Melissa Swartz | No Jitter | May 13, 2015

Getting people to change the way they work is not always easy; people need to have a reason to change how they’ve always done things.

I was recently on a call with a client and an industry analyst, and the client asked if end user training would be necessary when the new communications technology system was implemented. To my surprise, the analyst said, “No.” The theory was essentially that the new system should have a user interface that is easy to use and, like a smart phone, users should be able to figure out how to use it on their own, without training.

While I certainly agree that systems should be easy to use, I think that the smart phone analogy is faulty. Smart phones are an individual tool; they are not necessarily part of an eco-system. Yes, you can install apps that increase interaction with a selected group of your BFFs, but that doesn’t make it the equivalent of a corporate communication system.

Today’s enterprise communications technology has many capabilities that can enhance the way people work together. However, features like presence and IM are not valuable until they are used by many people within an organization. And getting people to change the way they work is not always easy; people need to have a reason to change how they’ve always done things. This is where end user training comes into play.In order to get full use (and full value) from an investment in new communications technology, people need to use its capabilities. User adoption is critical to improving productivity with these tools. While some users will figure things out on their own, most will need training to understand and utilize the capabilities.

Sadly, training is not a priority in many places. Vendors will often propose a “train-the-trainer” method, rather than training all of the end users. This often leaves end users with diminished, second-hand information delivered by people who don’t understand the full capabilities of the new system. When vendors do provide training, often it’s training that:

  • They’ve done the same way for everybody
  • Has not been developed by someone with a background in training
  • Is not customized to your environment

Tips for Successful User Training

I recently worked on a system deployment with a client who did an excellent job of end user training, and they can serve as a great example of how to ensure training is effective. The company has a staff member who is responsible for user training, and who has background and education in training adults. Here are some ideas to try with your users:

  1. Schedule a “preview” training class. Have the trainer conduct the first class with a small group of helpful influencers who are expected to provide feedback and input on the training quality. They can help the trainer determine what points to emphasize so that the class can be adjusted to better fit your particular enterprise’s environment.
  2. Keep in mind that adults have roughly a 20-minute attention span before some sort of break is needed. A break can take the form of a change in speakers, a switch from a speaker to a video, or the insertion of an exercise that requires user participation — for example, having trainees transfer a call.
  3. Allow the students to practice on live phones rather than having the speaker purely demonstrate the features. The more actual practice users get during the training, the better they will be able to utilize the system once they get back to their desks.
  4. Be sure to point out which capabilities can make life easier for the users. In other words, give them a reason to change how they work.
  5. Provide examples of how the use of certain features will impact the caller’s experience.
  6. Select key capabilities and train users well on these, even if this means not training on some other features. Layer on training of additional or advanced capabilities later, if needed.
  7. Deliver good support on day one, as this is crucial to reinforcing what users learned previously.
  8. Provide resources (user guides, links to educational videos, etc.) to help users find answers to questions that arise as they learn more about the new system. Make sure the materials accommodate different learning styles, since, for example, some people learn better by reading while others learn better by watching a video.

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