Every Organization Needs Ongoing CRM User Support

There's something that always makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up: when organizations say that their users don't need support or guidance, so the organization doesn't need any role to focus on them.

"It should be like their smartphone - they just get it."

I get the intent. Once users are live and fully trained, using a CRM system should be almost self-sustaining. However, unless you're dealing with robot users who follow the same process with no interruptions or distractions every single time, and you never update your system with new features and enhancements—frankly, you're dreaming. 

Users are human; they're busy. Not only busy but juggling several responsibilities and managing multiple items that are probably moving in different directions. So to expect them never to need support is unrealistic.

Organizations need to consider the reality outlined above and implement something that gives their users some support. 

Here are few tips that should help organizations provide ongoing support to CRM users.


What IS User Support?

User support represents the act of helping your internal system(s) users in their use of the platform. For example, having someone present to hear the complaints about the system when it's not doing what it should, or reading between the lines to identify gaps in how the system is configured or designed.

There are really two types of issues: functional and knowledge.

1. Functional issues

Functional issues are essentially product issues: the system isn't doing what it's supposed to, or there's a gap in its ability to do something.

These types of issues require mitigation on the systems side. 

First, functional challenges need to be investigated to identify the root cause; then, a plan can be created to fix it. The process requires time, coordination, and organization to keep track of the issue, what causes it, when and where it happens, and what's been done to try and fix it to date. If nobody owns this role, how will that ever be done?

2. Knowledge issues

Knowledge issues are user issues and are typically a result of gaps in training or resource material. In some cases, it's more about how the user chooses to use the system, which can be mitigated through support to that user (i.e., "training").

These issues also require time and investigation to fully understand where the process goes off the rails and create a plan around how to tackle this. If it's a training item, it takes time to compile the resources used for training. Many organizations aspire to have self-help resources available to users, but these guides, tip sheets, and tutorials don't create themselves.

For those reasons in and of themselves, someone should own the responsibility for user support at your company. Otherwise, it's a bit like the wild west, and when left to their own devices, users will find very creative ways to solve the problem. That's not a slam against them. In some cases, they may well find a great solution. Still, in other cases, they invent new and less than ideal methods. 

Think of the user who can't seem to save a record, so they opt to track that information in their email folders or an Excel spreadsheet instead—on their local desktop—without all the necessary information available in CRM (*insert cringe face*).


What Do Users Expect?

So we've established that it's essential to have a point person for user support. Great. But what do users expect when reaching out for support?


Support doesn't have to be fancy, but acknowledging the report of the issue is crucial. It helps the user feel heard and permits them to set that task aside temporarily while you dig into the issue. You also need to ensure that you keep them informed. 

It can be infuriating to report an issue and then wait for several days before hearing anything again. A simple: "Hey, I haven't forgotten about you, I'm still investigating. Here is where I'm at and what I'm going to try next" gives the user some confidence that you are working on the issue and going to get back to them – ideally, about a solution.

How to Collect CRM Issue Information

Collecting information is a critical piece of the puzzle, particularly if user support is just a small portion of a larger role for someone. Users can identify issues in various ways - email, IM message, chat in the hallways, phone call, text message, carrier pigeon, smoke signal, etc. Okay, perhaps the last two are a little out there, but you get the point.

The issue with accepting pings for support in a variety of ways is two-fold. 

First, you are never getting the same experience twice. One person might be REALLY detailed and provide screenshots and lots of explanations about how the issue came up, what they were doing, how to reproduce it, things they've attempted in hopes of fixing it, etc. While others will send you a one-liner that simply says, "CRM is broken" (what does that even mean?!)

Create an Issue Reporting Tool for Consistent "Tickets"

Using a consistent issue reporting tool such as a web form or project management solution "ticket" gives you some control over how you receive the information. Do not underestimate the value of getting data in a consistent format. Not only that, but you can build in questions that give you the information that helps you dig in faster:

  • Where in the system are you when the issue happens?
  • Provide the click-by-click sequence you follow to make this issue happen. Be detailed.
  • Upload at least one screenshot of the issue.
  • Attached the error report you received.
  • How have you tried to solve this issue?
  • Have you looked at our support resources located [insert link to support resources]?

You get the idea. By controlling how the information is submitted, you are more likely to get more detailed info from users.

System Issues Are Inevitable: Are You Prepared?

Users are going to need support. The system will not always do everything perfectly every time - weird issues will inevitably pop up. 

However, if an organization doesn't have a point person to triage and manage the items that come up, they are all but asking users to "just figure it out however possible." An aimless approach is a costly approach as data integrity suffers, and user confidence in the system will fall through the floor, causing the organization to doubt the system's value in the first place. 

As someone who believes in the value of technology and sees tremendous opportunities for increased operational efficiency, this simply breaks my heart.

Do you have questions on how to support your users through their use of internal systems? We'd be happy to chat through that with you - contact C5 Insight today: 704-895-2500