Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Advanced Salesforce Synchronization Management

Following feedback from and discussions with customers, earlier this year we changed the way that users managed responses and synchronizations with their CRM solution.

Want to know exactly what these changes mean for Salesforce users? This article explains how the new Advanced CRM Synchronization works and then goes on to highlight the answers to some of our Salesforce users frequently asked questions.

So what's new?

1. Clear identification of Synchronization status.
Previously, Clicktools simply told you how many responses were available for synchronization. It was not possible to find out whether these responses had been completed or failed synchronization. The only way to see error messages was to manually synchronize but this could result in synchronization of empty responses, and matching errors to responses was difficult.

Clicktools now separates responses in to multiple columns, enabling you to clearly identify the exact status of your synchronization and easily correct any errors before synchronizing again manually. The columns displayed are:

  • Not Complete – the number of ‘incomplete’ survey responses, i.e. the Submit/Close button has not been pressed or are in the process of being completed.

  • Ready For Sync – the number of ‘completed’ responses, i.e. The Submit/Close button has been pressed but the response has not yet been synchronized. This will be zero if synchronization is set to ‘Automatic’.

  • Failures – the number of responses that have failed to synchronize because of an error that needs correcting.

  • Retries – the number of responses with temporary errors (see bullet 2. below for further detail). Will always be zero if synchronization is set to ‘Manual’.

  • Successful – the total number of responses for the survey instance that are currently stored in Clicktools and have been successfully synchronized.

  • Sync Type – no change; shows ‘Automatic’ or ‘Manual’ synchronization.

  • Last Sync – no change; shows the date and time of the last successful synchronization.

2. Re-try of Automatic synchronization.

Previously, if Automatic synchronization failed due to a failure to connect to Salesforce (e.g. during standard maintenance periods, temporary connection problems) Clicktools would simply place the failed response in the “Responses to Synch” column. Now, these responses will be visible in the new “Retries” column and Clicktools will re-attempt the synchronization once an hour for another 4 hours. If a response has failed after this period it will be placed in to the new “Failures” column.

3. Clearer separation of Surveys.
Rather than placing all surveys in one list, the CRM control panel now places surveys in to their respective tabs easing identification and management.

4. Visible error management and tracking.
Each column in bullet 1 will contain a number representing the relevant total of responses for each survey instance (rows) that meet that criterion. Each number greater than zero in the ‘Not Complete’, ‘Ready for Sync’ and ‘Failures’ column links to a page that will display the relevant individual responses. From there, you can View, Edit or Delete responses and select one or more responses to manually synchronize. In addition, when the ‘Failures’ screen is displayed you will see two additional columns; ‘Fail Message’ and ‘Fail Date’. Fail message will show the error message returned by Salesforce whilst an icon to the right of the message may be visible which will show more information when you hover over the icon. Fail Date will show the date and time of the last failed synchronization for that response.


Q. Why do I have a large number of 'Not Complete' responses, where previously they were marked as available for syncing?
A. Only newly created responses (post the application update) can be identified as being complete. All previously completed or part completed responses cannot be identified as complete and will therefore appear in the 'not complete' column.

Q. Why don't I see all my failed responses yet?
A. Only responses which have failed to synchronize after the application update will be listed against the 'failures' column. You will need to manually synchronize responses first.

Q. Can I just synchronize all the 'not complete' surveys?
A. Yes, but this requires qualification. The count of 'not complete' responses includes responses which have been abandoned (truly not complete), pre application update completed responses that have not yet been synchronized with Salesforce, as well as responses which are in the process of being completed at the time the page was accessed. This last set of responses should not be synchronized as this may cause incomplete information to be populated into Salesforce. To exclude these responses from synchronization, a date filter can be applied which excludes for example those created in the previous 24 hours, the remaining can then be selected for synchronization.

Q. When I manually synchronize responses for a survey marked as 'automatic', it doesn't use my current Salesforce credentials.
A. This is part of the new functionality in the latest release. If a survey is marked as 'automatic' for Salesforce synchronization, then the credentials specified for that survey instance will be used whenever responses are synchronized, either automatically due to a survey response being completed or a response being manually synchronized.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on: USA: 1-800-774-4065, UK: 0800 0432587 or click here to e-mail us

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Building a Global opt-out form

What better way of getting to know how to use Clicktools for AppExchange than building a very useful short form to enable individuals to ‘opt-out’ …

You can see an example opt-out form here:

We are going to walk through the steps required to build a Global opt-out form. This form will provide a link that you can use in all email communications to Leads and Contacts (and custom objects with ‘individual’ information in it).

With a little more work, this form could easily be adopted to provide an opt-in confirmation form or be expanded to provide opt-in/outs for multiple communications (more on these at the end of the document).

Download a step-by-step guide here:

Creating a Closed Case Survey

This document discusses how a Closed Case Survey can be integrated with Salesforce. Whilst the document focuses on a Closed Case Survey and a custom Feedback object, the aim of this document is to provide experienced Salesforce users with everything they need to implement their own survey and integration.

Download the step-by-step guide here:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Creating Ideas with Clicktools..

This blog entry looks at how you can use Clicktools to create Ideas. If you don't know about Ideas, it's a great tool to capture and organize any suggestions from anyone whether they be internal users, customers, partners etc. One of our customers recently asked us to look at ways of capturing Ideas from a survey and this outlines what we came up with.

