Architecting a CRM Ecosystem for Seamless B2B and B2C Integration
Method is a successful SaaS start-up that focuses on delivering customizable CRM tools powered by a no-code platform and a two-way QuickBooks sync engine.
Navigating Growth and Tackling B2B Limitations in Method CRM
Method CRM was originally architected to integrate seamlessly with QuickBooks Desktop and later QuickBooks Online, which naturally led the product to serve a particular workflow. However, we recognized that the current architecture that provided a seamless integration, imposed limitations and complexity especially for our B2B clients.
Faced with the challenge of adapting to this growing sector, we saw the need for a strategic overhaul of our apps, workflows, architecture, and user experience design.
This case study unpacks that transformation, exploring the pivotal decisions and designs that enabled us to cater to the unique needs of B2B small businesses continue to serve the needs of the B2C businesses.
Product Manager, Product Designer, Developer
Limitations of a B2C-Centric Relationship Model in a B2B Environment
In optimizing Method CRM's two-way sync with QuickBooks, the platform developed a one-to-one relationship model between contacts and customers, which was inadvertently more tailored for B2C interactions.
Sales reps in B2B small businesses found this model especially limiting when attempting to add multiple contacts under a single account. Not only did the complexity arise in setting up these B2B accounts within Method, but also in quickly locating and managing the numerous contacts linked to these accounts.
How could Method CRM be re-engineered to better facilitate B2B workflows, all while maintaining the integrity of the QuickBooks sync that is very important to our users?
Everybody Deals with Constraints
Foremost among these was the need to maintain seamless data synchronization with QuickBooks, a critical component for our clients' accounting books. This necessitated a cautious approach to ensure that any changes in data architecture wouldn't lead to inaccuracies or inconsistencies in financial reporting.
Additionally, our solution had to be flexible enough to be constructed within the confines of our existing no-code platform, which serves as the backbone for all apps created within Method CRM.
KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS
Here’s How We Defined Success
User Adoption Rate for B2B Features
Monitoring how quickly and how many B2B users are utilizing the newly introduced features can indicate the success of the redesign. A significant uptick would validate the UX changes made to cater to this segment.
Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) for B2B Users
Post-implementation, measuring the CSAT specifically for B2B users can provide direct feedback on how well the new features are meeting their needs. An improvement in this score could serve as a strong indicator of design and functionality success.
Churn Rate of B2B Clients
Observing the retention of B2B clients before and after the changes will indicate whether the new features are compelling enough to keep these businesses engaged. A decrease in churn rate for B2B clients would be a positive sign that the adjustments are effective.
Keep an Eye on B2C CSAT
Make sure that our changes do not impact the CSAT of our existing B2C
In tackling the multifaceted challenges inherent in B2B relationship management, our solution serves both the sales process and QuickBooks integration.
By facilitating streamlined data entry and relationship management, the restructuring empowers sales representatives to navigate complex account hierarchies with ease.
Enhanced filtering and sorting features cut down the time needed to identify key decision-makers, thereby accelerating the sales cycle from initial contact to closed deal. Simultaneously, the solution's seamless integration with QuickBooks ensures that financial data remains consistent and accurate, minimizing the risk of errors and inefficiencies.
The end result is a robust change that elevates user experience and productivity in equal measure.
Let's Get to Work
Uncovering the Gap
What obstacles do users encounter when managing B2B accounts within Method?
What challenges are inherent in the current contacts management feature?
What cognitive frameworks do our clients utilize when managing B2B relationships?
How do organizational strategies diverge when dealing with B2B versus B2C interactions?
What expectations do they have regarding workflow customization and flexibility within a CRM?
How do our clients use companies app today?
How can we make companies app more effective?
For users who do not have companies app, have they built something similar?
Dovetail User Interviews Board
Initiating the process through user interviews
To narrow down the expansive scope of this project, we initiated the process with user interviews. These conversations helped us pinpoint critical pain points, which then informed our competitor analysis and the examination of existing customizations. This targeted approach enabled us to prioritize impactful solutions, accelerating the research phase as we aim for swift, meaningful improvements.
I gathered sufficient data to guide architectural and user flow modifications. Among the multitude of findings, this section will concentrate on the key insights that most significantly influenced our critical changes.
