Forget about the technology

This is a fast-paced discussion on communications, learning, and CRM that delves into the role of the Microsoft partner in implementing technologies around communications and digital adoption. How do digital relationships affect sales organizations?

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Digital Adoption Talks E05

The quick overview

What’s the one phrase that frightens every partner the most?  
CRM expert JC Quintana (Author & Chief Strategist CongruentX ) shares what scares partners every time–and reveals the real costs of learning through a technology interface. 

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The full transcript

Forget about the technology

Rick : Hello everybody. My name’s Rick McCutcheon. I’m a Dynamics 365 MVP, and I want to thank you today for tuning in to Digital adoption talks. Today there are over 300,000 business professionals with digital adoption in their job titles on LinkedIn. So on this show, along with my co-host Joachim Schumacher, CEO of ClickLearn, we talk to some of the leading digital adoption experts today in the CRM world. 

So it’s a big world, but in the Microsoft world, this week we’re thrilled to be talking to JC Quintana, then author and founder of Dialogue Prime, and the former head of Customer Insights and Innovations at hp. Welcome gentlemen, and let’s introduce ourselves and tell the people who we are.

[00:01:00] A single adoption solution for faster uptake and better performance

Joachim: Well, as you said, I’m the CEO of ClickLearn. So we are, this is an adoption solution company, so we provide a single solution that enables people to get faster into technology and stay at a high performance level inside the technology. And we do that in 45 countries around the world.

And we have around 300 customers on working on dynamics customer engagement. So I’m super excited about.

Rick : Okay. Thank you. And JC, you and I have been talking about digital adoption for at least a decade. Tell the folks about your background and some of the books that you’ve written.

JC: When you and I started talking about digital adoption, people didn’t know what digital adoption or CRM or even some of the terms that people are using today.

[00:02:00] IT needs to be about building relationships, enriching ourselves about retention, adoption, and advocacy

JC: Right. So yes, I have been for the better part of the last 15, 20 years, worked with technology companies and have been sort of a mediator between the conversations that IT has with the business and business has with IT. Ultimately it needs to be about building relationships, about enriching ourselves, about retention and adoption and ideally advocacy.

And that’s what my books are about. One is speaking frankly about customer relationship management, which is not only the CRM technology we know, but also the customer strategy that we talked about, and the other ones about the psychology of relationship development. Love doing it. It’s very passionate about it.

Rick : Nice to be here today. So let’s kind of kick things off, you know, as we usually do, talking about the last couple of years and, you know, the disruptions that business have had. when it comes to relationships, customer relationship management, we’ve really pivoted from, mostly a lot of face to face business.

And we quickly changed to communications and learning through a technology interface. What did we really learn through this period? And JC we’ll start with you.

[00:03:00] We’re in a virtual environment

JC: I think we’ve learned a lot and we’ve learned very little at the same time. And what I mean by that is that I think that the impact of this change that we’ve undergone, not only to the  communication channels that we use, but how human beings.

It’s really front and center, but at the same time, it almost feels like we really haven’t changed our habits very much. And it almost feels a little bit like that queen song, right? Is this the real world? Is this, or is it just fantasy? And you were kind enough to send me the questions in advance, and I started thinking, Okay, what, what has changed?

What, what does the environment look like? And so I, I wrote some notes down, and this may crack you up. I’m being a little facetious about this as I respond.

First of all, we, we’re not really in the real world anymore. We’re in a virtual environment.

The methods that we used to engage are seldom ever engaging distractions have increased, but the resolution and HD environment that we live in has increased.

 [00:04:00] Everything has changed in the way we work, train, learn

So who we are in our world has been now put front and center. Our blemishes, our blemishes are being magnified being more displayed more than ever, in every possible way. Our outfits, the way that we decorate our house, interruptions have now been magnified. So, you know, I could go on and on.

I actually had like 20, 30 things to, to say everything has changed, right?

That really is the answer.

JC: Everything in both the way we work, the environment that we use. What traditionally had been sort of like, Hey, let’s find out how people learn. Are they auditory? Are they visual? All that has been kind of mangled and put in their face into a world that almost doesn’t feel like, like it’s a real world anymore.

