Two months ago, MyCustomer.com took a look at the most common calamities to befall organisations in their attempts to train their staff on CRM systems.
With the help of a team of experts, we identified six pitfalls that can prohibit successful CRM training. And make no mistake, CRM training is absolutely critical.
With research from the National Computing Centre (NCC) reporting that as many as one in three companies think their CRM rollouts have delivered only limited benefits, organisations need to get their training right if they are to avoid underperformance from their CRM systems.
For this reason, we’ve called our expert team back for advice that forms to a companion piece to our original article, and delivers top tips to ensure your CRM training is a roaring success.
So without further ado, here are our 10 top tips for CRM training.
1. Get ‘buy in’ from the whole organisation
“A key part of the CRM training and education process is to guarantee that people ‘buy into’ the system, the benefits it can deliver personally and its role in providing a more holistic view of their activities across marketing, finance, customer services and sales,” says Karen Ainley, commercial product manager for Sage’s Lower Mid Market Division. “Secure the ‘buy in’ of the whole organisation, from individual users’ right up to senior management. Having the whole company bought into the project will deliver better results by ensuring that all parties are working towards the common objective of improving the performance of the business.”
2. Training should reflect process
“If you are going to use CRM as more than just a basic productivity tool and drive more value, then you need to use it to support key operational processes,” says Richard Boardman, founder of Mareeba CRM Consulting. “So for example, one of the things you might do with your CRM systems is locate our customer base in a more personalised and targeted way, with a view to increasing the amount of products and services they buy from us. Once you have that as a strategy, then how you use the system to support that becomes a lot more demanding.
“You need to be careful about the quality of the data that you add to the system, for instance, you need to monitor and check it, you need to have some processes around people who opt out and some processes around what you do if you get a returned piece of mail or a bounce back. There’s all sorts of information you’re going to need to capture about contacts and organisations if you are going to target your communications correctly, like distinguishing between people who have bought certain products but not other products. And therefore there is a lot more process that goes into how you manage and update the system in order to do that and so as part of your training you need to explain not just how the software works but also how they are expected to use that software to support the organisation’s processes.”
3. Get key stakeholders involved early
“Get the key/super-users and end-user trainers involved early,” says Darron Walton, MD at De Villiers Walton. “Key / super-users need to be engaged at the design stage and the end-user trainers no later than the user acceptance testing phase, preferably sooner.”
4. Don’t limit it to classroom training
“The problem with classroom training is that some attendees are not going to soak it in - they’ll have their minds on other things, they’re on their Blackberrys or they’re called out on an urgent call,” says Boardman. “There is an underlying assumption that if we train people, they are going to go off and use the CRM system in a consistent and systematic way. But that just doesn’t happen. So in the background you need to be monitoring people.
“The normal approach is people only address issues if someone is screaming ‘I don’t know how to use this!’. They people help them. But there is a much larger group of silent users who aren’t going to cause a fuss but aren’t going to use the system. So you need to take a proactive approach to say ‘is he using it, monitor his usage patterns, yes or no, and if he isn’t then we are going to actually book a meeting or drop by his desk and take some proactive measures to ensure he is trained up’. There are a number of ways to do this but the underlying thing is to proactively go out and find out who is using it and who isn’t using it and have a strategy to address the non-users. I’m a great fan of having people walk the floors and drop by people’s desks and find out if there is anything they are struggling with. That is a very effective way of servicing training issues that people are experiencing.”
5. Use training to establish good practices – particularly regarding data input
“If a rollout of new software is being undertaken, then this is an opportunity to establish good working practices right from the outset,” says Samantha Kinstrey, managing director at 2e2 Training. “This can be as simple an ensuring that data is always entered in the same format; for example, that names and addresses are always entered in Title Case (CRM systems are databases, and some databases read data entered in different cases as different records, so JOHN SMITH would not be the same as John Smith). Data can often be entered into a CRM system in different ways, so a best practice rule may be to ensure certain data is always entered in the same window in the same way.”
6. Don’t overlook the management
“The management are in a position where they can avoid it – they are very busy people with a level of authority, so it is not difficult for them to determine that there are better things for them to be doing. But it is a bit of a mistake when that happens because they are not really in a position to monitor if their team is using it if they are not fully au fait with the software themselves,” recommends Boardman. “It just sends out a message to the rest of the team that maybe they don’t need to engage in the process. So it is very important to pick up that group and make sure that they do attend training and to back the training programme, particularly that middle management layer, that is a key battleground for user adoption.”
7. Train users on how to use the system to get their job done
“Start by ensuring all users are trained on how to get their job done in the system,” advises John Cheney, founder and CEO of Workbooks.com. “If its sales people, make sure they can track leads and activities and build a pipeline forecast. It is important to tailor the training to your organisation so it is the most beneficial to the business. Explaining that ‘opportunity records’ can have different stages is not that helpful. However, explaining that in your business ‘stage two deals are in the pipeline measure’ and ‘stage three deals are in the management forecast’ will help users understand the business context and therefore deliver the best possible chance of success.”
8. Develop training in conjunction with the user acceptance programme
“Whichever training method is undertaken, it should be developed in conjunction with any user acceptance (UAT) programme that is scheduled before rollout of the software,” recommends Kinstrey. “As the purpose of the UAT is to test business processes on the new software and flush out any anomalies, then it’s a sensible approach to develop the training along the same lines. Assuming the UAT is successful in ensuring all the business processes work as expected, then the training programme should meet with the same result. The UAT can also help to develop the scenarios best placed for the training, and the staff levels that need that specific training.”
9. Ensure the system that users are trained on is that which they will be working on
“Where possible, train on the system you will ultimately deploy and ensure that any amends or bespoking to the system has been carried out prior to the training to maximise its relevance. Two CRM systems based on the same product can look and feel entirely different,” says Ainley.
10. Ensure training is an ongoing process
“Organisations need to recognise that you need ongoing training,” says Boardman. “It is amazing how many don’t. Maybe they start off with the best intentions in the world, but for one reason or another it doesn’t happen. It is surprising how few organisations bear in mind maintaining the long-term value of their investment in CRM technology by making sure training is topped up on a regular basis.”