Talk to B2B business owners, sales managers, sales reps
How other CRMs that integrate with QB enable users to manage B2B accounts effectively
What customizations have our users implemented in order to solve this problem
Contacts change companies so often
Users frequently engage with businesses that operate across multiple locations, often finding that their contacts are dispersed among these various sites.
Identifying primary contact in an account is essential
Users need an Account-based CRM instead of Contact-based, enabling them to efficiently manage a relationship with an account that has multiple contacts with streamlined and intuitive overview.
B2B small business relationship heirarchy
From the user research, it became clearer how the B2B small businesses -that use Method as a CRM tool- manage their relationships with those businesses.
In order to win one deal, a sales person -one or multiple- will interact with different individuals within the same organization, because they have different roles and have different impact on the decision making.
All ideas are good ideas!
Collaborating with the product manager and developer to explore solutions derived from the key insights and the product's constraints.
Recognizing the need for expedient testing and validation, our focus narrowed to high-impact solutions that could be swiftly executed, striking a calculated balance between transformative potential and feasibility of implementation.
However, we did not overlook more complex, high-impact initiatives; these were earmarked for quick validation, setting the stage for incremental implementation via agile sprints.
Introduce New Flow
Our primary objective was to transform our brainstormed ideas into tangible, "quick and dirty" prototypes. The emphasis on speed and simplicity in these early-stage prototypes enabled us to assess the viability of our proposed solutions more efficiently. This approach also provided us with a framework for confirming whether we were indeed "building the right things" and "building those things right.".
User Testing Results
What we learned from our quick test?
While users successfully completed all assigned tasks, the task of adding a company received relatively low scores — averaging 4.0 for ease of use and 3.8 for observed confidence. Considering the simplicity of this task, these scores indicate ample room for improvement in the user flow.
On a positive note, users gave favorable feedback regarding the feature for adding contacts under the specific address of a parent company.
However, they also reported that the flow for adding a company felt too protracted. Users suggested that contacts and addresses are typically added incrementally as sales representatives continue to cultivate relationships with those accounts, indicating that the current flow could benefit from streamlining.
After synthesizing insights from our user testing, we executed a refined iteration of the solution and recognizing the expansive scope of the project—which entailed adjustments to both architecture and user flows—the team came together to define the Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This collaborative effort allowed us to identify a streamlined experience that delivers immediate value to our customers, also sets the stage for continuous improvement, enabling us to gather additional user feedback to prioritize and implement future refinements.
Quick Add Company
Based on user feedback, we streamlined the process of adding a company, addresses, and contacts. Now, users are presented with a 'Quick Add Company' modal that focuses solely on capturing the company's main information.
This design choice facilitates efficient data entry, especially useful during phone calls or other quick interactions, without overwhelming the user with multiple fields at once."
Add contacts to specific address
When account managers or sales reps wish to add a contact, they can do it now in the context of the business and they are presented with a dropdown list of all business addresses already on record. Selecting an address automatically associates the new contact with that location. This streamlined process empowers sales reps to effortlessly manage relationships across different locations, simplifying their workflow and aiding in the successful closure of deals and opportunities.
Find the contact you need quickly and easily
Since now the contact grid is introduced within the company view, I added quick filters for attributes such as company location, title, etc... These filters allow sales reps to swiftly find contacts and pinpoint decision-makers or other key individuals for follow-up. This feature streamlines the process of identifying and managing important relationships, thereby accelerating the sales cycle.
What I'd Do Differently
If given the chance to revisit this project, I would invest more time in early-stage user testing. We focused heavily on refining the hierarchy between company, site, and contact information—a feature we deemed critical. However, more iterative testing early on might have pointed us in a different direction or refined our approach, saving us both time and resources in the end.
The next phase of Method CRM's development will certainly involve fine-tuning user flows, particularly in account management for B2B clients. We're also considering enhanced features that cater to specific needs within the small business sector, such as invoice management and reporting. With continuous improvement in mind, we aim to offer a product that consistently evolves alongside our users' expectations and needs.
This project illuminated the necessity of clear team communication and role definition. When we began, we all had different levels of understanding of the CRM landscape and UX methodologies. It wasn't until we clearly allocated responsibilities and streamlined our communication channels that we started to see rapid progress. This highlighted the value of establishing a strong operational framework from the outset, a lesson that has since become foundational in guiding future projects at Method CRM.