How to Design the CRM User Experience for Increased User Adoption and Staff Productivity


  • The goal of the CRM user experience is to maximize technology simplicity, ease of use and facilitated user outcomes. The goal directly improves CRM software user adoption and staff productivity.
  • The CRM user experience design is less about software aesthetics and more about satisfying employee objectives of engagement, focus, simplicity and productivity.
  • An improved user experience (UX) delivers many benefits, including faster on-boarding, less training, more automation, faster business process cycles and increased staff productivity. CRM Center of Excellence research found that improving the UX directly correlates with higher technology ROI.
Johnny Grow Revenue Growth Consulting

Anybody can get CRM software to run. But failing to deliver experiences that make the users' lives easier, more productive and more rewarding is like saying that the operation was successful but the patient died.

A complex or difficult to use system isn't going to achieve user adoption, which is a prerequisite to every downstream technology-driven benefit. To get past this gate it's helpful to understand the differences between the user interface (UI) and the UX.

The UI is focused on simplicity and visual presentation. It logically groups related fields, makes use of white space to avoid clutter, applies color-coded displays to draw focus, uses breadcrumb trails to ease navigation, and applies responsive web design principles to accommodate varying browsers, devices and form factors.

A CRM user interface is like a joke, in that if you need to explain it, it doesn't work.

The UX is different. Its goal is to deliver an experience that contributes to an emotion. That emotion impacts the continued use of the application. Software experiences are best delivered by facilitating user journeys and business processes that accomplish something. They are built with user-centered design, social technologies and mobility features such as touch screens, voice, swipe and gesture recognition.

Expert Software Design

Most technology implementations state goals in software terms and not people terms. They apply design to software screens and not UXs. They emphasize software ascetics over usability. They operate under the premise that if implementors build it, users will come. However, three decades of CRM software implementation history suggest otherwise.

To do better, expert designers lead with CRM user-centered design and design thinking. They are not just building pretty things. They are solving a 3-legged stool of simplicity, engagement and outcomes. They know that if they satisfy all three legs they will create a transformative UX and enable users to create compelling business results.

CRM User Experience

To deliver a rewarding UX you must know your users and what they want to achieve. That's usually done with CRM use cases that consider utility, effort, outcomes and satisfaction. Software designers work with users to co-create how they can work better.

That may also include how users work in teams. Designers can enable collaboration using tools such as enterprise social networks (i.e., Microsoft Teams or Salesforce Slack) that are linked to entities such as accounts, contacts, opportunities, campaigns or cases.

Any attempt to achieve a UX objective by hiring designers, creating wire frames or dressing up existing screens with UI facelifts – without first understanding user behaviors, expectations and prioritized use cases – will probably not achieve a successful UX.

Software publishers such as Microsoft and Salesforce have developed their applications over more than two decades. They have created countless software features, functions and capabilities. That's helpful when needed but displaying more capabilities than needed is unhelpful. It creates clutter, makes screens unnecessarily complex and confuses users.

Application forms and screens should display what's needed and no more. UX professionals know that removing unnecessary fields, functions and content delivers a cleaner, simpler or more rewarding CRM software user experience.

They recognize the inverse relationship between software features and the UX. Too many implementers attempt to solve business problems by adding more and more software features and functions to the application.

This actually makes the application more complex, difficult to use and less likely to deliver a rewarding experience. Think about the lessons from popular consumer technology tools. Social media sites like Facebook, commerce sites like Amazon and digital gadgets from Apple have clearly demonstrated that for a great UX, less is more.

The Point is This

A technology application is not a solution, it's a tool that can be crafted into a solution. Different craftsmen use tools differently. Skilled artisans use tools to create works of art that are appreciated by their audience and stand the test of time. Lesser skilled artisans use the same tools, but the audience is unimpressed and the results are disappointing and fleeting.

Employees are not just users, they are internal customers, and we're trying to impress them to affect customer and business outcomes. The goal of a new system isn't to give them a different place to enter the same data, but instead to engineer a better UX that drives increased user adoption and downstream business benefits such as improved productivity and more effective customer interactions.

Research shows that a simple, intuitive and rewarding UX can improve user adoption by up to 50% and shift user sentiment from sluggish to enthusiastic.

See how to design the CRM software User Experience for improved simplicity, utility and outcomes and increase user adoption and staff productivity.

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