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Keys to CRM System Adoption: Executive Involvement and Commitment

In previous articles in this series we pointed out that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. In subsequent articles we described the drivers to user adoption, and the best ways to make them part of your corporate DNA. This is the final article in this series.

An old joke:   What is it that no man wants but no man wants to lose? A bald head! It seems that we could easily paraphrase this to fit the topic. What is it that no Executive uses but no Executive wants to lose? A CRM system! It has been proven over and over in thousands of CRM implementations (in fact in just about any corporate initiative) that the number one success factor in the implementation is early commitment to the system and early adoption of the system by the Executive team. It is the #1 success factor for 2 reasons; 1.) The commitment leads to adequate funding and resources, and 2.) The adoption by the Executives drives adoption by the other employees in the company.   Unfortunately, many CRM systems deliver far less value than they should because the Executives, who committed millions of dollars to the system in hopes of a healthy improvement to the bottom line, never fully commit to or adopt the system. Ask any executive at a company with a comprehensive investment in a troubled CRM system if they want to lose the information and functionality that it provides and you will get 2 answers, both start with NO! You will either hear; “NO! We have the right system and we get some valuable information, we just need more participation.” or you will hear “NO! We are evaluating a new system that will be easier to use so that we can get more information and functionality.”

Assuming that they have addressed the other factors that drive user adoption (Pay for Play, EASE, and Coaching) it can be safe to say that if the CRM system is still suffering from user adoption issues (to mangle Shakespeare) the fault, dear executives, lies not in your users but in yourselves. This can be quickly and easily fixed, but it means that executives, who likely brought the change of a CRM system to the company, will have to move to the front and lead that change!

Another old joke to demonstrate the difference between commitment and involvement: At a bacon and egg breakfast – the pig was committed and the chicken was involved. Executives must be committed and demonstrate it by:

  1. Including the CRM system as a budget category for all business departments
  2. Creating channels for corporate change management messages about the system and ensuring that a pipeline of messages is queued up in each channel
  3. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to develop the system
  4. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to train the users
  5. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to maintain and improve the system
  6. Committing to joining and participating in industry councils
  7. Committed to the CRM System to gain a sustainable advantage in the marketplace
  8. Commit to be a key member of the executive steering committee

Executives must adopt the system and demonstrate it by:

  1. Personally using the system for forecasting, quota management, and pipeline analysis (sales). This means, no ‘one off’ out of the system spreadsheets or databases with layers of analysts between the executives and the rest of the user community
  2. Using the system for measuring performance to SLA’s, customer satisfaction, cost of service, and cross sell revenue (service)
  3. Using the system to see the ROI and effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to understand the handoff from marketing to sales and finally to service
  4. Using the system for the corporate intranet, internal communications, file transfers and storage, collaboration, and event management

Most importantly, you have to do all this with a smile on your face (and in your heart!) and you have to be the first in line to do it! Here is a quick check list of questions to ask yourself as an executive:

  1. Am I leading the change management effort for the CRM system?g. Did I organize and chair the committee? Am I involved daily in promoting the system in some way?
  2. Am I the best trained user in the company?
  3. Do I get 100% of my analyses from the CRM system for Sales, Service, and Marketing?
  4. Do I have a road map for what improvements need to be made and when to make them? Do I even have a process in place for continuous system improvement?
  5. Do my teams see me using the system proficiently?

Final old joke: Doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ask yourself, “Did I invest millions in a CRM system, expect everyone else to change, while I remained the same and still get different results?” Instead, isn’t it time to pick up the flag, face the line of retreating users, and charge right back at the competition with a renewed commitment to the system and a promise to be the first and most important adopter!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Keys to CRM System Adoption: EASE

Previously we’ve seen that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Are you one of the many companies that have invested millions in software licenses, maintenance, and services to install a CRM application, but haven’t invested the time and energy to create a true CRM Culture – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers? While all of the components of your CRM System are critical, your CRM Culture cannot be created without your Employee users.

Earlier articles outline the 5 key areas to investigate and correct if you are having an employee-system adoption issue: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching. We have already discussed pay for play, and coaching in earlier postings. It is time to look at the importance of the EASE formula as it relates to system adoption.

Fear and Love are great personal motivators, but employees can’t be expected to always respond professionally to them (e.g. if they fear for their job, they may find a new one rather than do more work in a current one). The best professional motivators, the ones that encourage employees (and customers as well) to act are those that fit the EASE formula. That is, the new course of action must be: Effective (or more effective than the current course of action); Accurate (or more accurate than the current course of action); Speedier (time to result is less than the current course of action); Economical (costs less than the current course of action). Of course, EASE implies that this effective, accurate, speedy, and economical course will also be easy to follow.   If you have an adoption problem, you most likely have not applied the EASE formula to fix it.   Here is the corrective action we recommend.

