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Ribbit for Salesforce is Released

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Ribbit has officially released its “voiceware” application that integrates with Salesforce.com.

I have been using Ribbit with Salesforce for ~3 weeks now and have been pleased. More important than anything for me was simply getting my voicemail digitally. Ribbit handles this for me. All I needed to do to activate it was call a special number on my cell, which sent AT&T a command to forward my voicemail to Ribbit (the Ribbit documentation says how to undo this change if you ever need to).

When someone leaves a voicemail, I can get it in a couple of ways:

Email

I opted to have Ribbit notify me of my new voicemails via Email. This way, I get an attachment with the file and can play it right on my Blackberry. The voicemail is also archived in my Google Apps account for reference purposes should I ever need it (even if I am no longer using Ribbit, I can still have that voicemail. It’s just a WAV file.). The downside of moving voicemail to Ribbit is that I no longer have visual notification that I have voicemail on my Blackberry. Getting it emailed to me eliminates the need for me to call in and check it. SMS is another option, but I wouldn’t be getting the file attached that way.

Salesforce

When I log into Salesforce, I see a nice message window on my homepage. All my voicemails are right there. The audio file itself is stored on Ribbit servers, but a record of the call is in a Messages object in Salesforce.com. This has call information as well as a text transcription. From the home page, I am able to tag my messages for easy searching later and I can also associate them to a Salesforce record. When I associate it to a Salesforce record, Ribbit creates an Activity with a link to the message file and a copy of the text transcription.

On the sidebar is a small message window and a dialpad. One of the biggest benefits of Ribbit is that of a “cell phone backup”. When a call comes to my cell and I send it to voicemail, the sidebar softphone rings. I have a chance to answer the call right from the Salesforce UI and talk through my PC. Alternatively, I can let it go through to voicemail. I am able to make outbound calls too, which is nice in the event that I don’t have cell coverage or just want click to call convenience.

Pros

The benefits are all about productivity:

  • Digitize your voicemail – You have the data and can do with it what you please.
  • Cell Phone Backup – Use the Ribbit softphone in Salesforce and put your cell phone away.
  • Link voicemails to your Leads/Contacts – you get a nice record of the call with a text transcription
  • Voice to text transcription is above average. It is by no means stellar, but it’s good enough to use as a reference for what the call was about without having to listen to it. Accents and slang tend to mess it up.

Cons

  • Cost – If you compare the cost to Salesforce licenses, it ain’t cheap. $25/user/month. If you compare the cost to your cell phone bill and think of the added benefit you get, it starts to make sense. Individual purchasers will likely compare it to their cell phone bill and it’ll make sense for them. Enterprise purchasers will likely compare it to the cost of Salesforce and that will be a harder sell. If you want voice to text transcriptions (which are extremely useful), it’s even more money.  What’s harder to quantify is the productivity benefits you might get out of such an application.  Productivity improvements is an area of cost savings that should further justify the price.
  • Can Slow page loads a bit – Even with the flash objects cached in my browser, the experience of loading my home page is slower with Ribbit on there. In my install, I decided to keep the Ribbit components on the homepage only and not have them follow me around Salesforce on the sidebar.  On Lead/Contact detail pages, you have a choice of the Flash component or a Messages related list.  l opted to put the Messages related list on my Lead & Contact for performance reasons and also for consistency sake.
  • You give Ribbit your login credentials – In order to have your voicemails there when you login, Ribbit needs to do background processing. This makes sense, but it requires you giving Ribbit a login to your system. Many company’s can’t afford a new license just for Ribbit, so they’ll end of giving them the admin login. I trust Ribbit with the login info, but it’s a risk to hand anyone login credentials. Ribbit doesn’t have much choice, though, if they want to get the data populated and ready for users when they login.  I think this issue could be eliminated if Salesforce allowed for a special user to be created for this purpose that did not take a hit on the customer’s license count. This is how Salesforce does it with their License Manager application. This should be a benefit of being a partner with a certified application.

Ribbit is definitely a nice product and their thinking is beyond just Salesforce.  It’s really a new platform for “voiceware” applications. Salesforce was their first target for a specific application aimed at the Enterprise. I would expect to see more.

You can get a free trial on their AppExchange listing.

Have you tried it? What do you think?

