Call centre staff often tune out when they’re introduced to a new piece of customer relationship management (CRM) kit, with reluctant staff tending to add the minimum data they can get away with, or simply ignoring it and continuing to use their existing personal systems. However, as John Paterson reveals, if bosses follow eight simple dos and don’ts, it’s actually quite easy to get agents on board at implementation time.

1. DO roll the system out starting from the top, not the bottom

Get senior management bought in first, and let them be seen using and benefiting from the new kit. Use of the system will then be associated with seniority and the first new users will feel privileged to have access.

Allowing managers to use it first will also mean that they will use the system to manage from day one, and can then help and supervise their team’s later adoption.

2. DO choose first users carefully

In each department, and at each level of roll-out, choose the first user as somebody who both has a positive attitude to the CRM system and who commands their peers’ respect. When that person enthuses about the system, their colleagues will approach adoption in a positive light.

If you can get the most respected staff members using it first, and then he or she tells colleagues how it helps him or her, the rest will follow. That said, be aware that if an opinion-former forms a negative impression of the system, that attitude will spread even faster.

3. DO make the CRM system the first port of call

Ensure that all managers use the system as the prime source of information when it has been rolled out to their teams. If a manager is discussing a customer or prospect with a sales person in the call centre, the manager should bring the account record up on the screen and use that to drive the discussion.

During the conversation it will be obvious to the manager if the data is up-to-date – especially contact names and opportunity status – and it will be obvious to the sales person that such omissions are being noted. If the chief executive of the call centres does this as well, then the behaviour will be reinforced down throughout the organisation.

4. DO prepare a roll-out plan

Don’t just switch on the system and expect that everybody in the organisation will just pick it up. Many won’t, and their first impressions and side-comments will jeopardise the success of the overall project. New internal systems need to be sold and the roll-out needs to be planned.

5. DO give someone ownership

Make it somebody’s responsibility to own the data inputted onto the CRM system, and to make sure that it is correct and complete. This could be split across more than one person, for example, the call centre’s administrators for the teams and a marketing communications person for the marketing data.

A good administrator should be able to ‘nag’ call centre agents to fill the source field in, make sure that dead leads get recycled back into marketing, ensure addresses are complete and so on.

6. DON’T design by committee

Don’t sit down and try to design the perfect CRM system that will meet 100% of each and every person’s wish-list.

The operators will want the system to work on their mobile telephones and PDAs and the marketing people will want to track every sale back to exactly what keyword in which Google Adword generated the inquiry. The resulting committee’s design will be a system of such technical complexity that it will continually fail, and of such user complexity that it won’t be used.

7. DON’T forget training

Adequate training, even if it is only a half an hour course for call centre operators, is very important. And the training course is the ideal time to make people want to use the system by stressing what’s in it for them as well as what’s in it for the company. Make sure that all users know who to call if they get stuck, and make sure that such calls are handled positively.

8. DON’T complicate things

Keep the technology as simple as you can. The simpler the underlying technology, the less chance there is of something going wrong.

Getting call centre staff to use a CRM systemJohn Paterson is managing director at the technology provider Really Simple Systems
Tel: +44 1730 823300
Website: www.reallysimplesystems.com

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