  1. Is your CRM system effective in doing what it is supposed to do? Remember that the goal of every CRM system is to get the right person/offer, in front of the right customer, at the right time, with the right information. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WWID-FM (what will it do for me). If your employees use the system are they more effective at selling and thereby making more sales and money while better meeting customer needs and situation? Are they more effective at providing customer service and satisfying the customer? If you have truly designed to the system to make your sales and service channels more effective, has that message been sent clearly to your teams?
  2. Is the data (base and transactional) in your system accurate? Can sales users rely on the territory alignments, the sales figures, the lead assignments, the compensation comparisons, and the pipeline and forecast analysis? Is your knowledge base for customer service current and complete? Do you enrich, standardize, and cleanse the base data for customers. Have you done a complete job of transforming and incorporating data from acquired and sunset systems?
  3. Is your CRM system fast? Is your CRM system performance optimized? Have you minimized the clicks to result? Have you eliminated wasteful cycles that were added in different times and are now obsolete? Are you persisting with complex coverage models that slow down the assignment process? Are you persisting with complex compensation models that slow down reporting on results?
  4. Are you treating your CRM system like a cost center or a selling/service investment? Are you limiting access to the system to only a few employees due to the cost of the user licenses? Do you have success metrics in place to show the return on investment in the system and are you focused on the customer as a way to improving those measurements?

Finally, is your system easy to use? Can it be accessed from multiple devices for many purposes? Have employees been trained and re-trained to use it in the context of their roles? Have you looked at it from both a function and usability perspective?

You can begin to eliminate your adoption issues if you apply the EASE formula – make sure the system is effective, accurate, speedy, and economical and wrap that in an easy to use package. The value of your system grows exponentially with each dedicated user and once it becomes part of your culture, adoption issues disappear completely.


Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Keys to CRM System Adoption – Pay for Play

In a previous article, we discussed how high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. This article is another on what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Pay for Play is a sophisticated version of the “carrot” (positive action or reward) that many organizations routinely use to influence employee behavior. It is well documented that employees take behavioral clues from the compensation and reward/recognition programs offered by the company. In short, if you want an employee to play the game (i.e. use the CRM Application) by the company rules, you must pay them to do so. If your company is experiencing user adoption problems for your CRM Application, investigate whether or not your compensation and/or rewards and recognition programs have a neutral or even worse, a negative impact on user adoption. Start the investigation with these questions:

  1. Is use of the CRM Application specifically mentioned in the compensation agreement established with all employees who are licensed to use it?
  2. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically detailed in the company’s rewards and recognition programs for these employees?
  3. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically part of formal employee reviews?

Next ask these questions:

  1. Is there any portion of the compensation plan that might conflict with use expert use of the CRM Application? For example, are sales reps compensated for the number of calls rather than the quality of calls? Are Customer Service Representatives paid strictly on improving measures such as average handle time, average talk time, and calls per hour?
  2. Is there any portion of the rewards and recognition program that would encourage using non-standard business process to earn recognition or a reward? For example, are sales reps inadvertently rewarded for their own prospecting disproportionately instead of following up on marketing leads? Can a Customer Service Representative be rewarded for using unofficial channels to resolve a common customer issue?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the first 3 questions and ‘Yes’ to either or both of the last 2 questions, then by definition you have a Pay for Play problem that might be the source of reduced user adoption for your CRM Application. The good news is that you have found the issue; the bad news is that finding that there is a problem is easier than pinpointing the various solutions that it will remove these roadblocks from user adoption.

If you have found from the analysis in questions 1, 2 and 3 that you are not rewarding the use of the CRM Application, your company is faced with the need to create compensation plans that reward this desired behavior. That is usually a difficult task for any organization because it is difficult to establish the value of the enhanced information and benefits from a new or re-released CRM Application. In addition most companies are already at either an optimal or even sub-optimal compensation ratio, so adding even a little more cost to employee compensation is difficult to manage. This is where the importance of having executive sponsorship and comprehensive system planning prove to be so important. The return on investment planned for the system should be adjusted for any planned increase in compensation costs. In addition, a change to the compensation program that is concurrent with a CRM Application release can send a powerful message that a system is being put in place to enhance customer experience.

If it truly isn’t possible to make immediate changes to the compensation program to provide financial rewards for expert use of the CRM Application, then be sure to include recognition in any local/regional/corporate recognition programs. While this is not the most effective Pay for Play option, it can be very effective if done correctly.

Some creative suggestions for rewarding CRM Application usage that have been successfully used:


  • Create a rating system for effective usage and tie a certain portion of future base pay increases to positive ratings
  • Offer different rates of incentive compensation (commissions) based on the way a sale is documented in the CRM Application
  • Offer compensation to employees who convince current customers to act as references and document this properly in the CRM Application


  • Create a rating system for effective usage of the CRM Application and award employees who consistently attain those levels a small memento/award that they could not obtain any other way than through this program
  • Set aside a small portion of every rewards ceremony to recognize effective CRM Application usage

Finally, if you discover that your current compensation and/or recognition programs discourage CRM Application usage, take the opportunity to modify this with any new or re-release of the CRM Application. If this cuts across the grain of your current company culture, remember you are introducing the CRM System to build a new customer oriented culture and this is certainaly the best place to start.

