IBM’s Design Thinking approach: How it can help a SMB implement a CRM

Recently, the CentrixOne CRM team participated in an event called Connexion. Held by Les Affaires and Telus in Montréal, the two-day convention was filled with over 40 conferences and a multitude of workshops about today’s digital transformation and its impact on businesses’ growth and future.One especially compelling talk was given by IBM on its Design Thinking approach.

IBM stipulates that today’s generation—and those of the future—want better designed applications that are completely centred around the user. While developing intuitive interfaces is nothing new in a hyper-connected, hyper-computerized world, the concept that the end user is now the new king means that the paradigm is shifting to go beyond simple design and towards a complete user experience that actually solves real problems.

The Design Thinking approach is focused on forcing developers and designers to view problems and solutions from users’ points of views. Gone are the days when software solutions could be developed in siloes by developers without ever observing or talking to users, reflecting on all possible use case scenarios, and desired outcomes, and being intimately aware of what users need to get their jobs done. Nowadays, users must be given a seat at the table to collaborate with any new software developed.

At CentrixOne, we designed our CRM solution with SMBs and for SMBs. We spoke to freelancers and business owners as to their current experiences with CRM, their frustrations and unique needs that were not addressed by other software on the market. We have always fostered user-centric development—and that commitment is reflected in our CRM and the way we do business with customers.

However, after IBM’s conference at CONNEXION, it dawned on us that the Design Thinking approach could actually be applied to SMBs looking to implement a CRM. After all, while SMB owners are obviously not developing a CRM, they will nevertheless be using it and perhaps even requiring their teams to use it.

At the end of the day, no matter how affordable the CRM is, what bells and whistles it has in terms of features, if a particular CRM does not help them improve their work and rid them of annoyances they experience each and every day, there is no point even in investing in the product.

Before even shopping for or acquiring a CRM, as an SMB owner or executive, you need to ask yourself, as a user or representative of your users, some thorough questions:

  • Could I find a better way than using spreadsheets to centralize my contacts’ information or follow up on deals and opportunities?
  • Is there any way I can reduce the number and total cost of ownership of the apps my team and I use on a monthly basis?
  • Instead of struggling to compile progress reports in a spreadsheet on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly basis, could I benefit from automated dashboards that would allow me to quickly find out where my business stands at any given time?
  • What if I could enhance my team’s productivity by giving them access to sales information when they are on the road?
  • Is my business ready to forego on-premise software and transfer everything securely to cloud-based applications?

The list can go on depending upon your unique business context.

If you have a team, involve all potential users in answering these questions. Everyone should contribute so that your decision to buy a CRM and selection criteria for a specific solution is based on current user scenarios, priorities and needs.

If you run a one-person show, talk to like-minded peers who use a CRM to glean insights from their experiences and find out how they scaled up.

Your ultimate goal is to make sure that your CRM undertaking is all about your users!

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