Koru Technologies
Bansi Mehta

by BANSI MEHTA - UX Design Expert

Founder & CEO, Koru Technologies

Three out of four consumers say that they have spent more money on a company because of a positive customer experience!

So it should come as no surprise that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have now become an integral part of day-to-day operations of the world’s biggest corporations. It is evident that this system is the foundation of their business and yet some corporates end up overlooking its importance or do not put in enough efforts in overhauling its working.

Departments that make use of this excellent resource for business management include Sales, Marketing, Customer Service & Tech Support. Without a proper CRM, all of these departments are bound to falter and end up creating a bad experience for the user.

In today’s world, customers or a users do not just buy a product or a service, they invest in an experience. In other words, if a customer/user feels like she is not getting the experience that she hoped for, she is bound to pack her business and run away to the nearest competitor who makes her feel more valued and guarantees a better experience.

Just like the digital age changed the course of the entertainment business (read Netflix) & books (read e-books), the social realm has changed the CRM landscape as well. Although it has not become something completely different, it has advanced quite a bit. Companies who wish to turn a blind eye towards these evolutionary changes of CRM are surely in for a rude awakening.

Several issues need to be addressed to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. One of the most important one being the User Experience challenges that a CRM user can face.

Distressing the users by putting them through a diabolic user experience is nothing short of a sin that can eventually, slowly but steadily lead to a sad demise of your business.

Save yourself and your business from committing these disastrous sins. If you have already committed any or all of these sins, read on and get them solved.

1. Insufficient User Research (Pride)

Insufficient User Research

Sometimes, even the most well thought out designs are assumptions until they are tested by real users.

Did you know that just by choosing a specific blue over some other hues in their User Experience design, Bing went on to add a whopping $80 million in their annual revenue?

How do you think Bing decided to use a specific blue? – Of course, User Research.

This example is the biggest testimony to the fact that user research can have a massive impact on your business.

The growing customer expectations and increased pressure from competitors has made it imperative for organizations to invest in user research early and continue throughout development cycle.

Often, user research is done with a good intention but the methodology is flawed.

We at Koru receive several enquiries by companies in panic asking for help to figure out what is lacking in their user experience and why their CRM is failing. Our observation is that several times the common mistakes while carrying out user research for CRM include –

1. Asking the wrong people / not real users for feedback

They are not representative of your target audience. Your target audience should comprise of people who will actually use the CRM.

2. Asking the wrong questions

Sometimes, inexperienced facilitators may ask the wrong questions which lead the to a biased study and erroneous conclusions. Usability testing produces much more relevant results when conducted by someone who understands behavioural research.

3. Applying the wrong research method

User Research methods include surveys, focus groups, A/B testing, usability testing, and so on. The method of your choice should depend on the questions you have and the stage of development. A survey is often appropriate for collecting opinion-based data, but not for interaction. Applying the wrong method can yield erroneous conclusions.

How to solve it:

Conduct research using correct, unbiased methods

Conduct research on real users

Study industry trends

2. Abundance of Features (Greed)

Abundance of features

A designer knows that he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine De Saint-Exupery.

While at first sight, a lot of features may come across as a competitive product, in reality it always leads to a product that is difficult to understand and use. There is nothing more annoying than having to think hard about how to use a technological solution such as a CRM, especially in the middle of the workflow.

Often, companies get too excited about their new CRM system and set too ambitious goals and deploy array of features that confuse and intimidate the users who are unfamiliar with the system.

This happens when the sole purpose or essence of the technological solution or the pain point that it solves gets lost among a bouquet of other functions. Such functions include a variety of home screens or layouts, customizations options and other additional features that do not provide any direct value to the main purpose of existence of the CRM. Basically, a “bit of everything” dilutes the core value. It is essential that the focus of the UX design is on marrying business goals with user needs.

The best way to recognize this sin is when your tech savvy employees start avoiding using the system.

How to solve it:

Clearly define objectives of the CRM.

Plan a multi-step process that delivers value iteratively, beginning with speedy wins that deliver high value in short time span.

Try to focus on one subject and do it well instead of venturing out into providing additional features.

Remember that the experience makes the product and not the features.

3. Too many ways of doing the same task (Gluttony)

Gluttony

Everyone has experienced this sin of User Experience one time or the other and surely nobody is happy to deal with this situation. This is an issue that most people don’t think about too much but is surely frustrating for the users.

Often, the product stakeholders or the designers do not want to undertake the difficult task of selecting just one route that is intuitive and right. Hence, they end up creating alternative and additional routes to justify that if the user doesn’t get one route, they have other optional routes to choose from.

In fact, there are instances where the CRM users know their destination but have more than one route to perform the same function.

This confuses the user and never gives her confidence about making a decision of what to click on, making it hard to remember & recall. The learning curve becomes steeper, unnecessarily. This sin defeats the fundamental rule of navigation - “Each label and section must be mutually exclusive”

For example, consider the app - People Goals. People Goals is a great application for performance review however, it has certain navigation challenges. In primary navigation, the profile of the user is labelled as “Profile” whereas in global navigation it is named as “Your Profile”. Account settings are named in both primary as well as global navigation. The unnecessary duplication of the functions “Profile” & “Account Settings” confuses the user and deprive her of the confidence that comes out of “I exactly know where to look at and what to click on, to get this done.” feeling.