Remember, if you truly believe in the CRM system and continue with the appropriate levels of commitment, the cost of the additional rewards and compensation will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company. In addition the message sent throughout the organization will help enhanced Customer Experience become part of your company culture.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

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Project Killers: The Path to On Time, On Budget and In Scope

project_killersA new IT project has been initiated. The CRM system is going to be upgraded and integrated. Visions of new capabilities and increased profits fill the waking hours of the CEO and the VP of Sales. adidas superstar pas cher By day the CIO appears to share in that dream, but while everyone else sleeps, the CIO is visited by the nightmares of projects from the past where deadlines were missed, cost overruns were the norm, and a severe reduction in project scope was inevitable. Sometimes, when the nightmares are the scariest, the CIO even allows his psyche to relive the horrors of several projects that were complete failures. Meanwhile the IT Project Management Office, the Business Analysts, the System Architects, and the Developers stare in disbelief at the list of approved requirements and the approved budget and timeline for the project and sadly shake their heads. “Do they even have a window in that ivory tower?” they mutter. To all but the most uninitiated, the project is dead on arrival. How did this happen, how can it be prevented in the future?

Successful IT projects can no longer be optional or left to chance. Due to the inseparable integration of IT and the rest of the business, the success of IT at any business is the success of the business. We are taking a fun and somewhat irreverent look during the next few postings at the Project Killers in our midst and how the white knights in business and IT can vanquish them in as part of a successful project. These Project Killers are usually easy and inexpensive to avoid, yet most of us have fallen victim to one or more of them:

  1. Dead on Arrival (a.k.a. DOA) – A project without the proper estimations for time and resources somehow is initiated
  2. Death by Documentation (a.k.a. nike air max tavas strangled in red tape) – A great deal of time and effort goes into plans, requirement documents, and design documents with no real benefit to the project
  3. Death by Indecision (a.k.a. analysis paralysis in its milder forms) – Key project decisions are delayed or avoided altogether
  4. Death in Unchartered Lands (a.k.a. scope creep) – The participants, stakeholders, scope, and methods, are never agreed to formally when the project starts. If you don’t know where you’re going, most any road will take you there – but it may take a lot longer and cost a lot more!
  5. Sudden Unplanned Death (a.k.a. running into a dead end) – risks are not properly identified and mitigated
  6. Death by Starvation (a.k.a. bottlenecks) – resources are not properly identified and allocated

Many projects are Dead On Arrival – DOA. Often this happens because the actual amount that would have to be invested to achieve the expected results is significant enough to reduce the return on investment to a level that is no longer acceptable. So instead of a fair estimate for a reasonable gain in productivity/reduction in cost, companies and their suppliers “tweak” the estimates to be more favorable – the delivered system is estimated to bring more benefit, the investment in licensing and maintenance costs is underestimated, the resources required – both internal and external to the company – are estimated at reduced levels, and all of that will happen during an accelerated time line! Perhaps this has happened to you once or twice? Perhaps you have even had the project approved based on those over and under estimations to find that you can’t even get the project successfully started – in other words, the project is DOA.

If your corporate culture is geared to delivering a number of DOA projects, you can break the cycle and get back to successful IT projects that deliver fully on their promised benefits, on time, and within budget. Here are the simple and inexpensive steps to avoid a DOA project.

Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick any 2: This is a great way to prevent DOA projects. First, define ‘Good’ – what is the real problem that you are trying to solve – increased productivity, cost avoidance, customer satisfaction, employee morale, competitive advantage, new legislation, etc.? How much is solving that problem worth to your company – try hard to put it into dollars and cents! Next, define ‘Fast’ – is there an event on the horizon that dictates the release date? You should consider product releases, fiscal years, acquisitions, competitive activity, corporate recognition programs and national meetings, and meeting legal requirements among other time related drivers. Finally, define ‘Cheap’ – based on preliminary estimates what is the maximum amount of money you are willing and able to invest in the system? When putting together the project, simply remember that you will always be able to have only 2 out of Good, Fast, and Cheap. If you want a complete, high quality solution (Good) and you need it quickly (Fast) it will NOT be inexpensive (Cheap). Fjällräven Deutschlands If you want a high quality solution (Good) and you want it to be inexpensive (Cheap) it will NOT be Fast! Finally, if you want it Fast and Cheap, it will NOT be Good!

In today’s IT environment where the pace of innovation is constantly accelerating, few if any businesses can afford to choose Good and Cheap at the expense of Fast – the project delivery will be so far in the future that the envisioned benefit may not be realized (and we have seen this happen!). So that leaves just 2 choices – Good and Fast; and Cheap and Fast. That is why it is so important to carefully define ‘Good’ and ‘Cheap’ initially. If your definition of Cheap is significantly fewer dollars than Good (project has a high ROI) then pick Good and Fast and recognize that your investment may be higher than estimated. If your definition of Good and Cheap are closer together, consider breaking the project into smaller, quicker wins and choose Cheap and Fast to keep to budget with a partial solution. Finally, if your definition of Good is less than your definition of Cheap realize that the ROI for the project will most likely be break even or negative and only proceed where required by legal or business conditions and choose Good and Fast since it is likely that you are proceeding only in the cases where you need a quality, complete solution in a hurry. buy bns gold In this scenario, expect to invest more than you initially thought you would.

