11 CRM Usability Factors

During the CRM evaluation process, excessive focus can be on an appealing user interface as the key “usability” factor for a CRM solution.

However, the cosmetic appearance of a CRM system is just one small part of the overall CRM usability equation.

CRM Usability

After a CRM system is selected and implemented, user adoption will suffer if the sum of the factors that detract from CRM usability becomes too great.

Decreasing user adoption, in turn, results in economic costs to an organization that has invested in CRM.

Here are factors that are important to the usability of a CRM system. These should be considered as part of the CRM selection process.

1. Simplicity

Visually appealing colors and gradients are unimportant for CRM usability if it’s easy to enter and find information.

AI-driven search capabilities are essential for finding internal information quickly, similar to online public search.

2. Speed

If a user has to wait too long for screens to render, this becomes a detraction to CRM usability. Many of us have had the experience when speaking to someone at an extensive customer service call center who says, “Sorry, our system is running slowly today.”

While CSRs in large call centers may have to live with slow systems pulling data from multiple locations, enterprise salespeople may not be as tolerant of slow system performance.

3. Minimal (to No) Error Messages

Nothing disrupts the user experience quite like a big red error message on the screen when a user is performing what seems to them like a routine function.

A short bug list and minimal error messages make a CRM system more usable.

4. Consistency Over Time

From release to release, new functionality must appear subtly.

Wholesale changes in how users perform specific functions with each new release can discourage using the CRM system.

Users must be notified before features are retired.

5. Minimal Disruption

While painful and disruptive CRM upgrades are becoming a thing of the past, not all vendors have conquered the concept of a “seamless upgrade.”

An upgrade resulting in CRM downtime is a significant negative usability factor.

6. Economy of Movement

The more clicking, scrolling, and mouse movement required in a CRM application, the more time users need to get around the app.

When a system becomes too ergonomically challenging, a user’s body feeds their brain with negative messages — and user discouragement results.

7. Email Integration

For many users, blurring the line between email and CRM makes the CRM system more usable.

Regardless of which email client a user lives in, there should be, at minimum, the ability to automatically associate sent and received emails with CRM records.

8. Access From Any Platform or Device

It’s increasingly important for a CRM system to be accessible from any browser or device.

If a user cannot access their company’s CRM system from all the various platforms they use, this is a deterrent to CRM usability.

9. Third Party Add-Ins

If necessary, third-party add-ins should be easy to install and configure. If they provide added value to end users, this will increase the perceived usability of the CRM application.

10. Legacy System Integrations

For many users, access to information from back office systems is a make-or-break aspect of usability.

If a user can access all the information within a CRM system that they used to have to log into a separate system to view, they will spend more time within the CRM system, and the CRM system’s usability, in the eyes of these users, will get a big boost.

11. System Design

Not all usability factors can be pinned on the vendor. Those responsible for implementing the selected CRM solution must be mindful of not ‘over-customizing’ the UI or making too many fields require data entry.

When evaluating new CRM systems for your organization, it’s essential to take a broad view of “CRM usability.”

A CRM Usage Policy should be implemented separately once a CRM is selected.

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