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Paradigms = 20 Cents

Perhaps one of the hardest aspects of CRM is getting individuals to embrace changes that have a strong impact on their frame of reference. When people have to think or act or feel differently as a result of a CRM initiative, success can be elusive. Take the following for example:
“When I get done with a client visit I phone in the figures to an admin back at the home office and call it a day. Now you want me to enter it all into a computer while I am out on the road? Plus, you want me to type in stuff about the call – are you nuts?”

This illustration pretty much says it all. A field rep is being asked to use technology differently, follow a new process, do what is perceived as double extra work, perform a task that somebody less skilled is supposed to do, and provide information to management to make it easer to be checked on. And we wonder why we have so much trouble with these programs.

Tobacco Bay X2

CRM often requires impacted employees to encounter some form of paradigm change. This requires concerted effort to overcome and will require planning and resources to drive adoption to levels required for CRM program success. (See the past entry titled, Yet Another List of 7, for recommendations for driving up user adoption.)

The difficulty in getting staff past their resistance to change becomes compounded when management doesn’t acknowledge that the change management hurdle is a legitimate and resource requiring element of the program. I have had more than one CIO look me in the eye and say, “It doesn’t matter if they want to use the new system – they won’t have a choice!” How telling that statement is.

So, in this case the paradigm change really is a management issue. Management members, especially those managing the access to resources, must accept that overcoming resistance to change is a key aspect to successful CRM planning and execution. The bigger the change, the bigger the resistance, which requires commensurate attention to user acceptance.

If you were to force me to place a figure on what kind of budget is required to drive user acceptance, I will quote the conventional 15 percent of overall program budget (which also includes training costs). However, it is not just the resource allocation which is needed. What I am going to state next is going to sound really hokey. But, I am firmly resolved in my belief that management must also believe that dealing with resistance to change is a legitimate endeavor. Giving it just lip service somehow seems to undermine the efforts of the program. Look for a future entry for more on this aspect of the paradigm change issue.

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