Friday, September 14, 2012

Overcoming critical barriers to CRM adoption - Part #2: Training

This blog series summarise the three barriers identified in a recent “High Impact CRM” blog post, and provides ways businesses can overcome them. You can read the full blog post here.

Part #2: Training
“Effective CRM training is crucial to get users on board”

User adoption is extremely important for businesses that are investing in a CRM system, particularly if they are investing for the first time. Typically, your staff will be used to doing things a certain way and the prospect of learning a foreign system can be quite daunting for them. As such it is important to get end users involved so that they understand why the CRM system is in place and how it will benefit everyone. When users fully accept a new system businesses will find that they are more motivated to use it.

One of the best ways to get end users involved is via training. Below is a brief analysis on the main types of training businesses use:

  1. Do it Yourself (DIY)
    This is the option that many small businesses take, particularly if price is an issue. In most cases the business would have had a one-on-one demo with the vendor and a demo trial of their own to get familiar with the product which would have provided an overview of the basic features. In addition to this businesses may also choose to refer to help menus, online forums, demonstration videos and user manuals which are available for most of the popular CRM solutions.

    Having a DIY approach to training might be ok if the business has a small number of users, say 1-3, however it can be time consuming sifting through the resources to find the information you are looking for and and the end of the day you don’t know what you don’t know. Businesses that take this approach are less likely to be using their CRM to its full capabilities: staff are likely to be less motivated to use the system and might not be using it in a way that is beneficial to the business (e.g. not recording activities, or storing information in the wrong place). Unfortunately the impact of this is not usually experienced until much later, if at all.

  2. Buy the Book
    Some CRM systems have a variety of training resources available for purchase (such as the Quick Study Guide for Sage ACT!). These resources typically provide a complete overview of the CRM and puts all of the information in one place making it easier to access and search for the information, although this can still be quite time consuming and still may not motivate your staff to use the system to its full capabilities.

    In addition, one of the key downsides of both the DIY and Buy the book approaches is that they only focus on the “how do I?” and do not address is the “why should I?”. Often there will be many different ways to perform the same task and businesses may not always be aware of which one will benefit them the most. This is why vendor training is the most effective.

  3. Vendor Training
    Training by a vendor that is an expert in the CRM system you have implemented is one of the best ways to ensure end user adoption and is necessary if the business has significantly customized the database and/or has unique business processes or business rules that must be followed.

    Effective training goes beyond the simple “how do I do this?” approach and instead focuses on educating your staff on the company goals and training them on the procedures to meet those goals. Although this is something that someone internal to the organisation could do, having a vendor do this provides a neutral “hands on” environment where staff are more comfortable engaging and asking questions. Businesses can also benefit from the vendors experience and can be confident that they will be educated on the best way to do things, which may differ from what is found in help forums or publications.

    This method of training, when done immediately after implementation, is also useful to ensure that your staff get into good habits from day one.

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