From the day Salesforce released Chatter (their secure private social network for businesses) there were calls to open up the network to customers. It was fantastic having your team collaborating on an opportunity or a project, but often with larger deals or partnerships there were external people who needed to be included.
In the Winter’12 release Salesforce introduced Chatter Customer Groups – a feature that enables you to invite third parties to specific Chatter groups in your org. Your customers (who could be prospects or partners!) can only see the groups you have invited them to so there is no risk of secure data finding it’s way into their hands.
Now the downside – in order to maintain this security, your customers will receive invites and logins to your Salesforce org. Their login might look like email@example.com. If they are not already Salesforce users then this might not be a problem, but if they are, you are putting the responsibility on your customer to maintain two Salesforce logins. If your objective is to collaborate with your customer or partner then you might be missing a trick.
Before you set up a Chatter Customer Group ask your Customer/Prospect/Partner if they already use Salesforce. If they do then ask them to set up a Chatter Customer Group in their own org and invite you and your colleagues in as ‘the Customers’.
This way your customer/partner doesn’t need to do anything differently. Any users in their org can search and join the group and your posts will be visible in the feed they already use – a much easier way to drive adoption.
Now you have the job of managing multiple orgs instead of your customer – but it’s simple if you use Chatter Desktop.
Firstly, open Chatter Desktop, click on the cog at the bottom and select Settings. Here you are able to add in a new connection to your customer’s org. Remember that your login will be the new one and not your usual login and password.
Once set up, its simple to flip between your orgs by selecting “Switch Connection”. I tend to use Chatter Desktop for customer and partner orgs and web access to Salesforce for our own org.
I hope this idea proves useful for you. I’d love to know if you have any innovative ways of using Chatter Customer Groups.
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