Having worked with a huge range of clients of all shapes and sizes we know the challenges that organisations face ensuring that your team is using your CRM to its fullest potential. 

As a charity or non-profit organisation, you’ll want to know that you’ll be getting the most from your CRM. According to G2, some CRMs only reach around a 70% adoption rate, with some even seeing substantially less. With research having shown a return on investment of around 800% for every pound spent on a CRM - this is a large amount of wasted potential being left on the table.

So how can you make sure you are getting the most from your CRM? 

From our years of CRM experience, there are a few key approaches that can really maximise adoption and help your organisation get the very most from your CRM.

Before you start:

1. Have a clear data strategy

Before you get started it’s vitally important to have a clear data strategy for your organisation. A messy CRM is the biggest shortcut to a system that doesn’t do what you need and as the old saying goes, garbage in means garbage out! Before you implement, take the time to identify the fields you really need and will keep up to date. Our advice is to keep things as simple as possible, often the core data sets for each team may need as few as 3 or 4 additional custom fields in your system. It’s better to have a small amount of good, useful and up to date data fields, than lots of messy half-filled and incomplete data! 

2. Personalisation and layouts

Another way we have found that really increases adoption is to work to personalise the system around the needs of your users. This could be as simple as adapting the layouts of different screens to meet the needs of a specific team. Platforms like CiviCRM can let you do this to the field level, and with the new search kit you can create interactive search screens which greatly simplify your users' experiences. 

3. Reduce manual data entry and manual processes

One of the most amazing things about a modern web integrated CRM is how much work it can offload from your team. In a lot of cases, many of the manual tasks that your team will have been doing can be offloaded to the customer to perform themselves or can be triggered by other actions that take place in the system. Donors can donate online with all the data flowing automatically into your CRM. Your supporters can update their details directly through a website self service area, or memberships could renew automatically. With a modern CRM these processes flow allowing your team to focus on providing a great experience to your audience. 

4. Identify champions or super users early and meet with them regularly after launch 

It can be hard to maximise adoption especially with a larger team where you may not be in contact with all of the users personally yourself. But all is not lost! Try and find a few willing champions to support your rollout. Obviously, it's great if this includes the more technical members of the team. Sometimes simply having users who are advocates of the platform’s benefits will be as, or more, valuable than someone who is very technical. Having feet on the ground in each of the teams can also help you to get regular feedback as to what is working and what could be improved. Make sure you catch up regularly and build a backlog or list the feedbacks that you and they are gathering. 

5. Training

Training is probably the single most important part of implementing any new piece of software across an organisation. It's important to remember that there will be very different levels of digital literacy in your organisation and people learn in different ways. 

We often say that we see training as a process of building confidence in a new system and so it's important to recognise that that might not happen in a single session a week before go live. It’s also important to remember that implementing a system is often changing the way that someone works, something they need to learn on top of the system. 

We found the best training is a continual process both before and after go live. Don't be afraid to perform training remotely online as this can allow you to record sessions for future reference and new joiners.

Post go live

If you’ve got a system already and want to try and increase the engagement many of the above will still apply, but there are a few more ideas we keep in the toolbox:

6. Go back to basics

If adoption is currently lower than you hoped, the first place to start is to really understand what your users need from the system. What is it not doing for them? Often we have found that a misconfigured system is holding a team back and with some simple tweaks you can build a teams confidence in a platform very quickly. Get that list and look for the quick wins that can help you get back on the right track.

7. Get management buy-in

Sometimes, however, the changes needed might be more significant or might even require a change of system. Then it's vitally important to get management buy-in in order to get time and resources to do things the right way.

Whilst there are many low-cost CRMs like CiviCRM on the market, there is always a cost in terms of time and effort to make a system right for your organisation. Your job is to ensure that management understands that and gives the system the right resource budget to ensure it works for you. 

8. Reward good use

We often talk about building a “CRM positive” culture in an organisation. If you can get over 50% of your team talking about the benefits of the CRM the others will fall in line. It's not always easy to do with a CRM, as by their nature they require time and energy to become useful living databases. The benefits might also not be seen either until much later when reporting and identifying management information, or not at all by the person who puts the data in themselves. 

That's why creating a culture of positivity when people use the CRM will greatly benefit your whole team. After all, we've all been there when someone is off sick but the key bit of information is in their emails!

9. Iterate, improve and communicate!

Our final tip is to always be looking at how you can further improve your CRM. Incremental improvements, especially those focused on user experience can please users, and make them feel that the CRM is really theirs. We suggest having regular CRM ideas sessions or a formal feedback or survey process so you can gather feedback and keep improving. Sometimes just a little tweak to an option value or a field can make a world of difference! 

Wrapping up

Getting your entire team into your new CRM doesn't have to be a challenge. The few simple ideas you can build confidence and make sure that the system is working for all of your team.

If you'd like to find out more about how to get the most from your CRM or you're at the start of your CRM journey we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch and one of our experts would be happy to talk with you more.