One of the reasons identified, was the poor design of the remote control. Does anyone remember the Logitech remote with a full keyboard more suited for an office than your living room? Or the remote for the Google TV that had no less than 80 buttons? No wonder adoption was poor.
What's even more shocking, is that this new generation of devices was competing to try and replace the remote and user interface associated with the cable set top box, which is surely one of the worst user interface experiences ever.
The reality was, that even though learning how to use these new devices would provide consumers with access to a wealth of information and even though the TV engineers were competing to replace a much maligned incumbent, users still voted with their wallets. This demonstrated very clearly that they would not replace one poor experience with another.
This is a very similar scenerio to the outcome many agencies experience when they try to implement Salesforce.com. From the agency management perspective, they see the newly deployed Salesforce.com implementation, with its wealth of information and features, in a similar way to how the Google design team viewed 'Google TV' for consumers. And like Google, many agency management teams find themselves battling low adoption rates. Yes, they are replacing a system that in many agencies is nothing more than MS Outlook and Excel, but too often producers would much rather stay with what they know than change. Just like how over the years, consumers have learned how to find the shows they need to watch, despite the poor experience.
Change is hard and for any system to be adopted the user experience needs to be intuitive, easy to use and help deliver success for the producer from a 'Whats in it for me?' perspective. If you fail to deliver on any of these, your implementation faces a high probability of delivering low adoption and ultimately failing.
So what is the fix?
Whenever you look at Salesforce.com there are two different perspectives. The producer perspective and the management perspective. The root cause of many adoption issues originate with the decision to implement Salesforce.com from a management perspective. Huge amounts of effort are put into deciding what information needs to be collected and how that information will be displayed. This is exactly what happened with Google TV. As one reviewer put it, Google TV was designed by engineers for engineers. Google solved an engineering problem and at the same time forgot that in order to be deemed successful, the product needed to solve a consumers problem. Simply replace the word "engineer" with "management" and "consumer" with "producer" and there you have it.
In my experience, the majority of producers, especially in Independent agencies, are quite happy with the status quo. So when the implementation team focuses on delivering what management needs without giving enough thought to how the producers will actually use the system on a daily basis, they are setting themselves up for failure. Going from a program like MS Outlook and/or Excel to an overly complex Salesforce.com implementation can be like going from your poorly designed cable remote to the 80 key Google TV remote. The intention might be good but if the change is just too overwhelming or the producer is left asking 'What's in this for me?' then as a result, adoption will be poor.
If an agency is focused on driving adoption then they need to focus on understanding how their producers currently work and what their needs are. They need to customize Salesforce.com in such a way that it acts as an extension of a producer's day. The system needs to shout out, "how can I help you Mr. Producer?" or stated more simplistically, "How can I put more money in your pocket?"
Approaching an implementation in this way, might actually mean that management might have to sacrifice some of what they want in Phase 1 in order to keep the interface simple. Shocking I know, but if you over-complicate producers' lives in Phase 1, you might never get to Phase 2. The beauty of implementing a platform like Salesforce.com as opposed to a traditional application is that it does not preclude you from adding additional complexity later.
The moral of the story is that you can create a technically complex product with loads of "wiz bang" features and tons of super clever integration but still fail in your objective, which should be to create a tool that your producers will actually use. So, if you are thinking of implementing Salesforce.com in your agency, think like a consumer and not like a Google engineer. Make sure you focus on the needs of the producer first.
At PSAdvisory we believe that we understand how Insurance Producers think and work. When we combine our understanding of Salesforce.com with our implementation framework which we call 'The 4 Quadrant Method' we believe that we provide your agency with the best possibility of success.
If you are thinking of implementing Salesforce.com in your agency contact us and lets have a discussion.
Andrew Bartels has been recognized by Salesforce.com as one of the leading innovators with regard to implementing Salesforce.com in the insurance vertical. As a CTO for a Top 100 Independent Insurance Agency, he oversaw the deployment of a Salesforce.com system in 2010. Over the next three years, he focused on customizing the system and implementing best practices for the insurance industry, ultimately generating a significant ROI for the firm. Andrew brings years of hard fought experience to our clients so that they can accelerate their ROI in implementing Salesforce.com.