Supercharging Salesforce Portals to Improve Customer Service

January 23rd, 2013 by Clive Bearman

In today’s socially connected world customer service is more important than ever. You can offer promotions and incentives, but unless you can get those customers to spread positive feedback about your company, you won’t be in business for long. So how can you improve customer service and keep those customers  happy? In this post we will describe how Cloud Extend can be used to supercharge the process of case creation within the Service Cloud portal to reduce the time it takes to process a trouble ticket, whether by customer self-service or via a customer service agent.

So lets begin. A common use of Cloud Extend is to guide portal users through the process of quickly setting up a Case object in Saleforce.  So when the customer calls the support hotline, they are dealt with promptly rather than kept on hold for an eternity.

There are three main considerations in this type of Cloud Extend application:

  1. The Process Guide
  2. Validating Data Entry
  3. Ensuring Business Rules are followed

So let’s address each of these items in turn.

The Process Guides

With Cloud Extend, you can build a process wizard that will guide a Portal user (or any other Salesforce user) through a series of steps. The steps can be a combination of screen steps (which prompt the user to enter data and make choices), automated steps (which do work for the user by creating Salesforce objects, sending email, creating tasks, etc), and data decision steps. Here is a sample Cloud Extend guide:

Cloud Extend guides can be run from a Saleforce portal, in which case a portal user is guided through a process to enter data and create objects in Salesforce.   The Cloud Extend guide will have access to any Salesforce objects and fields to which a portal user has access.

Now let’s examine the second of our three considerations – validating data.

Validating Data Entry

Since a Cloud Extend guide walks a user through all of the data entry steps, and Cloud Extend screens can contain detailed instructions on how to enter the data, errors in data entry are greatly reduced. In addition, Cloud Extend guides can automatically enter data and create relationships between objects based on the context of the Cloud Extend guide.

Of course, there are still times when users will make errors or do the wrong thing. You can design Cloud Extend screen steps so that any data field is required to be entered correctly before the Cloud Extend guide will advance (even if the data field is not a required field in the underlying Saleforce implementation). This is useful because a data field may not always be required (so it not practical to make it a required field in Salesforce), but in the context of a particular step in a process, the data field is required:

It’s always useful to perform data validation on entries for data fields (for instance, to ensure a due date for a Task is not set to a date prior to today). Salesforce has excellent facilities for defining validation rules in the Saleforce implementation, and Cloud Extend honors all Salesforce validation rules.   If a user attempts to enter data that causes a validation rule in Saleforce to fail, the Cloud Extend guide will not advance, and instead will prompt the user to correct the entry.

Now onto our last consideration – business rules.

Applying Business Rules

Because Cloud Extend guides can branch based on user input, many “business rules” (such as “do X if the customer is calling about Product A”, “do Y if the customer is calling about Product B”) can be implemented directly in a Cloud Extend guidance tree:

Cloud Extend can also perform flow decisions based on the values of data fields in Salesforce. Therefore, business rules such as “Do X if this is a Large Company, Do Y if this is a Medium-Sized Company, Do Z if this is a Small Company” can be implemented easily:

And data decisions can also be based on the value of fields in Salesforce.   For example you can set the threshold values or parameters for the business rules individually per process – i.e. the process of lead qualification for one client might define a Large Customer as over $1B in annual revenue, while another client might define a Large Customer as over $50B in annual revenue.

Putting it Altogether

The final step is to combine the three items to create efficient support processes.  For example one customer in the energy industry created a set of guides to handle account creation and querying that drastically reduced call waiting times and increased support throughput (for full details see the guest post here). Another customer in the telecoms industry wrote guides that revolutionized their case resolution processes and  improved service levels by 90% (read more here).

So no matter your industry or your type of Salesforce portal, you can supercharge your CRM with the easy to use Cloud Extend.

Cloud Extend Enables Scancom to Improve Customer Service Levels by 90%!

January 10th, 2013 by Clive Bearman

There’s nothing better than customer validation, except of course customer validation with a fantastic ROI. So that’s why we’re so excited to share a this fantastic customer story with you. Today Scancom Distribution Ltd, a leading B2B supplier of mobile airtime, handsets and data-related products, announced that Cloud Extend helped then reduce the time required to resolve customer service issues by 90%!

