User Adoption: The Daily Struggle

How to increase User Adoption of your CRM platform? Remember everyone struggles with this regardless of what industry they are in or what platform they choose.


The biggest struggle any company with a CRM platform has is boosting and maintaining User Adoption. However long it has been since you implemented your CRM platform user adoption will always be an issue. With a platform like Salesforce it can be a daily struggle for any Administrator to keep User Adoption up since they regularly upgrade Salesforce 3 times a year. Some releases are bug fixes but majority of them introduce new services or products and as well as upgrading and improving current ones. With a company like Salesforce that regularly upgrades and fixes their own instances for all of their customers at once Admins for smaller companies may struggle to keep their users up to date. Not every user is tech savvy or a quick study.

I find that as an Administrator I struggle with keeping up user morale and convincing my users that Salesforce is a good system. It gives you a 360 view of your customer relationship regardless of what industry you are in. How do you convince a group of users that a system like Salesforce is worth investing their time and energy in? Salesforce is good for making things simple. I find as an administrator it’s my job to translate the complexity of the system into simple easy to understand steps. Training, training and more training is what will boost user adoption. A companies Salesforce team cannot expect that once they train their users that the buck ends there. Most companies have multiple programs to run their businesses and not everyone will remember what was trained during their initial days on the job. Refresher training is a must! Small power sessions I find are the most useful. When you get a couple of users from different departments together in a mini session you get better feedback.

I also believe it is the Administrators job to not only know the system inside and out but they should know their business. You can expect your users to get the most out of their CRM system as it stands out of the box. It has to be molded to their industry, to their business styles and processes built to make the users jobs easier and more efficient. An administrator and developer cannot expect a company to get the most out of their platform if they lack the business knowledge to translate their needs to the system. If those in charge of a platform do not understand their users how can they expect their users to understand their system?

Salesforce has quite a few tools to help boost user adoption. They suggest metrics to help boost adoption by reporting and measuring who is actually logging into the system and using it. I find that the rewards and badges they have created under Chatter works wonders. My company boosts different locations so not all employees work face to face. We find that Chatter allows us to connect socially and professionally. We share company events and good news via chatter but we also reward each other for jobs well done. This has boosted morale across the board as well as adoption. As users get better acquainted with Chatter and seeing their fellow team mates using it they start exploring the possibilities more. Another way you can boost adoption is showing your users how the system can save time and building processes that stream line data for them. Salesforce has plenty of ways to automate services as well as saving time when it comes to reporting that may be used weekly, monthly, and annually which can be set up automatically to run on a clocked basis.

Regardless of how many users you have or how intricate your build your platform it is always a good idea to stay organized. It allows you to keep track of training users across the board as well as planning for upgrades which Salesforce schedules and announces at least a month before it is due to launch. It is always a good idea to have a communication plan to keep your users informed of any changes that may be coming including any training you may be putting together. Keeping your users in the loop and even encourage suggestions they believe could improve their job and experience. This will get them into the CRM conversation and forces them to really take a look at the platform and see the potential it has and not just another burden or task to complete.

Of course as the CRM Administrator I believe my first priority is to be positive and encourage my users to believe in our platform. I am here to encourage my users to use the system. I prefer to call myself a Chatter Cheerleader and Salesforce Supporter. If I am not using the system to the fullest then my users will not either.

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The Difference Between Compassion and Empathy in Customer Service…

Empathy in business is bound to ensure you find more results with potential customers than compassion alone.  Having spent over 5 years as a sounding board to customers in a contact center I know without doubt empathy wins. The ability to understand someone’s frustration and thinking goes along way with connecting and eventually successfully servicing your customer.

People know when you are empathetic and when you are scripting. There is a fluid natural way of talking to someone in customer service while trying to truly understand the problem they present you with. When talking to someone and being scripted there is more of a robotic way of interacting that is stilted and even leaves room for not actively listening. Customers will express their aggravations about the situation at hand and if someone is trying to follow a script rather than communicating openly the customer will know instantly and shut down.

There are pitfalls to acting as if you are empathizing too much. You can sound as if you are a broken record if you continually say “I understand” without articulating their problem back to them proving you understood the situation at hand. Empathy is when you have placed yourself in someone else’s emotional shoes. You can connect and understand the range of emotions they are going through because you are putting yourself figuratively in their place.

Sympathy and compassion are feelings but not as powerful or as compelling as empathy. Compassion is a good tool and is the starting board towards learning to be empathic. You would not be able to truly empathize with someone unless you have first learned to have compassion for your fellow-man. Empathy is a step higher than compassion and sympathy.

