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Installing a New CRM System: Going Beyond Adoption to Advocacy

When faced with the decision to install or upgrade a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, or even when enhancing an existing one with new features and functionality, a frequent concern for contact center executives is: "Will my customer service agents adopt the new system and use it as intended, or will they resist?"

The need to change our CRM systems is inevitable: business evolves, customer service needs change, products and SLAs change; the contact center and our CRM must adapt. As human beings, we are often reluctant to change, especially when what we know is comfortable. We might even resist change, despite any evidence we have that points out how this change is in our best interest (e.g. going on a diet, quitting smoking, etc.). Our resistance makes it much more difficult to accomplish these types of things, even with our health at risk.

Change is inevitable; but the pace of change in business is accelerating. Business today is all about adapting to rapidly fluctuating market conditions, new products and innovations. To best serve our customers in the contact center, we must embrace these changes. New ways of connecting with customers also demand changes — email, chat, social media — all these new channels of communication must eventually make their way into our CRM systems. Our CRMs have to keep up. The very nature of CRM systems is also changing rapidly — cloud vs. premise, mobile enabled service applications, tablet-computing, etc. — all must be streamlined at some point into our CRM systems.

CRM Adoption

Unfortunately, if human nature dictates a natural resistance to change, but change in the contact center is inevitable, we are on course for a collision. Even if the changes to our CRM systems will help make processes more efficient, give us new tools to help customers and make our working lives easier, our agents may naturally resist it.

When agents resist changes to the way they work and the tools they use, our jobs as managers and supervisors become more difficult, and our customers suffer — thus, the need to focus on adoption and ensuring that agents will embrace new ways of using the CRM and the new CRM tools and systems.

Adoption is a good benchmark for the successful implementation of, or enhancement to, our CRM systems. But sometimes, agents go along with change because they feel like they have to; that they have no say or voice in the changes pushed upon them. However, this type of adoption (which I will term, "begrudging adoption") may be more harmful than overt resistance to change. Begrudging adoption undermines good morale, hard-won contact center cultural wins like sense of pride in the work, teamwork, community and trust — all fundamental building blocks of healthy contact center culture.

So, if adoption is a key performance indicator of a successful CRM deployment or enhancement, but begrudging adoption might do more harm than good — what’s a contact center executive to do?

Share your thoughts – and experiences – here in the comments.