Summer ‘13: Chatter Answers Joins the Sales Cloud

In’s Summer ‘13 release, the Chatter Answers feature is now available to Sales Cloud users. This opens up a new set of options for businesses that want to increasingly centralize business operations on the Salesforce platform. For administrators and business users curious about what’s behind the hype, here’s how this feature can benefit a company’s internal users (versus its customers) based on basic testing in my pre-release org.

What Does Chatter Answers Mean for Your Org?

  • Increased employee productivity. Employees in your company that want to tear their hair out from answering repetitive questions from co-workers will beg you to roll this out. The gist of Chatter Answers is about being able to easily find frequently asked questions, their associated replies, and the best response from those replies. This is very similar to concepts used in consumer products like Yahoo! Answers.

  • This could replace your outdated intranet. Salesforce has often mentioned the divide that exists between the user experience with consumer applications and that of business ones. Chatter Answers bridges that divide by bringing the user experience of Yahoo! Answers to internal employees. Availability in Sales Cloud means that price is less of a barrier than before, when usage of Chatter Answers required a separate purchase of Service Cloud licenses.

  • Know your constituent’s needs before deploying. As with any new technology feature, before rushing to enable the latest shiny ball, evaluate which constituents could most benefit from this. Can you do a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation to know how much time is spent today addressing redundancies? Can you separate anecdotal feedback from data-driven feedback?

Reduce Redundant Questions

  • Benefits company experts who find themselves repeating same answers to different (and sometimes the same!) people.

  • Allows internal subject matter experts to spend time on the truly hairy questions.

  • Preserves value of institutional knowledge, even when it moves visibly off the feed (which is what happens today in a regular Chatter post).

Create Self-Empowered Internal Customers

  • Reduces roadblocks to easy answers. Askers want info ASAP, answerers can’t get their own work done if they’re always dropping things to address other people’s urgent requests. The prominent and easy search bar reduces question redundancy by making self-sufficiency super easy.

  • Makes companies less dependent on tribal knowledge.

As with all new features and updates, make sure your business processes and goals are understood before turning anything on. Here are some outstanding questions that you’ll want to consider before moving forward. Your business’s tolerance for ambiguity depends on its size and culture, so I’d love to hear how your company is using Chatter Answers, and how you addressed some of these questions:

  • How is this different than just creating Chatter Groups?

  • How is this different than Chatter Topics (using hashtags to categorize posts and comments)?

  • Are there named SMEs to actually monitor zones and provide answers? Otherwise it’s just the sound of one hand clapping, which will affect adoption

  • What is the ROI?  Wiki / intranet cost is already sunk in. If you don’t have a lot of employees working together already in Salesforce, there will be new license costs.

Chatter Answers mockup

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