Remember “Good, Fast, Cheap pick any 2” and your projects will be vital and alive at inception. Avoiding the other Project Killers can be just as easy. We will discuss the process over the next few postings to this blog.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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Customer Experience: Is the Bar Being Raised and Can You Still Jump Over It?

It is a widely held belief that the secret to a satisfied customer is similar to the secret to a satisfying marriage – low expectations!

As with many things in life, a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service is something that can really only be measured against that customer’s own, personal expectations.

The customer will be satisfied with your company’s offering if his or her expectations are met. However, this also implies that as the customer’s expectations go up, satisfying the customer will become more difficult. Evidence strongly suggests that all customer expectations are, as a rule of thumb, rising constantly over time.

Your customers are not measuring their experience with you against your competitors in the current marketplace; instead they are comparing your company to the customer experience delivered by Amazon, JetBlue, Apple, or American Express.

Claes Fornell is the Swedish professor who came to America more than 20 years ago and founded the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). nike air huarache soldes In his book, The Satisfied Customer, Fornell reports that before field testing the ACSI, his team scoured the literature on customer satisfaction in order to ensure that they captured just the right kind of variables.

According to Fornell,

“Although there was no consensus on how to measure customer satisfaction, three facets showed up over and over. chaussures adidas The most common had to do with the confirmation or disconfirmation of prior expectations. basket air jordan soldes Another was the idea of comparing a company’s product to a customer’s ideal version of the product-regardless of whether or not such a product even existed. chaussures nike femme 2017 The third facet was the cumulative level of satisfaction when all interactions, the customer’s total experience over time with the company, were taken into account.”

Simply stated, a customer will become less satisfied even if your product or service remains at the same level of quality because his or her expectations have increased.

It is easy to imagine that, as companies around the world focus more and more on improving the customer experience, streamlining and automating their processes, and providing greatly enhanced online experience that the general level of customer expectations with regard to ALL companies is increasing.

This means you cannot simply maintain your position by continuing to do what you have always done. If your remain static, you customer satisfaction scores – ACSI or NPS – or previously determined internal scales from Ecstatic to Miserable – will decline as customer expectations rise.

No matter what your current position in your marketplace, dominant to new entrant, you simply will not maintain or grow that position without actively working to improve your customer experience, because the rising tide of customer expectations will soon submerge your satisfaction scores.

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and as new customers with elevated expectations enter the marketplace, you must plan to improve your customer experience at an accelerated pace just to maintain your current level of customer satisfaction scores. nike air max 90 That type of planning and execution requires a partner with deep experience in customer satisfaction, broad knowledge of current and future trends for customer expectations, and keen awareness of the technologies that are currently and soon to be available to customer experience managers.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant


This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.

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First things first

Remember in my last post when I said we would start reworking the multiline widget to display different content than it does out of the box?

I have a confession to make.

I lied.

Before we can look into extending a view to do something new and interesting, we should first look into widget extension itself, and how the wizard works. While it is still possible to create a new widget without using the wizard, in the vast majority of cases, you will want to use this. It will create the scaffolding correctly for you, stub out methods for easy overriding and create the yui file for you. If you later decide you have to add more functionality to the widget (I actually needed to extend the logic file…or I need an AJAX endpoint in my controller) then you have two options, you can either update the other files and edit the yml file manually (later post), or you can back up the work you’ve done, delete your widget, create a new one, and replace the code you’ve already developed. In most cases, I would recommend this as constructing your own logic or controller extension file is something of a pain.

So, what should we expect from the widget wizard? Well, first you have to figure out if you’re going from scratch or extending a current widget.

Step 1

It all starts here

If you’re old school, this is a pretty easy decision to understand. If you would go in and copy the Sample widget, rename it and then start creating your own view, logic and controller code, you’re going to want to select Create a New Widget. If, instead, you were going to go copy a widget to custom, rename it and then start tweaking, you’re going to want to select extend the widget. Details for creating a new widget may come in a future post, but for today, in order to get our feet wet with updating an existing widget, we’re going to select extend a widget.

Clicking this presents us with three input boxes, the first asks what widget we are extending. Just start typing the widget you want to use in, then select it from the drop down. Simple. Next, we are asked what we want to call our custom widget. There is code in the wizard that makes sure your widget name doesn’t already exist in the path you specify (more on that in the third field) and, should you accidentally be creating a duplicate widget, the system will save you from yourself and not let you create the widget. Finally, you’re asked what path you want to put the widget in. This is something of a change from the old file scheme, and generally a welcome one. All widgets must be nested in a folder, you can no longer create a widget at the root /custom/ level. This forces us to categorize our widgets. In the case of custom ones, this is generally pretty easy. In most cases, you will use the same subfolder in custom that you copied from in standard.

