Salesforce Revamps Chatter, But Remember To Entice Users


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Tap Chatter improvements to help employees more effectively collaborate.

Chatter improvements make it even easier to collaborate, provided users buy in. this week announced upgrades to its social networking and collaboration service Chatter, including revamps of its mobile Chatter apps. That’s welcome news for Salesforce users, as well as businesses that plan to adopt Salesforce, because we’ve found that when correctly deployed, Chatter is a great way to entice users to embrace Salesforce.

The Chatter mobile app upgrades — for Android, iPhone and iPad — are designed to give mobile users the same types of features they now get from using browser-based Chatter. “Inside the Chatter app for smartphones and tablets, users will be able to view and edit the status of deals in progress, share and view files, assign tasks, start polls and see updates in real time,” reported GigaOM.

Benefit From Chatter: 10 Essential Strategies

The Chatter updates – more fully detailed in the Salesforce Spring ’13 Release Preview – are welcome, and will no doubt entice more people to use the software. But features aside, we’ve found that realizing the best business results from Chatter — as with any other technology — will come from not simply by switching it on, but rather rolling it out in a manner that’s designed to foster maximum user buy-in. Here are our top 10 related tips:

  1. Chatter with a plan. For anyone versed in posting to Facebook or Twitter, mastering Chatter’s user interface (UI) won’t be a stretch. But from a user-adoption standpoint, don’t mistake an easy-on-the-eyes UI with the need to sell users on why they should use Chatter. “Don’t just turn Chatter on and expect it to get used. Yes, Facebook happened without any instructions or guidance — don’t expect the same with Chatter in your company,” says Matt Johnson Vice President of Advisory Services at Cloud Sherpas. Accordingly, first define why your business wants to use Chatter, then roll it out in a way that will court users and achieve those goals.
  2. Define collaboration channels. As part of that rollout, clearly define which content and activities should be conducted using Chatter, for example instead of email. “Having multiple channels for internal communication can become unwieldy without proper definitions about when to use which channel,” says Marty Rawle, a managing principal at Cloud Sherpas, and the problem can be compounded if your organization already has another document-sharing or chat tool in place. “We have many clients that attempt to use Chatter when there is a competing tool in place and that causes conflict, and eventually poor adoption,” says Johnson.
  3. Chatter for competitive intelligence. One perennial Cloud Sherpas business case for using Chatter is for better 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?” Sales, marketing and even service teams can weigh in, bringing essential expertise to bear.
  4. Deploy groups. Groups are an essential component of Chatter, because they help the right employees virtually rub shoulders. As with Twitter, employees won’t necessarily see everyone else’s posts unless they explicitly “follow” each other. But by designing customer-specific or product-specific groups — and taking care to include the right people in each — you’ll transform Chatter into an “must participate” environment. “Use groups to form natural collaboration communities at first. The most effective groups are existing teams, virtual teams such as those forming to pursue an opportunity, and teams based on interest,” says Johnson. From a user standpoint, meanwhile, Cheech Moore, a Director at Cloud Sherpas, recommends “adjusting the frequency of your Chatter email settings so you can get immediate or infrequent emails based on your need per group.”
  5. Just “Ask Salesforce.” When first deploying Chatter, Yaron Wilf, the Service Cloud Practice Director at Cloud Sherpas, recommends creating an “Ask Salesforce” group. Ask users to post any questions, insights or problems that need solving to that group. “This exposes all new users to common issues, tips, kudos, and so on, and drives exposure, adoption and collaboration, using Chatter,” he says.
  6. Cultivate executives. Perhaps the single most effective technique for driving Chatter adoption, as well as defining proper use — share, but don’t over-share; be conversational, but still sound 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. Simply by using it, they’ll also encourage employees to embrace the tool.
  7. Deploy power users. As with any type of project, committed power users always help you succeed. So tap them early to begin posting to Chatter as well as seeding must-follow groups.
  8. Look beyond knowledge transfer. At Cloud Sherpas, in years past we used forums to tackle any technical issues we encountered. For the past couple of years, however, we’ve driven employees to post their technical questions to Chatter, which gets seen by a much wider cross-section of the company. As a result, we’ve seen users receive multiple potential fixes — sometimes in just minutes. At the same time, sales, marketing, and service employees get valuable, real-time information relating to a particular customer issue or product.
  9. Shout out to in-house experts. On one sales call, for example, 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.
  10. Let groups evolve. 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, invite service personnel to join the group, as well as customers, to keep them in the loop and provide easier introductions later for sales teams, or to solve service issues. Because one of the best features about Chatter is that you can involve clients too.

Use the above tips to not just roll out Chatter, but ensure that your Salesforce-using employees embrace the collaboration tool in a way that delivers maximum upsides for other users, as well as your business.

Learn More

Cloud Sherpas is one of the world’s leading Cloud Solutions Providers and helps businesses maximize their CRM returns by identifying desired business goals, finding the right tools and technology for the job, and delivering rapid implementations that remain focused on achieving your desired business capabilities.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user jinterwas.

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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