Sometimes when I’m talking to folks looking at the Salesforce platform for the first time I can see their eyes rolling when I talk about how important I think Chatter has become.. “Really, Kevin? Do I really need yet another social feed?” I understand their concern but my answer is “well, yes, because it turns out to be the most productive feed you’ll use.”
Here are my top 6 reasons why, in a business context, Chatter is transforming the role of social feeds from time wasting distraction to an invaluable tool driving more effective collaboration, improving process efficiency and raising levels of customer service.
#1 Breaks down walls between departments
In our personal lives there is a tendency to only follow people with similar opinions and interests and this can work against encouraging diversity and inclusion. In a business context social tools can have the opposite effect, encouraging cross departmental collaboration and being an enabler of virtual teams. Business diversity, pulling together people with different skills, experience and opinions has been shown to lead to better, more informed decision making.
#2 Drives adoption and reduces training
Today’s workforce grew up communicating using social feed techniques of following, liking, @mentions, #hashtags, joining groups and the like. By providing these familiar methods in business systems new employees can hit the ground running at a pace previously impossible with traditional e-mail, meeting minutes and shared folders on a company intranet. When day to day business processes such as spend approvals and time-off requests are also baked into the social feed then staff intuitively knows how to use them and the need for upfront training shrinks dramatically.
#3 Conversations in the data improves audit
Chatter can be enabled on any object you choose on the platform so now your conversations, supporting documents and transactions can all live in one easily accessible place rather than in separate silos. So six months later when your auditor is wondering why a specific discount was approved or a support case closed or a credit note was issued to a customer the chatter conversations attached directly to the relevant record will provide instant, reliable answers. That not only raises auditor confidence but also shrinks their fees.
#4 Take action in the feed
In our personal social networks the actions you can take on any news item are quite limited. You might like it, love it, retweet it or maybe share it but that’s about it. In a business context, however, the actions you might take can be much more complex. Yes, sure, you might like or share something but in Chatter you could be approving, denying or referring transactions to others. By @mentioning someone or a group you can accelerate the speed of response to a critical issue. With point and click tools to define your own company specific custom actions means your employees can perform complex tasks without ever having to leave the feed and with full mobile capabilities your businesses can keep moving quickly on whatever device you have at hand and wherever you happen to get the notification.
#5 Chatter captures company know how and creates a living, breathing knowledge base
Chatter provides the company wide forum to ask questions and equally important see what questions have already been asked and answered. Again, this has huge positive impact on the ability of a new employee to become effective and start contributing quickly. Subject matter experts become accessible to everyone in the organization in a way that more old style e-mail intranet methods of knowledge management cannot match.
#6 Chatter APIs embed business feed in your apps
The ability to embed Chatter capabilities within 3rd party apps and your own custom apps puts business social feeds into exactly the place they need to be – baked in with the operational business apps your employees use everyday. Rather than having to jump out to a separate app, with a different UI app builders on the Salesforce platform can put the feed into the business process itself. For example your finance team is used to working from row and column style grids – something here are FinancialForce we call Action Views. The Chatter APIs allow us to embed the relevant business feeds into those Views so the Finance team can connect with the rest of the business and their customers without having to change their daily workflow.