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Are You “Taxing” Your CRM Users?


When we see so many firms struggling with CRM “adoption” it creates a question: Is it possible that the professionals in your firm view your CRM system as a tax? Like a tax, CRM benefits the firm and others, but not them?

The most common frustration heard when rolling out a CRM – my users just won’t adopt and use it! The initial tendency is to blame the users as being stubborn, obstinate and unwilling to “change”. But the real question is WHY are they unwilling to change? Could it be your CRM is viewed as a “Tax” on the user?

A Few Tax Factoids:

  • Any tax tends to depress the activity being taxed (i.e., income taxes directly affect the number of employees that can be hired).
  • Taxes are frequently used to affect behavior (i.e., ‘sin’ taxes on cigarettes and alcohol).
  • Tax breaks or credits are often viewed as benefiting a select few while they result in higher taxes for everyone else.

About everything from our paycheck to our gas tank has some type of tax on it. The reason for this dislike of paying taxes is simple. Rarely does anyone feel they receive benefits from their tax dollars equivalent to the taxes they pay into the system. My tax dollars benefit others more than me. Human nature at work – we just don’t like to pay for things when we don’t see any value or personal return, aka WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

Let’s Do a Quick “Tax Audit” of Your CRM:



Viewed as a burden Viewed as a burden
Viewed as good for Uncle Sam? Viewed as good for “the firm” or Marketing Department?
Viewed as paying an unfair share – benefits others more   than me Viewed as paying unfair share (lost billable hours)
Goal of individual is to legally minimize their share of taxes Goal of individual is to legally minimize their share of the CRM Tax?
Failure to comply has serious penalties Failure to comply has serious penalties? Failure to comply has no penalty? Full compliance has no tangible reward(s)?
Ultimate benefit to the individual hard to measure and often  perceived as a negative benefit relative to the amount of tax paid Ultimate benefit to the individual hard to measure and often perceived as a negative benefit relative to the amount of tax paid

Fail the Audit? You Are Not Alone.

With a little introspection, you may find users simply don’t see any WIIFM, and your CRM system is viewed as a “Tax” on the users. Like most of us that means we see the benefits flowing to Uncle Sam and “those less fortunate”, and not a “tax break” that provides benefit to me.

How Do We Change the “Taxation” View of CRM?

Success lies in four areas:

  1. Understanding your firm’s unique culture and the limitations, strengths and challenges your culture creates.
  2. Once you understand the firm culture and challenges, you can now have realistic goals for what you want CRM to do. What does success look like?
  3. An effective rollout plan that communicates effectively to the culture, and trains users on not just how to operate the system, but how the system specifically benefits each unique individual.
  4. Achieving data quality.

Notice “Culture” was mentioned in three. You have likely heard the saying from famous management guru Peter Drucker, “Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch Every Day”. This is especially true where the value to users is not obvious and in demand. Relative to document management and time & billing systems, CRM systems rarely have a high demand from attorneys and CRM deployments can be the firm poster child for challenges in getting user adoption.

In next week’s post, we’ll discuss the WHY and FOR WHOM we need CRM, and the role of data quality.

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