Major Decisions Here

Major Decisions here

Next up we get to define the components of our new widget. As we are extending from another widget (in this case a ProductCategorySearchFilter widget) we have to tell the wizard what parts we want to extend. For anything server side, such as form submission, retrieving data from the database, writing data TO the database (usually db writes will happen as part of an AJAX based form submission), new data components being exposed to the view, or other server side actions, such as working with a session variable and data manipulation, we need to extend the controller. If you’re going to add new communication between front end and back end, such as looking something up from the DB based upon user interaction on the page, you will need to both extend the controller and select yes for the controller doing its own AJAX handling, which brings us into the second radio button. Spending a bit more time on the first though, the effect of selecting yes to the widget having its own controller is to cause the system to generate a controller file with a baseline constructor which pulls in all the code of its parent, and stubs for all of the methods of the controller allowing you to either add to, or override those methods. If you decide to override a method, bear in mind that future updates to that widget that touch those methods might impact your widget. RNT/Oracle will generally communicate in the patch notes if these updates are likely to impact custom code. If so, you can choose on a per widget basis not to go to the new widget version until you have sanity checked that your own widget does not break.

Selecting yes to the widget doing its own AJAX handling will do three things. First, it will create a stub method in your controller to handle the AJAX request, secondly, it will automatically select yes for you on the Does this widget have its own JavaScript question and thirdly, it will stub out a JS endpoint for your AJAX request. As mentioned above, this is necessary if you are going to need to have any front end/back end interactions between your custom widget. This can also be used if you want to alter how the AJAX interaction of the parent widget operates.

Next you need to select if your widget modifies the parent view. This is probably the most common type of edit you would do to a widget (outside of basic CSS restyling), though getting used to extending a view can take some effort. The recommended option is to extend the view. This allows you to add content to the widget between the block tags that exist within the parent widget. In cases of view code contained between block declarations in the view, this allows you to override that section of HTML/PHP. This takes some getting used to as some view code is not contained between blocks and has to, in my experience be duplicated within a block and then the original removed from the DOM using the logic file, but this allows you to more cleanly edit the view without erasing the content already there. Short upshot of view extending, if you’re just adding content, you’re golden no matter what. If you’re changing content in the parent view, and that content exists between an opening and closing block tag, you can override it (more on this in the extending the view tutorial), and if it exists outside of an opening and closing block tag, you create your own DOM elements either before or after the element in question and then use JS to remove the original element from the DOM.

Your other option with a view modification is to override it. Use this option sparingly. There are two reasons for this. First, it obviously breaks the entire view for later inheritance. More importantly, however, it breaks the link to the logic file, forcing you to construct your own. This is likely due to the tight interaction between the DOM, generally presented by the view and the JS logic that acts on it with subscriptions, events, etc. For this reason, overriding the view will, in nearly all circumstances, cause functionality to fail and should generally be avoided.

View also asks you if you want to include the parent CSS. In most cases, you will want to do this (I don’t know why this isn’t defaulted to yes) as you will want to start from the basic look and feel and then potentially tweak the css from there. If you leave it set to no, the widget will not have its parent css applied and you will have to create your own styling from scratch.

The final heading to deal with here is the JavaScript heading. First you determine if the widget has its own JavaScript. This will create a logic.js stub for you to add your own methods to, modify the constructor and override existing methods, much like extending the controller. If you are adding new YUI components to the widget (such as adding autocomplete to the keyword widget) then you will specify these on the next line where it says Add module. This link will give you a dialog that allows you to begin typing a YUI module for inclusion into the widget. If you miss a module post-creation, not to worry, a simple edit of the YML file, which is created with all widgets, can get it added.

Also in the JavaScript heading is if you want to include the JS templates. These are typically used when the page does an AJAX refresh, such as with the Multiline widget. When a new search happens and data comes back, it uses this JS template to define the ‘new’ view.


New Attributes

Old school CP developers will remember attributes living in the Controller file. These days they exist in the YML file and can be manually added and edited there, however the widget allows you a user friendly mode of adding new attributes, for use by the controller, view or logic files. These populate to the ci/admin page for your widget and allow for easy reference of what attributes the widget has.



This final piece might not seem important at first, but two years later when you’re doing a code audit, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t pay special attention to the Additional Details drop down. This allows you to add a Widget description to the reference page. Here is where you are going to want to outline exactly what your widget does, and how it differs from the baseline widget. This will make it easy for you to go in on a code review and bring that widget up to standard as you will know where in the widget to look. Please don’t ever ignore this.



Finally, you will be presented with the following page showing you all the files you have created with the widget generator. Feel free to drop the widget onto your page should be fully functional as-is…but it will be a clone of its parent. From here you can go into the view, the controller or the logic files (if you created them) and begin editing. Next up, we go in and look at one of those view extension files and talk about how we can modify the view of the widget we’re working with.