Empathy tends to be stronger with those who have similar experiences or a strong imagination. If you have not experienced the same situation but can imagine how you would feel should it occur to you then you can successfully empathize with your fellow human. You are able to connect on a higher level with your customer and truly come from a place where you want to solve their problem and build a true rapport with your customer then the end company of increasing their monetary value.

A truly valuable relationship builds on common ground has nowhere to go but to expand and grow. A real commitment and change can spread as fast as discontent. Happy customers are just as likely to spread the word as upset and angry ones will. Empathy not only enables you to better serve your customers but also will enable you to grow and improve within yourself as you connect and understand those around.

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Balancing Life and Work in a Healthy New Year

Welcome to a new year and resolutions abound. I find that I never keep my resolutions so I have stopped making promises I know I do not intend to keep. This does not mean there are habits I should ignore or not strive to improve this year. As a mother to young children and adult step-sons I find the most difficult task is finding a healthy balance between work and life. There are scholarly articles about this very subject. I have stumbled across many social media blog pieces about estimated number of Americans who did not take a vacation day in 2014. There are those who need thrive on working. They relax while doing their job because it fulfills them. Majority of us though are working a job to get from point A to point B. Those of us working for other means are the ones who need to start using our vacation days.

This is not a good way to start another year. The holiday season is over but as parents we are already starting to plan for the next one in the back of our heads. We are seeing everything we want to give to our children and maybe even to ourselves. These ideals and material things wear heavily on us. Because if this we force ourselves to work longer hours and sacrifice our personal time as we make ends meet or try to propel our careers ahead to this imaginary place where everything will be better.

This mindset of “sacrifice now for a better future” is not real if we are constantly sacrificing now every day but never actually getting to our ideal future. Finding a healthy balance between work and life can help clear the cobwebs and may even motivate you in the areas that need better focus. There are studies that prove taking a vacation day (even just one day!) to rest and recoup makes you a better employee. There is a reason why companies give their employees vacation days. They know their employees who regularly take vacations come back recharged and better than before they left.

There are small ways to make big changes. Taking the time to get up an hour earlier in the morning to spend with your partner, children or even just reading can make a huge difference. There are articles and blogs written by people who have started these small habits and from their own personal experiences have seen the benefits of just taking small amounts of time for themselves. I have found when I have a difficult task at work and I am hitting constant road blocks that the answer comes to me when I least expect it. I have forced myself to go and play with my young children making up silly stories and just laughing with them and all of a sudden the answer to my work problem presents itself. Why? This is because I stopped stressing over it and relaxed. The endorphins cleared the clutter and I was able to think clearly without anxiety because I was calm. This also helps keep us healthy. The more leisure time and rest we give ourselves the more we are able to avoid getting sick especially during the winter months.

You do not have to start a crash diet or make unreasonable promises about going to the gym 7 days a week. Small changes make the difference. Getting up an hour earlier and playing with your kids can help your energy level. Going to bed early instead of staring at your work computer for an extra few hours while not getting anything productive done can make a difference in how well you sleep. Reading before bed can help you fall asleep faster especially if you are reading an actual book instead of a lighted screen. Small baby steps  to change engrained habits is what will make a New Year’s resolution successful and  make you see a difference not only in how productive you are at work but at how much you enjoy your personal time.

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Hard Selling; Please Stop and Listen

Sales and Sales teams all have a job to do. Most companies would go out of business if not for their sales teams. There would be no marketing team, executive management or budget if the sales team is not selling their product and making revenue to pay for everyone’s PTO and benefits packages. As a consumer and someone who has worked alongside sales teams I completely understand the need for sales. That does not mean I agree with some of the tactics involved in selling.

There is no need for constant hard selling. I find that 90% of the time hard selling does not work. There are quite a few industries that seem to be most popular when it comes to jokes about hard selling. There are even clichés about sales people who act as if they are “Car Salesmen”. There are all kinds of clichés including phrases we have all been guilty of using in business across the board whether selling or trying to drive sales internally. That does not mean you hammer away at your consumer until they run screaming from the room or react negatively.

This is something I have been experiencing more often lately. It must be “that time of year”. I can understand what a telemarketer is going through; I use to work in a Contact Center myself. But when you call my house at dinner time and I give you the time to explain what it is you are calling about but end up saying very politely “thank you but I am not interested at this time”. Just say “okay have a good day”. That is not an opening to hammer away at me and try to force me into something I have already declined. This was not an “open door” to negotiate down to a more reasonable amount. It is very simply a “NO”.

