AAF In Person Training – Boise, ID Recap

AAF In Person Training – Boise, ID Recap

In all honesty I was dreading this trip before in the weeks and even hours leading up to it.  I didn’t understand how a full day was needed to train people on how to use a system that they won’t even be using months from now.

I woke up around 6:00 AM local Boise time and started preparing for the training.  I had intended to do some dry runs earlier in the week, but really things just kept piling up. Fortunately, I had put together a word doc on “next steps” for Jeffrey about a month ago.  I used this mostly as a guide for my live demo.

I loaded up some 40 tabs to test everything out — and of course the last thing I check (public judging) didn’t work due to some recent form builder updates.  Our developers already had a fix ready — I was hesistant to deploy it for fears it might break something else, but decided around 8:00 AM that I had no better choice.  I also practiced my “ask for a referral pitch” with Zack some time that morning.

I hopped into a cab and reached the AAF conference around 8:45, just in time for the 9:00 AM training.  The training started out as planned, George introduced me, I spent about 2 minutes introducing myself and went with the canned “we are here to not only meet but exceed your expectations…..” I messed up the close where I should have asked for introductions, instead I said to “spread the word” about our customer service.  The message did come across heartfelt, but I rate my pitch as a 6 out of 10.

Anyways — the training, it turns out, was not a training at all.  It was a group of 25 super users who had been masters of running their district ADDY programs for years.  These are the people that should have been part of the beta test, so in a sense this was more like a final chance for them to make requests / tweaks, rather than training.

Because of that it turned into two 3 hours sessions of slowly showing how things worked, hearing argument and counter argument within the group.  My role was more of a moderator, hearing all sides of how the system should work in various cases and presenting options.  Most importantly for me, I connected with about a dozen people on a personal level.  As the day progressed people’s attitudes and body language changed and the sense was that “CMS was here to protect us.”  During the meeting people were texting their various club representatives with messages like “I am jumping for joy” and “thank god for the new system”

I feel if we had sent someone else, the level of instant feedback and promising would not have been possible.  The meeting would have left these power users in a sense of anxiety.  The truth is, AAF did not pay for this privilege — this type of session is not something we can consistently deliver, it would in essence put us back into an over delivering unsustainable routine.  Having said that as the first real introduction to the system, I do believe it was a great investment.

I talked with Joanne and asked her if her doubts will end in “January” when most clubs are done.  She said that her doubts will only end in June.  For me, it means we should prepare for another 6-7 months of tiny features here and there — but it also means after that we too can exhale and provide a more standard level of service.

This trip was more about relationships than training.  While AAF district heads surely feel great about us, I don’t think we’ll get any direct benefit.  However, the relationships with Joanne and George did achieve a high bounce from what was already a great relationship.

When it comes time for them to ask us to rebuild their member database, I do believe we’ll have the full support of the AAF clubs behind us.

In summary, I believe this trip helped shave off 4 months of trust building.  My opinion is that we should plan a once a year in-person training where we send a principal (Zack, Tim or Myself).  If additional face to face training is needed, we should ask for AAF to pay for it — and send traditional support staff.


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