It’s really impressive to hear how they’ve used desktop and mobile wizards to handle customer billing and support issues. In fact, it wouldn’t be boasting to say that Cloud Extend has revolutionized the way they treat their customers. The full details are in the the press release below.

So check it out and see why Scancom’s Managing Director Chen Kotecha said, “Cloud Extend is a must have application for anyone who uses Salesforce.”.

High praise indeed.  Thanks Chen.

How Cloud Extend Mobile Optimizes SaaS Access for Enterprise Mobility

September 27th, 2012 by Sonal Rajan

Cloud Extend MobileRecently, we met with Vance McCarthy, editor for Integration Developer News, to show him the recently launched Cloud Extend Mobile. Cloud Extend Mobile fundamentally changes the way business people use smartphones to perform daily work with enterprise cloud applications, enabling voice-to-text and touchscreen input with end-user customization. Read Vance’s take on how Cloud Extend Mobile provides business users with mobile access to Salesforce, simplifying and streamlining access to this leading CRM – all without writing any code.

See Cloud Extend Mobile for yourself in this quick video.

As always, we appreciate Vance’s attention to Cloud Extend and Active Endpoints.

It’s So Simple, It’s Childs Play! Looping Through Salesforce Records With Cloud Extend.

September 26th, 2012 by Eric Egertson

If you’re like me, you’ll often find yourself repeating the same action on a set of records in Salesforce. You look things up, decide what needs to be done, do the action and then repeat the whole process again with another record. In fact when I’m preparing for a sales meeting I do that “a lot“. I first look up a contact record on the account, decide if the contact needs to be invited to the meeting, then send an email invite. Finally rinse and repeat with another contact on the account.

If the meeting is small, say two or three people, then the whole process doesn’t take very long. However things get out of hand when the guest list gets longer. The preparation and followup time quickly escalates to consume a significant portion of my day. But I really want to be selling, since I’m a sales guy, not doing the admin. In an ideal world I’d like to automate this type of activity to maximize the best use of my time.

Luckily for me there’s a great new feature in Cloud Extend that can make this all happen. Cloud Extend has the ability to do searches and then iteratively run a process on the search results. And the best thing is that it’s so easy to do. So for the remainder of this blog post I’m going to explain how it works using my “pre-meeting planner” scenario as the example. There’s a video that illustrates all the action and a complete sample guide to download to try it out for yourself. It’s an excellent example, if I say so myself.

The pre-meeting planner helps a sales rep get ready for a meeting by considering whether additional Contacts should be invited to, or briefed about a sales meeting. It also lets the sales person review recent support Cases in order to head off any outstanding issues that could potentially derail the meeting. Finally the guide highlights the best marketing materials to take to the meeting. The screenshot below illustrates the beginning of the process:

So as I said before, Cloud Extend can now search for objects (we give you a visual search builder), and then display the results. The sales rep can then select all objects returned from the search, or a subset of the objects as shown below:

The Cloud Extend wizard then walks the rep through the process of calling the contact, recording the notes, sending a calendar invite, if appropriate, for each selection in the list:

Then the guide does a similar search as before, but this time looking for Case objects associated with the Account. That way, the rep can review all recent support Cases to ensure that there aren’t any lingering customer service issues that will derail the sales meeting:

As with Contacts, the rep can then review each Case individually, and then escalate the Case to a support manager if required:

And that’s all their is to it. It now only takes a few minutes to prep for a large meeting. Everyone is kept in the loop, all the notes have been recorded and any outstanding issues have been addressed. Perfect. My sales meetings should be smooth sailing from here!

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Can’t we do this with Visual Flow?”

I’m sorry to report, “No“. Some of our larger customers have reported that this type of “Search, get list of Objects, then work on Objects iteratively” is not available in Salesforce Visual Flow, and when they have inquired about this type of functionality, they have been told it is not on the Visual Workflow roadmap (which at the time of writing, currently extends through 2013).

Incidentally, another item not on the Visual Workflow roadmap for the foreseeable future is flow persistence – that is the ability for a user to pause work in a guide, do other work in Salesforce, and then return to the guide at a later time. Again Cloud Extend comes to the rescue. Cloud Extend is stateful, meaning that the Sales rep can paused guide, go off and do other work, then resume working on the the guide at a later date at the SAME point where they left off. With Visual Workflow, the flow would have to be restarted and all previously completed steps would have to be repeated. Of course Visual Workflow would also have to “undo” previous steps too!

