10 Chatter Tips Spark Collaboration


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Chatter is changing. Now, you can use the collaboration application from Salesforce.com not just for microblogging — per Facebook and Twitter — but to actively break down barriers between different groups of employees, as well as with customers.

That’s thanks to new capabilities being built into Chatter, including advanced groups, which went live last week, to be followed soon by real-time IM — dubbed Chatter Now — as well as screen sharing. With the improvements, first announced earlier this year at Dreamforce, Chatter becomes an even more useful tool for facilitating internal discussions, customer conversations, sales efforts, competitive intelligence, and faster service response.

Benefit From New Chatter Capabilities

What’s the best way to get the most from Chatter and its new features? Here are our 10 top tips:

1) Don’t Chatter without a plan. The original Chatter guidance from Salesforce.com went like this: because it’s reminiscent of Facebook and Twitter, users will naturally start use Chatter. The new guidance, however, hews instead — correctly — to well-established rules for any technology: First, define why you (and your employees) might want to use it, and the business results it should achieve. Second, roll out the tool in a way that meets those business goals and user expectations.

2) Pitch Chatter for competitive intelligence. What’s a good business case for using Chatter? One perennial customer favorite is competitive intelligence. Cue salesperson’s message on Chatter: “Hey, I’m working on a deal, and ACME is competing against me. When we’ve recently competed against them, which strategies worked best?” Not just sales but also marketing teams can weigh in, quickly bringing essential expertise to bear.

3) Design groups carefully. As that suggests, one essential Chatter strategy is to design groups with care. Like Twitter, employees won’t necessarily see each other’s posts unless they explicitly “follow” each other. But having customer-specific or product-specific groups, and making sure you have the right types of people included in them, will help make Chatter into a “must participate” environment.

4) Find an executive Chatter lover. The single best technique for not just encouraging Chatter use, but setting an example for what constitutes proper use (sharing but not over-sharing, conversational yet professional) is to have a social-network-savvy senior executive, or executives, become high-profile users. By posting and responding to comments, they’ll set the tone, and simply by using it, drive their employees to adopt the tool.

5) Deploy power users first. As with any type of project, committed power users always help you succeed. So, tap them to help seed must-follow groups. Together with senior-level involvement — even better if they’re amongst your power users too — you’ll go a long way toward ensuring that employees buy in.

6) Think discussions, not just knowledge transfer. At Innoveer, we previously used forums for tackling technical issues. Now, however, people post their technical questions to Chatter, where they get seen by a wider cross-section of the company. The result is not only getting multiple potential fixes in the space of an hour, but also giving others — across sales, marketing, and service — a heads-up on a particular product, or customer issue.

7) Break down barriers. When trying to close a deal, create a Chatter group focused on the prospect that draws in sales and marketing experts. Once you snag the deal, why not then invite not just service personnel to join the group, but also the customer, in what becomes a controlled conversation? Think about the potential for decreased service response time, and increased customer satisfaction.

8) Tap Chatter Now. Chatter’s new IM application, Chatter Now, makes use of your Salesforce.com user list to offer instant chats. Accordingly, it might serve as a good replacement for IBM Sametime, Microsoft Office Communicator or their ilk, not least because it organizes communications around customer-focused tools and data, and makes Chatter even “stickier.”

9) Start screen sharing. Likewise, through its acquisition of Dimdim earlier this year, Salesforce.com is adding screen sharing to Chatter. While this might not sound earth-shattering, it adds another essential collaboration feature to Chatter, and will cut down on licensing fees if you’re currently using a different Web conferencing tool.

10) Let experts find you. On a recent sales call, one of our consultants posted a question via Chatter right after the client asked it in a meeting: Did anyone inside the company have experience with a particular AppExchange service add-on? Within minutes, he had the answer (yes), examples of specific engagements, as well as an offer from an executive with contacts at the company to make introductions and set up a meeting between the prospect and the software maker. In short, to increase efficiency and customer satisfaction, start chatting.

Learn More

Innoveer helps organizations assess their existing sales, marketing, service, and social — including collaboration — capabilities. Contact us to learn more about Innoveer’s Social Business Framework, based on the best practices of hundreds of CRM practitioners, which we use to help businesses rapidly develop a social CRM adoption strategy.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Nate Steiner.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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