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Getting Started with Salesforce for Google Apps

The Salesforce for Google Apps functionality is live now! To get started, go to Setup and find the Google Apps Settings menu.

Google Apps Menu Item

Step 1 is to identify your domain. Your company must have an existing Google Apps business account to do this.

Google Apps Setup Step 1

Step 2 is to enable the features you want. This will be your main control panel for managing these settings.

Google Apps Setup Step 2

Some observations:

  • The Add Google Docs to Salesforce feature is very cool and will be very useful! It adds onto the existing Notes & Attachments related list and lets you create/associate a new Doc, Spreadsheet or Presentation to a record. You can also look for an existing document you have and associate that. I am not sure how it handles access to the document by others. You might have to specifically collaborate with people.

    Add Google Doc to Salesforce

    I did not see any Mail Merge capabilities with this feature.

  • When you enable the Google Docs tab, it adds the tab onto every application you have rather than asking you. You have to edit each application to remove it. This feature is nothing too special. Just a tab to Google Docs. I don’t see any special development Google did on their end to refer to Salesforce in their UI.
  • Enabling Email to Salesforce gives each user a new Email Settings screen where they can edit their personal settings. The idea here is that you BCC a special email address and Apex code will process it and associate the email to your Lead/Contact. I tested it and attachments do not get saved.

    Email to Salesforce Personal Settings

    Email to Salesforce is not limited to Google Apps. The image Salesforce has includes gMail, Outlook and Yahoo! Mail.

    Email to Salesforce Logos

  • Enabling gMail Buttons & Links adds a gMail link to every email address field. When you click it, a gMail window opens to compose a new email. A special Salesforce email address is BCCed on the message so that it will be processed right into Salesforce for you and associated with the record.

    Gmails Buttons & Links Setup

    Gmails Buttons & Links Result

  • Enabling the Google Talk Sidebar Component puts the same Google Talk widget you see in gMail on the Salesforce sidebar. I opted to keep this turned off as I’ll keep using my Trillian client. This feature is not pulling Contact names into gTalk. It’s simply putting your current gTalk contact list on the sidebar. You’d add people the same way as if this integration never existed.
  • I didn’t try any of the 3rd party apps. At first glance the Calendar Sync and Report Collaboration sound the most interesting.

What do you think about the new functionality?

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Salesforce & Google Apps Integration Announced

The Salesforce / Google Apps integration news is coming out now. You can cut to the chase by watching the Salesforce Video on YouTube (embedded below), which explains how it works.

Salesforce’s main announcement page is http://www.salesforce.com/googleapps.

The permanent Salesforce product page is http://www.salesforce.com/products/google/apps.

Some of the notable sites are tracking it too. I am sure there will be lots more by morning.:

Some highlights:

  • I believe this is offered free to all Salesforce users
  • Save email right to Salesforce like you can do with the Outlook Connector already. Not sure if it has 100% of this functionality such as Attachment saves.
  • Generate Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations right from Salesforce and have them linked to your records. The Google Docs side will allow for strong collaboration and the linkage to Salesforce will ensure that everyone is working off the right document. I was unable to tell via the video if you can do Mail Merge to Google Docs like you can with MS Word.
  • Google Chat is embedded in the Salesforce sidebar allowing you to chat with people right from within Salesforce
  • Sync your Salesforce & Google Calendar via a 3rd party app
  • Export your Reports to Google Spreadsheets with a 3rd party app

Check out the new Google Apps category on AppExchange to see all the 3rd party apps.

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Salesforce vs. Microsoft CRM Shootout

Keep an eye on the Paul Greenberg’s blog. A while back he issued a challenge to Salesforce and Microsoft to configure the application in an effort to compare the configuration capabilities of the 2 systems. Both have agreed to it. Should be interesting.

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Knowledge Base for Arrowpointe Products

I have setup a knowledge base using my Salesforce org to contain solutions for Arrowpointe products. Going forward, this will be the official location for help documentation on all Arrowpointe products. It is currently well populated with information on Arrowpointe Maps and Info Center. I am in the process of populating it for Auto vCard, User Adoption Dashboard and the Akismet anti-spam solution.

The direct URL to the knowledge base is:

http://www.arrowpointe.com/support/kb/

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