Salesforce is a great program for small business. Each of its customer sites has an administrator, many of whom are non-coders. That’s why a recent “critical update” featuring “block execution” sounded scary — but incomprehensible — to many.
The salesforce email: simultaneously opaque and terrifying
A correspondent working in a small financial advice firm forwarded me this recent email from Salesforce. In what follows, I put jargon in bold, vague weasel words in italic, and passive voice in bold italic. The translation is all mine.
*Currently targeted for October 2017; date subject to change.
Translation: This is your last warning. We are all powerful. Not only are we are allowed to dangle modifiers, but we have the power to reschedule Winter for October.
Translation: Winter is coming. And so is passive voice, which is just as scary.
Why is Salesforce making this change?
Translation: We defend ourselves with meaningless platitudes and a picture of a hammer and wrench and we capitalize “Trust.” With this level of placation, you know this must be a big deal. We’re so protective of your security that we’re publicly announcing to hackers that they have only about a month left to exploit this security hole.
What action do I need to take?
Translation: Run! Specifically, run to the article that actually tells you what to do, which we’ve cleverly tucked right here at the bottom of the message.
How can I get more information?
For additional questions, open a case with Support via the Help & Training portal.
You are receiving this email because our records indicate you are an administrator of Salesforce CRM Org ID 00XX0000000n9ZZ
Translation: Read this other stuff to find out what’s really happening.
Don’t let geeks take over the keyboard
This is clearly an important message that might break a bunch of salesforce instances, but the technical way it is presented will bamboozle thousands of administrators and might never reach others. There’s an effective way to deal with a diverse set of readers, some technical and some not: use clear language and put the technical details in a link. Here’s how I would write this:
Dear Salesforce administrator,
If you’re not the kind of admin who codes your own formula fields, you can ignore this message. (However, if you added code or an add-on from someone else, check with that company to see if this message applies to them.)
Everything you need to know is in there. If you have code like that, it’s going to stop working in the next major release.
If you have other questions, open a case with Support here.
Imagine — you could alert your technical users without alarming the civilians or threatening “block execution.” Cool!