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Workbooks Survey Reveals Digital Transformation is the Biggest Challenge for 1 in 5 SMEs

Workbooks, rated number one CRM for customer satisfaction by G2, has published its CRM State of the Market 2021 Report. The annual study of 200 SMEs provides unique insight into how the experiences of the past two years have impacted the way CRM platforms are viewed and used. 

Fundamentally, the pandemic has changed how and where we work, which has had knock-on effects on how we communicate with customers and colleagues. Key findings from the survey include: 

Hybrid working is not for everyone 

Hybrid working is set to continue for 77 per cent of firms, and – with 30 per cent of respondents agreeing they enjoy working from home and do not want working life to return to how it was in 2019 – this is one of the few positive side-effects of the pandemic. 

However, the survey also found that 31 per cent of respondents have struggled to balance family life while working from home. For 31 per cent, communicating with colleagues has also been an issue, highlighting that hybrid working is not in fact working for everyone. 

For many, the introduction or extension of a CRM platform could help improve communication and productivity. Indeed, 21 per cent of respondents say their biggest challenge is digital transformation, which coincides with a rise in those considering CRM implementation (46 per cent – up from 40 per cent in 2020). 

SMEs are more ready to switch CRM providers than in previous years 

Compared to two years ago, the survey found that more SMEs are prepared to change their provider. With the acceleration of digital transformation, many are evaluating their processes and an examination may show that the current platform is underdelivering. The most cited reason for considering a change is a ‘poor fit to our needs’ (37 per cent), followed by ‘complexity of integration’ (35 per cent). Despite the acceptance to adopt technology, issues remain in the way SMEs choose their provider. Perhaps this could account for a surprising 11 per cent drop-off in the number of respondents who have a CRM in place currently. 

Interestingly, the ‘reputation of the vendor’ is falling sharply as a decisive factor from 41 per cent in 2019 to just 15 per cent in 2021. This shows a willingness and desire to move away from the ‘big players’ and to look more closely at alternative vendors who may be a better fit for a company’s needs or provide a more efficient, supportive implementation. 

Businesses need to prioritise outcomes and look beyond the technology 

User adoption remains one of the biggest obstacles to a successful implementation, with 43 per cent citing it and 75 per cent claiming that their CRM being easy to use is either essential or very important. While 75 per cent of businesses say they were clear on what ROI for their business would look like at the point of purchase, only 68 per cent can now calculate ROI.  

John Cheney, CEO, Workbooks, said: “Digital transformation is now top of the agenda for every business, but what should that mean in practice? Our survey reveals 47 per cent of SMEs still focus on features and functions when it comes to choosing CRM. However, it is a mistake to view CRM as a simple software purchase.   

“The right solution will help a business attract and retain customers, and demonstrate ROI – but only if companies have defined business outcomes first. SMEs should look to a vendor that implements CRM as part of a broader strategy that is fully aligned with the systems, teams and business objectives that it will integrate with.”  

Read The State of the CRM Market 2021- An SME Perspective report here. 

Read The State of the CRM Market: The Comparison Report here.