While it may be a bit difficult and time consuming to to strip down the inferior ways, work harder on Information Architecture and proper labeling in the beginning, it is imperative to analyze critically and take the hard decision once so your users don’t have to do it every time they interact with your product.

How to solve it:

Carefully think about the purpose of each page/step in the work flow.

Scrap the ‘just because’ workflows, labels and grouping.

Try to focus on one subject and do it well instead of venturing out into providing additional features.

Optimize the flow by burying less important or less frequently used options one level deeper, making the flow lighter for 80% of the times (the power low).

4. Ignoring the aesthetic aspects in quest of saving money (Lust)

Saving Money

94% first-impressions are design related.

The people who use the B2B applications are also exposed to several B2C applications that have eye-catching designs. As a result they have come to expect the B2C level user experiences and designs.

The design of the CRM has a direct impact on the efficacy in either a positive or a negative way. Ignoring the design in the lust to save more money ultimately leads to a dull looking CRM system that ultimately repels the user and in turn lowers the productivity. This results in a lower return on investment. Indulging in lust for money while compromising on design can thus prove to be an expensive decision.

The design of the CRM should give the user a pleasant and a hassle-free experience. The dashboard and other functions should display the important commands comprehensively and in a legible format.

It is ultimately this experience that leads to an increase in user adoptions.

The new Salesforce is an excellent example of an organized design and a user-friendly CRM that is extremely intuitive to use. Besides, it also has the flexibility to completely customize the design as per the needs of the organization for most features.

How to solve it:

Have clean & clear design.

Professional looking design is as important to a digital product as is the hygiene to food business. Put it first. No shortcuts.

Keep the design scalable.

5. Ignoring social media integration (Envy)

Ignoring Social Media

37% of B2B buyers ask questions on social media sites when looking for answers.

Like it or not, social media has become an inseparable part of people’s social as well as professional life. Several customers, B2B included, make purchase decisions based on reviews and comments on social media platforms. Today’s consumers are all about experiences more than the product or service. Therefore, every interaction with the customer including that on social media is critical.

Instead of envying the influence enjoyed by social media, it is best to have a CRM system that includes your social media interactions with customers. However, it is not enough to just gather & monitor the data. Social listening and actively engaging with the customers over social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn is equally important. The benefit of integrating social media into your CRM system is that the social information received through social listening and the engagement can produce vital insight on consumer behaviour that can help companies effectively manage customer relationships. This ultimately benefits their bottom-line.

There are several social CRM tools in the market that help you keep tabs on your consumers such as – Insightly, Batchbook, Jive, Mzinga Omnisocial, Nimble etc.

Insightly allows social media integration to an extent where you can simply put in a contact’s email address and it detects virtually every social media profile related to that particular email address. You can see Twitter content and your contact’s public LinkedIn profile displayed in Insightly. Also, you can explore your contact’s public profile information on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter within just a click.

How to solve it:

Integrate social media tools in the CRM.

Indulge in social listening & engagement.

6. Not integrating your CRM system with other key systems (Wrath)

CRM System With Other Key System

According to Aberdeen Research, companies who integrate their email and other key systems with their CRM cite year-over-year revenue gains of 22.7% as against the ones that don’t.

It is a good idea to avoid the wrath against other systems and integrate with other key systems used by your organization. This not only optimizes your CRM investment but also makes life much easier for the users of these systems.

The top 3 benefits of integrating these systems include –

1. Termination of data entry and storage duplicates.

2. Ability to share data faster and in an easier way.

3. Shortens the sales process by sending most relevant information at the best possible time.

Zoho CRM is an amazing example of integration with key systems as it not only integrates with email providers but also captures leads from website and tracks emails.

Whereas Microsoft Dynamics CRM seems to have very little and limited compatibility with other modern cloud platforms like Zendesk and MailChimp.

How to solve it:

Integrate your Marketing Automation, ERP & other key systems including emails in the CRM.

7. Not planning for a universal experience (Sloth)

Sloth

Imagine this, you or your sales person just had a good sales meeting and wish to capture some key information that cropped up. Your CRM lies on your desktop back in office and does not have a mobile version. Now, you have two options – scribble the information in your notebook and hope to remember to feed it in your CRM later or go back to office to ensure that you don’t lose out on this critical piece of information.

This world has moved on from desktops to a multitude of screens including tablets and mobile phones that are becoming increasingly evolved for business usage, Hence, avoid this sloth and proactively plan for your CRM system to be responsive and CRM applications truly optimized for devices.

How to solve it:

Optimize CRM applications for major screens and devices.

Focus on supporting quick tasks and swift access to piece of information your users may need on the move.

Whether for CRM or any other technological solution, the basic principle of an exemplary UX is to meet the exact needs of the customer, fuss-free! After that comes simplicity and elegance which makes the CRM or any technological solution a joy to use.

Committing the above mentioned sins takes one far away from these principles, hampers productivity and ultimately proves to be fatal for any business. If you aren’t too sure about the kind of UX required for your CRM, get in touch with one of our experts and sign up for expert consultation.