By Marcus Leach

Research by De Villiers Walton Ltd has revealed that sixty-six per cent of customer relationship management (CRM) users are not getting the best out of their current systems.

When evaluating the current level of return on investment that CRM brings to their organisations, the users rated their systems as ‘average,’ indicating that, while many systems may be partially fulfilling their remit, most are not succeeding in achieving optimal results for the users and businesses as a whole.

When it is fully-operational, customer relationship management (CRM) should successfully enable users to efficiently manage interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects by organising, automating, and synchronising sales activities and other business processes such as marketing, customer service and technical support.

Yet almost a quarter (24%) of the 252 CRM users from around the UK polled reported that their CRM system either actually slowed them down or did not support their business processes.

Over two-thirds (69%) say that their CRM system does not help them focus on daily targets, and almost 4 out of 5 (79%) indicated that they did not see their CRM system as an essential part of their everyday work.

Nearly half (48%) also disliked the way that the system was configured, with 29 per cent saying that the system was too complex, and a further 19 per cent feeling that their CRM system was not user-friendly enough and that its fields were not specific enough to their job role.

When asked which aspects of their systems they disliked most, speed emerged as a challenge for 21 per cent of respondents. Other issues included the system not matching business processes (14%), and users experiencing difficulty understanding the language and terminology of the system (11%).

“The weakest area of many new and existing CRM systems lies in their complexity, with users being forced to comply with data-intensive screens and complete mandatory fields that are not always specifically relevant to their everyday roles,” says De Villiers Walton managing director, Darron Walton.

“When faced with adapting to a new system, users that do not have the time to learn how to use the system — or do not see the benefits of the new process in their day to day life - will reject the system, bypass the important fields or add incorrect information.”

According to Walton, a best-practice approach to optimising CRM requires a business focus: “In our experience, a CRM system is only successful if the underlying technology is easy-to-use and integrates with other systems and processes,” he says.

“This can be effectively addressed by applying additional technologies that simplify the terminology and better match existing business processes, which we have seen to improve system usage by as much as 200-fold, so increasing system effectiveness and user adherence to processes.”

“Gaining user acceptance is essential to get an accurate operational picture of the business and ensure that the workforce is working effectively. Without this essential buy-in, organisations must deal with inaccurate, non-compliant data and, as a result, achieve a low return on their investment.”

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