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End users - the forgotten foot soldiers of CRM success

End-Users - the forgotten foot-soldiers of CRM success

Too many CRM projects fail and in doing so, the business experiences an overload of wastage – mostly time and money.

Time spent fixing the problems could have been avoided very easily and the money that has walked out the door in lost sales…well…

This leaves the people, from the CEO to the end-user frustrated, confused and frustrated again.

The major reason for the failure particularly after the project goes live is because users do not use the solution.  Users do not use the solution because, to them, its better the devil we know; however, this doesn’t help your organisation move with the fast-paced market that you are in. And as a result your organisation will certainly not be getting the expected return from the business intelligence that the CRM solution is expected to deliver.

If this is you then it is time to ask again what your CRM Solution is meant to do.  What results do you want from it?


Steven Covey said “Begin with the End in Mind” – ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People – habit two’.

Begin with the end in mind - Steven Covey: Seven habits of Highly Successful People


If we assume that the ‘end’ is increased quality customer interactions which lead to increased new and return business then you will need motivated, confident, willing users of the new CRM solution, to leverage your CRM solution to the max. What you don’t need is users who attend training as a ‘ticking the box’ exercise, but who ultimately do not know the intricacies to make the solution work for you.

Your investment into high quality, on-going, end-user training is paramount, it is essential to the ROI of your investment in the CRM Solution and the subsequent projects.

High quality, on-going training is the difference between a successful CRM project and an unsuccessful CRM project. It is that simple. Why? Because training can ensure that people have the knowledge to use it. The difference between the high quality, on-going training is the knowledge AND confidence which develops high level expertise - consistently. And this is what you need.

WIIFM - What are you listening to?

One problem that many organisations face is that people can rarely be forced to use a new solution. This means that there has to be a benefit, a motivator, to a user to switch over to the new solution. Remember WIIFM, or what’s in it for me, it is part of human behaviour to search for the advantage. If we assume that the solution was designed and then implemented with consideration to how the users work, then training needs to ensures the users can use the solution – CONSISTENTLY.

High quality training shows users WHY the specific tasks or processes are important. It also explains WHAT the structures of the CRM are and how they interact; WHAT happens when the process fails or something unexpected happens; HOW to fix the problems and very importantly HOW TO prevent problems arising in the first place.

Now the most crucial element of high quality, on-going training is that you have external experts readily available to help and support the end-users and your organisation to achieve the results you have set out to achieve.

High quality training delivered by Opsis uses the well-known teaching methodology 4MAT in all training to assist the learners, making it easy and simple for them to digest ensuring they gain the most from every session. This is because we take the learner experience seriously, understanding that people have different learning and thinking styles. For your convenience, the essence of 4MAT is shown in the diagram below.

4MAT - a brief summary


A CRM solution is like a car. It needs drivers. It might be powerful, it might be packed with features, but if it's going to take you anywhere, it needs a driver. Preferably a driver who's passed a test - someone who knows the rules of the road (for example, how your business enters a new account / client); how to change gear (what to do if an order needs amending), and how to read the dashboard for warning signs (which KPIs to check for your business).

And even more, someone who has done advanced driver training, who can predict a likely danger and take preventative action before disaster hits.

  • Do the drivers of your CRM know how to really use it?
  • Do they know how to prevent problems from arising?

Sadly, all too often the answer to these questions is NO. The good news is that most users do not need to know how to build the CRM solution, or how to do a database backup or how to modify a workflow or how to turn on (or off) auditing or any one of a million more skills that are important to the technical people.

These examples are equivalent in a car analogy to teaching a learner driver how to replace the engine, or how the car was built.

What is important is for them to know WHY they are doing the steps that they are doing and they know how to recover when something does not happen precisely as expected.  When they can do this consistently, you know that your CRM drivers are confident and competent in delivering what your CRM solution is meant to deliver.

And the answer is simple - Train End-Users on the CRM, processes and tasks they will use!  This means that user training must be developed for each organisation ensuing their processes and their data are incorporated throughout the training.  Generic end user training is a contradiction.

An example from Microsoft Dynamics CRM training

If we are teaching a session on Advanced Find it would look similar to this:

The why is the introduction and explains the usefulness of being able to find records in the system in a variety of different ways.

This is followed by the what, which would explain that Advanced Find is a querying tool, that enables us to structure questions of the database which bring back a set of data that is a few rows and a few columns of data.

The how will be the detail:

  • Where do we find Advanced Find in CRM?
  • How do we structure the various different ‘questions’ using different query operators and for different data types?
  • What do we do to get specific columns in our answer?
  • How do we save a query so we do not have to recreate every time we need it?

The what if / what else would look at topics like why we do not get the data that we expect and how we could deal with this.  It could also look at other uses for an advanced find query, for example in a dashboard.

Basic Principles of End-User Training

Your end-users should be trained on your Dynamics CRM, with your data which the users use in their day-to-day work. This means that they are familiar with it and do not waste time ‘translating’ it to their world.

The training should focus on the tasks that each user will be doing so the user is not asked to make the leap from what they see and do during the training to what they need to do in their role.

The training should explain where each task fits into the overall business process and why each task is important to the organisation as a whole. Once people grasp this, there is a massive reduction in errors.

For teams large or small, fully-trained team leaders or 'power users' who can act as champions for your CRM are hugely valuable. These people must understand the why and what if what else of the solution as well as the how.

Training should include practical tasks which users are required to do in their day-to-day work. For this reason, all participants require a computer with CRM already available.

Quantifiable outcomes should be set before the training so that success can be measured. These measures should focus on the desired outcomes, rather than whether the participants enjoyed the training.

