Do I need to read the manual?
In our personal lives it seems like there are fewer and fewer instances where we need to read the manual. Smart TVs connect to in-home Wi-Fi and automatically load streaming apps. Thermostats alert us when the temperature is too low or high which we can then adjust using mobile devices from anywhere in the world. In other words, despite so much sophisticated technology managing our lives, there is actually little to no need for in-depth training or support.
This is in stark contrast to our professional lives where complex applications require weeks, or more, of training and where there is a constant need to keep up with the latest features. Failure to keep up costs time, efficiency and money. While some of these applications are making great strides toward automation and simplification, there is still a huge learning curve involved with the implementation and interconnection of the myriad of other applications required to run a complex business.
Over the course of a career that has primarily involved the support of mission critical software applications, it never ceases to amaze me when firms make huge investments in software and infrastructure and yet miss the mark on the implementation and maintenance. To be fair, many software companies that do a great job of developing complex software also often fall short when it comes to implementing third party software within their own organizations. Firms simply don’t have the resources to devote toward developing the subject matter expertise required to implement and support these monolithic applications.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, like Salesforce, are a perfect example. Systems like Salesforce can be very challenging to implement as they have expanded over time to support so much more than just sales and CRM. Even firms that have the expertise to implement complex software applications can falter when trying to implement a solution that tries to be so many different things within an organization. CRM systems are also used as a sales tool, a marketing database, an issue tracking system and even bug tracking systems, so it is easy to see how difficult it can be to do successfully cover all facets of a complex implementation.
Issues that can arise from a poor implementation of Salesforce (or any CRM system) can include:
- A lack of integration between customer service, sales and other parts of the organization
- An inability to cross sell
- Poor marketing campaign management
- Not truly knowing your clients (KYC)
- Information that is distributed among different application
- Inefficient partner management
Without proper implementation and optimization, the full scope of the tool cannot be leveraged thereby diminishing performance and output and ultimately failing to give an organization the return on their investment. Failure to know your client is particularly concerning as this can lead to missed opportunities to expand the client relationship or to miss the warning signs that can lead to losing a client altogether. When information is stored on disparate systems there is no “golden source” for the data that the entire firm can rely on being correct. If customer information is stored in multiple systems even something as simple as an address change can disrupt communication with the client, unless the proper workflows and integrations are in place.
Conversely, a well-planned implementation provides an opportunity to have a 360-degree view of your clients as well as knowing who your most valuable clients are. This also leads to having predictive intelligence as to which clients are poised for growth and which are most at risk. Ideally you would be able to provide a way for your clients to be able to keep in touch with your organization and enhance their overall experience through self-service portals and direct communication channels. Additional benefits include being able to monitor your sales pipeline in real time, efficient routing of “hot” leads and having a reliable single source of customer data that can be accessed by users as well as other internal systems. Ultimately, a successful implementation improves workflow throughout the organization by tying systems together and facilitating communication.
So, when it comes to setting up that new technology at home feel free to skip reading the manual and let that smart device set itself up. When it comes to implementing a complex application in your business make sure you read the manual, staff appropriately, and if needed seek professional help to get the most out of your investment.