The same experience took place at my gym. I am interested in working out with a trainer. I agreed the amount per session was “GREAT” but when I am rubbing my head and telling you as nicely as I can that I am not going to give you a credit card tonight then stop. If I explain I need to discuss the details further with other people and will get back to you as soon as the next day please accept the information I have given you. I did a work out that was intense and extremely tough after having been awake for over 14 hours, worked two jobs and drove 2.5 hours. Hard selling and hammering me while I slowly succumbed to a raging migraine is not going to convince me to continue my work outs with you and your company.

I understand Sales teams are not only responsible for helping customers/consumers get the most out of their product but also are also responsible keeping up their lively hood. I understand the premises of the whole sales process but not at the expense of a potential customer. A previous manager I had did not push our team towards numbers for sales sake she always told us we are servicing our customers. We are not looking at numbers while discussing our customer’s livelihood, we are helping them to get the service they need and can put to use to better their situation.

A successful sales team knows to treat each customer/consumer as the individual they are. When you feel the service and conversation is geared towards your needs and not the company pitching to you, you are more likely to see clearly whether this will in fact be a good purchase or not. Customers, consumers and other businesses want to know how a company or product will benefit them not how they will benefit your sales goals. Hard selling does not work if you forget you are talking to a living breathing person at the same time.


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Prove Your Worth With Social Media Even if your CEO is not On-Board…

    Social Media is a powerful tool now. It is no longer a personal outlet to entertain yourself with on your down time (of course it is still primarily used this way). Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and Instagram are all-powerful public media tools that allow us to get important (and not-so important) information instantly via our smartphones, tablets, email and computers. These outlets are now powerful tools that every working professional should have a crash course in to understand how effective these social media outlets truly are.
     Besides having your own personal and professional experience with these outlets it is also a major tool to use at work regardless of what industry you are in. Everyone is using them so you should too. Here is the thing; there is a large population of “Executives and CEO’s” that put no stock in these forms of communication and media. Boy are they living under a rock or have buried their heads in the sandbox. If anyone is keeping up with current events they know just how powerful Social Media is. Grass root movements are changing the political scene using their smartphones, hash tagging all over the internet and insta-gramming everything from their cat to a police officer who pulled them over for running a stop sign.
     As anyone in the IT field knows user adoption is only effective if it comes from the top down. In Salesforce for instance we know that a platform will be successfully implemented when the CEO and the Executives are all on board. If there is any sign of hesitation or the “big-wigs” are not in on the conversations user adoption is going to trickle. Once the executives see the bill of sale and the lack of activity things usually have to pick up from their point of view or the ship is going to sink. The same goes for having a Social Media Marketing plan of any kind. Of course since Social Media is public domain and everyone can use these outlets personally and professionally it does not mean your company will sink. This means there is an opportunity for you to show off some unusual skills and innovation that could propel you directly into your executive’s line of sight.
      This does not mean you should start tweeting or posting status regarding your company tomorrow. This is an avenue for a great deal of growth but there is a fine line between personal and professional that we all have to see clearly. Researching regulations for your particular industry is always a must especially for those working for public offices and financial institutions. Since Facebook became public across the globe Human Resource professionals have had to come up with clear and defined rules for their employees regarding Social Media. This doesn’t mean Social Media is left out when it comes to a marketing scheme it just means; keep it clean and strictly professional.
      Of course best practices also say to keep your personal Social Media completely separated from your professional. There have been too many instances of Social Media outlets leading to job loss. You do not want something you posted on a Social Media outlet being used negatively against you at work. I am only suggesting that there are skills you have gained from using Social Media that could be useful in promoting your career path and growth. These said same skills could help your company advance their own Marketing and Sales goals if done correctly.

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Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrant; Not a very Flattering or Accurate Argument

I came across these terms while reviewing some training material for work. I found the concepts behind these terms to be very interesting especially in regards to how these differing perspectives could impact our lives not only professionally but personally.

There is a whole generation of Digital Immigrants (people born prior to 1980) who are struggling to teach the entire generation of Digital Natives (born on or after 1980). There is a belief or point of view that a Digital Native and a Digital Immigrant have difficulties communicating. Digital Immigrants in fact speak a different language and struggle to communicate in terms that the Digital Natives can understand and relate to. Being a “Digital Native” myself and having reviewed various thought articles on the differences between how a Digital Native and Digital Immigrant can interact with each other (and also the conflicts between the two generations) I can relate.

As with any language barrier (or gap in understanding) this can lead to frustration and even some conflict between the generations.  Of course not all Digital Natives are technologically inclined and not all Digital Immigrants are incapable of communicating effectively on the same level as a native. There are plenty of Digital Immigrants who excel at a farther pace then a good majority of the Digital Natives. Let us not forget it was the Digital Immigrants who created the initial technology that ushered in the digital age. Obviously someone had to have been thinking outside the box to have created the Digital language to begin with. So I do not necessarily believe that initial belief of where the line falls to differentiate between the Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to be an accurate one. I do believe there is a difference in how children who are born after the birth of the digital age think and learn though. Children nowadays are learning and demonstrating at an earlier age a higher level of intelligence and understanding that even some of us who fall into the earlier years of the Digital Native timeframe ever did.