So I hope you enjoyed this blog post and remember to try out the guide in your own Cloud Extend environment.

To watch a video of the pre-meeting planner go here. And finally, click here to download the completed pre-meeting planner guide sample.

Plymouth Rock Energy Selects Cloud Extend via Salesforce.com’s AppExchange, Speaks at Dreamforce ‘12

September 18th, 2012 by Sonal Rajan

We’re thrilled to announce that our customer, Plymouth Rock Energy, has selected Cloud Extend for Salesforce to automate and streamline tasks in its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, redefining how the company connects with its customers. Details are in the press release below.

We’ll be at salesforce.com’s Dreamforce ‘12, the world’s largest cloud computing and enterprise technology event, this week and we’d love to see you! Come find us at Dreamforce:

  • Customer presentation: Plymouth’s CIO, Jonathan Adlerstein, will be speaking on Thursday, September 20 at 9am (3005/3007 Moscone West Level 3), about how Cloud Extend simplified very complex processes, improving call center productivity by 20% and reducing customer waiting time to zero. Register before the seats fill up (session registration requires a valid Dreamforce conference login).
  • Stop by our booth (#1540) for live demos of Cloud Extend Mobile and to meet our execs. And of course, pick up a flying, screaming Cloud Extend monkey!

Can’t make it to Dreamforce this year? Check out the recent Cloud Extend reviews on AppExchange, including one entitled “Best Money I’ve Ever Spent.” Or drop us a line, we’d be happy to set up a web demo for you.

The Right Way For Cloud Applications To Go Mobile

August 24th, 2012 by Michael Rowley

Let’s assume you have an enterprise application and want to provide a good mobile experience for it. Conventional wisdom says that you have to have a development team create a native mobile application in order to provide the best mobile experience. Conventional wisdom is wrong.

The primary problem with adapting an application to a smart phone is the small screen real estate. The best way to optimize the mobile experience for this small screen is to show the user only what they want to see. Asking an expert mobile developer to create an ideal mobile experience is a flawed approach. They may be able to show some fancier graphics than what would be shown in a mobile web application, but they have to write a single application that will work for everyone. For most enterprise applications, there is just too much data and the developer can’t know for sure that any of it is irrelevant. Only the user knows that.

So, the best approach is for the user to think of the situations when they need to use their enterprise application from their smart phone, such as recording results from a sales call in a CRM after leaving a meeting. Then, for each of these situations, the user can create a custom mobile experience that shows them exactly the data they need to see or update. The user also adds questions to their mobile app, to accommodate common variations to the scenario that they encounter, with each variation showing appropriate screens. Allowing many users to customize their experience in this way produces a result that is far superior to than anything that a small number of developers could design and build.

A great experience also demands quick changes to adapt to changing needs. Deploying and maintaining native applications for the growing multitude of mobile operating system versions is so unwieldy that developers, by necessity, have to roll out changes slowly and infrequently. By contrast, using customization by the end-user as the means of improving the experience means that HTML 5 can be used (it is more than powerful enough) and changes can be made whenever there is need for it, without creating an untenable tangle of native application versions.

So, the key to an optimal mobile experience is in providing a mobile application design environment that is so simple that anyone can use it to create exactly what they need. This is what Cloud Extend does for Salesforce. Check it out!

Active Endpoints Named Finalist in Mass Technology Leadership Council Leadership Awards for Innovative Technology of the Year, Cloud Computing

July 31st, 2012 by Sonal Rajan

Exciting news! Right on the heels of our recent announcement of the availability of Cloud Extend Mobile, we were just informed that Cloud Extend is a finalist for the MassTLC Leadership Awards 2012 in its Innovative Technology of the Year, Cloud Computing category. Full press release below.

Mark Taber, CEO, Active Endpoints, says, “We’re honored to be recognized by MassTLC as a Leadership Awards finalist amongst some of the most notable companies on the Massachusetts tech scene. Building on last week’s announcement of Cloud Extend Mobile, this nomination is further validation of how Active Endpoints exemplifies cloud innovation and continues to push the envelope to make it even easier for users to fully realize the power of cloud-based enterprise apps.”