The use case is fairly simple. The customer loved using Ideas internally but didn't want to expose the Ideas interface to their customers. They wanted a way of enabling customer to capture ideas, suggestions or even praise following a survey and in support emails. They would then manage the Ideas, to share praise (and criticism!?) as well as vote within their product management team on features. Once, the product management team had voted they wanted to issue a survey with the top ten Ideas, collecting comments from customers (again added to Ideas) and then voting.

Sure, it's not a pure use of Ideas but some organizations are just not quite ready to put the whole of their product roadmap in the hands of customers!

This blog entry looks at the first element in the use case - capturing ideas.

1. The survey in Clicktools
You can see an example of a survey to capture Ideas here and is shown in the mini-screen shot:

click image to magnify

The area we are focusing on is an area at the bottom of the survey. A light bulb indicates that start of the 'Ideas' area and, in Clicktools, there are three questions used to create the Idea.

1) A text question asks for a summary of the idea. This will be used to capture the Idea 'Title'
2) A radio question alongside the text asks the user to categorize the idea (these should match the categories you want people to create)
3) An essay question collects the detail to create the 'Idea Body'.

2. The mapping
is quite simple. You simply create an Idea using the questions in the survey. Additionally you may want to consider adding a custom field to your Ideas object to capture a link to a Contact or Account. That way, you can easily see which ideas your customers are creating...

This is a very simple but exceptionally powerful application for Clicktools. Please let us know if you think of any ways to expand on this...

Clickthru agreements..

It's been a while but it's back - the blog that is. We have been including more and more hints and tips in the help but we decided it was time to bring the blog back. This is simply because there are so many good ideas and uses of Clicktools with Salesforce - we just have to tell everyone about them.

Ok, for the first new entry we are going to talk about using Clicktools for clickthrough (click-sign) agreements.

The use case is quite simple. You need to get a customer or partner (or someone) to agree to your terms and conditions before proceeding with the relationship. Usually, this involves sending a word document or pdf to the customer/partner. them printing, signing and returning. It's a simple but potentially lengthy process that can, using Clicktools and Salesforce be completely automated...

1. Decide how to record agreements in Salesforce.
There are several options here. The most obvious would be to use the standard Contract object in Salesforce. However, there are some alternatives that other Clicktools customers use. Some record the fact the agreement was signed, the date is was signed and by whom - all against the Account. Others record agreements against the Contact or Opportunity. Or perhaps you have a custom object called "Agreements" and link to both the Account and Contact. You may of course consider a combination of the above. For the purposes of this example, we are going to create a new Contract and link it to an Account and a Contact.

2. Build form in Clicktools.
The form in Clicktools is quite simple and consists of three main elements. a) Hidden text questions to connect the form back to Salesforce. b) The agreement text and c) a checkbox question so the individual can confirm the agreement. Here is some more detail:

a) You will require hidden text questions for each of the elements you wish to link back to in Salesforce. As we are creating a Contract and linking to an Account and Contact, we need two hidden text questions. One for Account and one for the Contact.

b) Entering the agreement text can be done in many ways. You can display the whole text as a standard text element. However, this could take up a lot of screen real estate. The standard approach appears to be to use a 'window' with a scroll bar with only a small amount of the agreement visible at any one time. There are two approaches to this. One, use an iFrame. An iFrame enables you to reference text on another web page which eases potential maintenance however the downside is that iFrames are not particularly well supported in all browser environments (e.g. Safari). The other option (and the one used in the example) is to use a 'textarea'. You will need to enter this html directly in to the 'Source' of a Clicktools text block. To do this, create a text element, show the formatting bar and click the 'Source' button. Then, enter the code below, replacing the text with your own:

-- sample code begins --
<textarea cols="80" rows="10" readonly="readonly">Your agreement text in here.</textarea>"
-- sample code ends --

You can change the number of rows and columns to show more (or less) of the agreement whilst the readonly setting ensure the text cannot be changed. Please see for more help on this html.

c) The final element is perhaps some thank you text but, importantly, a single checkbox which the user has to check to complete the form. Make this question 'Required' which forces this.

You can see an example here or, click on the mini-screenshot:

click to magnify screenshot

3. Define mapping from Clicktools to Salesforce.
Obviously, the mapping will depend entirely upon what you want to do with the information in Salesforce. In our example, we are creating a Contract, then using the answers to the two hidden questions to populate the links to the Account and Contact. We can then use some additional items like the date completed to record and use some fixed text to record the status of Draft, the length of the contract term and place a link to the completed form in the Description.

4. The email to send.
The final element is to create an email in Salesforce to send to the contact to sign. Obviously, each person will use their own text but the important element will be the link to the survey. It is important because the link must pass across information to Clicktools. We do this by appending two merge fields on to the end of the survey link like this:{!Account.Id}&q2={!Contact.Id}

The bold element at the end of the link is what you would need to add. So, when you send the email the values {!Account.Id} and {!Contact.Id} will be replaced by the real values in Salesforce which allows Clicktools to link the newly created contract to the correct people. You could hide this URL behind some other text or an image using Salesforce's html email editor to produce a very smooth email.

That completes the example - it's a fairly simple process and can vastly reduce the amount of effort involved in getting click-thru's implemented!