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Don't Forget People Piece of New Technology Deployments

portableWe heard the word "experience" a lot last week at Enterprise Connect 2017 in Orlando, Fla., mainly in terms of either a user experience or a customer experience. The discussions centered mostly around the use of technology in creating a favorable experience.

But technology is only one aspect of a user experience. I believe that taking the time to create and implement a good end-user training program is an essential step in rolling out new technology in a business environment.

Last fall I was working with a client that implemented new contact center technology. Roughly two thirds of impacted users worked in a department that required they attend training. All supervisors attended training as well. The day before the new system went live, these supervisors reviewed key areas of the training with the agents. Once the system was up and running, the supervisors were in constant communications with their agents, making sure they were comfortable and able to perform on the new system.

The remaining third of the users worked in a department that put little emphasis on training. Few supervisors and agents attended training classes, and supervisors did not review the changes with agents before the cutover. When the new system came up, agents had many problems in areas covered in the training classes (that they did not attend). The supervisors were unable to help their agents because they didn't have the knowledge needed. Calls stacked up, and it was a rough day for everyone.

Help desk tickets told the story: The group that didn't put the effort into training was less than half the size of the other group, yet had twice as many tickets. Both groups were using the same technology; the difference was in the training and support for the change.

Yes, some people think that the technology should be so easy to use that training isn't necessary. "You don't need any training to use your smartphone -- you just use it," is typically the argument. This logic overlooks the fact that your smartphone is a personal device. If you don't fully utilize its capabilities, you're really not impacting those with whom you interact.

In a business environment, most employees spend a significant amount of time interacting with each other and customers. Thus the impact of an untrained user can be much more significant than it is in personal use. In the example above, the lack of training had a negative effect on the department as a whole and on the customers calling in.

I have often seen organizations spend money on technology that is intended to improve productivity. But sometimes they fail to follow through on training, and this leads to a failure to achieve the potential productivity boosts or other benefits of the new technology.

We need to recognize that the failure of some users to adopt technology can have an impact on the organization as a whole. For example, information about a user's presence is only useful when it's accurate. With sparse participation, users soon learn that the presence information for many people is not current and they cease to utilize it.

As the industry moves toward the exciting possibilities that are opening up with the introduction of the latest technologies and capabilities, we need to remember the people component and have plans to make users effective in the new environment.

"SCTC Perspectives" is written by members of the Society of Communications Technology Consultants, an international organization of independent information and communications technology professionals serving clients in all business sectors and government worldwide.

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