Salesforce Chatter has come a long way from its debut in 2009 when it drove the “Social Enterprise” tagline for all of Salesforce. From the beginning, Salesforce customers have either loved it or hated it. But Chatter has grown up and has become a well-integrated application which has proven to have business value and deserves another look.
Salesforce has made a very public push to further integrate Chatter into its platform and products. Marc Benioff has mentioned that Chatter will become the primary UI for Salesforce on multiple occasions and we are beginning to see the fruit of this with the relatively new Case and Account feed layouts.
So if Chatter isn’t something your organization uses, its time to start rethinking that strategy. If Chatter is activated, it’s time to think about taking it to the next level.
A New Perspective
In the beginning, I was naive enough to buy into the notion that Chatter would replace internal emails. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Aside from the cultural shift that Chatter was imposing, email is the way business communicates. There were logistical issues and other risk factors that just didn’t make Chatter feasible.
After changing companies and successfully deploying Salesforce, my team and I decided to turn Chatter on and “see what happens.” I was sure that we were going to see some good fruit from this tool. But I quickly realized that not everyone shared my enthusiasm. I ended up being one of the only people really using Chatter. Most found it to be confusing, frustrating or a waste of time.
Chatter seemed to be an epic failure.
I then realized that Chatter was marketed as a communication platform, but there was so much more that could be done with it. Communication was just one use case (albeit the most prevalent). This is when I began to change my thinking towards Chatter.
While some organizations have had excellent success with Chatter as a communication tool, Chatter’s big selling point is the untold story of efficiency; a way to increase user productivity and adoption.
If there are an ample number of existing communication channels to use, what void is Chatter filling? This seemed to be the consistent question as I searched for use cases. Chatter seemed to be trying to solve a problem that didn’t need fixing. On the surface, this is true as Microsoft is the king of office communications. Thus, Chatter only creates noise and solves no real business issue. But employee efficiency is an ongoing problem.
Here are some great ways that Chatter can improve efficiency:
Chatter Publisher Actions
Administrators can create Chatter Publisher Actions which allow users to create records right from the Chatter feed. The concept of My organization uses Cases to track feature requests. They also happen to use the same case layout for nearly all other types of cases. Logging a feature request was a confusing and frustrating task which meant that there were very were being recorded.
A Publisher Action was created so that users only have to see the 6 fields that are necessary for creating this case type and several of those fields are pre-populated for the user. Because it’s Chatter, users can create a feature request wherever they happen to be in Salesforce. We were able to streamline and improve the process which has resulted in very happy users.
The Power of Following
Following, I believe, is one of the most underutilized features of Chatter. While most everyone understands following people, most don’t understand why following data is such a game changer. When users begin to grasp the fact the data they find important can be sent to them automatically and in real time, this becomes a game changer.
Following shouldn’t be so much about following people as it should be about following data.
We first saw a feed-based layout with the Case Feed. This functionality basically gives anyone managing cases the ability to streamline the creation, managing and viewing of cases by creating a Chatter feed which shows everything that has happened on the case, and gives the ability for new records to be created via the feed via Publisher Actions. Feed-based layouts are a great example of what Marc Benioff was referring to with Chatter becoming the primary UI of Salesforce.
I imagine that we will continue to see the functionality applied to all objects over time.
Profile-based Roll Out (Summer ’14)
With Summer ’14, Chatter can now be rolled out to the company by profile (see Profile-Based Rollout Overview on Salesforce Help & Training). For organizations who have identified areas where Chatter would be beneficial, but couldn’t use the “all or nothing” activation style of Chatter before, this new functionality will allow smaller groups of users to experience the efficiency of Chatter as deemed appropriate by the business.
This is a particularly nice feature for larger organizations who want a more methodical approach to their roll-out, and/or where data security is a factor in Chatter activation.
Practical Next Steps
Get educated. If you haven’t used Chatter in the past, it is time to get knowledgeable. Get hands-on with the product by using the Salesforce Success Community which is built on the Chatter platform to put practice into words. Activate Chatter in a sandbox or dev org and learn what settings are available.
Follow Becky Webster (@beckymaew). She is a Salesforce MVP and Chatter consultant (yes, you heard that right). Becky has a lot of great tips and tricks that cover every topic from implementation and adoption to best practices.
Start the conversation. Determine who would benefit from Chatter in your organization. Think of specific use cases where Chatter would drive efficiency and begin to talk to those teams. Get the troops rallied and excited about the functionality. There is power in numbers.
Be sure not to exclude executive leadership. It is important to get these decision makers interested in what you are saying. Don’t neglect these key individuals.
- Change your perspective – by changing the way you think about Chatter, you will be able to have the necessary conversations with the right individuals.
- Determine the efficiency gain – Chatter is more than just a communication tool; it’s an efficiency tool. Begin to think about where Chatter could be a driver for improved efficiency.
- Get educated and start marketing – now begins the potentially long road of getting people on board. Take your time, have smart conversations and show the practical usage of Chatter.
Are you or have you reevaluated Chatter for your organization? What was your experience? What helped to change minds? Share you experience, thoughts or questions below!