Saturday, July 21, 2012

Using Dialogs for Multi-Select Option Sets

Personally, I am not a fan of multi-select options sets (picklists). The reason is, generally, the response is stored as a comma-delimited text field, making reporting do-able but not elegant. The option I steer towards is multiple two value option sets (which, arguably, is also inelegant) or a child entity.

However, the requirement is something that comes up every now and again and here is a codeless solution which gets you there via dialogs.

The Dialog

Here it is:


In this case I am running the dialog off of the Contact record and four questions are asked, all within the same page. When answered, these are used to update the Contact record.

The Prompt and Responses

Here is the first one:


The only thing out of the ordinary here is me changing the Value for the Response Labels. If the answer is ‘Yes’, the value relates to the question; if it is ‘No’, I make the Value also ‘No’.

Updating the Contact

Once all of the responses have been captured, we update the contact record.


The Response Values defined before now populate the Description box (although any text field will be fine).

Seeing it in Action

From a contact record (we cannot run the dialog against multiple records at once, unfortunately) we select the Start Dialog button at the top


and select the dialog of choice.


This is a little awkward but can be improved with a little code and a button, if required.

The dialog opens:


You pick your values, close the dialog and the contact is updated.



If you need a codeless multi-select option set (and many two option fields or a child entity is not an option), this will get you there. It is also completely configurable without having to mess with jscript which, for me, is certainly a bonus.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Importance of Social for Support

Last month, I talked about the significance of social channels for marketing and sales. I thought it was about time to see what social means for customer support as well.

The Story So Far

For sales, I generally talk in terms of weak and strong ties. The idea being a lead is, essentially, a weak tie to another person and the sales process converts this lead to a stronger tie i.e. a trusting relationship is established. This model comes from Paul Adams, a social researcher at Facebook (formerly at Google). In this 2010 presentation he talks about three kinds of ties:

  • Temporary: someone we interact with but have no relationship with
  • Weak: someone we have a relationship with but not within our ‘circle of trust’
  • Strong: those in the ‘circle of trust’

As the presentation has over 200 slides, here is a synopsis.

Paul cites a call-center employee as a typical example of a temporary tie with the idea it is unlikely that you will interact with them more than once.

Paul also mentions that it is much easier to keep up to date with weak ties than ever before because of social networks like Facebook. However, communication with strong ties, even amongst the younger generations, involves face to face meetings and phone calls.


Finally, Paul says that our strong ties influence us the most in our decisions. So it makes sense, as a salesman, you want to be considered a strong tie for your customers.

How Does This Relate to Customer Support?

I recently came across this blog post by Sawan Deshpande. Being a salesforce blog, the thrust of his article is how companies must embrace the ‘social imperative’ because the youth use social networks. Here is the infographic to back up the claim thanks to the American Express Customer Service Barometer 2012.


The claim is in reference to the first graph. However, it is the second set of bar charts which are of more interest to me as these specifically talk about customer service and the channels preferred as the request becomes more complex. The channels move from the ‘traditional’ channels at the top (first four), down to the ‘social’ channels at the bottom (last three). They also loosely match the channels talked about in regards to the strong tie research. We can also distinguish between voice-based channels (‘real’ person and face to face) from text-based/automated communication.

Here are my takeaways:

  • As inquiries become more complex, the use of ‘traditional’ channels goes from 77% to 90%
  • As inquiries become more complex, the use of ‘social’ channels goes from 23% to 10%
  • As inquiries become more complex, voice-based communication goes from 27% to 76%
  • As inquiries become more complex, text-based/automated communication goes from 73% to 24%

To put it simply, as a query becomes complicated, people want to interact with support staff as if they are a strong tie, rather than a weak one; they want to establish a relationship with the call center representative.

As I write this I am experiencing this effect. I recently moved from a fortnightly pay cycle to a monthly one. To match this I changed my car repayment cycle. To my surprise, the repayments appeared to become a lot larger than they should. While I initially interacted with the representative via e-mail, it soon became apparent the confusion would be much more quickly resolved by using a phone. No doubt guided by company policy, the representative is resisting the move to the phone. However, if we interacted in this way, not only would I perceive the representative as more ‘involved’ in my query, it would likely get resolved more quickly and save the finance company time and money.