And it’s almost like we don’t care how you learn. This is how you’re gonna get it right, isn’t it? This is your only choice.

Rick : Yeah. Yep. Good. Joachim, would you like to add anything?

[00:05:00] There are people behind the technology

Joachim: Well, I think that the idea of you know, removing face-to-face not just from our learning experience, but in so many other experiences that we are used to having, where, where there’s a person at the other end now that that’s a picture of a person and at best you have a, a camera that, that may actually illustrate, but there’s some movement at the other end.

It’s not zero pulse. I think that has changed the way that we think. To a last degree I can say that the best thing that happened to me during this period was coming back to the office, seeing there’s actually real life people behind all of this.

I think from a learning perspective I could see that the teachers were really struggling. With ’how do we actually do this using technology?’ It, it was like seeing Bambi on ice and every day kind of working like that. If the technology is not working, teachers were not sure how to teach, fx if they don’t have a whiteboard.

[00:06:00] Companies move fast into remote onboarding of employees

Joachim: I mean, I can’t do anything really. I think that the companies and the enterprises they relatively fast moved into saying, Look we need to be able to do onboarding of remote employees, which is a, a brand new thing for, for, for many people. We need to completely look at the methodologies that we are using and go not just virtual in the sense that we’re putting off a camera on the guy at the other end, but we need to completely reconsider how we do things.

But I agree that the underlying methodologies we are using, they haven’t really changed since Plato.

 [00:07:00] The online presence takes careful calibration

JC: I was just making a comment how I agree, how it is amazing that all the things that we started, like when, when some of this you know, technology came to the workplace and we were forced to.

We were so eager to say, Oh, turn your camera on, Change your virtual backgrounds, you know, engage in this way. And now we’re saying, No, no, don’t do that. Turn your camera off. Be careful what background you are using. Try not to be, you know, it, it’s interesting the, the turnaround we’ve had here in recent, recent time.

Rick : Yeah. It’s a certain fatigue. And then we go and JC and I have been doing CRM for a long, long time, so let’s kind of, you know, we, we talk a little bit about that and user adoption’s always been a problem, but now companies are saying, Well, I think we need this data to run our organization.

JC: I’ve always said that who we are as human beings, it’s still who we are as human beings, there are certain things that do not change, right?

[00:08:00] How we label technology

JC: We tend to label or name technologies with the names of things that are most significant to human beings. Is, which you know, is no surprise that over the years we’ve kind of called this technology, we’ve called it customer relationship management. We call it customer engagement management. We call it customer-centricity.

We’re now calling it customer experience. Right? Why? Because relationship engagement, centricity, or personalization, who we are as a human beings, our culture and things like that experience. Are very much a part of what we need as human beings to see value, right? When we come toward your company, I say, Okay, make this little calculation in my head and I say, What do I need?

[00:09:00] The cost of technology is not only monetary 

What is the outcome I expect? How much is it gonna cost me? And so, to your point, I think that we’ve kind of excluded the fact that the use of this technology, how we’re engaging people is costing them in. That is not monetary nature.

It comes in the form of lack of effectiveness.

It comes in the form of lack of functionality,

lack of ease, lack of accessibility lack of insight, lack of enjoyment, right?

Lack of human connection.

And so if anything, all this technology in our face has cost the customer who’s now a little angrier than ever to say. We’re still human beings and we have a certain expectation of outcome that you need to meet. Technology can enable that.

Rick : Do it, go do it, and fed up with it. Right. Okay. Thanks JC. Joachim, would you like to add anything?

[00:10:00] How user adoption issues have changed in the past 10 years

Joachim: I would really like to hear a little more about that actually. I mean, is you see that you are obviously involved in a number of different CRM implementations and you probably have the really interesting role between the business and the IT where you’re trying to facilitate this is are they, are the sort of the adoption issues that you’re seeing today, are they different than what they were 10 years ago?

JC: So they’re different from a delivery perspective, but I don’t think that they’ve ever changed. And so you know, in. Last time that Rick and I were talking about this we were talking about how any time that everybody brings up technology implementation, especially crm, they go back to, you know, 15 years ago when somebody said, you know, 75, 80 5% of CRM projects fail.