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Customer Portal 3 – Brave New World

Dystopian connotations aside, the new framework is fully upon us a year in and it’s time for many to begin looking at the road forward. Those just starting on RNT will already be on CP3 and learning things right from the ground up (in theory). Those of us working on older sites have a bit of work ahead of us. Fortunately this work, when done right, can be a great way to learn how things are constructed now. If you’re like me, this will be hard at first (VERY hard in my case), but the work of upgrading a customized site from CP2 to CP3 will give you the chance to experience the changes and get a firm grip on them. If your site is highly customized you’ll be getting that grip for weeks to come. In order to document the various things to understand and pitfalls as well as best (or, lacking true expert opinion, at least decent) practices, I felt this would be a good time to begin blogging on the way things are done in CP3, using real world examples to document how things were, and how things are. We will start with the most basic of functions and then branch out to ever deeper customizations. To start, however, understand that it is not my intention at this time to go over basic MVC and how CodeIgniter itself works. While that may be post-fodder for a later date, these first handful of posts will handle CP3 itself, beginning with this first post, a broad overview of CP3 and how it works differently from CP2.

Back in the old days </grandpa voice> when we wanted to change a widget in any way other than by CSS, we had to copy that widget and make our changes to the view, controller or logic files as the case required. This came with a lot of flexibility, but also had the downside of divorcing that widget from the parent from that point forward. Your Multiline widget gets some neat new highlighting feature? Your CustomMultiline copy will never know about it. You’re going to have to go in and update your code…and who among us has that kind of time? With CP3, some real inheritance/extension has been introduced into widgets. When we create a widget we can choose to extend it from a base widget, and then determine what part of that widget we are impacting. Want to rearrange the display of the answers that the Multiline widget exposes? Then you’re going to modify just the view and ideally extend it. Need some neat new YUI features attached to your input box? Simply extend the logic file. Want to cause your input boxes to do a database write before form submission? Extend the controller with its own built in AJAX endpoint (more on that in a later post) and add a listener to the extended logic file for onBlur.

What all of this means is, we now have the potential to layer code on top of existing code in a way that preserves the baseline. If that baseline updates, our new widget gets the update as well. If we need to go one step further and override a method, either in the controller or logic, and we can’t simply include the parent (in the vast majority of cases we can) then only that small part of the whole codebase gets divorced, the rest of the code inherits just fine. There are exceptions to all of this, which we will go into in later posts, but by and large, inheritance is the watchword of the new framework. How things are done is going to feel very different, but hopefully through the following weeks, with plenty of examples, that learning curve can be simplified. Real world examples are critical for something like this, so the next post will be for performing what is likely the most basic extension for a widget, modifying the view. We will walk through, step by step, how to take the multiline widget and both add to as well as modify how it functions. There are a few gotchas in there, and I’ll go over those as they become relevant.

Stay tuned.

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Key Tools to Navigate in the Social Stratosphere

Some of you may know that I travel quite frequently to attend events, meet with clients and more but did you know I recently was in an emergency landing on a nationally known airline? I am not going to go into the specifics of what I felt or how others around me were dealing with the announcement of a possible water landing but it got me thinking about social and the importance of being connected. Why on earth have I been thinking about this? I have two answers to this, first the wi-fi service was not working on the entire flight so I could not alert my family that we were being diverted to another airport with a longer runway or yes potentially send them one last I love you.

My photo used on the Today show. They contacted me after seeing my tweets. We know they are using social tools.

Second, when we did land and we were stuck in the grass while FDNY in hazmat suits approached and someone took pictures of us and tweeted them out I was assured by the @nationallyknownairline on twitter that they were doing everything they could to get us off the plane immediately.

Don’t they tell us that in case of emergency evacuate as soon as possible?

Let’s get back to the point, staying connected in an era where social and the customers that use it are shaping how companies engage. I have since done some experimenting with companies that I know respond at least some of the time to tweets. On average if it is a company I know does some type of social monitoring and I ask a direct question I will get a response 25% of the time. This is generous estimate. If I merely mention the company or the twitter account that is being monitored I get a response less than 5% of the time.  There are a lot of statistics out there that tell companies they need to be doing more but are they listening? I think slowly they are beginning to. Social channels are maturing and new ones are constantly popping up. This time last year most people probably had never heard of pinterest, snapchat or even Instagram. Now they are regularly on the news and even mentioned in nightly television programs and sitcoms.

Two weeks ago I attended the Oracle CX Summit for partners at Oracle Headquarters in Redwood Shores, California and I had the chance to listen to information about updates to Oracle’s CX suite of products including RightNow, SRM (Social Relationship Management) and Eloqua. There were other products featured as well but these three stand out because they have a social footprint to varying degrees.

