Thursday, March 26, 2015

Promoting My Brand Internally as a Salesforce Admin with New User Welcome Emails

In my last post about using the Vertical Response WYSIWYG editor to create emails for my Salesforce workflows, I mentioned that I would share how I use this method to promote my brand as a Salesforce Admin within the company. So, here's the story.

When it comes to my personal brand, I'd summarize it in these words: approachable, knowledgable, responsive and helpful.

I want to be the person my coworkers go to when they have a suggestion for improving CRM for the company, who they contact when they aren't sure how to follow up on a lead assigned to them, the name that pops into their head synonymous with Salesforce.

Conveying that image starts with my very first correspondence with them, typically the 'new user welcome email' that I send when I create their user account in Salesforce.

To help enforce this brand, I recently began redesigning my internal support emails, including that new user welcome email.

Here's what it looked like before:

It wasn't horrible. I just thought it could be a little more streamlined and use a bit more pep. My video tutorial was also quite out of date (besides, who has time for a 1 hour video tutorial?). So, I transferred the most important points into an updated Google Slide presentation.

And here's my redesign:

I like that this format is personable; I've added my picture at the bottom because working remotely means I rarely get to meet my coworkers. It's pops a bit more with the simplified layout and graphics. The flow of information is improved and it makes it easier for the user to see what they have to do next.

Here's a peek at a few slides in the presentation that I link in my email:

A little side-by-side comparison:

And finally, here's how I use this email template:
  1. Create new user.
  2. Navigate to 'Mass Email Users' under 'Manage Users' in Setup.
  3. Refresh 'New Users' list view that I've customized to show users created today.
  4. Select my email template. 
  5. Send, leaving the default to bcc myself checked.

If you're interested in improving your personal brand, here are a few articles that I found useful:

PS - The icons I used in my updated email are from:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How I Use Vertical Response's Email Builder to Create Formatted HTML Email Notifications for Salesforce Workflow Rules

When you've been a Salesforce Administrator for a decent length of time, you might look back on the way you implemented certain features or customized the application and be struck with this thought: "Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have done it differently."

That's the situation I found myself in as I reviewed some of our workflow rules and email notifications recently. 

Most of the email notifications were plain text and rather... blah.

So I decided to spiff them up with a little help from the html email editor that I use for creating marketing email campaigns: Vertical Response for Salesforce. 

  • It's free to design emails with the Vertical Response WYSIWYG editor. 
  • It's easy to use.
  • You can paste the resulting html directly into your Salesforce email template.

Why do I use Vertical Response's editor instead of the Salesforce editor? I like to use the 'Custom (without using Letterhead)' template creation option, which means I would have to code all the html by hand. No thanks. 

Here's my process: I start off by having two tabs open. 1) 'VR Email' tab in Salesforce, 2) my new Salesforce email template, with the option of 'Custom (without using Letterhead)' chosen.

Then I proceed with the following steps:

Step 1: Design the email in the Graphical Editor.

I create a new draft email in Vertical Response. 

I like to use a centered table to make the email a bit more visually appealing.

In this example, I pasted the field names from Salesforce so that they would merge correctly.

When I'm done with my editing, I save the draft. If I need to make changes in the future, I can just come back to it in Vertical Response, make my modifications and replace the html in Salesforce with the updated version.

Note: I recommending doing all your copying and pasting text into the VR editor before you attempt to format your text. I've noticed that if I copy and paste (even if I use 'paste unformatted'), it strips the existing formatting of my entire email. Blargh. So, save yourself the frustration and get all your content in there first before you begin modifying fonts, sizes, etc.

Step 2: Preview the email.

If there are any basic formatting changes to make, it's easier to do them now than manually in html.

Step 3: Copy the code from the 'HTML Code' tab.

After selecting all the html, I copy it and switch over to Salesforce.

 Step 4: Paste the html into the 'HTML Body' area of my email in Salesforce.

Step 5: Click on the 'Preview' button and admire the result. 

Step 6: Click Save.

Now my fancified new email template is ready for circulation. It's a big improvement over the plain text version!

Coming Soon: In my next post, I'll show you how I used this method to redesign my 'new user welcome' emails and promote my brand within the company as a Salesforce Admin.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How I Use Jing, Clarify & Skitch to Train Salesforce Users on the Fly

"I'm trying to customize a report but my filters aren't working".... "I'm searching for an account but I'm not seeing anything in the results and it should be there".... "I don't see my opportunities."

In my role as a Salesforce Admin, I regularly receive emailed questions like this - not so complicated that scheduling a screen-sharing session is necessary, but not simple enough to warrant a "send me a link to the page you're on and I'll fix it" response. Often, it's a case of someone needing a little extra training.
Note: I've talked about this topic before (see this post: "How I Changed My Attitude Toward Internal Tech Support"), but I've updated my methods in the last few years.

I prefer to not just call someone up on the phone and tell them what to do. Why? Because...
  1. What happens when the person I'm helping forgets about our conversation and stumbles across the same issue? 
  2. Schedule and time zone differences tend to yield a thread of 'what time works for you?' emails that drive me nuts.
  3. When the question comes up again with another person, it's great to have a resource that I can share quickly. I'm saving my future self some time.
  4. Phone calls are disruptive. I'd rather they review my response at the best time for them.
  5. Showing is always better than telling.

