More than one year ago I decided to continue my personal and professional career in Germany and since then I enjoy every day the life in the country. Having said that, it is unlikely that the weather will be as good as in my home country (Spain) but I accepted that fact a long time ago. I have always been fascinated about the German culture and traditions and sometimes I simply enjoy by observing their daily tasks. I like to understand the German routines and I had the feeling that they love coffee. My thoughts were corroborated when I check that Germany appears in the top 10 countries with the highest per capita coffee consumption. And here is where the story begins.

Last year we successfully implemented a CRM system and users had to learn new ways of working. But change is not easy; you are asking people to give up something “old” for something “new”. People do not like change. Talking from personal experience. I clearly remember when the EURO was introduced in Spain. I was 10 years old and every Sunday I used to go to the local shop to buy sweets with my pocket money from my mother. At the beginning I did not like the change; I was extremely surprised (shock)! Then I did not want to believe that I could not pay anymore with pesetas – the local currency (denial). I was truly annoyed because I did not want to get used to a new currency and I could buy less sweets with the same amount in EURO (anger). Then I discussed with my mother if she could increase the weekly payment to compensate the currency exchange (negotiation). Finally came the day that the local currency was not accepted anymore and then I was very depressed, I had to convert mentally the money from the old currency to EUR in order to understand the value of the items (depression). Then I learned that either like or not, that was the new payment way (acceptance). Soon after that, I started to see the benefits of the new currency and I thought that I would not have to take care of currency exchange for my school trip to France (problem solving).

All of us experience change and all of us go through the stages reflected in the Change curve (shock – denial – anger – negotiation – depression – acceptance – problem solving). The change curve is a popular model used to understand the phases of personal transition and organizational change. I invite you to reflect on this, think about a change that happened in your life and how you reacted. The key is to be able to move from the first to the last step as fast as possible. There are many ways to support individuals to move through the curve and communication is the most effective way, more specifically two-way communication. You have to understand how people feel with the change and what is important to them.

From the beginning of the CRM project, we built the vision together with the future users. What is CRM for us? Why do we need CRM in our organization? What are the most critical sales processes? Engagement from the beginning helps to move smoothly through the different stages. During the implementation of the CRM, we defined the processes together with the users to ensure that their expectations were met. Following the implementation, it was very important to gather honest feedback from the users.

We wanted to create an environment where users could feel confident sharing their first experiences with CRM. And what do Germans love? Coffee! What do they even love more than coffee ? “Kaffee and Kuchen”. This is the German tradition of having a slice of cake with a nice cup of coffee in the afternoon (By coincidence one of my favorite traditions since I love baking and cakes). Based on this, we decided to host a CRM Café to allow CRM users to give open feedback about their experiences so far. The Word Café methodology is an effective way of hosting dialogue from a large audience. It is important to set up the right environment with small tables covered by tablecloth, maybe some flowers or music. We decided to host our event in the canteen of our premises.

We started the workshop with a warming introduction and invite all participants to enjoy “Kaffee and Kuchen”. Each member had a group assigned and we established five coffee tables. In each table we discussed a specific topic related to CRM and every 15 minutes our colleagues were moving to another table (with the exception of one member who was responsible to share the feedback with the new group). I am very satisfied about the engagement of the participants in the workshop and I would like to say thank you to all of them. All the collected information was analyzed and measures have been established whenever and action was needed.

It was so successful and sweet that I can promise that more CRM Cafés will come!