Over the years many wonderful CRM systems have been built, but rather less have been used, or at least used in a way that generates significant value. Persuading people to use CRM systems in a consistent and structured way, over a prolonged period of time, is challenging. While user adoption is about a lot more than training, training is a key component. If you can get the training part right then everything else is a lot easier. The trouble is that providing effective CRM training is a lot more involved than is often appreciated. The following are a couple of under-appreciated elements that can have a huge influence on adoption.
Focus on process – a lot of CRM training is functionally oriented. This field tracks x, this field tracks y, if you click this button this happens. Functionality though adds value when it’s used to support an organisation’s business processes, and therefore training has to be delivered in that context. So if, for example, one of the supported processes is lead management, we need to convey exactly how the system will be used, by whom, in order to log a lead, score it, route it, track it, develop it, report on it, close it etc. etc. This comes right down to which buttons to press, which fields to fill out, which pick-list values to use for each step in all the processes and sub-processes which will be in place to improve our management of leads.
The problem is that this requires a deep understanding of both the out of the box technology, the processes, and the unique customisations associated with the system. As I mentioned last week, external trainers tend to be knowledgeable about the out of the box technology and internal trainers knowledgeable about the process side. Whichever delivery approach is used, it’s important to ensure that all dimensions are covered if the user adoption of the system is to be effectively supported.
Training has a sales dimension – one key aspect of the training process is to persuade people that the system is worthy of their time and interest. In other words training has a selling role. A critical part is to convey both the WIFM (what’s in it for me) dimension, as well as the broad benefits to the overall organisation (which hopefully in the fullness of time also benefit the user). Not least of the reasons is to conquer the ‘big brother’ objection that stalks many a deployment of CRM technology.
But when we consider how we use CRM training to promote the system more effectively to users, then, rather like any successful marketing strategy, there are many different facets. While what is said is important, so too are more subtle elements such as whether the system is still buggy during the training phase, the quality of the training facilities, the level of documentation, and the willingness of senior executives to sit in. These unstated aspects may indeed have more promotional value than what’s more directly communicated.
If organisations are going to achieve more with CRM technology, then understanding and addressing the challenges of user adoption is essential, and CRM training is a key link in this chain. When organisations start to evaluate their training approach in the context of how it can maximise user adoption, rather than seeing it as a mundane tick-box activity, then it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting.