Blog Posts

Using Leads in Program Management

The concept behind the Leads object in Salesforce is extremely useful, and not just for marketing and sales teams to hand-off prospects.
Using Leads in Program Management

Using Leads in Program Management

The Salesforce platform is built to be flexible, and making creative use of standard objects can support a wide range of functionality. Increasingly nonprofit organizations are looking to manage multi-step support cases -- instances in which an individual must be deemed eligible for services before a case is created, or perhaps there is an intake process before the type of support is identified.

The most common solution for program management is to identify a process within the confines of a Case - statuses to mark the Case as not-yet-approved or going through intake. This solution works; there’s nothing wrong with it.

But what if there’s a chance that the person requesting support isn’t eligible for that support at all or perhaps ultimately not interested? What happens with the handful of Contacts, and their associated Accounts or Households, that are created at the outset but never go anywhere?

There should be a way to identify an incoming request that still needs an initial review. Are they eligible for services? Have they marked off the boxes needed before they can receive services? Are they even interested in the available services? And is there a way to easily distinguish between eligible and ineligible applicants?

Leads can serve as this early stage of pre-eligibility review, and Process Builder makes it possible to auto-create a Case upon conversion, signalling the initial approval of an incoming request.

Why Leads

At its core, the Lead object is just a holding area for those ill-defined, not-quite-a-Contact-but-not-nothing types of records. They are individuals that we have some knowledge about but may require a go/no-go decision before moving forward. Ephemeral, elusive, and extraordinarily helpful.

They are easy to get into the system, either through an import or even Salesforce’s built-in Web-to-Lead form. Forms can have minimal information to make a client feel at ease, and follow up or more in-depth review and questions can come later.

From a strict database perspective, Leads take up less memory than a Contact and associated Account, being only one record with data pertaining to both. They are easy to auto-assign, transfer, and even delete, if necessary, and they can also still be assigned to Campaigns for nurturing and tracking. They also serve as a clear indication to all users that this is a person or request that has not yet been picked up and reviewed.

The conversion process is already tracked and catalogued by Salesforce, so it can be a trigger or switch that indicates to the system, as well as users, that this individual is ready to receive services.

Prepare for Case Creation

Creating a case on conversion, like creating anything else from Lead conversion, requires some planning. Some key questions to ask are:

  1. What information do we require to confirm initial eligibility or interest?

  2. What information needs to be copied to a Case?

  3. What information needs to stay with the Contact record but be included with the Case?

  4. Are there different types of Cases, and if so, does the type need to be identified even at the early Lead stage?

For each of these questions, prepare the database to work within those requirements. Create any custom fields on the Lead, so they can then pass onto the Case, and make sure to create custom fields on the Case to accept that data, if necessary.

Here is an example of one way to manage thinking through and creating these types of custom fields.

Lead to Case planning

What about that pesky Company field?

Depending on your overall database, you may want to change the label of this field to something like “Family Name.” If you need to keep it as-is for a multi-use database, train users to include something along the lines of “Requester.” Third party form builders will also allow you to set this value automatically.

If you’re using NPSP, the Household Account will be renamed on conversion. If you’re not using NPSP or are not using the auto-name feature, teach your users to use a specific naming convention.

Build the Automation

The goal is to create a Case when the Lead is converted. Process Builder can handle this all on its own. For this demo, only one type of support is provided, but this same concept can be expanded and made as complex as needed.

  1. Name and describe your new Process Builder flow - good documentation is best practice. If possible, make note of any exceptions, as well.

New PB Flow

  1. Select Lead as your Object and “when a record is created or edited”

  2. Identify the first criteria. It’s important to at least include that the IsConverted system field is changed and is now true. Other criteria can be included. Here are my conditions.

Lead to Case process builder flow criteria

  1. As an immediate action, select “Create a Record” and choose Case as the object

  2. Use Lead fields to populate fields on the new Case with the Field Reference option

Lead to Case PB Flow actions

  1. For Contact and Account ID, use the Field References “Converted Contact ID” and “Converted Account ID” respectively

Lead to Case creation converted ID fields for mapping

  1. Save and test

Leads are an option for managing a multi-step program management process, and with Salesforce’s growing solutions for automation via clicks-not-code, it’s easier than ever to utilize this native solution and still make it easy for users.

Have you used leads in a similar way? Do you have a similar use case that you solved in a different way? We’d love to hear about it. Share your stories with us on Twitter, on the Salesforce Community, Facebook, or chat with me @thesafinhold .

Lightning Strikes Spring 18

Winter is here, which means Spring is on its way. What has Salesforce brought us in the Spring 18 release?
Lightning Strikes Spring 18

Lightning Strikes Spring 18

The new year is here and with that, Spring 18 is upon us. Winter 18 marked another big jump in the platform’s progress, and Spring 18 looks to continue that momentum. There are a bunch of features to highlight, but here are some of the new additions and enhancements that stood out to me when reviewing the release notes:

Reply and Forward Case Emails

This is a key feature that has been missing from Service Cloud in Lightning. When working with a Case, users will now have the ability to Reply, Reply All, and Forward emails associated with them. Service Cloud has been limited in Lightning thus far, but this is a great feature that is moving the bar in the right direction.

Themes in Lightning Experience

Salesforce delivers on its promise to start making the platform more customizable from a branding perspective with themes. In Spring 18, administrators will be able to create themes that match their company’s branding without having to use any code. This is an enhancement to LEX that will make a lot of organizations looking for a more branded experience very happy.

The one thing to keep in mind is that only one theme can be active at a time and that the active theme applies to the entire instance of Salesforce.

Gather Feedback with Salesforce Surveys

In Spring 18, Salesforce will be delivering a native Survey tool. The tool will provide organizations the ability to easily create forms and collect feedback. The data captured via the form will integrate directly into Salesforce, which will in turn open up the opportunity to leverage Salesforce’s reporting capabilities to view analytics and provide insights on survey results.

The major thing to note with this new tool is that it is a paid feature. There are many third party tools currently available, but a survey feature native to Salesforce is going to interest a lot of people.

Personalized Navigation in Lightning Experience

Often times at an organization using Salesforce, users work with specific items over others. Some users may interact daily with a certain tab while others may bypass it and go directly to what is relevant to them. Salesforce addresses this by providing users the ability to personalize their navigation bar to suit their individual needs. Users can reorder tabs, and rename or remove items that they’ve added.

Users will have the ability to create temporary tabs. These tabs can contain things like a specific dashboard that they need to view often, a list view, or a record and can be named whatever the user wants. Temporary tabs are removed from the navigation when a user switches applications or logs out, but users will also be able to choose to permanently add those items to the navigation bar. This level of flexibility will make users who have been looking for this for a long time smile.

Stay on Top of Duplicate Records with Duplicate Jobs

Most of us are familiar with the current way of managing duplicate record entries. Salesforce takes things a step further in Spring 18 by providing the ability to run scheduled duplicate jobs. These jobs can be set up to run and leverage standard or custom matching rules to scan Salesforce Person Accounts, Contacts, or Leads.

The results of the duplicate job can be compared against other entries and merging can be accomplished from there. Pretty nifty, right? For organizations using Performance and Unlimited editions of Salesforce, this is going to take duplicate management to a new level.

What do you think of the improvements and additions in Spring 18? Want to share your thoughts? Let me know what you think on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter at @RyanOwensRPO.

Salesforce Spring 18 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

It sure doesn’t feel like Spring in the Northeast, but Salesforce is moving forward regardless. Here’s a quick reaction blog post, with the hopes that it brings some warmer weather along with it.
Salesforce Spring 18 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

Salesforce Spring 18 Release Notes Rapid Reaction

To start, I feel it is necessary to mention some branding changes, as opposed to an actual feature being delivered. Salesforce is officially all in on the Lightning brand. For example is now Lightning Platform, so say goodbye to the good old days of development. My formative years building out Salesforce apps were all done on, so this is a little sad for me. Now onto the features:

Streamline Lead Conversion without Opportunities

This change applies to Lightning Experience only folks, so if you like the feature and have been waiting for something like this, you’ll have to be in Lightning to utilize it. Have you ever wanted to convert a Lead without creating an Opportunity? I know I have. Lots of times. I’ve worked in many organizations that would really benefit from utilizing Leads, but the conversion process is confusing when it comes to Opportunities, especially if the reason for using Leads is not to track a potential sale, rather to track a potential person for any reason -- recruiting perhaps. With this handy new feature you, as the administrator, can set the default behavior, to either change the checkbox behavior for creation of Opportunity on conversion or choose to hide it altogether. This minor user experience modification opens up a world of new use cases, thanks to being able to control a single checkbox. Thank you for this one, Salesforce!

Keep Track of Events with Community Calendars

Internal users of Salesforce get to create calendars and share them with each other. This feature has existed for a while in Lightning Experience. There was no component for it though, so if you wanted to display data in a calendar format for a community user you, as the administrator or developer, would need to build one. With this feature a calendar can be used and shared within communities (desktop version is the preferred method of accessing it) to share data. Users can also add events to calendars. Pretty nifty stuff.

Connect Your Pardot Campaigns to Salesforce Campaigns (Beta)

This beta feature becomes Pardot’s B2B solution. Pardot literally becomes a native app inside of Salesforce -- in Lightning Edition only -- called B2B Marketing Automation. Once Campaign Alignment is turned on, users can only create campaigns in Salesforce; campaigns in Pardot become inactive and read only. Only connected campaigns work within Pardot. That oddball checkbox user field “Marketing User” is required to use the app; look at that little checkbox continuing to be relevant, even though a permission set license is also required. You can try this out in a Pardot training environment, and you should; contact Salesforce to get a training environment. Users who are familiar with Salesforce as an interface are really going to love this, and in all likelihood adoption of Pardot will see an increase amongst savvy Salesforce users.

Please feel free to comment below, on the Salesforce Trailblazer Community, on our Facebook page, or directly at me on Twitter @JustEdelstein.


Happy New Customers!

Maintaining happy customers is an ongoing process for every organization, but you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
Happy New Customers!

Happy New Customers!

Onboarding a new customer can be complex sometimes, with multiple steps and tasks assigned to employees in multiple departments of your organization. Some of these tasks need to be completed in a specific order before a customer is fully onboarded. Managing and maintaining these tasks can get complicated, and any hold up in the process can make for an unhappy first experience.

With a little planning and use of tools like the Process Builder or custom objects in Salesforce, you can automate these steps or create an onboarding checklist to streamline these processes and improve your customer’s first experience.  

Here are some tips to help streamline and monitor your onboarding process:

Map out the Onboarding Process

The first thing your organization should do is map out the entire onboarding process from the customers’ perspective. In this step you will want to determine all the tasks that need to be done, what stage of the process they need to be done in, what timeframe they need to be completed within, and which department or person needs to complete this task. Since the onboarding process could be different for each type of product or service offered, you should also map out a process for each one of these.

In order to do this, you may want to do something as low-tech as writing out each task on a sticky note and hanging them up on the wall. I used this technique several years ago trying to streamline the commercial lending onboarding process for a community bank, and we quickly ran out of sticky notes, as well as wall space. With the help of Salesforce, we were able to streamline and automate several steps of this process to help improve the customer onboarding experience, as well as free up some wall space.

Process Automation

After mapping out the onboarding process, you can take all of those steps and put them to action using the Process Builder (which is by far my favorite tool in Salesforce). The Process Builder offers many different actions that can be automated at specific times like assigning tasks to a user, sending email alerts to customers requesting information, updating fields on objects, or posting a message to Chatter.

Each one of those tasks can be automated and triggered off of any field change and immediate actions like tasks or email alerts, as well as scheduled future actions like follow-up reviews or sending thank you cards can be created.

For example, the criteria for this process is started based on a closed/won opportunity where the product is a deposit account.

When these particular conditions are met, multiple actions are performed. In this example, a task is assigned to the opportunity owner to perform the necessary KYC checks on the customer.

You can learn all about the magic of the Process Builder by going to Trailhead. Here is a good trail to get you starting on building your first process.


Onboarding Object

For more complicated onboarding processes, a separate onboarding custom object may be quite useful. With a separate custom object, you could create checklists with fields showing date completed for each step in the onboarding process. This could help with your automation by notifying the person responsible for completing the next step in the process. Stages can be added to the onboarding object, and with Salesforce Lightning, you can build a Path on your custom object to show guidance on items that need to be completed at that particular stage.

If the onboarding object contains lookup fields to an Opportunity or Account, you could use formula fields to bring in information from those objects, and use these to help generate the onboarding documents needed for your customers to sign (or esign) using tools like Conga, Drawloop, and Docusign, which can all be found on the AppExchange.

Measuring Happiness

When your initial onboarding process is complete, it is important to obtain feedback from your customer to determine their level of happiness with the process. This can be done by sending a survey with specific questions about the onboarding process. Effective surveys should be short and to the point to avoid dropout, and the responses should end up in Salesforce. These responses should be reviewed by the account manager or an individual in charge of your customer experience, and common complaints about your onboarding process should be discussed, with improvements made immediately to help make future happy customers.

Standard customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics like the Net Promoter Score should be used in your survey to determine how your customers felt after the onboarding process. Results from these surveys can be displayed on a dashboard or in a Chatter group for everyone to see. The Process Builder can also help by automatically sending the onboarding survey email template to your customer when an opportunity is marked as Closed/Won, and by notifying the account manager when results of the survey are received.

There are several survey tools on the AppExchange that can help you build integrated surveys with Salesforce.


Happy Customers :)

The most important objective for any business should be to have happy customers. Businesses with happy customers become successful and grow and those that do not quickly perish. Happy customers are your best advocates and turn into a great referral source, which leads to more happy customers, and then to even more happy customers.

Having a streamlined, pleasant, and engaging first experience for any new customer will create a lasting impression and lay the foundation for a long-term relationship.

Do you have any good tips on using Salesforce in your onboarding process? Drop them in the comments below or share them with us on Twitter, on the Salesforce Community, Facebook, or chat with me @ScottTSearle.

A Nonprofit Success Story - The Women's Center of Jacksonville

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville dramatically increased their impact with a move to the Salesforce.
A Nonprofit Success Story - The Women's Center of Jacksonville

A Nonprofit Success Story - The Women's Center of Jacksonville


Our Client

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville is a Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization offering education, support, and advocacy to survivors and women of all genders and ages. Each year the Women’s Center of Jacksonville provides hundreds of sexual assault survivors with support services. The Women’s Center of Jacksonville is the only certified rape crisis center in Duval, Baker, and Nassau counties and also offers community education, counseling, referral assistance, bystander intervention training services, and breast cancer education, support, and advocacy at complimentary and affordable prices.

Their Challenge

When The Women’s Center opened, they were small enough that each staff member knew all of their clients personally and maintained their own records. As the organization experienced significant growth of services, clients, staff, and funders, so did the need for a client-centric platform that promoted cross departmental collaboration. Their technology infrastructure was unable to support efficient collaboration, and the organization was challenged to capture every client interaction. Additionally measuring and reporting requirements has become increasingly important for nonprofits and funders alike. Administrative overhead was becoming untenable, and the center needed a new platform with a clear user interface to help staff easily capture services delivered, promote collaboration, and ensure accurate data entry.

Their Solution

After evaluating a variety of solutions, The Women’s Center of Jacksonville ultimately selected Salesforce with NPSP as their platform and Arkus as their trusted implementation partner. The Women’s Center successfully migrated off of ETO, Abila, and spreadsheets, for both human service case management, as well as fundraising and donor management, by adopting Arkus’s lean and agile methodology. 

The Results

The move to Salesforce has been a tremendous success for the organization. The service providers now have unduplicated client records, and the organization set up a data model to support “the whole woman” service model already in place. Since they also set up Salesforce for their development team, they can now easily deliver services, capture outcomes, and report back to their funders. The flexibility of the platform has also allowed the Women’s Center to leverage powerful 3rd party applications like Classy that has dramatically improved their online fundraising capabilities. If you would like to support the Women’s Center of Jacksonville or donate to their cause, please visit their website at:

Want to know more about the implementation or share your thoughts? Let me know what you think on the Arkus Facebook page, in the comments below, in the Success Community, or to me directly via Twitter @RboyleSF