3 Key Things Successful Salesforce Customers Do to Close the Experience Gap

July 15, 2019 Molly Lauck

A successful Salesforce implementation will look different for each business. It’s dependent on so many factors, including business objectives, goals, and budgets. 

Maybe most importantly, successful integration is also dependent on the ability of your employees to fully adopt the new tool. When they embrace the new tool -- learning how to fully maximize its potential to meet business objectives and goals -- your employees have a better work experience that translates to a better experience for your customers.

However, an implementation might fail for many reasons: it’s rolled out too fast, there wasn’t a true understanding of what the tool could do, what the business needed it to do, how best to train employees on using it, and even what the impact on them would be. The failures can lead to an experience gap for both workers and customers alike.

Common threads run through all successful Salesforce implementations. We’ve boiled those down to the three tips explored here, which can help you effectively integrate Salesforce while avoiding creating an experience gap. 

1) Commit to making improvements to their business

Most organizations want to grow their business to become bigger and better versions of themselves year after year. More than paying lip service to this idea, the organizations who are truly committed to making improvements that grow their business think about things a little differently than those who are not as committed. 

First, they understand that Salesforce provides a competitive advantage when it’s implemented, rolled out, and embraced by the key stakeholders they serve. To achieve that buy-in, they dedicate the right resources to it by empowering the appropriate subject matter experts (SMEs), who are knowledgeable about their business, processes, and goals, to make decisions. 

They also provide those SMEs with adequate time to do user acceptance testing (UAT) and encourage them to be champions to help with company-wide adoption. It’s really hard to move forward when you have SMEs who are too busy to attend meetings or reply to emails.
Part of taking UAT seriously is to prepare for it: Write test cases, have SMEs test, have end users test (who may have not been part of the discovery sessions), and then retest as needed.

Finally, a successful Salesforce customer shows true commitment to business improvement by growing at the right pace. They approve only the critical enhancements at first, knowing they can do more later. This way, they keep the project in scope and minimize the risks undertaken during any one deployment phase. Both definitely help with stakeholder buy-in and staying committed to making improvements.

2) Incorporate change enablement into their company culture

Often touted as a true constant, change is unavoidable. Change is hard, though. Successful Salesforce customers know it’s better to not only embrace change despite the difficulty but also to instill change enablement as a cornerstone of their cultures. With this attitude, change can still be a challenge, of course, but it becomes way less painful. 

The biggest mistake is excluding change enablement as a pillar of success. User adoption is a critical piece of change enablement and goes beyond more than just training. 

Here are a few pointers for successful change enablement and user adoption:

  • Proactively inform employees of upcoming changes; create a solid change enablement plan that begins early in the Salesforce implementation process. Users are more apt to adopt any new tool when they have time to learn it and can grow accustomed to the change over time. 
  • Make communicating to employees early and often part of the plan. Users can’t grow accustomed to change if they don’t know what change is coming. Be excited! Tell them about all the great things that are going on and why: what’s the vision, what’s planned, what’s on the roadmap, what will happen, what’s not going to happen, etc.
  • Constantly evaluate adoption rates. If you identify anyone who isn’t fully adopting the rollout, ask them to suggest areas for improvement. Be open to criticism and feedback. This way, users can feel ownership over the change process and will be more able and willing to make the switch.
  • Recognize adoption champions (this applies to stellar project team members, too) with a shout-out in a company newsletter or even with fun swag prizes. Encourage the champion to in turn provide help and guidance to anyone who is slower to adopt. 
  • User adoption rates are often a measurement for success of an implementation. Helping all users -- from the top down -- to seamlessly incorporate change can lead to increased user adoption rates.

"The most challenging aspect of transformation is setting and executing against a compelling vision that includes experience. Transformation is experiential and dynamic versus a one-time event."

-- Donna Lloyd, VP CIA Sales

3) Understand true transformation is not one-and-done but an ongoing endeavor

If companies truly understand that improvements are key to growing the business and make change enablement a cornerstone of business, then they also get that we aren’t talking about one improvement or one change. We’re talking about transformation, defined as the “state of being transformed.”

We aren’t throwing in that definition for giggles, but to emphasize this point: Transformation is not a one-time event but experiential and dynamic. Successful Salesforce customers undergo transformation by always looking at their business processes to identify where to make improvements.

The following can keep you on a transformation path:

  • A deployment policy that provides guidelines for how new tools are chosen and when/how they will be implemented.
  • A governance team who oversees an implementation to determine what impact it will have on end users and the business, and to ensure functionality requests are within the scope of any given project.
  • Collaboration with others in your organization (who are not in Salesforce) to share tools, business processes, and frustrations, and together figure out how Salesforce can help bridge gaps and break down silos.
  • A sandbox deployment process (dev, QA, stage, production) that helps you work out kinks before go-live, thereby mitigating risks associated with deployment.
  • A deployment/refresh schedule that prompts you to regularly evaluate where additional enhancements might be needed.
  • A change enablement policy and a strong training program (see points above). 

Transformation is ongoing, and you can resist that, which makes growing the business a whole lot harder, or you can embrace it and successfully deploy Salesforce. Feel like you can’t go it alone? Find a partner who can lead transformations from the strategy and build phases to change management and post go-live support. 

With the innovation and disruption that Appirio brings to the market, we have successfully coached our clients and designed, created, launched, and measured award-winning business transformation programs. We can help you tackle the challenges that create the experience gap and work with you to close that gap. We can provide the lens to help you not only do implementations more successfully, but also to approach improvement and change in a way that transforms how you do business.

Contact us today to see how we can help you become a successful Salesforce user. 


About the Author

Molly Lauck

Molly Lauck is a Social Media Manager on the Appirio Marketing team. She has a long history of working in implementation delivery with global customers. She’s s constant learner who’s passionate about customer success, and the overall customer experience.

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