Why synchronize CRM with email? A CRM user adoption perspective.

By Peter Charnock, General Manager – Asia Pacific, Riva CRM Integration

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have proven their value in delivering on three business pillars; revenue growth, productivity, and customer satisfaction. Yet, despite the phenomenal global success of CRM systems most analysts estimate year one adoption of CRMs reaches only 50%. What would be the impact to CRM Return on Investment (ROI) if this figure was closer to 100%?

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Global CRM user adoption statistics:

  • Lack of user adoption is cited as the primary cause of 70% of failed CRM projects (Forrester Research)
  • 47% of companies reported serious challenges with user adoption that often put projects in jeopardy (AMR Research)
  • Only 31% of companies reported user adoption of 90% (Accenture CSO Insights)

Best practices to maximize adoption and ROI

Based upon my experience with eight in-house CRM implementations spanning the sales, service, and marketing departments, I’ve formed a personal view of “best practices” which maximize CRM user adoption and ROI. These include process efficiency and data access (online and offline). Creation of a single-source of customer truth is also an important consideration.

Why synchronize CRM with email?

As we navigate the Internet of Everything, sales and service teams expect their data be no more than a click or tap away, and their routine business processes requiring only a drag and drop or tap. Available anywhere, anytime, and on any device including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Yet CRM implementations frequently require sales and service teams to enter 2-3 times more data into multiple locations in the CRM and email systems. Unless you are in the office 100% of the time, access to data and processes may be restricted. Many devices and platforms may not be supported.

We must question why CRM implementations have not become “device agnostic” with comparable access available from any device, any time – requiring only a tap or drag and drop.

Best practice: Process efficiency

CRM implementations typically mandate that client-facing activity be captured, monitored, and reported through CRM. These include creation of leads, opportunities, and cases. Best practice in CRM synchronization with email allows a user to create a lead, opportunity, or case with a simple drag and drop in the email client – from any desktop, laptop, smartphone, or tablet device. Common functions that users require include:

  • Drag and drop an email to create account/contact in CRM, archive email to CRM
  • Drag and drop an email to create opportunity, account and contact in CRM, archive email to CRM and record actions in CRM activity history
  • Drag and drop an email to assign to opportunity/case in CRM

Best practice: Speedy data access – online and offline

Use of email clients is ubiquitous, representing one of the dominant means of sales and service team’s communication with prospects and customers. Best practice in CRM synchronization with email allows users to view key data from CRM, in their email client, and from any device, online and offline.

Typical information sales and service teams need to view include:

  • Details of sales pipeline, including opportunity name, opportunity value, sales stage, close date, win probability
  • Details of assigned cases, including case ID, client, case description and status
  • Details of upcoming appointments (sometimes from other team members) with the client organization

And when it comes to “heavy-lifting” tasks such as updating opportunities, cases, accounts, and contacts, best practice allows users to open these items in CRM with a single tap or click from directly within their email client. This functionality requires that the appropriate CRM client be available on each device and utilizes the normal security permissions of the CRM.

Best practice: Single source of customer truth

My view of CRM implementations is that they must contribute effectively to creating a single source of customer truth. Paradoxically, email systems contain a plethora of dynamic customer data which can provide critical value to customer-facing relationships. This includes new contacts, new email addresses, and appointments. Best practice in syncing CRM with email should achieve:

  • Automatic capture, creation and linking of new contacts, in CRM, as a result of email recipiency, CC and/or BCC
  • Automatic capture, creation and linking of new contacts, in CRM, as a result of meeting invitations
  • Automatic linking of contacts and appointments based upon team structures or other internal/external relationships defined in CRM

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

It is worth noting that, with the growing adoption of server-side synchronization, the hidden costs of client-side plug-ins can now be avoided. Server-side synchronization also provides a more robust and easily configurable platform at a fraction of the TCO of client-side plug-ins. Some of the benefits of server-side synchronization platforms include:

  • No client-side plug-ins to install on each and every device
  • No client-side plug-ins to configure and support
  • The ability to monitor and trouble-shoot all devices, remotely


Synchronization of CRM with email is a requirement for any organizations and can play an important role in CRM user adoption. The benefits of CRM with email sync are typically felt by customer-facing sales and service teams. In addition to facilitating CRM user adoption, CRM sync with email allows sales and service teams to improve client interactions and provides organizations with best practices in process efficiency, business agility, and data governance.