Onboarding a new tool (regardless of whether it’s a leading enterprise quality assurance platform or something else), can be a highly stressful affair for everyone involved. Do it right, you have a shiny new tool that will help you keep delivering great customer service as you scale. Do it wrong, and you might find yourself with an expensive new product that no one wants to use. In this article, we take a different approach than the usual “5 steps you need to take when onboarding” or an onboarding process checklist. Rather, we breakdown the mindsets of the parties involved, to help you be more deliberate the next time you need to onboard a new tool.
Onboardings usually go awry for the same few reasons:
People naturally resist change.
Think of the times when a new Director or VP brought in a software/cloud platform that they had used at their previous company and insisted that the team use it. Would the existing tool have worked? Probably, but it’s not the one that they’re used to, and they’re calling the shots now.
(And if you’re a VP/Director who has tried to implement a new platform recently, you might have been frustrated by their resistance to get on with a platform you know will translate to great increases in efficiency).
Both parties are showing a natural resistance to change from the platforms and workflows that they are used to, and are simply being human. Keep these biases in mind as you plan your onboarding, and it will help you to get buy-in from the various stakeholders.
A soft launch usually means a belly flop
The actual launch is another opportunity for things to go massively wrong. After all the training and anticipation, it’s easy for a less-than-stellar launch to burst the bubble for everyone involved. Often, if the value/impact of the new tool is not immediately obvious, the team that you’ve worked so hard to convince might end up disillusioned about the actual efficacy of such a tool. For example, if they’re unable to see the immediate impact of moving off from spreadsheets onto omnichannel QA software, they might be forgiven for wondering what all that hassle was for. You’ll want to be extremely deliberate about planning your launch - here are some steps to take to ensure that your onboarding goes smoothly:
You can’t understand what someone is going through until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, said every motivational poster ever. So put on the trainee’s trainers (haha 👟). Figure out their pain points, needs, the resource crunches they’re facing, and what they’re giving up (in terms of time, energy and effort) in order to be there for this onboarding program. Attending an onboarding might mean a team has to work doubly hard to clear the backlog in customer tickets that accumulated in the queue as they sat in the conference room with you. If this is true, maybe offer multiple training sessions around shifts, so that people can choose the one that works best for them. Putting yourself in your teams’ shoes might help you catch other assumptions you’ve made about training that aren’t true. One such assumption: “this section on building a QA scorecard is straightforward enough, they should be able to get it”. It’s easier to be the person procuring the program. You’ve had the benefit of many demos and train-the-trainer sessions, but might not be as true for a Quality Assurance Specialist who is using the tool for the first time.
The mindset: empathize and check your assumptions before creating that onboarding checklist!
Lean on existing vendor training materials for you customer support team
Most SaaS vendors have a really well-thought-out implementation and onboarding plan that works for a wide swathe of their customers. Evaluate what’s available, and see if it fits your teams’ needs. These materials might be good enough for your needs, but there’ll be times you’ll need to...👇
While the implementation plans provided by the vendor might be a good place to start, no cookie cutter plan is perfect. Consider the following things:
- Does the material comport with your company’s culture, especially its culture around learning?
- What is the gap between vendor-provided materials and your current call center training guides?
- Can existing learning tools (LMSs like Lessonly or Articulate) be used?
- Is it worth repurposing, or completely redoing training material in your company’s voice and learning tools?
The Iconic, a fashion retailer site based out of Sydney, went the extra mile doing this. Taking the existing onboarding documentation provided by the MaestroQA team, they produced lessons on Articulate for each type of role, and replaced the (deliberately) generic examples and nomenclature with things that would resonate better internally.
The mindset: how can I make this process as tailored to my company and our existing processes?
Run a User Acceptance Test
UATs are opportunities to test a new tool in a smaller, controlled environment, and make the necessary adjustments before a full rollout. It usually goes like this - a small team starts using the tool, and gives the necessary feedback to the vendor and the administrator in order to have the tool plug seamlessly into the existing workflow during a full rollout.
It also helps with team-wide acceptance – if people hear from a coworker about a successful experience they’ve had, they’ll be more excited than if the vendor-appointed trainer is telling them how much a tool will change their lives.
The mindset: how can I build as much trust and acceptance with the users through a phased rollout in which we collect feedback from people along the way?
Here’s what you need to look out for to ensure that the full rollout is a success:
We’re getting there! UATs are usually one of the last steps before a full rollout.
Keep initial engagement high
One of the most important factors of success is the engagement rate. When initial excitement dies down, are people ultimately still logging in and interacting with the platform in the intended way? Good habits are patterns of behavior. Focus on finding ways to make sure users are actively engaging with the tool early on - this will pay dividends later when that muscle memory has been built!
Deliver results and build proof
The only thing more powerful than getting UAT users to advocate for the new tool is having the main user base experience how good it is for themselves. A great way to show this is through metrics - they are an easy and objective way of visualizing the impact the tool has had on the team.
If you’re onboarding a Quality Assurance tool, consider a few of these metrics:
Re-evaluate and improve constantly
Onboarding a new tool is tricky. A poorly-executed plan can leave your users disillusioned about the tool you’ve just spent months to test, procure, and implement. It might even mean you have to go back to the drawing board way earlier than you (or your vendor) expected! While every company has its own processes and needs, the mindsets surrounding each step of the onboarding process are the same.