To learn more about Cloud Extend Mobile, feel free to view and share this two-minute video.

New Cloud Extend Mobile Simplifies and Accelerates Daily Work

July 24th, 2012 by Sonal Rajan

Today Active Endpoints announced Cloud Extend Mobile, enabling voice-to-text and touchscreen input with end-user customization. For full details, please read the press release below.

What does this mean for sales and customer support staff?

  • No more waiting: Users can now perform their daily tasks, such as updating information and scheduling next steps while on the go, on their favorite device, a smartphone.
  • Take Salesforce on the road: Wizards built to streamline and simplify sales and customer support tasks in Salesforce can be accessed anywhere, anytime.
  • No coding or IT support needed: Sales and field support teams can create mobile-optimized interfaces for qualifying leads, identifying cross-selling opportunities.

Try the new Cloud Extend mobile capabilities today, or watch a two minute video to see how they can help sales and support staff do their jobs better.

Initiating a Customer Service Case with Cloud Extend

June 12th, 2012 by Eric Egertson

Sales is a dominant use case for Cloud Extend, so we spend a lot of time focusing on how our wizards can make life easier – and more profitable — for sales reps and managers. But customer service is another popular use case that benefits from the simple, step-by-step guidance provided by Cloud Extend.

Here, I’m going to walk through an example of how to use Cloud Extend to set up a new case in Salesforce. You can also check out the related video, Initiating a Support Case.

This scenario begins with someone from Acme Dynamite calling in to open a new case. As the customer support agent, the first thing you do is open the Acme Dynamite account screen in Salesforce and expand the Account Wizards section to run the New Case Set Up wizard. The wizard then walks you through each step of the set up process:

  • Step 1: Identifies why the person is calling. Options appear as on-screen buttons for “paid ad listing,” “free listing” or “other.” This call is about a paid ad, and clicking the “paid ad listing” button takes you to the next step.
  • Step 2: Confirms who is calling, with options for “customer” or “sales rep.” This caller is a rep calling on behalf of the customer, so click “sales rep” to get to the third step.
  • Step 3: Confirms the sales rep you’re talking to is the account owner listed in the Account Detail section of Salesforce. If not, update the record here using a pop-up “lookup user” window that lists the company’s sales reps. Click “continue.”
  • Step 4: Sets up the case in Salesforce for a new paid listing. First, select the account contact for this case using a drop down box that lists the Acme Dynamite contacts. Then enter a free form text description for this paid listing and click “continue.”
  • Step 5: Confirms a new case has been created and provides the case number as well as link to the new case. Click “done” to complete the wizard.

At step 5, you can also click on the link to the new case, which opens in a new browser tab. You’ll see the case details you just gathered from the New Case Set Up wizard. You’ll also have access to any Cloud Extend wizards you create for cases – for instance, a wizard to walk customer support agents step-by-step through case resolution.

Of course, your wizards can be as simple or elaborate as you’d like, with steps that reflect your unique support processes. As with all Cloud Extend wizards, customer support wizards 1) display only the information agents need at a given moment; and 2) automate tasks they need to perform during and/or after the call.

Check out our other wizard examples and ideas in the Use Cases section of our website. Or post a comment below or give us a call at 781-547-2900 to  brainstorm other ways we can make life easier for your Salesforce users.

Three-Touch Telesales

June 5th, 2012 by Clive Bearman

Like most tech companies, we eat our own dog food at Active Endpoints and so we use Cloud Extend for Salesforce extensively. The wizards we’ve created reflect best practices for sales activities that we perform on a regular basis. In this post, I cover a few highlights of the wizard-driven, three-touch approach that we use for telesales  that you may find suitable for your needs.

Of course, you can use this approach without a wizard and work all of the the steps manually in Salesforce.  However, the wizard ensures our team follows the best practice and walks each sales person through the telesales process, step by step.  The wizard automatically updates contact records and creates follow-up activities in Salesforce and the rep never has to touch separate screens.

As “three-touch telesales” suggests, our sales people try to reach a customer or prospect three times in the course of a given call campaign for a particular vertical market. Typically, the goal is to set up a meeting or demonstration, either in person or online.

