Thursday, August 11, 2016

Know Your Users But Make Sure They Know You

users [yoo-zers] : Those pesky annoyances making it difficult for you to complete your work, always interrupting with their questions and requests.
As an administrator of a Salesforce Organization you likely spend much of your time dealing with your users. How much time depends on how your company utilizes Salesforce, what adoption rates are at, the size of your team, and many other factors.
But how does knowing your users help you do your job better?
Even more important - should you make sure your users know you?
What does that even mean?
How would you even go about it?

Let's dive in.

Know your users
What does your role as a Salesforce administrator really include?
Sure- you create new functionality, new automation, manage the data, and maybe even support a bunch 3rd party applications - but why do you do all this?
It all boils down to our users - our goal as administrators is to make it easy for them to use the system, because if it is easy to use the system - they might actually do that.
And the more your users use your system, the more you can trust that the data represents reality.
When your data represents reality - you can actually use it to draw conclusions and make decisions.
Another way to look at it:
User happiness = Higher adoption rate
Higher adoption rate = More reliable data
User Happiness = More reliable data

But how do you make your users happy?
The short answer is: you listen to them.
The more you know about your users' challenges, more pieces of a puzzle come together to create a better picture of your organization, and you become better equipped to tweak the design of your system to make things easier for everybody.

For example, speaking to a Sales Rep you may learn that they hate spending so much time entering opportunities. That is one simple statement that indicates there is some issue that is making your user unhappy.
You can now try to break it down and analyze why creating opportunities is so time consuming:
  • Are there too many fields on the page?
    • Are all of these fields even used? (You can use a free tool like Field Trip for this)
    • Should you create multiple page layouts so that different users only see fields relevant to them?
    • Is there opportunity to automate some field population using formulas or process builder?
  • Are your users creating opportunities just at deal close time?
    • Can you work with their manager to enforce updating deals as they go?
    • Can you create dashboards and/or reports to highlight users who work efficiently?
  • Is the page layout just too busy / confusing?
    • Can you simplify the page layout by breaking it down to sections?
    • Can you utilize flows to create a wizard-like entry process?

Half the effort is just identifying the right questions to ask - the above list is by no means all-inclusive, yet it can be derived from a single user statement.

The more you know about how your users use the system, what their pain-points are, and even what suggestions they have - the more efficient you can make you system.

One caveat to always keep in mind - just because your user is asking for something, that does not mean it is the right thing to do!
Whenever a user asks me something, I always follow up with questions that are designed to make me understand what the best solution is to their problem:
  1. What problem are you trying to solve?
  2. Are your colleagues experiencing the same pain? How are they dealing with it?
  3. How would you use this new functionality? At what point in your process?

Let your users know you
An element that many times remains overlooked by administrators (and many managers, really) is your users perception of what you do.
Do your users know how you help them? Do they know of the changes that you make in the system to make their life easier?

Keeping your users aware of what you do is just as important as understand what they do.
By exposing them to what you do, you can achieve a few important advantages:
  • Increase your worth within the organization, as you take the mystery out of what you do
  • Create excitement with your users as they see that things are actually improving
  • Demonstrate to your users that their feedback counts and is not ignored
  • Improve your users' understanding of how to use the system efficiently
  • Create a dialogue with your users - feedback about what you already did

I really can't stress enough how much value it can create just by exposing your users to what you do, and until you start doing that - you will likely not fully understand it.

But how can you increase transparency and make what you are doing known?

What can you actually do?
Over the last few years, I've learned that there are a few things I can do to get my users involved and informed. Here are three of the top ways I get this done - but that does not mean these are the only ways:

Salesforce Open Office Hours
After a couple of years administrating our Salesforce Org I started noticing a pattern.
I'd be asked by department managers if I can set up a training session for features that have been deployed months or years ago.
It made me realize that even when I communicate changes with my users - they don't always start using them right away, and by the time they do - they just don't remember everything they learned.
To combat this, I started a weekly session called 'Open Office Hours', in which I invite any user in the company to join and ask whatever questions they may have - it can be about specific functionality, general questions, ideas, or whatever is on their mind.

Each week would be different - some weeks I can have one or two users joining, and end the session within 15 minutes. Other weeks I'd have 10 users on the call and would have to extend it beyond my original 1 hour time slot.
The best sessions were those where people on the line, waiting for their turn to ask their question - suddenly realize that they are learning something new from another user's question.

I've been running the open office hours for about 3 years now, every week, and I continue to feel that my users greatly appreciate the ability to just join and ask questions.

Requisite recognition here - I first got the idea for the Open Office Hours at a user group meeting from Salesforce MVP Cheryl Feldman 

Release Notes / Upcoming Changes
Are you getting ready to deploy some new functionality?
Have you been working on users' requests and making a lot of small changes?

One way to ensure that your users know how your system is evolving - is by creating a release notes document.

I use Salesforce as my Change Management system - every user request gets logged in as a ticket in Salesforce (more on this in a future post). This makes it easy for me to review all of the requests that were completed over the last 30 days.

Every month, I draft a mass email message to my users, identifying what has changed in the system since the last email.
Many times changes that I make impact users that I did not even realize use a feature - and exposing all users to the changes that were implemented serves as a method to shine a light on changes that may otherwise be hidden.

Think of this as the Salesforce release notes before every major release.
In fact, I use my monthly release notes to highlight new Salesforce features that were released in the latest major release and that I think will impact my users.

Training Sessions
Whenever I have a major functionality deployed - a new feature, customization, or automation that significantly affects how my users do their job, I make it a point to set up a training session for all users I think may be impacted - even if not directly.

It's easy to stop when the development is done - and skip that 'oh not that important' step of training your users. (They should just KNOW!)

During the session I show everyone what's new, and get additional feedback. It also creates a level of excitement about the new feature and causes users to want to get back to their desks and try it.

I record my training sessions (using Go To Meeting) and then share the recording, together with my slide-deck on a Training chatter group - where the entire company can go and find all of my training sessions.

Try some or all of these out, and see how your users respond. You might end up tweaking things so that they work better in your organization, or you may even come up with new ideas.

If you do - or if you have some other ways to increase visibility of what you do in your organization - I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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