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You’re Naked: CRM’s Dirty Little Secret

Most everyone is familiar with the children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson. A vain Emperor, who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes, hires two swindlers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone unfit for their position or “hopelessly stupid”. The Emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothing themselves, but pretend they can for fear of being unfit for their positions; the Emperor does likewise. Finally, the swindlers report the suit is finished, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear stupid or unfit for their positions. Then, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of maintaining the pretense, blurts out the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but continues the procession.

The moral of the story? No one is willing to tell the Emperor he’s naked (and, thus, a fool) except a young boy too innocent to realize the ramifications of his actions.

Who Gets to Tell the Emperor He’s Naked?

I see a similar scenario all too often and it usually involves CRM deployments. It starts with someone with a vision to deploy CRM…or in some cases, expand an existing CRM deployment. Stakeholders meet and requirements are reviewed. Business owners express what they hope to achieve and how they can improve the existing processes, often without CRM. Yet the champion pushes CRM on the business stakeholders. So, CRM is deployed and it’s a long ordeal…finally it’s launched to the field. But the field doesn’t like it; the field doesn’t use it. After all the work and effort to make the deployment ‘successful’ adoption rates are low….people don’t see the value. That’s not success.

In fact, this exact issue was raised at ExL’s Digital Marketing for Medical Devices West conference (check out our next Digital Marketing for Medical Devices in August), when I was asked while on stage: “So, how do you get field reps to use CRM?” CRM adoption rates have become the ‘elephant in the room’ — no one wants to acknowledge people don’t use it. More importantly, no one is willing to inform senior management of the harsh reality, fearing career suicide. As the Forbes article Who gets to tell the Emperor he’s naked points out, many senior leaders don’t embody a culture of truth. It’s really hard to say unpopular things to powerful people, so truths remain secret.

Moving from Systems of Record to Systems of Engagement

In this Forbes article Why your CRM implementation is quietly failing the author suggests expanding the CRM capabilities so they aren’t inwardly focused. I mostly agree; however, I suggest a slightly different approach. Adding capabilities to CRM doesn’t make it more successful; it makes it ‘bloatware’ — expensive, complicated and difficult to use. Don’t get me wrong, I believe CRM is a critical component of any organization as a system of record.  However, systems of record aren’t designed to engage with people, that’s why systems of engagementhave emerged, are being widely adopted, thus revolutionizing information technology.

If you want to increase CRM adoption you must first accept that people aren’t using it, don’t want to use it. Secondly, stop trying to force people to use it. Mandating use does not increase adoption because you’re not solving the underlying value issue. If the field finds no value in using CRM, forcing them to only increases resentment and animosity. Instead, provide the field ways to interact with customers that are intuitive, easy and compliant. Capture transactional activity and record it to the systems of record, so the activity can be associated with the employee and the customer. This way, the field uses productivity tools that actually help them—and they like—while ensuring historical, transactional records are kept up to date.

No one wants to tell the Emperor he’s naked. But when he is, one would think he’d want to know. The best way to handle it? Cover him with fine clothing while telling him he’s naked, thus revealing and solving the problem simultaneously.

So, when will you reveal the truth?

Reveal More Answers and Information

Join Prolifiq, and top digital innovators in the industry, in San Francisco, July 29-31, at Digital Pharma West(view the brochure or register for the event) and in Minneapolis, August 11-13, at Digital Marketing for Medical Devices (view the brochure or register for the event).


posted in Patient Engagement

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