My experience is backed up by another piece of research from the Unified Communications End-User Productivity study which confirms that while text-based communication is good for quick ‘FAQ’-like answers, more complicated queries are often escalated to voice-based communication for resolution.


There is no doubt that social channels are widely used. However, just because a person uses a specific tool does not mean they want to use it for all communication. Also, it may be tempting for call centers to jump onto the social bandwagon for the purposes of cost saving but, if it is at the cost of meeting customer expectations, it is a false economy and will drive customers elsewhere.

The research backs up the notion that for a protracted query, customer prefer voice-based communication, seeking a stronger tie to the support staff, over text-based communication and automated systems.

Given traditional CRM systems are geared to track ‘traditional’ communication channels (face to face meetings, phone calls and e-mails), they align well as a tool for handling complex customer issues. In the same way that I say for sales “Social opens the door, CRM closes the deal”, we can say for support “Social opens the case, CRM resolves the issue”.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Look at the Social Buzz of Dynamics CRM and Salesforce

In the past I have used Google Trends to review the ‘popularity’ of “Dynamics CRM” and “”. Given the many and varied channels for conversation out there these days, I thought I would look at some other social monitoring tools to see what story they tell. If you are looking at social monitoring and do not want to spend money, these may be worth a peek.

Google Trends

My classic favourite. You can type in any terms you like and Google will compare their popularity over time.


It is clear that “dynamics crm” has been catching up with “” over the past five years. Looking at the past 12 months, we see the catch-up is still happening but is quite slow.


Google Trends also tells us information about which countries, cities and languages are considering Dynamics CRM in their searching.


By changing the ranking, the same can be done for


Some takeaways from these are:

  • The Norwegians love Dynamics CRM (probably because salesforce does not support the language), although this does not explain the Danish and Finnish
  • The city which loves salesforce the most is San Francisco, CA (where the HQ of salesforce is located)
  • In terms of cities, Dynamics CRM is a lot more geographically spread than salesforce (salesforce is in the USA and India, in terms of cities, Dynamics CRM covers six different countries with its cities)

As you can see for searches done via Google, the feedback is comprehensive and potentially quite useful.

Social Mention

I did a piece on Social Mention late last year. Here is the update. We have “Dynamics CRM” in the first two columns, then “”


Strength = Likelihood you will be mentioned in a social channel
Sentiment = Positive to negative mentions
Passion = Likelihood the same people talk about you
Reach = Measure of influence

Of the four, salesforce has a slight edge in everything but passion, which is what I discovered last year (although sentiment has also gone up for salesforce). So while a wider range of people may mention salesforce, Dynamics CRM, surprisingly, breeds the zealots.

Other things of note:

  • When people mention Dynamics CRM, they also hashtag salesforce
  • Salesforce has more association with the word ‘social’ through both keywords and hashtags (not too surprising given their marketing push)
  • Dynamics CRM has better sourcing from image sites (photobucket, picasaweb)
  • Salesforce has pixsy as a source which appears to no longer exist
  • Salesforce has more corporate-like keywords while Dynamics CRM has more development-like keywords


A quick mention-measurer, here are the results for “Dynamics CRM” and “” respectively for the Twitter network.


I have no idea why it adjusted the date ranges when I ran the queries but in all equivalent measures, other than ‘All Time’, Dynamics CRM is beating

For the Google Plus network, while the numbers are smaller the story is quite different.


Here the clear preference is for mentioning In other words, it appears that “Dynamics CRM” is becoming the king of Twitter, while reigns supreme in Google+.


If you are looking for insights into keywords and the conversations being had with them, there are plenty of tools out there to get an idea on people thoughts and associations and some good ones are free. In terms of “dynamics crm” and “”, while the use of these specific terms is not a complete picture of how Dynamics CRM and the salesforce cloud suite of products stack up, it does give us some insights in terms of where the products are having success in the world and what associations people have with the products.

Also, there does appear to be a consistent suggestion that the “dynamics crm” term is gaining popularity over “” specifically in general searches and on Twitter.

Try the tools out and see what insights they give to your business. The price is right and you might discover something new.