I found the concept of the Digital Native to be engaging, and thought-provoking but when you couple it with the phrase Digital Immigrant the argument or concept behind the two of them together is insulting. The digital age ushered in an explosion in technology (especially in the last 15 years) but that does not mean that those born prior to 1980 have somehow been left behind. I know plenty of “digital Immigrants” who are more natives in this digital world then the rest of us.

It is inaccurate and unflattering to call those born prior to 1980 immigrants. They are the ones who created digital technology in the first place. I think it would be better to eliminate the terms all together then to try to split the generations in such a general way. I have worked with both types of customers those who refuse to learn or understand digital technology and those who can keep pace with me and even at times are faster to the point. I have also been privileged enough to have a 90-year-old grandmother who has learned in great detail how to use her iPhone to the max. It is always a good day when I get a picture via text message from her. She loves receiving messages and pictures via text even if she doesn’t get to see us every day. She may not be able to keep up with text abbreviations (I’m 30 and refuse to use too many of them either) but it doesn’t mean she is speaking a different language or is incapable of learning a new one either.


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Personal Integrity: Keeping Your Word at the Expense of Not Looking Good

What does it mean to keep your word? When someone makes a promise to themselves, to a loved one, to a professional acquaintance and follows through consistently and reliably, they are communicating a message about who they are and what is important to them. What is the alternative?  Not keeping one’s word because of convenience or short term gain also communicates something about who they are and what is important. There are times when we make a promise because of peer pressure or because we are not comfortable with saying no.  Some people make a promise or agree to do something because doing so makes them “look good” in the immediate situation.  When it comes time to deliver, they don’t follow through (especially when no one is looking). They “give their word” because they will look good by doing so.

What happens when we make a promise because we are pressured into it?  When we don’t want to do something but are pushed into acquiescence, the outcome is resentment. There are times we are resentful that we gave and promised to do something that we did not want to do in the first place. That resentment can then infect how we communicate with the person who pushed for the promise. We start to look at them negatively, we create scenarios about their nefarious motivations and how they took advantage. This begs the question – why give your word to do something when you did not want to do it in the first place?

What is the real cost of looking good at the expense of keeping your word and being resentful or not keeping your word and lacking integrity? The outcome is a life full of resentment and regret?  Realizing that living to please others at the cost of your own peace of mind Is not worth the cost of “looking good” in the moment or worth avoiding the short term discomfort of saying “no”, no matter how hard the other person pushes.

The flip side is of course that we do not want to admit that we would prefer to look good but carry resentment about the choices we have made.  That’s actually an easy way to remain stuck – please others, and resent them for having done so. It’s actually easier to go about life making choices that are consistent with what we want, regardless of whether or not other people are happy with those choices. The choices are not black and white – we’re always trading off what we want versus what others want from us.  Living on one side or the other of this conundrum would mean we are shallow and self-centered or are mindless people pleasers. There is always a way to balance sacrificing for others and keeping our word but doing so without living a life full of resentment.

The answer to this is simple: honesty. It seems at some point in our lives we learned that being honest made us look bad or hurt someone else’s feelings. Regardless of how someone may interpret your perspective, (what is true to you) what is most important is self-honesty. People will appreciate honesty more than the façade of “looking good”. If you do not want to do something, a simple “no”, regardless of why, will be easier on both parties.  You won’t have the resentment and the other person will not feel the resentment (even if they don’t get what they want short term) Honesty is healthier than if you grudgingly give your word to do something you do not want to do. When you cave and give your word you feel obligated to keep it even if it causes ill will. Breaking your word causes more ill will; which in the long run has a much greater impact than one honest conversation will have on the relationship.  Breaking one’s word is a more painful “no” than saying so up front.  Honesty does not have to hurt someone else. Being truthful with someone does not mean you are insulting them. Saying “no” up front and being open and honest about your reasons is respectful of the other person and of yourself.

Keeping your word regardless of whether or not you “look good” will actually have the unintentional effect of makinge you look good. When we try to look good we usually end up failing at it. If we are honest about something with ourselves and with others, keeping one’s word is easier and makes one happier. You create a life of possibility when you stop trying to please others, stop trying to look good and learn that honesty and integrity go hand in hand. Stick to your word even if you have to be honest and say something someone does not want to hear. Just be honest and kind when you do it. Sacrificing looking good for honesty has never been a bad choice.