Two thirds of businesses find CRM systems slow and complex

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Two thirds of businesses using customer relationship management (CRM) systems are failing to get the best out of them, according to new research by the SAP consultancy, De Villiers Walton.

De Villiers Walton asked companies to evaluate the return on investment CRM brings to their organisations. It found users rated their systems as average. De Villiers Walton said this suggests, while many systems may be partially fulfilling their remit, most are not succeeding in achieving optimal results for the users and businesses as a whole.

When it is fully-operational, CRM should successfully enable users to efficiently manage interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects by organising, automating and synchronising sales activities; plus other business processes such as marketing, customer service and technical support, the company said. 

However, almost a quarter (24%) of the 252 CRM users it polled from around the UK reported their CRM system slowed them down or did not support their business processes.

Over two-thirds (69%) say their CRM system does not help them focus on daily targets, and almost four out of five (79%) indicated they did not see their CRM system as an essential part of their everyday work.

Nearly half (48%) also disliked the way the system was configured, with 29% saying the system was too complex; and a further 19% feeling their CRM system was not user-friendly enough and its fields were not specific enough to their job role.

When asked which aspects of their systems they disliked most, speed emerged as a challenge for 21% of respondents. Other issues included the system not matching business processes (14%), and users experiencing difficulty understanding the language and terminology of the system (11%).

“The weakest area of many new and existing CRM systems lies in their complexity, with users being forced to comply with data-intensive screens and complete mandatory fields that are not always specifically relevant to their everyday roles,” said De Villiers Walton managing director, Darron Walton.

“When faced with adapting to a new system, users that do not have the time to learn how to use the system – or do not see the benefits of the new process in their day to day life – will reject the system, bypass the important fields or add incorrect information.”

According to Walton, a best-practice approach to optimising CRM requires a business focus: “In our experience, a CRM system is only successful if the underlying technology is easy-to-use and integrates with other systems and processes,” he said.

“This can be effectively addressed by applying additional technologies that simplify the terminology and better match existing business processes, which we have seen to improve system usage by as much as  200-fold, so increasing system effectiveness and user adherence to processes.

“Gaining user acceptance is essential to get an accurate operational picture of the business and ensure the workforce is working effectively. Without this essential buy-in, organisations must deal with inaccurate, non-compliant data and, as a result, achieve a low return on their investment.”