End user training is really underrated.
That’s because of two reasons.
One, organizations are so engrossed and consumed by the software implementation process that the post-implementation process completely escapes their mind. As more and more businesses switch to SaaS products, the implementation situation is easing but still very minimally.
Two, more than a third of the workforce in the United States are millennials. Of these, the significant chunk are people aged 18 to 24 years. By virtue of their age, most of them have only recently joined the workforce. Obviously, it also implies that millennials are most often the end users and vice-versa in a lot of organizations.
But these reasons are wrong on so many levels.
On the contrary, these are the very reasons undervaluing end user training is a mistake.
Above everything else, orgs have that one thought. These are new age SaaS products, how hard could it be to use them? They are, by design, supposed to be easy to use and implement.
Another wrong presumption.
It’s obviously not that companies don’t want end users to be productive on new applications quickly. It’s just that end user training is so underrated, there isn’t a lot of planning or effort driving it.
Mind you, there is sometimes a lot of money driving it. But so far, end user training efforts can’t really be quantified or measured for the returns they have routed.
Again, it’s just the confidence that end users will find their way around with a little bit of initial help. Consider Salesforce for instance. The CRM giant itself says end user training is critical to successful adoption but consistently hears clients strike that argument off.
“We don’t need a user adoption plan, our project is already well-organized and will be easy to implement,” is what Celia Bass, Salesforce Education Architect for EMEA, often hears from clients when she talks about end user training and adoption.
It’s easy to have such a belief due to multiple reasons.
Celia Bass recounts a story about an unnamed client who, during implementation, said, “My whole team are very motivated and will adopt Salesforce easily.” But later, the same client apparently came back saying nobody was using Salesforce in the company.
That was because everybody probably knew what Salesforce was for. Maybe they were a little excited as well.
But once they logged in, they simply had no clue what to do.
Obviously, without any direct support, revenue hungry sales guys wouldn’t waste hours figuring out how to use the platform. Maybe they could do that for the long term benefit but the short term is as important in sales as is the long term.
In fact, user adoption is said to be the second biggest problem end users face with Salesforce, after issues with data quality. More than 60% users have an adoption problem.
This problem isn’t unique to Salesforce or ServiceNow or Oracle Cloud applications alone. This is a problem across all SaaS products.
We know this because we, at Whatfix, work with hundreds of different companies who face very similar problems of end users being unable or unequipped to leverage all the capabilities of a software product.
For instance, we have a really big client who had implemented the HR platform Connexys, which was used by more than a thousand internal end users. The company had an initial training session designed and delivered by the implementation consultant.
But after a period of time, the company realized that most end users were only getting the basic tasks done. They weren’t leveraging the advanced features, which, was the reason the company implemented Conexys in the first place.
If end users weren’t leveraging all the features, then the company wouldn’t be able to realize the ROI on the platform.
Defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it?
So this company did only half the job (before they approached Whatfix).
To be honest, there are a lot of smart companies out there who do figure that end user training is important.
But figuring is not enough. The second part of the job is ensuring that the actual benefits of end user training are realized. It’s about ensuring that end user training results in the achievement of the overall objectives of product implementation.
By far, CRM and HCM implementations are the most complex in the application stack of any company. Product vendors often exhort customers to focus on end user training but the plans they provide are often too sketchy.
Salesforce, again for instance, asks customers to design, develop, deliver and measure. The recommended formats are still a blend of instructor led and self-paced learning.
But, who is going to do this? If the entire organization is new to a software product, who is going to design, develop and deliver the training?
Maybe someone within has to learn from the vendor.
Maybe the organization asks the vendor directly to do something about spurring adoption through an end user training strategy they already are using.
Maybe, if its a complicated product, they get an implementation consultant to deliver the training as well.
What’s the chance any of this will work? Too much probability involved.
Before all of that, will any of this work with millennials?
Nope. Not really.
Two of the defining characteristics of the millennial generation are:
Actually, not just millennials but everyone who is used to technology have developed these characteristics.
So, end users aren’t going to be overawed by a complex product and patiently wait for the design, develop, deliver stages to complete. They aren’t going to attentively sit through classes.
They have sales targets to worry about. They would rather work with spreadsheets than spend a lot of time in end user training.
But, hey, aren’t we saying end user training is really important?
Yes, we are.
So, the question is how do you get the job done? Which is the second part of the job, yes.
The big boon and bane of the digital economy today is that it’s too fast and too competitive. Every moment counts in the quest to beat the rest.
But what organizations often forget is that their employees and internal end users are also consumers of other brands. They have high expectations from brands.
But, how can it be that they would rate the customer experience very highly when it comes to using other products but wouldn’t really mind a bad experience when it comes to work.
It is important to remember that the experience of an application extends much beyond it. It extends from the product to the support, the implementation and the end user training as well.
End user training is a product touchpoint too. Organizations need to realize that and invest more in it. Maybe vendors need to invest, maybe customers need to invest in it. There is a case for both.
Be that as it may, the situation is vastly different now. Orgs need to treat employees like customers and really factor in experience into every strategy they devise.
Product vendors invest in their energies in the product, implementation partners invest their energies getting the implementation smoothly done. They don’t invest their energies in
You might trust your instructor or text/video based training strategy because the product vendor or the implementation partner designed it for you.
But here’s why you shouldn’t always: it simply won’t work because your users have moved far ahead.
Any touchpoint which provides a bad experience is a no go zone for millennials and the workers/consumers of this age.
And end user training for product adoption is an extremely important product touchpoint for end users.