Nowadays, there’s a cloud for everything. But Salesforce’s Community Cloud does something reminiscent of our more human days gone by; it provides a place for companies, customers, partners, and employees to congregate (in the cloud) — together and apart. Every business has different needs, and at its core, Community Cloud makes it easier to capitalize on those differences. As an online social platform, it provides a modern social intranet and connects users to data and records they need to work most efficiently.
An intro to Salesforce Communities
Many people are, at best, underwhelmed by their company’s employee portal. At worst, they don’t even use it. But Salesforce Communities are built to be easy to find and use, much more so than the rabbit hole-style employee portals of the past. For Salesforce users, it’s this simple: Communities live within your organization and are accessible from a drop-down menu in the top left corner of Salesforce or in the Salesforce1 Mobile App. You can toggle between your communities and your internal Salesforce organization just by using the menu.
You can even customize and create separate communities to meet specific business needs and transition between them. That way, you can seamlessly share information and collaborate with people who are essential to your business processes but are separate from your organization (e.g., partners, customers).
Communities for every part of your business
Communities benefit 3 main groups: employees, partners, and customers. Here are some ways you can use them for each.
- Employees: Within Communities, HR and IT Help Desk can provide knowledge and instructions. The self-service functions are also comprehensive — from onboarding to payroll to IT troubleshooting. And being that Communities is a social platform, it’s easy for employees to find and share information in real time across the organization.
- Partners: Communities provide immediate access to the necessary experts and resources — like sales assets and product information — and training and certification courses. A channel sales community can even connect your internal and external sales teams, so it’s easy for partners to collaborate on sales records, monitor pipe generation, and track revenue — all in real time.
- Customers: Communities’ self-service functions enable customers to find answers with a searchable knowledge base and even work with other customers to help each other find solutions — all of which creates customer heroes, makes happier customers, and reduces the number of service cases. By integrating your e-commerce platform, customers can also share experiences with a product (by adding reviews and suggestions for product improvements) and track their account.
Getting started with Salesforce Communities
“The world is increasingly connected, and companies need to interact with their customers in a more meaningful way” says Haris Ikram, Director of Product Management at Salesforce. “Partners like Appirio make it easier than ever before for companies to build rich social destinations to connect customers, partners and employees to share information, expertise and data — on any device, anywhere.”
If you think your company may benefit from Salesforce Communities, it’s important to pinpoint the needs of your business, as well as the needs of the individual communities you want to create. Begin by defining what your business goals are and then move into the specifics, like finding out what members want from various communities.
- On a business level
- How will communities support our company’s vision and mission?
- How will communities enhance and transform our company’s Customer Experience?
- On a member level
- Who will use these communities?
- What would make members return to the community over time?
- How will communities help our company better support and serve these members?
Once you’ve answered these questions, be sure to involve internal teams, specifically by appointing a community manager. An ideal community manager is someone who will champion the necessary changes and help educate and lead the people in your organization to success with communities.