To help me use these opportunities to teach people individually, I use these three tools:
Links: Clarify (from ScreenSteps) | Skitch (from Evernote) | Jing (from TechSmith)

To determine which tool to use, I consider how I can answer their question best.

  • Will a single marked-up image do the trick? Use Skitch.
  • Would I type a numbered list of instructions in an email in response? And would pictures be helpful? Use Clarify.
  • Can I explain this best by walking them through the steps personally? Use Jing.

How I Use Skitch

I prepare my screen so I'm viewing what I want to capture, then use the keyboard shortcut for a crosshair snapshot (meaning I 'draw' around the area I want to capture).

I use arrows, boxes or text to annotate the image as necessary, drawing attention to a button they should click on or a field that they need to populate.

Note: Jing can also be used for individual screen captures, but I prefer Skitch because I can drag and drop the images directly into Gmail.

How I Use Clarify

When someone asks me a question that will involve a step-by-step answer, I love to use Clarify. It's a quick and easy way to create one-of tutorials that combine written instructions with annotated images that show them exactly what to do.

I typically share my tutorials via a link, but there's also an option to export as a PDF or to Evernote.

How I Use Jing

Jing is easily accessed from my menu bar. I choose the area that I want to record and click to start the video recording.

Most of the time, I record audio so I can explain what I'm doing. But on occasion I leave the audio muted if no other instructions are necessary aside from a quick demo.

I keep my explanations brief - usually right around a minute. Then, with a click, I can upload the video, then the link is automatically copied and I can paste it in an emailed response.

The Result

Recording a short video, preparing a step-by-step tutorial or capturing my screen may take a smidge more mental energy, but it doesn't take much longer than composing some instructions in an email. The results have been well worth the effort.

I received this response today after I sent a coworker a video about how to customize an existing report.

Click here to see another example of the response I've gotten to this method.

Does your job involve providing tech support or training for coworkers? If so, what tools have you found successful? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Salesforce Admin Journal: Simple Sidebar Feedback Form Using JotForm

Hello my fellow Salesforce admins!

I'm working on rolling out a few changes to our Salesforce org and want to make sure that users can offer feedback as painlessly and conveniently as possible. They shouldn't have to switch tabs or compose a new email, or input any other information aside from their comment.

Ideally, a 'Comment' box and 'Submit' button could dwell right there in the sidebar itself. But, after some googling and brainstorming, I wasn't quite sure how to implement a solution that simplistic.

Instead, I found a workaround for the next best thing: a link to a popup form (created with Jotform, one of my favorite tools) that pulls in the user's email address from the url.

Here's how it turned out:

Designing my super simple form in Jotform. 

I customized the thank you page.

I created my url - passing the current user's email into a field on my form, per this tutorial.

The finished link

The form pops up.
The email notification that I receive when a user submits a comment with the form.

All things considered, I'm content with this simple solution. It might not be the most elegant, but it's easy for users to use and easy for me to maintain/customize.

Win win.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Salesforce Admin Journal: Guide & Gather Feedback Using a Google Form Before Deploying Changes

Hello fellow Salesforce admins!

In this post, I'm going to share a challenge I faced as an admin and the solution I came up with.

Imagine that you've made some changes to your Salesforce org that you'd like users to test - a new visualforce page with a few new fields, for example. You want to easily gather their feedback but the idea of assembling everyone's responses via a bunch of separate email conversations makes you antsy. Plus, you'd like a way to guide them through the testing step by step. 

You want to make it as simple as possible for them to share their comments... because you know that will encourage your testers to actually provide feedback... which will improve the quality of your changes when you roll them out to your entire org.

Now that you've got a good idea of the challenge, here's my solution: Google Forms

I created a form that outlined the process for testing and provided a text area for comments at each step. 

It looked similar to this (but with quite a few more screen captures and long text fields):

Now, after my group of testers are done, I can easily review all their feedback in a Google Spreadsheet.

If you'd like to make a copy of this sample Google Form to customize for your feedback-gathering needs, click below:

Note: Clicking on this button will run a custom Google Script that will copy the file to your Google Drive. You'll have to give it permission to run first.

PS - I followed these instructions from the answer from Arun Nagarajan to create the Google Script that allows you to copy the Google Form to your own Drive. Handy dandy!

PPS - I wrote this post on my own without prompting or compensation from any of the software companies involved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Free Trial of ccScan: Scan & Automatically Upload Docs to Salesforce

As a lover of Salesforce and cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc), I'm always interested in tools that improve efficiency. 

ccScan is a scanning solution for people that want to scan documents to the cloud. They offer a Salesforce connection that allows associating a scanned document with a record dynamically based on either a barcode or OCR matched value. Here's a link to more information about ccScan for Salesforce.

Right now ccScan is offering a free trial, weekly $50 Amazon gift card draws and a contest to win $500. The contest will last until November 19th.