#CXSummit Twitter feed


I asked @nationallyknownairline  what product they use to monitor twitter and keeping with the typical pattern I have been seeing they did not respond. However after some internet research I came across a video of their social lab where the agents who used to be reservations agents were taught to monitor twitter. The lab had a wall of monitors displaying facebook, twitter, live tv, tweetdeck and hootesuite. When asked why they use so many different tools they responded that they want to take advantage of different benefits and nuances of each tool. While I commend them for even having a social lab to begin with they have a long way to go.


Being that I am the most familiar with RightNow (Service Cloud) I will begin there. Social monitoring was introduced in the product a few years ago and has been continually enhanced with each quarterly release.  Being that RightNow is primarily a call center application many times the departments using this feature are part of the customer support organization and use it purely in a service capacity. Many companies using it are still at an early stage where they have some searches set up, may respond occasionally but that is all.

Ideally they should be using it as a legitimate channel and reach out to customers that are having a problem and generate an incident. They could also use it to proactively communicate information such as upcoming product releases, service advisories or even to identify potential problems before it is too late. If you have been in the customer service industry you have heard that 89% of customers will switch brands after one negative experience but what if that one person tweeted about it and all their friends in turn retweeted it. 

A company could be quickly facing some very unwanted sentiment from the social ether.  The February 2014 release of RightNow had some nice updates to this feature.  If you want to read more about it peruse one of my previous posts, email me or find me on twitter @just_rhianna  and request a demonstration.

For general information on Social monitoring in Oracle’s Service Cloud read this and make sure to read some of the whitepapers and case studies:


SRM is a purely browser based application where you can set up listeners, social pages, workflows and even integrations to RightNow and Eloqua. It is classified as part of the Oracle Social Cloud. The audience for this application is primarily the marketing arm of a business but can be used by support as well. In fact I know at least one electronics manufacturer where customer support falls under marketing. Yes it makes for some interesting internal conversations but how powerful would that be if your marketers were listening to social chatter, identified some potential fires and were able to seamlessly pass them on to the call center agents that were using RightNow? Everyone one wants a 360 degree view of the customer, don’t they? The answer is they should!








For more information on Oracle Social Cloud:

The anchor of Oracle’s Marketing cloud is Eloqua, it is geared towards marketing and deals mainly with the more traditional channel of email.  There are still large demographics of people that are not adopting newer social channels therefore I do not see email going the way of the CD just yet.

 With Social Sign-on Apps from Eloqua, businesses can prompt visitors to sign on with their Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter login to access their marketing asset. Eloqua Social landing page apps are accessible directly within the landing page editor. Each tool, such as the social sharing tools for Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter can be dragged onto the landing page canvas with a single click and quickly configured.  Allow users to share content with their network within Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter!

Integrate with Oracle SRM to better target your campaigns to address what is being discussed by your targets.

In fact, each of the solutions I spoke about have integrations that allow them to seamlessly interact and provide better insight into customer activity whether it be purely social, marketing or service. More information can be found in this data sheet:

At eVerge Group we have a vast amount of experience across CX, Marketing and Social and can provide assistance with assessments, best practices, implementations, integrations and more. I would like to thank Jim Sibley for his contribution to this article and for continuing to share his knowledge of Eloqua with me.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle RightNow CX and our other business solutions, contact us through our website:

About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating RightNow solutions for six years.


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Spotlight on Oracle RightNow CX: February 2014 Part 1

Oracle RightNow CX: February 2014 Part 1

Oracle has started the New Year off with a bang with the February 2014 release of RightNow (Now Oracle Service Cloud). This release includes many new major features, additional features spanning all areas of the product and new training areas as well. As it was just generally released this week I am still waiting in line to get my hands on demo site. Part one will focus on the half of the new features with a second part to follow next week.

Web Customer Service

Virtual Assistant is an online concierge with human-like conversational capabilities that will lead customers through natural dialogue. nike dynamo This feature was released last quarter as part of the November 2013 release of RightNow. It can link to RightNow’s knowledge base and chat offering a truly personalized experience. This release brings enhanced functionality extending the visibility of customer profile and incident history, analytics that will track interaction based KPIs with visibility to customer feedback and a connector to external APIs that will leverage web services to pull contextual data as well as push actions like creating an RMA.

Dynamic Forms API has been developed to aid in easier creation and customization of forms like the Ask a question page. fjallraven kanken In previous versions of Customer Portal in order to do any dynamic page rendering you would have to leverage the javascript API and put your coding skills to the test. Fjallraven Kanken España This new API provides sample widgets and a dynamic Ask a question page with a full set of comments to aid in understanding how to utilize it. The dynamic forms are not part of the reference implementation but the standard pages have been modified for the feature. Using the Fields.js module input widgets can now subscribe to an OnChange handler that will track when the value is changed there is also a hide_on_load attribute that can be used to control the display of widgets on page load. This is one of the new features that I am really excited to dig into as it will allow for less custom code which means faster development time and easier upgrades.


Community Search Experience allows results to be returned that come from both the RightNow Knowledge base answers and community posts. Ithas been enhanced to include interactive filters and sorts which refresh the page when applied. This creates a more dynamic and improved search experience that will allow customers quickly find relevant information as well as decreasing duplication of posts and incidents in the contact center.

