Customer Engagement & Dynamics CRM Forum

How to Survive the 4 Stages of CRM User Adoption

By Ryan Plourde posted Jan 20, 2018 08:35 PM


Just like a good marriage, user adoption for your new CRM system takes work. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can be done. And the results are worth the effort.

Whether you’re starting a new CRM initiative or salvaging an existing one, you must start with the mindset that implementing a new CRM system is a transformative process. It involves organizational culture, project rigor and perseverance from your CRM project leaders. 


Your organization will ultimately go through each of these four CRM adoption stages; the goal is to get through them as quickly as you can.


1)     The Honeymoon
The new CRM system is about to get implemented! You’ve struggled so long doing things the old way and now you’ve found the holy grail and all your problems are about to be washed away.  You are confident that the time and money you spent was well worth the investment and you can’t wait to reap the rewards. Your company will finally be transformed into the well-oiled machine you know it can be.  You can’t wait to “go live”.


2)     Living Together
You want me to do what?  In this “self-awareness” stage your users will quickly voice their opinions on the new processes and procedures; especially the ones that interrupt the “way I’ve always done it.”  This is the time when executive sponsors need to stand tall and quickly address user’s concerns and justify the benefits and reasons for the “new process in CRM”. It’s also very important at this stage to listen to your user base, document their feedback, and then take action on it. Empower your users to make them feel as though their feedback is contributing to the direction of the system. They will be more likely to embrace the change versus fight it.


3)     Building Momentum
We can now do ‘X and Y’, but ‘Z’ is still an issue.  Once your organization hits this stage the executive sponsors are in a great position to keep focusing on the positives and evangelize the successes realized from the new CRM system.  Often these successes will be in a certain department or in the form of a solution to a once challenging business function.  But it’s these isolated successes that will start spreading to other parts of the organization. Celebrate all successes, both large and small. It keeps people engaged by illustrating how the CRM system is helping other user and groups. This oftentimes gets the wheels turning. Soon other users may come forward with innovative solutions to problems by leveraging aspects of the new CRM system.  


4)     Full Steam Ahead
Your organization has now become that well-oiled machine and your new CRM system is the very core of your corporate operations, and more importantly, part of your corporate culture.  People, process and technology are unified and no one questions the value of the CRM system.  This stage often takes years to reach, but it is well worth the journey. 

But things don’t stop once you’ve attained this level of CRM adoption. Even a well-oiled machine needs maintenance and business systems are no different. Your CRM system and the user base will require an ongoing process of encouraging behaviors and solving that “next challenge” by leveraging the information in the CRM system and defining new operational processes to further streamline your organization. Just as your organization changes, so will your CRM system. Organizational growth yields great rewards and having a CRM system to support that growth is instrumental in maintaining your well-oiled machine.

As an organization embarks on a new CRM implementation (or re-implementation), you need to start the project with the right mindset and internal leadership. You also need experienced advisors to guide you through the CRM implementation process and set you on the right course to move full steam ahead.

The Crowe Horwath CRM team has been implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for over a decade and we understand the psychology, methodology and “key ingredients” necessary for a successful CRM implementation and high CRM user adoption.  Our people first, software second approach has been the keys to our customer’s success; and that’s how we measure our success.

By Ryan Plourde, Crowe Horwath, a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Gold Partner

Follow us on Twitter: @CroweCRM

1 comment



Feb 20, 2019 12:21 PM

This post speaks of deep experience