I recently shared a family vacation at Disney. If any business understands the customer experience, it has to be the iconic mouse and his pals. Disney realizes that we have options. The reason people travel to Disney from all over the world Disneyland or World is for the experience. If it was only about the rides, then no one make the yearly pilgrimage that many make as there are plenty of amusement parks that are much closer to home and likely cheaper, yet people save much of their holiday funds to visit that magical castle. Disney understands that my experience is paramount to building and maintaining a relationship that makes me say, “That was AMAZING and I want to do that again!” and hope that I will share my raving review with friends and family. During my visit the following quote from Paul Greenberg‘s book, CRM at the Speed of Light, Fourth Edition rang true repeatedly:
Your purpose for this granular look at the customer’s specific experience is to find out what you need to provide them with that is actually important to them. It allows you to understand what it will take to reinforce the positive, reduce or eliminate the negative, and meet or exceed customer expectations. You can’t ask for more than that.
If your not happy, they want to know so they can fix it and learn from it. I saw a great example of this one night heading into a live action show and just outside the amphitheater in Hollywood Studios there was an obviously upset father with a stroller who started walking away, but the park staff who was speaking with him (note “with” not “to”) immediately went into super customer (secret) service mode by radioing to the nearest checkpoint to “stop that stroller”. No joke. They want everyone to have the best time possible. Earlier that same night, a toy my son picked out the night before broke. We found a vendor that had the same item and were able to exchange without issue. Disney is an experience and the company knows it. That is why people come from all over the world even when there are closer options. There are Disney parks in Europe and Asia, but people from these continents still travel to North America to experience the original parks. Experiences, good or bad, influence our decisions to repeat or avoid specific activities.
Few businesses put in the effort that Disney does to ensure you swing towards the positive end of end of this spectrum. For example, when I think about going to a sporting event or even getting on a plane, I dread the security line. Disney easily has the most efficient entry process I have ever seen. They are properly staffed and keep the flow moving with a thorough, yet quick security check. Once you clear security and the ticket gate, there are ambassadors posted nearby that are there to help answer any questions you have and to address any issues with your experience. They have the authority to handle it on the spot. Multiple times were asked how was our stay going and not because there was an issue. There is generally positive vibe here. Again, this comes down to the experience. I should not be gushing over my entry into an amusement park, but here I am because of the conditioning of countless poor experiences that have lowered my expectations to such a level that I am impressed just by getting through the door in a reasonable amount of time. There are many more examples I could site, but suffice it to say don’t take my word for it. Go experience it yourself firsthand.
Four days, three nights, practically no sleep with a 2 year-old in tow and I’d do it again because my experience was awesome!
So you use Salesforce and you want to “cert up” aka get certified, but where do you start? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to bookmark the Salesforce Certification page. Once there you will notice there are four tracks to follow.
Since the purpose of this post is to help those starting their journey towards certification, I will focus on the first two options only. The Administrator and Developer tracks are both starting points while the last two are for advanced users. Certifying as an Administrator requires you to understand the idealistic way to leverage the the core functionality of this powerful CRM application. The ADM 201 exam is the gateway and prerequisite to obtaining additional certifications that fall under the Implementation Experts track that specialize in two different areas, Sales & Service Clouds respectively (see Implementation Experts for more details). There are many community resources out there to help you study in addition to official offerings. Here are a few of them to help you prepare for ADM201
- Salesforce ADM 201 Study Questions (Ravi Benedetti Guide via Adam Frank)
- Salesforce ADM 201 Certification Exam Study Guide – December 2011
- Salesforce Administration Test ADM-201 Part 1
- Salesforce Administration Test ADM-201 Part 2
- Admin Certification tutorial
In my opinion, the Developers exam is more practical. If you’re a hands-on type of learner, then take advantage of the practice resources available to you. In the bullets below, are two main Developer workbooks that I used to prepare for the Developer exam. I was wisely told prior to starting down this path that if you “know the book, know the exam”. I started with Fundamentals and quickly followed that up with the skinnier Workbook. I strongly recommend you create an account on Developer Force and practice using these guides:
- The Force.com Workbook (PDF, HTML) – the lighter version of the two (just over 80 pages)
- Force.com Platform Fundamentals – more in-depth (almost 400 pages)
- Developerforce Technical Library – All you need to know about getting certified
Here are a few community-based resources for DEV401
Choosing the best track for you will come down to your role and responsibilities. Another consideration is your learning style. For me, I learn best through hands-on experience. If this you and/or you don’t have much practical experience with Salesforce, then the Developer track is the way to go. As I mentioned above, there are two practice guides you can follow in your developer org. I felt great before, during and after passing developer exam because I completed both developer workbooks. If you need additional incentive, Salesforce has some swag for you just for building a simple app (details supplied at registration). A happy coincidence is that you get hands-on experience that is also relevant to Administrator track. Something that I benefited from as I recently added the Admin certification to my collection. Win-win situation! Here are more Salesforce resources to help you prepare for and maintain your skills:
Good luck with whichever certification you choose to tackle first! Let me know in the comments if I missed a helpful resource the community would benefit from.