Learning from Our Customers – Bern Abplanalp, Convio

September 22, 2010 Appirio

We recently hosted a webinar for our customers on Salesforce Chatter and Ideas best practices based on our own use of these products. We were thrilled to have a guest speaker, Bern Abplanalp, Business Operations Analyst at Convio, join us for a discussion about his experience rolling out Chatter. Convio is a leading provider of on-demand constituent engagement solutions that enable nonprofit organizations to more effectively raise funds, advocate for change and cultivate relationships with donors, activists, volunteers, alumni and other constituents. Bern has helped Convio adopt Salesforce CRM and Appirio’s PS Enterprise to manage Convio’s services teams and therefore brings the perspective of someone who uses Salesforce and Force.com to manage the core of his business.

Since many of you have asked us about Chatter, we thought we’d summarize our conversation here.

Why did you decide you needed Chatter at Convio?

We wanted to use the proactive communication elements of the tool. For example, when Sales would update status on an opportunity, our professional services managers wanted to immediately be updated without having to ask. There were also collaboration features we wanted to use that would expedite the conversation by virtue of being fully integrated with the Salesforce environment, e.g., project or account-related collaboration.

What was your rollout plan for Chatter within Convio?

There wasn’t a lot of material out there about how to rollout Chatter, e.g., sample communication plans, etc., so much of this was of our own making. We used the following approach:
  • Identified SMEs (subject matter experts) within our primary functional areas(Sales, Services, Marketing) who would be our “trusted testers”
  • Used SMEs to validate initial list of fields to be tracked (by Chatter) and get overall feedback on the Chatter tool. Because Chatter cannot be on/off for specific user profiles, we had to have a holistic plan for all SF users that would provide the right information that people needed without being overwhelming to others.
  • Created a structured messaging strategy including various pieces of collateral to support the Chatter deployment including Custom Training Tutorials (screen casts), Chatter Implementation Guide (for managers/team leads), Chatter v. Other Apps, Chatter FAQ & Terminology, Chattequette
  • Encouraged users to learn about Chatter by using Chatter by setting up a “Getting Started” Chatter group

How has Chatter been received at Convio?

Thus far it’s been very positive. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of users who were admittedly pessimistic about Chatter initially, but once they saw the potential, have become big advocates. If we turned off Chatter, after just 3 weeks, I would be lynched.

What pieces of advice do you have for others who’re thinking about Chatter?

  • Don’t be complacent and under-manage the deployment process of Chatter just because Chatter is easy to use. It’s a powerful tool, but there isn’t a lot of collateral/training/tutorials on rolling out the tool, so take the time to think about and define how/when to use Chatter for your users.
  • Embrace the credo “less is more” – don’t try to make every object in your Salesforce org a participant in the conversation!
  • Provide clear guidance for when to use Chatter relative to other tools (e.g. IM, email, Salesforce Reports…)
  • Preview Chatter to management teams separately prior to release so they know what to expect and can set the proper guidelines for their teams

Many thanks to Bern for a lively and insightful discussion. We’re excited about many more of these and learning from you, our customers! If you’d like to be a part of this series, please leave a comment below or email us.

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