To that end, we design our three-touch campaigns with some key ingredients, including:

  • Develop scripts for live conversations.
  • Develop scripts for voice-mails, with a different script for each successive message.
  • Track call outcomes and note whether we spoke with contact, admin or other person; got a wrong number or left a voice-email message; etc.
  • Perform follow-up activities such as schedule a meeting or send additional information, or suspend email marketing if the contact is no longer interested.
  • Update records to reflect changes in lead status, add new contacts, and capture other relevant information gleaned from each call.

Again, you can do all of those things manually in Salesforce, without a wizard. But it’s a lot to juggle and remember. In the heat of the moment, for instance, the telesales rep may promise to send the prospect an analyst report but completely forget about it by the end of the call. Or the rep may leave a voice-mail message that repeats a previous message, fail to update the lead status, change the contact information, etc.

A wizard simplifies things by:

1) displaying only the information the rep needs at that particular moment

2) automating tasks that he or she needs to perform during and/or after the call.

For more best practices and uses, please visit the Use Cases section of our website.

Relationship selling and the role of technology

May 31st, 2012 by Mark Taber

The best sales people have an uncanny ability to build relationships and trust with prospects and customers. We have all seen it. They easily bond with decision makers on the golf course, at cocktail parties, at sporting events, or just by exchanging personal stories. Their emphasis on interpersonal relationships, however, can interfere with their investments in new technologies. While many sales people are technophiles who run out at the first opportunity to buy the latest tablet or smart phone, others are the polar opposite – technophobes who stubbornly cling to their tried and true Rolodexes and hand written notes. For a vice president of sales looking at automation as a way to help maximize and optimize their reps’ time in front of potential customers, the question is how to get sales people to buy in to automation technology.

The first step, in terms of automation, that most VPs of sales take is adopting a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Salesforce.com has made it incredibly easy to adopt CRM by offering their software as a service with virtually no upfront investment. But while Salesforce may be a great system of record, it’s not a sales force automation tool per se. As a result, the typical sales person, both the technophiles and technophobes, see limited value.

If the goals of CRM adoption are to improve efficiency, generate more revenue and increase customer face time, then a v.p. of sales will quickly become disillusioned. Sales people will inevitably enter data sporadically. Forecasting will be inaccurate.  Revenue goals will be missed.  User adoption will be low and ROI will be minimized. You can fire the sales person, claim their incompetence, or blame them for not following procedures but it will all be for naught. Every v.p. of sales is allowed to do this exactly once before they become the target of the CEO’s wrath.

Instead, anybody championing CRM needs to look at and promote it from the sales person’s point of view. Make their life easier and you will be amazed at the results. I’m a big fan of letting computers do the mundane, mind-numbing chores that human beings and sales people, in particular just don’t want to do. And in sales organizations, there are thousands of ways that automation can be applied to simplify lives and improve bottom lines, including general use case scenarios such as:

  • Improving efficiency Automating manual tasks such as information collection and report writing accelerate turnaround times, improve accuracy and help sales people maximize the time they spend with customers and prospects.
  • Generating revenue – As more companies try to leverage their existing client base, automated systems help with direct sales reps’ efforts to cross sell and upsell the various products in their portfolio.
  • Onboarding and adoption — Automation ensures that new hires are productive immediately by giving them the account plans, guides and tools that reflect the expertise of the most seasoned account execs. The same automations encourage technology adoption by making it simple and easy to use.
  • Messaging consistency — Companies spend countless dollars to reach the right audience with the right messaging. In the marketing department, automation makes messaging more consistent.

As technologies like Cloud Extend make it easier for sales, marketing, customer service and other business users to automate tasks by themselves – without training or IT intervention – the opportunities will continue to multiply. And the costs for pursuing those opportunities will be modest. Companies won’t have to spend thousands of dollars in consulting fees. Instead, the sales team can do it themselves, in a matter of minutes. Sales people will buy in from the beginning. Only then can you truly leverage the power of their relationships and the latest in automation.

Wizard Writing Basics for Salesforce Users

May 29th, 2012 by Eric Egertson

Cloud Extend for Salesforce wizards are pretty easy to use. We’ve demonstrated that in the video for our free Meeting Follow-up Wizard and in the demo of the First Contact Wizard, which I blogged about before. Below, I want to highlight some of the Cloud Extend features that make it easy for regular sales and business users – not power users who write code in their spare time – to create those wizards with our guide designer. You can also see the guide designer in action by viewing the First Contact Wizard video below; start viewing at the 8:30 mark.

