The insider secrets of hosted telephony adoption

The secret to the successful introduction of new technology is not to be found in the ease of implementation, but the rate of user adoption. It doesn’t matter how good the technology is on paper, or how smooth the installation went. If nobody is using it, or they are using it in the wrong way, then it will fail to deliver value to your business.

Here at DMTWC we think hosted telephony can expose you to the chill winds of technology adoption failure more than most other technology purchases. Why? Because everyone thinks they already know how to use a telephone.

You’ve probably been making calls since Santa delivered your first Fisher Price telephone, and therein lies the challenge. Most users will consider themselves experts in the art of making a phone call. How difficult can it be right? You pick up the phone, you dial a number, if you’re lucky you talk to someone for a while, then you put the phone down to end the call.

The trouble is, this is a very narrow view of the telephone in today’s connected world. A modern phone is as much a productivity tool as it is a communications tool. The real value of a feature-rich hosted telephony solution comes from all the other clever “stuff” that surrounds the phone call itself.

In many cases, it can take a sustained and dedicated effort to help people rethink the traditional relationship they have with their phone in order to unlock the potential behind it. So the question is: How do you overcome years of learned behaviour and change the way your users think about their phone?

It was Dale Carnegie who said “people support a world they helped create”. Whilst it sounds obvious, a successful project starts with a group of engaged stakeholders. When all is said and done, you want to be able to say “you asked for it and we delivered!” (Oh, and we’ve also given you loads of cool stuff you didn’t think to ask for).

If you haven’t done so already, get the users, administrators and managers on board wherever you are in the process. If you think you’ve missed somebody out, it’s never too late. This could just be the catalyst for change that you need. Remember, don’t ask them what they need their phone to do as their expectations on that are already set –  ask them how they would like to communicate and what challenges or frustrations they would like to overcome.

Not everyone is the same, so don’t treat them like they are. An individual’s role within the business will have some bearing on how they use the telephone, so don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone’s needs are the same.

Experience tells us that there are at least three ‘telephone personas’ in every organisation: the mobile worker, the home-worker and the office worker (you may also have contact centre workers too). Each of these user groups will have a unique set of needs and a wish-list for what they want from a telephony system.

Don’t forget, behavioural change is typically driven by the pain or pleasure clause; where either the suffering or the reward is great enough to motivate change.

What’s in a name? Neuro-linguists would tell us that what we call something has a major impact on how people perceive it. Stop calling it an implementation and start calling it an adoption. After all, implementation only takes a couple of weeks, adoption could take much longer. It’s important for your users to understand that the project is not complete until everyone is up and running and in love with the new system.

Although it may take you out of your comfort zone, you may need to tap into your inner salesman and move the conversation away from IT to user benefits. Don’t stop selling until the deal is done! How will you know when it’s done? You will be hailed as the new hero of business productivity and borne up on the waves of admiration.

If the spotlight isn’t for you, then find another cheerleader. Someone in a senior position who is not burdened by self-doubt and can become the face of the project. But don’t think for a minute that this lets you off the hook.

If you’re not the cheerleader, you’re going to have to become a super user – and between you, you will need to recruit other super users and cheerleaders across the business. Once you have assembled your elite group of super users, you can deliver consistent training across the organisation. Here are a couple of training tips we’ve picked up over the years:

Everyone loves a good story.

We’ve found that a great way to make this technology come to life is by telling stories. Create characters that look like your customers or internal users and use story-telling to give the functionality some context. Create a day-in-the-life story for each role that clearly shows what can be achieved.

Start small.

Break the functionality down into modules and deliver the training over time – module by module. Trying to deliver it all at once is destined to fail as you will overwhelm your users. The best training is delivered in bite-sized chunks over a number of weeks.

Celebrate small successes..

Yes, it’s a telephone but that doesn’t mean the first time that someone seamlessly moves a conference call from their desk phone to their mobile at the swipe of a finger while leaving the office isn’t both a success and a fantastic story worth sharing. Celebrate the cool stuff that makes a difference.

Don’t panic, you are not alone in all this. If you’ve chosen the right technology partner, they should be stepping up to the plate and helping you drive adoption. For you, this is not something you do very often, but for your partner it should be something they have done hundreds of time before. Leverage their experience, learn from the mistakes they have witnessed and replicate their successes.

After all, your partner has a stake in your success. Make sure they are by your side, walking the floor, creating cheerleaders and shaking their pom-poms with the best of them.

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