Cross-Channel Contact Center

Mobile Agent App has been continually enhanced with each new release. This time the ability to see custom objects within the mobile app has been exposed which greatly extends what can be done with the app. This brings us much closer to having the ability for a purely mobile agent. You can now use analytics reports to customize what is displayed for search results and lists of incidents, contacts and custom objects. Options available in the mobile workspace designer have been expanded to include the ability to have hyperlinks and reports on the workspace. Finally you can also attach photos from your mobile device.

Product Registration and Asset based SLAs in the past assets or product registration was created by RightNow customers as a customization. When custom objects were introduced it became even more popular as extending the database was much simpler. Finally Oracle has decided to add this as an out of the box feature with a standard database table to store asset information. Products can be registered by a customer on customer portal or by an agent via the desktop but most importantly you can now associate an SLA with the asset.










There is a wealth of information on the different releases available including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. ugg bottes If you want access to this information much of it is in the announcements section of the CX customer community

If manuals are not something you are dying to read then at the very least take a few minutes to watch the webcast by Chris Patterson.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience.

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Spotlight on Oracle RightNow CX: February 2014 Part 2

Oracle RightNow CX: February 2014 Part 2

As I stated in part one of my spotlight on the February 2014 release of Oracle Service Cloud aka RightNow, this release includes many new major features, enhancement of existing features spanning all areas of the product and new tutorials. I am happy to report that I have just received my new February 2014 demo site and will be taking full advantage of the new bells and whistles. This part will focus on the second half of the new features and will wrap up the two part series. Read Part One if you missed it last week.

Cross-Channel Contact Center

Feedback which is the RightNow module that contains transactional, broadcast and polling surveys has finally been enhanced to allow all users to respond to surveys that have been sent to them even people that require compatibility with accessibility tools. It is worth noting that web accessibility optimization for feedback surveys is listed in the release notes as one of the Major New Features and that adding a question to a new or existing survey will trigger the accessibility enhancements to be automatically applied. In the User Guide for February 2014 reading about new accessibility enhancement will refer you to Oracle’s Accessibility Program for more information. I did a quick review of the page and it included detailed policy information, news, how-to articles as well as quotes about the initiatives like the one below:

“Oracle is committed to creating accessible technologies and products that enhance the overall workplace environment and contribute to the productivity of our employees, our customers, and our customers’ customers.”
—Safra Catz, President, Oracle


Analytics Report Delivery Options have been enhanced to include a compressed csv format that will allow an increased amount of data to be sent up to one million rows. This is good if you are trying to run large reports with data that goes back a few years. Prior to this Major Feature you were limited to running reports with a max row count of 10,000. The row count was increased in Excel in 2010 to allow one million rows so if you worked for a company that had adopted office 2010 then you would have to limit the date range on reports generated in RightNow, export many multiples and merge them back together in excel. With the new feature you will save time, decrease the risk of errors and report failures. Although this is a little overdue at this point it is still a welcome enhancement that improves usability, decreases defects and increases capacity. There are some restrictions that I have included below from the user guide:


Outlook Integration has been around for quite some time from an Administrative and Agent perspective I think this feature will not make your job easier if you are used to the robustness available in the .Net client. However if you have Executives, Sales representatives or other staff who are on the go a lot or do not need the full .Net client this is an option that is extremely convenient and requires little training once implemented. The difference in February is that RightNow has added support for both Outlook 2010 and 2013 64-bit so now you can have outlook integration on a wider set of versions. The integration allows the user to sync contacts, tasks and email from a button that appears at the top of the Outlook window in the Ribbon bar.


Policy Automation (OPA) was released in February 2013 and is used for businesses that have a lot of policies examples of use cases are eligibility for social programs like food stands or finding out if you qualify for a student loan. I previously reviewed OPA when it was introduced if you want to know more you can read about it in my February 2013 review. In order to update a policy business users update a word document and then upload to the Service cloud with a click of a button.

OPA Interview Enhancements include:

  1. New pop-up date control option for calendars
  2. Ability to collect rows of data in a tabular entity collection which is column based



OPA Agent Desktop Enhancements include:

  1. Ability to run multiple agent interviews at the same time
  2. Allow sub-interviews to allow a natural customer interaction flow
  3. Keep an accurate record of customer experience interaction by automatically saving incident thread.


OPA Enhanced Rules Navigation improves productivity for staff modeling and testing policies.

  1. Use word to navigate rule structure
  2. Highlight a section of the document in word or excel to launch the debugger tool and debug the current rule or test case





OPA New Sample Project Templates include options for financial services, higher education, media and entertainment. You can enhance existing interviews by features from the new samples and use as a framework for new interviews.

Oracle Service Cloud Integration enhancements will be covered as a separate post.

There is a wealth of information on the different releases available including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle RightNow CX and our other business solutions, contact us through our website:

About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating RightNow solutions for six years.

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