The guide designer runs within Salesforce. It’s another tab in the Salesforce interface, so you never have to leave Salesforce to do your work. The design environment itself is WYSIWYG – highly visual with much of the design work performed via point-and-click or drag-and-drop. And you don’t have to know about variables or object IDs or any other programmer constructs.

Everything in Cloud Extend is based on guidance trees that walk users through a process step by step. Each subsequent step is a branch in the tree, which is based on answers to previous questions. When you’re creating wizards, you’re basically working with two basic types of steps in Cloud Extend:

  • Screen steps present users with a question or prompt to answer.
  • Automated steps do work in the background for the user, e.g., scheduling a meeting or updating the lead source.

Cloud Extend is natively integrated with Salesforce, so you simply select the Salesforce actions from a drop-down list to include them as automated steps in your wizard. For instance, you can design a wizard to automatically search LinkedIn, send email from a Salesforce template, set task reminders, etc. And the list is extensible. Anything that’s available via Salesforce APIs can be implemented. You can even implement automated steps to other cloud or on-premise applications.

Along those integration lines, Cloud Extend inspects  the Salesforce data model when you install it in your Salesforce org. So Cloud Extend finds any custom objects, custom fields and custom pick lists you have defined and makes them available within the guide designer. Of course, you can create a screen step that asks for information that has not been defined and wizard users will just enter that info as free form text.

The guide designer keeps you focused on what’s immediately relevant to your wizard design. As a design metaphor, guidance trees tend to break down when they get big, especially when it comes to layout. It’s just hard to work with an entire tree all at once. In contrast, Cloud Extend lets you expand those parts of the tree that are relevant and collapse the parts that are not. Cloud Extend also lays out the tree for you automatically. And you can always preview individual wizard steps — or the entire wizard – from the user’s point of view.

Behind the scenes, information collected by Cloud Extend wizards is written to Salesforce. As a guide designer, you don’t have to interact with a separate database. And all of your existing Salesforce reports will work, unmodified. Cloud Extend does track and report on some process data that can help with future guide designs. For instance, you can report on wizard activity, e.g., who has been running a wizard and for how long. You can also report on wizard outcomes like how many leads were qualified using a specific lead qualification.

There are other tools out there that let IT people collaborate with business people to automate tasks in Salesforce. Cloud Extend is not one of them. Cloud Extend is designed specifically for sales, sales operations, marketing, customer service and other business people, so they can automate tasks on their own – without coding, training or help from IT.

Consumerization of IT

May 24th, 2012 by Mark Taber

Reading Andrew Nusca’s blog on ZDNet earlier last week from the SAP Sapphire conference caused me to think some more about this concept of “consumerization of IT.”

Today, everyone interacts with enterprise applications in their work life, from Global 2000 companies to mom and pops from sales representatives to health care providers to service technicians to retail clerks. Quite a number of these applications are from SAP. Few like the experience. Enterprise applications have not kept pace with how and where we do our work in the 21st century. This is in sharp contrast to our consumer life. Applications like Facebook and Twitter are fun, reliable and easy to use.  The IT departments of most companies, big and small, are still in the dark ages, writing Java code, creating messes, the way they did in the 80s. This is why we are all so frustrated. There is a better way.

Everyone today (sales, customer service, health care, HR, accounting, etc.) can select the Software as a Service (SaaS) application of their choice, “an anchor application,” along the same lines as Facebook and Twitter are anchor applications at home. There are literally thousands of SaaS applications for just about everything we do, many attractively priced. Once you subscribe to SaaS, subject matter experts can easily customize the experience, creating scenario-based mobile user interfaces (UI), no developers needed. The result would be almost immediate; successful meetings, improved customer service, better patient care and yes, a better quality of life.

However, before we throw the entire IT department under the bus, let’s make sure we acknowledge the fact that Facebook and Twitter are great applications not just because of a pretty UI. Robust runtimes underlie their platforms. To those people screaming, and rightfully so, for the consumerization of IT, I’d encourage an alternative definition: “enterprise-enabling consumer technology.”