Mistakes commonly made with end user training

Most of the mistakes make in end user training are made in the guise of saving money.  In fact, these actions usually cost the organisation money and may even lead to complete project failure.

Cancelling training completely, usually because other aspects of the project have overrun their budget, leads to confused users who are very likely to quickly return to their previous way of working, because that works for them. It also leaves users feeling demotivated and unvalued.

Senior management uninvolved – if the users are to embrace the use of CRM, they need to see their management using CRM. When this does not happen, it creates a ‘do what I say, not what I do’ environment. To counter this, management do not have to participate in every session, but should be seen to be involved in the training, perhaps by introducing each session and then being able to talk to team members about the training.

Sitting with Nellie refers to ‘training’ where a user is just shown a task by another user.  Typically this will become – click here, type this, do that style training. Even if the ‘trainer’ does know the perfectly correct way to perform the task, it is rare that the reasons why and the exception cases will be included. And when we add to the above that the ‘trainer’ may have just muddled their way through, with a bit of sitting with Nellie for themselves, it is easy to see why this is so ineffective. This style of training is not only ineffective, it gives training a bad name, so it is harder to get permission to deliver high quality training later.

Trainers not experienced in training – this error is unexpectedly common. If someone is train something effectively, they require three areas of knowledge:

  • The material to be covered in the training;
  • Additional material which may be used to put the agenda material into context, or to answer participants’ questions;
  • The ability to communicate and to transfer the skills and information to learners of all types.

Surprisingly, the most important of these is the training and communication skills. The least important is the knowledge of the material to be covered.

Timing. There are many aspects of the timing therefore is tailored to the needs of the organisation. Below are some timing considerations.

  • User training needs to be delivered close to the time that the users will start to user the skills gained in their real work. Training that is delivered a long time before it is required, will be forgotten when it is finally needed. Training prior to a go-live of new solution such as CRM should be no more than a fortnight prior to the go live, and less if possible.
  • Training itself is delivered in a timeframe so that participants have enough time to complete the practical components. The training schedule allows time for people who learn in different ways to get the information in the ways that work for them. This means that there must be time for visual presentations, for spoken discussion of the topic, for the participants to talk about the subject and for the hands on practical exercises. Different people learn at different rates and in different ways, so training that has been condensed, either to save money or in the mistaken belief that users will fill in the gaps on their own, is ineffective.

A couple of shorter sessions are nearly always more effective than one long session.

  • Packing too much content into one session so users leave with a feeling of overwhelm. Plan each session to allow enough time to cover the material that is covered in the session.
  • Training sessions must be run during the normal working time of the participants. Assuming that people will come in early, or work late, (usually so more sessions can be fitted in) usually results in people arriving late or leaving early.

No computer so no practical. Most of the topics covered during end-user training aim to teach the participants how to do a task. This is impossible if the sessions do not allow for practical exercises. This requires a computer running CRM for each user.  Imagine learning to drive sitting in the back seat while someone else drives, or worse, by reading a manual!!

There have been occasions where users do not have computers and management have given their assurance the users will do the practicals later.  Do not fall into this trap because once back in the workplace, more important things (to them) arise so then the training has been a waste of time and (your) money.

Groups too large Each member of a group of trainees needs time to have their questions answered and should not be made to feel awkward or that they holding up the rest of the group by asking their questions. This can only be achieved by having groups that are small enough so the trainer can easily engage with each member, not just from the front of the room, but by providing high quality interactions with them as well.

Let me share a short story. I vividly remember one training session that I gave where the group was so large that three training rooms had been opened into one wide room. And several members of the group could not see the whiteboard because they were so far away. Not surprisingly, there were members of that group who felt ignored and did not get the value from the course.

Not relevant to the role – Training needs to be relevant to each user. This means that each group of participants need be from a similar role in the organisation. When people who perform different roles (therefore require different skills) are placed into the same training group, which commonly happens because more focus is given to the training timing than the participants’ needs, the irrelevant material will bore, or worse, confuse the participants.

Copy-me training – this is training where the trainer steps through a process and the users simply copy the steps. With this training approach the users get short term feel good factor, because they reach the end of the task. However, because most of their concentration will have been on where to click next or what to type, they will be unlikely to recall the steps taken and even less likely really understand the process. This means that they have completed the session, but the training will not transfer back to the workplace.

At OPSIS we are 100% committed to high quality, on-going training that delivers the knowledge, and knowhow for your organisations CRM Solutions end users. This means you gain the results you want consistently in much less time, increasing your ROI so much sooner.  Contact us contact us on 02 82 1234 80 to discuss your Microsoft Dynamics CRM training requirements.


4MAT explained a little further

The Why and the What if parts of the diagram above speak to the right brained people in the group, the people who are creative, intuitive, curious and artistic. These people tend to like the ‘big picture approach. The What and the How parts of the diagram speak to the left brained people, the team members who are logical, scientific, rational and analytical. These people tend to like the detail. As educators, we want to develop ‘whole brain’ people; people who can move around the 4MAT diagram with ease. For this reason, as well as to cater for individuals where they are now, we should include all aspects of 4MAT in all training.

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Opsis is an expert Microsoft Dynamics 365 consulting company. Our focus is your Microsoft Dynamics 365 success - not licence sales or billable hours. As Principal Consultant, Gill oversees all business operations and strategic planning and execution, yet she still believes in offering personal attention to each and every client, so as to understand their needs and offer tailored solutions.  We are based in Sydney, with clients in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and across Australia.  We offer Microsoft Dynamics 365 strategy, Microsoft Dynamics 365 scoping, Microsoft Dynamics 365 implementation, Microsoft Dynamics 365 technical support, Microsoft Dynamics 365 advice and guidance, Microsoft Dynamics 365 training and mentoring.