The mobile user is king

I think I am lucky because I am a social CEO. My company has put social media activity at the heart of our marketing and brand building campaign. We use this blog at the heart of it all, and then push our posts out to a range of sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. We use these sites constantly to interact with customers, partners, and the wider team.

If you use Facebook in your personal or professional life you might have noticed that a small percentage of your friends make up a high proportion of the traffic in your news feed.

If you then have a look at these ‘super users’ who are checking in every where they go, and giving you updates on what restaurant they are in or what they are watching on television, you will notice that they are almost all posting from Facebook Mobile. They are tapping into the Facebook app on their phone, letting Facebook pull up a list of local Places, and then checking in with a comment. It is so easy to do that people engage with the service more regularly and become ‘super users’.

smartphone

Facebook realised early on that mobile was key. It doesn’t matter how awesome your social networking site is, if no-one is updating content and interacting then it is an empty shell and serves no purpose. Mobile is the route to user adoption. Facebook is banned (I believe incorrectly) in many work places, which means many users would only be able to interact by logging on to a computer at home. Mobile gives them the ability to interact on their own device in lunch times and when out and about. A much more immersive experience.

So what can we learn from this in the business world?

Over my ten years in sales prior to founding my company I used a range of CRM systems. All of them were traditional, on-premise applications built for a traditional office based role. When at my desk I could log on and update records, but if I worked in the London office the connection back to HQ was exceptionally slow. If I worked from home I needed to set up a VPN session which was equally in-efficient. And worse still, as I spent a lot of time working from Partner offices I was restricted as many wouldn’t allow VPN sessions out of their networks.

I, like many salespeople around the world, was unable to access the systems the business wanted me to use, unless I was in the office – the one place the business didn’t want me to be!

In a CRM implementation the one goal, above all others, is user adoption. Just like Facebook, it doesn’t matter how awesome your new system is, how many new features, how much automation it brings, if no-one uses it. Low adoption means poor data means lower adoption and so on.

So when we are deploying Salesforce to new clients I place a huge emphasis on the two mobile apps that Salesforce provide – Mobile and Chatter.

chatter

With Salesforce Mobile (and Mobile Lite which is free) your employees can access and interact with their records when they are out and about. I’ll give you one example of this. For ten years I would have to go onto Google the night before a meeting, print off the address, the phone number and any directions for the person I was meeting. Now I can just jump on the train in the morning and pull up the details on my phone, I can call them from within Salesforce to advise them that I have arrived, and when I hang up I Salesforce will ask me if I want to log the call.

Once a sales person has had their meeting, whilst it is still fresh in their mind they can then go into Salesforce Mobile, they can update the close date, the value, and the next step and any other key notes. No need to wait until they are back in the office when they cannot remember, or worse still – they never do it. I know that our pipeline is up to the minute and that all our Company dashboards are correct. No need for a weekly “Walk me through your pipeline” meeting.

The killer app for user adoption is Chatter. We focus a lot of time on Chatter and you can see on many faces “I can’t see how this will work in our business”. Every one of the Facebook generation knows how to update a status. Every one knows about a newsfeed. Those familiar with Twitter know how to use Trending Topics, Hashtags and @mentions. If this seems like a foreign language to you don’t panic – your employees do, and it is the key to getting them to engage with your new CRM.

Chatter on a Mobile enables your employees to communicate with other members of the team, but more importantly to follow individual records – Accounts, Opportunities, Projects, Support Cases, Content. The other day I came out of a series of great meetings and took a picture of myself smiling on my iPhone and published it to Chatter with some comments about the meetings. What a great way of letting others in your team know how you are getting on.

Action points

Whatever CRM or Service Desk system you deploy focus on the user first, focus on how they are going to interact with the system and how you are going to drive user adoption up.

Most of your employees will have a smart phone of their own – so instead of forking our loads of money on Blackberry’s give them the tools they need, on the device they love (and pay for).

Drive forward your social agenda. Break down the silos in your company. Don’t let Finance be Finance. Let them be John, Kim and Steph. Let your team communicate in the way they do in their personal lives – on a mobile.

Do you use Mobile devices for your business applications? Do you have a “Bring Your Own’ strategy for mobile devices? Do you worry about productivity from business-only social networks?

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Charlie Cowan inspires and enables partners at NewVoiceMedia, a Salesforce Appexchange partner routing inbound calls based on CRM data. Unusually for someone in the IT industry, Charlie holds a degree in Rural Land Management from The Royal Agricultural College. He lives and works in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, with his wife and three children.