Friday, February 15, 2013

8 Tips for Improving CRM User Interfaces to Ensure Higher Adoption

A CRM software's optimized summary page
A CRM software’s user interface (UI) can make or break user adoption, it is also essential for ensuring employees can quickly respond to important customer or partner queries. A user friendly interface with clear content and easy workflows greatly simplify business processes, as well as overall customer relationships.

One of the key factors when evaluating a CRM solution's interface from the perspective of your organization's users is how compatible is it with multiple popular gadgets used by your teams. What looks good on a desktop may translate poorly to a smartphone or iPad. For example, your sales team might never login to their mobile CRM, if it's easier to view or update customer related information from an alternate application.

8 key tips for improving a CRM solution's user interface

Easy navigation and access to data - The UI of any CRM solution must offer ease in navigation. Customer information should be easy and fast to dig out even from large information repositories, without omitting any important details for every single lead and/or customer which could be of good use in future.

Simplified workflows - As mentioned above, user adoption is of prime importance, without which a CRM solution is just another dead application. The UI must be uncluttered, clean and pleasing to the eye. Workflow logic must be presented in simple formats. Further, daily and recurring tasks like reports, appointment reminders, alerts, etc. should be automated in order to reduce time spent on non-core and routine activities. The user should be able to quickly access useful mashups like maps, weather, news feeds, currency converter and so on. Data should also be secure and only available to relevant roles. The number of clicks to access regularly accessed details should also be minimal.

Customization and flexibility – The CRM application must be such that it can be customized and adapted as per specific business needs and corporate identity. It most also be a viable CRM solution for corporate expansions to other countries with multiple languages and cultures. For this to be achieved, the UI must have the flexibility to roll back to the default CRM setup, and there must be provisions to sculpt the CRM system as per particular business needs and processes whenever required. Too much customization and unnecessary features will confuse users. Fresh customizations should be gradually introduced along with required training for relevant users.

Integration – The CRM application interface should be designed in a way that integration with other systems is not very complicated. Well defined integration architecture must be provided, accessing cross application business processes should be enabled, and the total time taken for overall custom integration should be reduced. Multi-system information should be easily accessible and updated at regular intervals, users should be able to view all updates related to a specific record through a single holistic interface.

Business Card View option – As CRM UIs are updated and upgraded, an important development seen in recent times is the ‘Business Card View’. The benefit here is that when a contact is clicked, all the important basic information is displayed at the top of the page itself. In case of a call/ meeting with a client, all relevant information (for example - full name, designation, department, reports to, DOB, etc.)  can be viewed in a few fields before the interaction.

Enhancing sales force productivity – The goal of a good CRM solution must be to elevate the productivity levels of the sales personnel, so that they spend less time ‘CRMing’ and more time concentrating on real selling. For example, it is observed that everyone prefers an option of adding notes to prospects and existing contacts. The UI should allow that. Further, salespersons have to constantly keep track of appointments, tasks, phone calls, etc. with clients. Therefore, if the UI offers the option for scheduling and keeping a record for follow-up calls with a prospect right from the contact screen, the salesperson's efficiency is increased.

‘Following’ – Modern CRM interfaces offer an interesting option where just like people can be followed on Twitter; a particular lead, deal or contact can also be followed directly through the CRM interface. With this option, the person is updated every time a record's specific fields are edited.

Fusing Social Media with the CRM UI - The option to link a CRM contact to their LinkedIn profile is another significant requirement from social CRM. This helps in easily viewing the contact’s professional information and other such important details. The fusing of LinkedIn with the CRM solution enables staying abreast of the contact’s professional activities and identifying other influencers or connections.

Conclusion
In a nutshell, an effective CRM software should showcase an optimized UI with features such as workflow management, user friendly customizations, dashboards, reports, web forms, role based security and so on.
The main objective of the CRM software’s user interface must be to strike a balance between productivity, automation and ease-of-use. If ‘usability’ in the true sense is given the attention that it deserves, the outcome will be a win-win situation for a CRM implementation. High user adoption will translate to data accuracy, enhanced customer experience and higher ROI.


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