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No Permission Slip Required: Why Highland Values CRM Training ‘Field Trips’

Highland's custom CRM trainings give our team invaluable insights into our clients' systems and encourage us to stay curious

A massive Blue Whale Skeleton towering over the crowd at the Natural History Museum in London.

The Blue Whale Skeleton towering over the crowd at the Natural History Museum in London | Photo by Tuguldur Baatar on Unsplash

As a Senior CRM Specialist, I am often asked if I get bored with my job. 
In my role, I configure customer relationship management (CRMs) for clients. I use the same software for most of them. Many of my clients do similar work to each other, and their CRMs regularly share some similarities in both the design and in the way they are used.

Some people might imagine my work is too much of the same day-to-day, that it isn’t personally challenging using the same set of software, and the same type of clients, for multiple projects.

While the mechanics of creating systems remain the same and have a familiar routine to them, the variety of our clients’ industries and how they want to use their CRMs keep it interesting. Our clients have unique personalities and working styles, which also helps to make the projects stay fresh and engaging.

And, I get to take field trips.

A row of school buses lined up on the side of the road on a bright, sunny day.

Remember the excitement of seeing buses lined up before a field trip? | Photo by Darran Shelton on Unsplash

“We’re Going on a Field Trip”

As a grade school and middle school student, a field trip was always something to look forward to. Signed permission slips, piling onto the school bus that may or may not break down en route to our destination, and the “special” lunch that included a can of soda wrapped in foil. Not only did we get to avoid any school work, but we got to discover special exhibits at a museum, explore the outdoors at a forest preserve, or go behind the scenes at a factory and see how a product was made. One of my favorite memories of a factory tour as a middle schooler was to the Nabisco Bakery. I mean, cookies, how could that be bad? And they gave us samples to take home with us!

Grocery store shelves lined with Nabisco cookies including many varieties of Oreos and Chips Ahoy

Reminders of a childhood fantasy field trip | Image via Getty

Custom Trainings for Our CRM Clients

After building a CRM, our specialists are here to help you train your team on your new system. Each training is customized and specific to the client’s users and the systems we’ve built for them. Our trainings are interactive and include demonstrations, user workshops, and even homework.

We are especially attentive during training because we want everyone using the new system to feel comfortable navigating it, and the first few weeks of use are critical to user adoption. We cover techniques like filtering, searching, and how to use the mobile app. We strive to have the users prepared to work in their system at the completion of training, and subsequently log them into the production system near the end of the training.

If the client chooses to engage Highland to train their users, a trip might be planned. I have been fortunate to train users in the United States, Europe, and Asia. These training trips, while rewarding in themselves, often include visits to showrooms, corporate offices, and manufacturing plants for myself and my colleagues who are also involved in the training. In other words, a field trip.

Our Highland value of “Be Curious” is put into action during these trips. We work closely with our clients, learning their business processes, and tailoring them into their CRM. On these field trips, we get to see the reasons behind what we build—and it is especially satisfying.

Some field trips I’ve taken in the past:

  • On a visit to a gift card manufacturer and distribution center, I had to wear borrowed steel-toed shoes in order to look at the manufacturing floor. The open-toed sandals I arrived with were not OSHA compatible.

Yellow and white sparks shoot out from a machine working on a metal sheet.

Sparks fly as metal is machined | Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

  • I saw a piece of metal machined into a drum. I watched as the steel moved from one machine that bent it into a cylinder, then closings were added, and it was painted a shiny red, which signified its intended use.

  • A metals company let me hold a disk of platinum worth thousands of dollars in my hand. I had to go through multiple detectors and tests to get in and out of that building!

A person wearing black and blue gloves holding a handful of raw platinum that looks like small, rough, grey stones.

Raw platinum | Image via Getty

  • The same client required us to take safety tests before we entered different buildings; some of the chemicals they worked with were caustic and our safety was important to them.

  • Did you know that only the backside of your lenses is cut according to the specifications of your prescription? I learned that as part of my tour of our client’s glasses factory where they made frames and filled prescriptions.

Only the backside of your glasses is cut to your prescription | Photo by OhTilly on Unsplash

Only the backside of your glasses is cut to your prescription | Photo by OhTilly on Unsplash

  • Have you ever been impressed by a store display for its use of space or the clever way they highlighted a product? All that design is tested out somewhere first, the perfect clothing rack, shelving for kitchenware, etc. I’ve wanted to “shop” the client's test rooms, they were so impressive.

  • Some clients' offices are just simply cool. Especially if they are in the business of designing something for their customers, their offices often reflect a creative ascetic, and getting to see and work in them, however briefly, is a treat.

A windmill in Holland, the view from a client's window.

The view from a client office in Holland | Image from Patty Leeper

There is Always More to Learn

By going on training field trips, we get to dip into the same curiosity we practiced when we were kids hopping off the school bus and opening the doors to a cookie factory, history museum, or nature center. We get to meet the people behind the scenes, observe the products being created, and learn more about how those products are used. We get the invaluable opportunity to study the services our clients offer their clients and gain a better understanding of how everything intertwines.

One thing I have found is true of all of the field trips I’ve taken is the delight displayed by the clients opening up a bit of their world to us. I am always met with a smiling face and asked if I have time to see just one more thing before I go.

Designing and implementing a new CRM is a process that reveals many important and difficult conversations. By collaborating with a great partner, clients end up with a better understanding of their own organization’s workflow, needs, and processes.

How a SugarCRM Implementation Can Lead to Organizational Transformation
Moving Beyond Tactics and Into Strategic Business Solutionsjournal.highlandsolutions.com

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