For many companies deploying hosted Unified Communications (UCaaS), it may seem that getting employees on board should be simple. We had phones, now we have a new phone system...everybody should be up and running and using it in no time, right? If reports on employee usage and adoption of UC are to be believed, many companies are not seeing things play out that way. For many workers UC represents a significant shift in the way they do business and telephony is only one of many applications included in a UCaaS solution stack.
Ensuring that employees are sufficiently engaged and trained on their UC platform has a significant impact on adoption rates and is an important indicator of whether a business realizes a return-on-investment on their implementation.
According to Bill Balvanz, the Customer Operations Coordinator with ANPI, a UCaaS solution provider specializing in helping small and medium businesses, the way businesses address employee training is a key component to a successful deployment. “Companies that place a high priority on employee engagement and training are much more likely to have happy employees and a high level of user adoption,” says Balvanz. “Surprisingly, convincing them to strongly commit to training is not always as easy as you’d might think.”
The Basics of UCaaS Employee Training
Unless things work out perfectly from a geographic perspective (i.e. your UC vendor is based out of the next town over), most companies should expect that their employees will be trained on their new UCaaS solution online. Be sure to look into your vendor’s approach and insist not only on a buttoned up methodology for live online training (webinars), but also great documentation, videos and self-service training for new employees and workers that are looking to start capitalizing on additional functionality. According to Balvanz, at a minimum there should be three levels of training provided depending on the company’s and user’s needs.
Everyone Gets Basic Phone Training
Using a UC system for basic phone calls can be slightly - or significantly - different from what users are used to. According to Balvanz, “Each employee should participate in a 20 minute webinar that is customized to their model of device and the company’s desired processes and walks them through the basics of placing and receiving calls, putting calls on hold, transferring calls, setting up and retrieving voicemail, setting up additional numbers to dial through to and other traditional telephony features. If they are unavailable, as an alternative, self learning through self directed video can also suffice.” In a best case scenario this training can be arranged to take place after the new phones have been delivered and installed but a day or two before the trigger is pulled to transition to the new system. “This approach allows employees to become comfortable with the new phones and hit the ground running on day one. And for goodness sake, if Sally in accounting has been at Ext. 41 for twenty six years, don’t make her change extensions...just assign her extension 41 on the new system. Make it as easy and comfortable for users.”
Power User Training
There are many employees inside companies that will take advantage of more capabilities offered by the UC platform. These are business people that may need advanced mobility features and training, or may need to connect to multiple hunt groups or are part of the contact center. “These trainings need to be specific to particular employees types. Receptionists have different requirements that contact center workers,” says Balvanz. “Covering what a call looks like coming into a hunt group, reviewing mobility features, going over presence management and IM, looking at using a soft client on the PC and reviewing web conferencing and conference calling are all critical components of getting employees collaborating and communicating effectively.”
Administrators need to become adept and setting up and tearing down users, reassigning extensions, moving devices, maintaining the company directory and the myriad other aspects of maintaining the system. Getting these key team members proficient on managing the overall system is an area where face-to-face training can add real value.
Training By User Type Creates Personalized Approach
“It is important to start identifying user types as early as possible...even as early as the sales process,” says Balvanz. “Looking at ways to train employees with the same role at the same time allows for customization of the training and users get a lot more out of it.” For example, getting all the salespeople on a webinar allows for a focused training covering applications specific to their role like mobility features, a heavier focus on web collaboration or the ability to seamlessly work from home or a hotel. The same approach can hold true for customer service employees, executives or remote workers.
Integrate Use Case Examples Into UC Training
“Personalization goes a long way to increasing UC adoption,” says Balvanz. “I’ve heard thousands of use case scenarios while training hundreds of companies, many of which I would have never thought of myself. I love working these into the trainings and asking users to imagine more.” These can be as simple as walking a front desk worker through how to forward all calls at lunch to someone else, or as complex as working with a remote team on how to use presence management and IM to set up group chats, conference calls and a web conference for collaboration. “Training should be about making sure employees have all the knowledge they need to utilize the tools and be as efficient and productive as possible.”