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Blackbaud CRM™ Series - The Care and Feeding your CRM part 3: The New Face of User Support

The third and final part of our 3 part series: The Care and Feeding of Blackbaud CRM™

After go-live and as your CRM matures, ongoing nurture and support will help keep your system healthy, and its growth manageable. A solid system support plan sets you in the right direction toward stability. We have already touched on application support in previous posts, so here let’s look at the caregivers who help the CRM grow.

It is common to see the implementation team become the application and user support teams once the go-live smoke clears. What better resources to troubleshoot and answer questions than those who are most familiar with the decisions that were made, and the system that they helped to build? User support teams engage with your organization’s staff at the moment they need help, feel frustration, or want to explore the system. Beyond that, these caregivers nurture system adoption, encourage data integrity, monitor use, and understand your system in action. Organized support is critical for CRM to thrive.

Be Prepared - Practice CPR

The best place to begin planning for, or overhauling, your support structure is to get organized. Requests, complaints, and questions are constant after go-live and throughout the life of an active CRM. Identifying a way to Collect, Prioritize, and Respond will keep you on top of communication with your users, and will give you the tools you need to analyze system usage in the future.

  • Collect – Consider a ticketing system, rather than a dedicated email inbox. Many ticketing tools allow you to categorize requests and questions as they come in, monitor the time to resolution, and log the answer for future reference. An email inbox may work at first, but may quickly get out of control without a way to assign or delegate work, or prioritize longer-term requests.

  • The best way to manage incoming communication is to quickly assess the request or problem as soon as it comes it. Immediate categorization will help you understand who should follow-up, if further discussion is needed, and where this might fit in the priorities or roadmap.

  • Prioritize – If not an urgent matter, tickets can be gathered and reviewed on a regular basis to assess urgency, priority, and the categorization assigned during triage. Many organizations will share a summary of this information with their governance committees, especially when considering the Roadmap.

  • Respond – Always, always respond. As soon as you can. Users are asking questions, reporting inconsistencies, or are frustrated. They are reaching out for help from the Support team, and the best thing you can do is to respond. Even if the answer is not clear, letting the users know that you are thinking about the question or working on the issue will assure them that they will get help.

Enrolling in School

User training does not end at go-live. In fact, your training plan can include a post-go-live support phase, and even ongoing training options. Keeping users engaged with the system means giving them tools and resources to continue their CRM expertise.

  • Onboarding training – Of course, newly hired staff or changing job roles require that the core training is offered in perpetuity. These courses must be sustainable, so that you don’t have to rely on the organizational teams to provide system training. Consider a consolidated version of the full user training suite, or even a job role-specific training program. If a group of Interns or a new division requires training, a more tailored offering might be needed. Supplemented with information from the teams and on-the-job learning, consolidated courses should be sufficient.

  • Refresher courses – Offering options to the existing staff to refresh their understanding of a part of the system (Query, Marketing, or Memberships, for example) will keep them engaged, and reduce the questions that may arise. Many processes are performed infrequently, so remembering the steps involved can be difficult. With a library of in-person refresher courses, videos for common questions or processes, recorded webinars, and job aids, users have access to more on-demand training to supplement their go-live curriculum.

  • Advanced training – As CRM matures, so will the users. With that, comes an appetite for more advanced functionality. Offering less frequent, more advanced training options to those hungry users will give them the ability to grow in their own job roles, and even assist others. Advanced Query and Export, and Marketing Effort training are common next-level courses. (Don’t forget about yourselves, though! The Support Team can expand their own expertise to include Page Designer configuration, business processes such as Global Changes, and Attribute or Smart Field configuration.)

  • Peer-to-peer forums – Training does not have to be classroom style, or facilitated by a Support Team member. Those who have deeper expertise with CRM, or those who have recently completed more formal training on a feature, make excellent coaches for their teams or peers. Many times, users are better able to understand functionality when explained within the context of their job roles or teams, and encouraging veteran users to lead forums for other staff is an excellent extension of your Support Team.

Super-users and their roles

Speaking of extending the Support Team… Consider the users who frequent your advanced training classes, request valuable enhancements to CRM, or emerge as peer leaders as your advocates in the field. Leveraging staff who are eager and interested in CRM will help your organization drive adoption, keep others engaged, and triage issues with more context or more quickly. Identifying a small group of Super-users either before or after go-live, and involving them in the Change Management and User Support processes, will ensure that users have a voice and you have a sounding board for engaging users going forward. Super-users can assist teams with complex processes, provide subject-matter expertise for Roadmap work, assist with engagement strategy and brainstorming, and represent the Support Team when needed. Keep in mind that they primarily represent the users, and although feedback might not always be favorable, it is always valuable to understanding how CRM is maturing.

Continue to push for system adoption

Support is not merely answering questions, or fire-fighting when issues arise. The concept of support extends to fostering an environment of success with CRM. System adoption is critical to collecting the right data in the right places, so that you can use that data to create a better fundraising experience for your donors. Communication, training, and peer support create an environment that encourages experience, expansion, and enhancement to make CRM work for you. Support represents the growth and life of CRM, and becomes a framework for successful teams.

If you are ready for the next phase with your CRM, please give our blog a try, or reach out to say “Hello!”

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