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CRM Adoption - Getting your users on board and achieving adoption is more complex than you think.

MIQ Marketing Team


We’ve been implementing CRM for over 25 years and a majority of that time focused on CRM for Mortgage organizations.  While we’ve seen progress in the level of success in adoption of CRM it can still be an elusive challenge for many of our clients.

As the CRM industry has matured there have been many books, articles and papers written on the topic.  Exploring and reflecting on the ins and outs and do’s and don’ts of CRM Adoption over years has certainly made a positive impact.

But here we are in 2017 and still seeing User Adoption as a stubborn and mysterious challenge.  In most generically administered surveys, CRM adoption is hovering around 25%.  While it’s debatable as to how this number was reached, what is evident is that it’s nowhere close to 100%.  And that is the focus of this article.

Restating the Obvious

Most executives and management teams now understand the basics for achieving Adoption:

  • Company Culture – Addressing and accepting (or changing) the current Culture of the organization as it relates to deploying and using new Technology.  Will it be required, optional, will it be indoctrinated as standard workflow process or perceived as an “optional” tool, etc?
  • Executive Support and Proper Staffing – The need for the Executive Team to convey 100% support for the CRM Implementation and the importance of the technology to the organization as well as budgeting the proper staffing to implement and support the initiative
  • Selecting the Right Partner and Technology – Conducting the proper vetting process for Partner and CRM solution that best fits and aligns with the needs of the organization now and in the future
  • Defining the Benefit – As with any Technology purchase, the need to accurately define the perceived or desired benefit and results
  • Change Management – Understanding, preparing for and managing all of the Change that will need to take place including a well-thought out communication of the change and the reasons/benefits for the change

The not-so-obvious

Even if you score a 100 on executing the above items you are still missing a huge piece of the recipe for success.  The following are the “not-so-obvious” challenges that need to be addressed if you are going to get closer to a 100% adoption:

  • Defining acceptable “Adoption” – what exactly does this look like and how long should it take?  Do your employees even understand what they are to be doing and why?  This is a huge area of discussion to dissect.   First and foremost, you’ll need to set expectations and be patient.  We’ve NEVER been involved in a CRM implementation where every feature and function was rolled out on day one.   Depending on the level of change, impact of workflow and breadth of the project, usage and adoption could take months to achieve.
  • Levels of Adoption – part of defining successful adoption might include setting various levels based on user roles, performance expectations and more.   Example: your top LO producers are typically those who embrace technology as a means to reach their expected objectives.  These are often the “power users”.  On the other end of the spectrum you might have a new LO or a low-producing LO.  The expectations for these users might look quite different.
  • Users as Individuals – when CRM was in its infancy, features were fairly basic and so it was more of a “one size fits all” approach.  In today’s world the array of tools, options and functionality has grown immensely forcing the approach of implementation and adoption goals by user “role” and if needed by individual need.
  • Proper User education and support – It would be so easy if we could just wave a magic wand and all necessary training could be completed in a single, 20-minute training session.  Given the breadth of functionality, not to mention the retention rate of most trainees, this is not only not the case, but training really needs to be managed as an ongoing, never-ending stream of educational and awareness communications to users. It’s hard to swallow but this area cannot be perceived as something that is ever “finished”.
  • Users as clients – We’ve been involved in countless deployments where the paradigm of management was that the deployment will be focused on their needs and users will need to “get with the program” to achieve those objectives.   This is known as the “stick” approach to deployment (as opposed to the “carrot” approach).  This mindset might work temporarily but this area has a huge impact on long term adoption rates.  The paradigm at some point needs to shift into a balance of needs of management AND needs/challenges of the actual user.  If you look at users more as the “customer” your adoption will have a much higher chance of succeeding

Marketing to your User/Customer – If we can agree that your users are the “customer” then we can also agree that you’ll need to sell and market to them to win them over.  Adoption does not just happen because you have this awesome new tool.  It happens when your users understand its purpose and what it can do for them.  This is where the marketing comes in.  It is essential to combine periodic educational/training webinars or road shows with ongoing communications and user testimonials to your user base to increase awareness.  Road shows and on-site visits are the most powerful but it helps to back them up through the usage of other means such as using pop-up messages with “tips/tricks” and “Did you know” messaging as well as ongoing awareness emails to reinforce the concepts.

Listening to your Users – As previously mentioned, the “stick” approach is a short-term win at best.  The “carrot” approach is really the optimal way to go and would and should involve constant user feedback.  If users are not using a feature why? Are they unaware of the function, its purpose and value, are they just being lazy, is it too difficult or lacking in proper design? Additionally, If you are getting positive feedback from a user, get the word out to others and spread the success stories.  We’ve seen clients record and produce videos of user testimonials that has helped adoption tremendously.

Gamification – This seems like a relatively new way to improve the adoption rate for users but it’s really nothing new.  We all remember the days in grade school where it would be pretty cool seeing a smiley face on a paper from the instructor next to the grade (which was hopefully an “A”).  This is still ingrained in all of us.  Just ask a Facebook user.  Gamification can also be used to enhance/encourage CRM adoption.  Just be sure to reward and recognize the behavior that you are driving to increase in your users.


So when it comes to user adoption remember:

  • Adoption is not going to happen on its own
  • It requires a strategy, execution and nurturing
  • Identify the various targeted roles for adoption within a certain job position or workflow
  • Awareness, training and feedback from “your customer” is key
  • You’re going to have to do some Marketing to get the word out
  • The carrot is better than the stick.
  • Use Gamification to make it fun and to encourage users

If you would like more detail or would like to discuss ways to improve CRM Adoption in your organization let us know.