have a little “importance of using the CRM system” chat with the CRM laggards.

Never Forget Incentives

Such an approach also works with customer service personnel. Again, a service manager should use the CRM system for weekly meetings with each agent, to review how many customer queries they resolved that week, as well as the number of related knowledgebase articles they’ve created or updated, and what their bonus-based compensation will be as a result. (A few incentives can go a long way, but that’s really a separate secret.)

Now, this overall approach–especially when comparing different teams’ results–can involve some public shaming, as you’re exposing people who aren’t using the system. But when it comes to making your CRM project a success, that’s reasonable, given the end results: The business sees a more standardized and efficient way of doing things, and employees get a system that automates many of their menial tasks, and even helps them sell or service more efficiently.

In other words, as is the case in so many walks of life, practicing a little tough love helps make everybody happy.

Learn More

My one sure-fire CRM user adoption trick aside, for optimal results, back any CRM project with a well-designed change management program involving both carrots and sticks. You’ll want to consider the best ways to incent employees, perhaps tapping gamification as well as compensation. Don’t forget expense reimbursement as well–why should employees get reimbursed for traveling to a meeting, if they’re not tracking that activity in the CRM system?

Finally, we always recommend creating a formal communication plan, to ensure that everyone–from front-line CRM users, to the team that’s designing the system–understands the benefits that the system will deliver not just to users, but the whole company.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Randy Robertson.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here