A good CRM gives the company a clear overview of its customers. Sales representatives can see everything in one place — a simple, customizable dashboard that tells customers’ previous history with the company, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer relation details, and more.
From this definition of a good CRM, you can already see how complex this type of software is. CRM brings tons of information under one roof, and thus often balances between being useful and overwhelming for customers. Product design can help CRM apps to get to the useful side.
What do you need to start CRM design?
I won’t surprise you by saying that you should do the preparational job before starting a significant business process. In the case of CRM, the questions you and the experts from different company departments have to answer concern the system goals, requirements, and core functionality. During your brainstorming sessions, you should create some sort of “CRM Bible” that designers and programmers must adhere to when working on CRM design and development.
Here is the list of aspects to decide upon before embarking in the CRM building process.
- Business goals
In other words, define what you expect to improve in your business with the help of CRM implementation. Whether you intend to streamline marketing by automated services or employ a new strategy based on the analytics, these goals should be directly related to and achieved thanks to the new CRM.
- System requirements
Determine what critical CRM features you’ll die (of course, metaphorically!) to have. For example, integrations, work speed, analytics, automation - all these requirements should be listed before going into the development process.
- Design specifications requirements
Think of how targeted departments will use a CRM and ensure it has the parts dedicated to each group of employees. This point is crucial to consider as each department has its own tasks and ways to accomplish them.
When you’re ready with the preparation stage, it’s time to move to the design phase.
Why does the good CRM user experience matter?
Because whatever feature-rich your CRM is, if customers can’t get the point of how to use it, all efforts are in vain. That is where good UX plays a crucial role. To make a good UX design, designers conduct UX research to determine what people wait for from their CRMs and how they actually use them. After collecting sufficient data, the UX designers typically build user flows, customer journey maps, and prototypes. But, having this done, their job still isn’t over. The next step is user testing, by which designers may find and improve critical flaws in user experience.
In all fairness, it has to be added that good UX serves not only customers but also businesses by bringing them substantial benefits.
- Lead tracking
The biggest problem of companies that don’t use CRM (or have the bad CRM UX) is leads’ loss. Leads often drop out of the sales funnel due to the inconsistency of follow-ups from the marketing and sales teams.
Don’t you agree that wasting time figuring out complicated workflows isn’t making you any closer to business goals achievement? The good UX enables your CRM users to be more productive.
- Communication consistency
This is my favorite benefit. It’s hard to imagine what else can kill sales effectiveness so mercilessly as non-organized crucial information about a lead. If thoughtfully designed, CRM UX facilitates information sharing and ensures everybody knows how to find and easily access the information they need.
With this said, let’s define what deteriorates user experience when developing a CRM.
CRM design process: main steps
Let us illustrate the CRM design process on an example of Gridle, one of our recent clients. Gridle (now Clientjoy) is a CRM for freelancers and small agencies. It was launched back in 2013, so when Eleken joined a project in 2020, the design already needed significant improvements.
1. Baseline analysis
Since the task was to redesign the app, our first step was to analyze the original design.
Gridle was a complex app with a steep learning curve. It had a rich functionality for users to manage their leads, proposals, invoices and email templates. Luckily for us, Gridle used the Inspectlet app to register everything their users did in the app. So we could review the recordings to understand which features get used more, and which are completely ignored.
To figure out how each feature worked and why was it even necessary in the app, we made a detailed site map of the original product.
2. Competitive research
To determine the features needed to make our client’s app more competitive, we ran a comparative study of eleven top players in the CRM market. The research gave us insights into worthy features we could implement. Yet those were only assumptions. To verify them, we had to talk to active users.
3. User interviews
Next, we conducted six in-depth interviews with Gridle users to understand what features they were actually lacking. Since no one from the product team was present on those calls, respondents didn't hesitate to tell about all the app's shortcomings they faced. Thus, we found some insights and places that could be improved.
To structure the information, we used empathy mapping.
4. Information architecture
After the research phase, we were ready to move to the design itself. First, we defined the scope of the app’s future features. Next, we needed to understand the relationships between the old and the new functional units. To visualize the new app structure, we’ve created a high-level information architecture.
5. Wireframing and prototyping
From there on, we’ve been moving step by step, designing the new functionality and improving the usability of existing features.
Clientjoy’s initial goal was to boost the company’s growth with the redesign. Given that the renewed app raised $800,000 recently In pre-series A funding, the goal was achieved.
Top mistakes to avoid in CRM UX
1. Puzzled navigation
The simpler the user flow is, the quicker users can find necessary features or information. The data says that employees spend around 8% of their time searching for information they need to proceed with the tasks. The good UX is called on to decrease this percentage (ideally, to zero!).
2. Missing email integration
If your users can send and receive emails from the CRM, it’ll definitely make their everyday work easier. Typically, sales and marketing people have to operate with several systems a day and may miss some important updates due to the huge workload. So it’ll be a hundred times more convenient when CRM allows integration with email, where important threads can be tracked.
We can say it with full knowledge because we’ve designed the entire email functionality that the customer experience platform TextMagic lacked. The functionality included audience segmentation, ready-made templates, a drag-and-drop editor for email design, and A/B testing.
3. Missing SMS integration
Another feature sales and marketing managers would appreciate is the ability to configure SMS campaigns alongside email campaigns.
Despite the variety of features such as templates, tags, opt-out messages, file attachments, email previews, an SMS editor should be simple to use and full of air — otherwise, the CRM design interface would overwhelm the user.
Such an airy UI we created for TextMagic. An intuitive three-step SMS configuration flow is similar to how it works with email campaigns.
4. Unclear data representation
The data itself is a raw material before being meaningfully interpreted. If the data in your CRM is tough to analyze, this is also the UX flub. To not miss the life-changing business opportunities, the information should be easily readable, understandable, and...hmm...analyzable?
Look at the comprehensive dashboard below that we designed for TextMagic. It lets users get a clear overview of their team’s performance and customers’ satisfaction.
5. Limited accessibility
And here I mean, if your CRM is accessible only from certain browsers and devices, that isn’t what the modern world requires. Your CRM UX should provide the possibility to either work from the office, or work on the go with the same level of convenience.
6. Lack of integration with other apps
Think of CRM as your own information hub, which should unite all your company tools to create a smooth user experience. Typically, a good CRM UX implies integrations with popular apps, though you can expand the number of integrated apps upon the necessity.
Now you know what bad CRM UX implies.
So, it’s time to shed some light on actionable steps to improve CRM UX design to ensure a positive customer experience.
To sum up
Developing and designing a custom CRM is a complex, multi-faceted process that requires a thoughtful and knowledgeable approach. However, your own CRM system can also bring you significant benefits worth all endeavors you put into the development process. Eleken’s team of seasoned UI/UX designers is ready to consult you regarding any questions you have about CRM UX design and provide you with qualified assistance.