They don’t remember. Maybe, maybe we’ve kind of made it so much about CRM that they forget that the quote was about technology projects, implementation of technology. And that the quote wasn’t, that projects fail. As a matter of fact, from a perspective of project management, implementation, and completion of tasks that were on the statement of work, budget.etc

[00:11:00] Technology does not always meet expectations

Most of those projects were very successful, right? But then you go ask the people that this is supposed to do something for. Right?

JC: People that expect technology to make Easier, effective, functional, enjoyable for them. And the technology that makes that easy, enjoyable, functional, et cetera, for their customers did not meet expectation.

Right? And that’s what the poll says. And so, no, I think that, you know, like the saying says, the more things change, the more things stay the same. The more technology changes, the more we enjoy the advent of some amazing innovation, the more things stay the same.

JC: In that we continue to fail the user, the end user, the customer, the patient, the constituent, whatever it is in meeting their expectations that the technology is going to make their life better.

 [00:12:00] Getting CRM right when a project is failing

Rick : And so in JC, like we’ve got a lot of experience in the CRM world and you know, many projects, you and I would be called in because the project’s failing, right? It’s not going the way it should. And you know, we’re really all about getting CRM right.

 Q: What is the role and responsibility of the Microsoft partner when implementing these technologies around communications and digital adoption?

JC: Yeah, that, that’s a tough one, right? Because, you know, we, we think sometimes, and I, I had to borrow this from people are smarter than me and who are doing a lot of innovation in marketing, branding and messaging, but there’s a lot of great books out there that. What really is our role in the life of our customers and the life of the people that we serve.

[00:13:00] Partners should be mentors and guides in the story, not the heros

JC: We think often times that we are the hero of this story. Where in reality, we really should be the mentors and the guides of the story. Right? Story brand and the story Brand movement. Yeah. Has taught us that. Right. And so I think that it would serve partners well to remember that we are coming in and depending on the situation, right, you know, we’re doing a project right now, for example, where, you know, most of the, the product is sold through retailers and distributors.

And so they will, the customer, our customer, they want to make them the hero because they’re talking to consumers and selling products to consumers. So we have to be mindful going in that, that that’s what we’re doing it, right? We’re making it. We enable them to enable their distributors.We enable them to enable their consumers and their customers.

So yes, I think that that’s very important. There is a lot being done and, and I, I hesitate saying it’s being done because the reality is that, is that this is being around for 25 years. We’re just now incorporating into technology projects, but there’s a lot being done with human center design.

[00:14:00] ClickLearn allows people to help themselves

And there’s a lot of great things like what, you know, what you’re doing, what ClickLearn is doing to allow people to help themselves. Right? And so I think partners need to get into the idea of understanding people’s needs with empathy, ideating to make sure that they’re not, they’re not solving the wrong problem really well, because we do that a lot.

We solve the wrong problem really well all. And so human-centered design thinking can be a great place to bring people together and have conversations that address the right problem, right the first time. And then we can go innovate and we can use technology because technology is available to make those problems go away, or to dissipate them or mitigate them.

So yeah, that’s, that’s I think to, in my opinion, the number one responsibility of every partner is to be a guide to their customers so that they can be heroes for their customers.

[00:15:00] Partners need to hire people with the right skillsets to foster digital adoption 

Rick : I think one of the issues we’re seeing today is most of even some of the best partners, they don’t have these types of people on their staff that know how to do this.

This is a skill set that they’re gonna have to go out and acquire. Right. Because we’re just not used to doing that. We’re, we’re plumbers, right? We come in and we get the piping working, we get the water flowing, and we get the toilet flushing. And we don’t want to teach you how to take a shower. Right.

It’s all the other things around the plumbing that we’ve gotta be able to help with.

JC: Yeah. So let me share the one phrase that frightens every partner that I work with and it scares the heck out of them, but it’s necessary, right? I will usually start a session and I say, Let’s put technology aside for a second, and I can hear the partners heartbeat kind of accelerate.

