Customer records in your CRM are like a garden, they need to be tended to. Activities- love them or hate them- can be like weeds. We need them, we often need to report on activities, but if left unattended these activities can become overgrown on your records. They can clutter up the best Accounts, Contacts, etc. to the point that a manager would look at them and say “So what the hell is going on with this Account?”. Then frustratingly picking up the phone to call the salesperson to get an update- all the while wondering “why do we have this CRM system?”
It’s super easy to go to the AppExchange and wish our troubles away. But when I searched on “Activities” I got this result. I’m sure they are all great apps- but I’ll save that for another post. Besides, we are ButtonClick Admins! That means the best answers can also come from our creativity.
What was getting lost?
After diving in deeper with Management I found out that what was getting lost was meeting notes, or key interactions with the customer. Sure the salespeople were great at logging activities and emails to the Contact, but there was not way for the cream to rise to the top. Some reps were logging key interactions on a Task others on an Event. It varied from rep to rep which meant even the best report wasn’t going to give the overview that the Management wanted. And just as a side note- I fully believe that when the report fails it’s not the tool’s fault, but the lack of well-defined process, so we will add that as another blog post for later.
Getting the Cream to the top!
I want you to sit down for this, ready? I solved it with 1 object! Yup. Just one. (And a meeting with Management). First, we need to rethink what Activities are in Salesforce. They are really the “Honey do’s” of the record, or the “Honey did’s”. They are like a sticky note on the fridge reminding you to get milk, they are not your diary. But people keep treating those sticky notes like diaries! So let’s build them a diary.
Here’s what we need to do:
1. Build the custom Object
I called mine “Meeting Note(s)” because that was the cream that Management wanted, but you could easily call it “Key Interactions”. Whatever you do call it make sure it leaves no doubt in someone’s mind as to why and what gets created on this object.
2. Create your fields
The key here is to keep it simple. Remember we are not recreating Activities and the focus should be on data entry. So here are my fields with types and help bubble text-
–Subject– Text Field – What was the meeting about?
–Owner – Lookup to User – Who owned this interaction?
–Date and Time of Meeting (Date/Time) – When did it happen
–Key Questions/ Issues (Long Text Area) – What key questions came out of the meeting?
–Main Topics (Picklist) – What was the meeting about?
–Meeting Note URL (Formula Field) Hidden from page, you’ll see why I created this in the next section
–Overview (Rich Text Area)
–Point of Contact (Lookup to Contact) – Who helped facilitate this meeting?
–Related to Account (Lookup to Account) – What Account is this related to?
3. Add the Related lists to Accounts & Contacts
I know you were going to do that anyway, but just a reminder. Also, look at what relevant fields you can add to that list to make it more useful.
Salesforce Activity Reporting… err Salesforce Key Reporting
Hot dogs! We got our custom object made, let’s go have a beer! Almost. First we need to make sure that Management has what it needs. So for that, I created a simple tabular report for each of the managers that shows the Owner, Subject, Main Topics, and Meeting Note URL- see I told you that would come in handy- and had that emailed to them every Monday for the previous weeks activities. The reason I did the URL field is that way a Manager can read the email, click the link and go right to the meeting note without any fuss. (I’m confident that you all have skills in creating that report, so I’m skipping it’s creation for the sake of brevity). Next up I created a pie chart component that sums up the total reports created by Month and added that to our Adoption Dashboard as a metric.
Salesforce Activity Reporting is all about Training, Training, Training (and messaging)!
To get my Steve Ballmer on- it’s all about training and messaging. For the launch of this I trained management- post demo- how to enter the information, how the reports will work, and how to find the related lists on the record. Then I helped them craft an email to send out detailing how the new process will work, what expectations are, and how the reporting will be emailed directly to management. This helped tremendously with adoption for a multitude of reasons- the end user knew what was expected of them, it was communicated by their direct report, and the system supported their day-to-day activity.
Now the cream has its own section on every Account and Contact. Management is happy and the end user knows exactly where to log their key interactions. What have you done to make key interactions easier to log for your users? Share in the comments below.