If you're interested in giving this scanning software a try, now seems like a great time!

If you've already tested out ccScan, I'd love to hear what you thought about it in the comments.

More about ccScan:
  • Salesforce integration works with: Group, Professional, Enterprise and Unlimited editions
  • Connections to several cloud storage tools, such as Dropbox, Box, Salesforce, Sharepoint, Google Drive, Amazon S3, etc.
  • Windows only
  • About security: "Documents are safeguarded with Secure Hypertext Transfer over Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) while transferring to and from the Cloud provider. All jobs are fully protected by password and powerful built-in .Net encryption. ccScan also supports VPNs and tunneling secure transfer methods. For more sensitive jobs, use ccScan’s built-in AES encryption technology, recognized by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology as an FIPS Standard." - [source]

PS - I did not receive any compensation for this post. However, I am sharing this information after being contacted directly through this blog by a marketing representative for the company. I have not tested the software myself (my job is paperless and I use a Mac, which isn't supported by the software) but wanted to let people know about the free trial and contest.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Simple Method for Processing Digital Media Using Pocket, Feedly and Evernote

Processing the flood of available digital media can be overwhelming.

Blogs, bookmarks, pins, articles, quotes, emails. Random inspiration and useful information is scattered all over the web.

Here's my method for keeping things organized:

Evernote... allows you to organize information (bookmarks, clips of web articles, audio snippets, images, handwritten notes, etc) in digital notebooks.

Find out how to get started with Evernote here.

I use the desktop version primarily and pay for the premium subscription - totally worth it!

I'll outline my favorite tips and tricks for using Evernote productively in a future post.

  • Get the Evernote Web Clipper for Chrome here.

Pocket... is a useful resource for saving web content for future reading. Whether I'm using my desktop computer or my smart phone, it's easy to send a link to Pocket to come back to.

I'm currently using the free version.

  • Get the Save to Pocket extension for Chrome here.

Feedly... is the software I chose to review blog posts after the demise of Google Reader. I've found that I actually peruse posts with Feedly a lot more often than I ever did with Reader thanks to a layout that allows for super speedy scrolling.

Feedly Pro allows you to save posts directly to Evernote, but right now I'm using the free version and saving to Pocket instead.

PS - I haven't been compensated by any of these software companies. I just happen to love these tools!

Logos found here: Evernote, Pocket, Feedly.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

After Installing the ScreenSteps Sidebar Search Widget for Salesforce...

I've been using ScreenSteps for internal documentation for a few years now. The software is a great solution when it comes to serving up educational resources to my Salesforce users.

As part of my ongoing mission to improve the experience for new and existing users, I discovered that I had apparently missed the easy-to-install and super useful sidebar widget that ScreenSteps has made available.

I installed it yesterday evening and... I love it.

I had been using a custom tab that displayed our ScreenSteps manual, but it wasn't convenient enough for most of my users... and I often had to remind them to add it if they had customized their visible tabs.

This sidebar search widget is a big improvement for my org!

Next I plan to implement contextual help.

By adding these features, I'm laying the groundwork for the improvements that I'm working on defining for our documentation. This is something I'm still struggling with because it feels so overwhelming, but I'm thankful to ScreenSteps for all of the great resources they have made available! (Check out and subscribe to the ScreenSteps' Salesforce Adoption Blog if you haven't already.)

Now, it might seem a bit backward to add a widget before completing the changes to our documentation... but I think this is just what I needed to get me excited about all the work involved in defining new processes and establishing workflows.

PS - ScreenSteps didn't ask me to write this post. I'm just a happy customer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tip: How to Fire an Updated Trigger on Existing Salesforce Records

Hey Salesforce Admins,

Here's a tip to help you if you've got a recently updated or newly created trigger (or workflow rule) that you want to fire on existing records.

Create a custom 'Admin Filter' text field on the object that you are running the trigger on. You don't need to add it to any page layouts or make it visible to users. (I chose this method because I didn't want to update any existing fields that are already in use in order to force the trigger to fire.)

Then, use the Data Loader (or Mass Update Anything) to update that field on all of your records.

Ta-da! The update will fire the trigger on all records that match whatever criteria you've specified.

Now, I'm off to do this in my own org.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Salesforce Admin Journal: Teaching a Man to Fish.... or at Least to Create a Report

I regularly receive requests from users to create a specific report. Often these are reports that no one else needs access to.

We are trying to cut down on the number of reports in the 'Unfiled Public Reports' folder. So, I'm encouraging users to save reports that they may need in the future to their 'My Personal Reports' folder.

I'm also working on teaching them how to create reports on their own. As I mentioned in this post from last year, I think it's important to educate people whenever possible rather than just doing something for them automatically because 'it will take me less time.'

This method doesn't just benefit me by reducing the number of request I will receive in the future. It also helps my users become more self sufficient and capable.

Today, a user chatted me a report request. In response, I recorded a one minute long tutorial that will help him learn the basic skills needed to prepare the report himself.

Here's the response I received:

That was totally worth the few extra minutes it took me to record the tutorial using Jing.
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