There is no reason everyone can’t have the consumer-style UIs and usability features. But good consumer-like technologies are also backed by a set of enterprise-grade IT sophisticated capabilities – exception and error handling, rollback and compensation, persistence, clustering, redundancy, scalability, security, visibility, etc.

While I think that the vast majority of Java developers can and should be made obsolete, and yes even those low cost ones in India and China, the tried and true enterprise IT policies and best practices that have evolved over the last 30 years need to survive. Rethinking “consumerization of IT” opens the door to a union that takes the best of consumer technology, which empowers users with the latest and greatest business features, and combines it with the enterprise-grade capabilities that IT demands. Think of it as consumerization without compromise. Technical issues are abstracted to the point that regular business users can get their work done without help from IT. Meanwhile, IT can rest assured that all of their service availability, uptime, security and other concerns are being met in full.

Given the overwhelming workloads in most IT departments, IT should be all in favor of consumerization and giving their users more control. I am not sure anyone will miss those Java developers.

New Cloud Extend Meeting Follow-Up Wizard Improves Sales Effectiveness

May 22nd, 2012 by Sonal Rajan

Salesforce offers many ways to follow up with prospects but there is no real opportunity to enforce best practices or data accuracy so that reps focus on selling rather than mundane, but necessary, data entry. Until now…

Today, Active Endpoints is pushing the boundary of just how effective sales reps can be by making available a free meeting follow-up wizard. Built in Cloud Extend for Salesforce, this wizard guides users, directly in the CRM, through the process of entering meeting notes, capturing new contacts, creating follow up tasks and creating new opportunities. Details are in the press release below.

We invite you to take a minute to read about how the wizard offers priceless meeting follow-up, making the lives of sales reps much easier. Directly from Eric Egertson, our VP, Business Development and Strategic Accounts, he describes the wizard’s benefits from his own viewpoint as a salesperson, and how it allows him to focus on selling, not admin.

Free Wizard Makes for Priceless Meeting Follow-up

May 22nd, 2012 by Eric Egertson

We all like free stuff. Try something at no risk. The Apple Store culture, in particular, has taught us to like free software. Well, Active Endpoints is taking Apple’s lead and offering a free Meeting Follow-up wizard, built with Cloud Extend for Salesforce, the leading cloud based sales force automation (SFA) system, to make the lives of sales reps much easier. Documenting notes from a sales call, new contacts you met, new opportunities you identified, and follow-up tasks such as additional meetings are now automated through this free Meeting Follow-up Wizard. This is just one sample of the wizards that can be built in Cloud Extend.

Get the wizard now or watch a quick five minute video of it. Below the video, you’ll find a quick overview of how the wizard works.

Once the wizard is installed, you’ll find a “Guides” section in the Salesforce Contact screen. Expand the Guides section to run the Meeting Follow-up wizard, which prompts you to:

  1. Enter general meeting notes as free-form text.
  2. Enter new contacts, including first name, last name, email address, business phone and title.
  3. Enter new opportunities, including opportunity name, booking amount, expected close date and stage.  Close date and stage are entered via pop-up calendar and pick list, respectively.
  4. Create follow-up tasks, including task due date (set via pop-up calendar) and the task itself (via free-form text). Follow-up tasks can also be created for and assigned to other users.

As you move through the wizard, each completed step is numbered and tracked in the “History” window that sits to right of the main wizard window. To go back to an earlier step and add another meeting note, for instance, or follow-up task, simply click on that earlier step in the History window. After completing the wizard, all the information entered displays in the corresponding fields of Salesforce Contact and/or Account screens.

Sure, you could memorize the four steps above and enter all of the information in the Salesforce UI directly. But you’d be jumping from field to field or screen to screen entering new information. Worse, an incoming call or some other distraction could interrupt your post-call routine, leaving a new contact or opportunity undocumented.

The wizard, on the other hand, prompts you for everything you may need to enter – in logical order, within a single screen. Step away from the wizard for a minute or a day or longer, and when you return, it picks up where you left off – with the History window confirming the completed steps.

By streamlining meeting follow-up, the wizard can improve customer relationship management, marketing programs and pipeline visibility. And now, you can streamline your follow-ups for free. Get the Meeting Follow-up wizard, and let us know what you think.