Find That Hidden Expert with Chatter Topics

March 15, 2015 John Gorup

salesforce_topics1

It’s every sales professional’s worst nightmare. That big meeting with a prospective client is coming up, and you’re missing that one thing that will make it a success. That is, you need someone who understands the latest in Stereolithography and is well-versed in Brazilian labor laws. How would you find a person with this kind of expertise in your firm? You could start by asking around – but that’s just trying to get lucky. If your company has Salesforce, you could ask on Chatter. But this is slightly better than asking around. What if the person with this key knowledge is not following you or the record you created the Chatter post on? You’re out of luck.

Fortunately, good Salesforce administrators will be aware of two great Chatter features that can solve this poor Salesperson’s problem. These features are Topics and Experts. Topics basically group conversations and records in Salesforce. Experts, on the other hand, are knowledgeable people on Topics. In a real-world example, below is a screenshot of the CTI Topic in Appirio’s Salesforce Org:

salesforce_topics

Here you can see a description of the Topic in the upper left. ln the center you see all the Chatter posts related to this Topic. You can also post Chatter on this Topic directly on the Topic, and you can follow it just like any Chatter-enabled Salesforce record. On the right side are Recent Files on this Topic, and on the left is our list of Experts. Users can “endorse” people who have proven to be particularly helpful on this topic (but you can’t endorse yourself). This list of experts automatically updates if one of the experts leaves, so Administrators don’t have to worry about stale information.

Of course, these features are only as good as what’s put into them. Our advice to Administrators is to start cultivating key Topics for your firm, and start training your users to use them. One current limitation on Topics is that you can’t run reports on them, like you can other objects. Hopefully this will change in upcoming releases. But when it comes to finding an inexpensive way to maximize your internal human capital, Topics offers a great start.

So in the example we began with, our panicked Sales Rep could go to her company’s Topic record on stereolithography, and contact one of the experts listed on the page. Finding the right experts in your company has just become a bit easier. And best of all, no more frantic email blasts looking for help.

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