[00:16:00] It has nothing to with technology

But it is a necessary conversation. We gotta talk about outcome, right? If I say I’m implementing crm, for example, CRM has the words ’customer’ ’relationship’ and ’management’.

So how are you gonna help them win more customers?

How are going to manage the relationship? And what are the processes that will lead to adoption, enrichment, and advocacy?

That’s got nothing to do with technology. It’s gotta do with outcomes. So yes, you’re right. It is a skill that we gotta learn. There’s great places to learn it. But we gotta do it.

Rick : Okay. Thank you. Are you okay with, Would you like to add anything to this?

Joachim: I think that all of the CRM projects I’ve, I’ve witnessed in my life, it must be probably the most hated technology out there, Right?

It’s the Donald Trump of all technologies.

Rick: I love CRM Joachim

Joachim: But it’s, it’s from every business. You never hear someone saying, Look, I gotta tell you, I really love our CRM technology. Yeah. I mean, no one ever says that, right? That’s, that’s but, but the thing is that I think that a lot of these ideas around what is the CRM going to bring to my business?

[00:17:00] Need to bridge the gap between data and users

They’re anchored inside top management, and they come from the idea that the amount of data we can get out of our clients will essentially serve us to new purposes, business development, product innovation, all.

And look guys, you’re putting, you’re making all these decisions and then you’re putting in the hand of the sales people and say, ’Now go collect that.’

That is no way making my day easier as a salesperson. Right. It just, you just made it 20 times tougher and you forgot to explain to me, Why am I collecting this? You, you didn’t even bother to tell me. Right.

And I think that that seems to be where, where there’s this distance between the people that are using it that normally hate it And the people that are actually using the data on the stuff that says, this is lovely. Right. I’m just, I’m all thrilled about this. Right. And I think we need to bridge that somehow.

[00:18:00] Don’t do work just to turn in reports

JC: It’s almost like we’re telling ourselves,  ‘People, Hey, be nice light and limber on this journey. By the way, on the way back, I need you to collect some rocks. I need a certain color rock on your way back. Keep putting it on your backpack.’ And people are like. No, how? How am I gonna stay limber if you’re asking me to collect all these rocks? And that’s what CRM feels like to a lot of people, right? It’s like they’re not doing anything to win sales or to keep customers or to retain them, or to encourage ’em to recommend you to others.

No. They’re doing a lot of work for you to, to run your reports. Yeah. That’s what they’re doing. Thanks.

Rick : Exactly. Yeah. Okay, gentlemen, it’s been a great conversation around communications and learning and our favorite subject crm. So let’s have a, some quick closing thoughts over to you first, JC

[00:19:00] Establish clear dialogues around CRM goals

JC: Yeah. On the topic of making life better for all of us, one of the things that I write about in my book is that you have to have clear dialogue, right?

What CRM is, how are you going implement it, and what are the business outcomes? One of the things that I emphasize all the time is you gotta let people know how they’re going to learn this. And so I think that is important that we do not abandon people in their learning journey, not only of what the outcome and strategy is for things like crm, but how are they gonna become accountable to a success by having the right amount of knowledge?

So I think if anything, I would say don’t exclude knowledge in your implementation and planning process, both for the end user and for your teams. Knowledge is power. .

Rick : Okay. Thank you. Yoki, any closing thoughts for today?

Joachim: Yeah, I think that one of the things that really comes to mind when it comes to CRM are the constant changes we are making in the way that we are getting smarter around the data that we are collecting inside the CRM system. We can see these constant changes happening in the CRM.

It’s not staying the same for very long. There’s the new data points we need. We need to restructure some of the data points we collected earlier. So we are doing a lot of stuff. And I think that one of the ways that we can help people is actually by making that knowledge around what have we changed available inside the application.

[00:20:00] Digital adoption supports a consistency in work and work processes

Making sure that, you know, when I’m doing my daily work, a quote, I’m actually guided through that process, right? No matter if it’s on Tuesday where you put in three data points, or it’s on Thursday where you took in three more, right? It this, this needs to be a consistent way of working. I think that’s where a digital adoption support comes into play.


Knowledge is power. Don’t abandon people on their learning journey.