Apex Leaders has been using the Salesforce CRM platform since their inception in 2009. With their first development partner, they attempted to build upon Salesforce Communities templates, but eventually realized that this software could not provide the level of customization that they required, and their dev partners were only offering declarative editing, rather than building something flexible, scalable, and unique to their premium brand.
Heroku Connect was a platform that could sync directly with the data that Apex Leaders had accumulated in Salesforce, while also providing ample room for customization and growth. This made LaunchPad Lab a perfect fit, having successfully developed over 200 Heroku applications in just under seven years.
We approached this project understanding that we needed to create a product that was unique to Apex Leaders and could translate their tailored “white glove” client experience into a digital format. To do this, we would have to create exactly what Apex Leaders needed with no caveats or workarounds. This meant accepting total ownership over the code and architecture.
In order to stay adaptable and truly own the product, it was obvious we had to use open source software that would allow us to write in code as opposed to just offering declarative edits. We used Ruby On Rails, which effortlessly integrates with Heroku.
The Big Sync
Our approach started by leveraging Heroku Connect to sync Apex Leaders’ considerable amount of data in Salesforce to a PostgreSQL database on Heroku, allowing us to expose any objects in Salesforce to the portal we were building on Heroku. We have used this architecture many times with other clients, so we were confident it would work in this situation.
Slick and Responsive
A Premium User Experience
The resulting product is one that empowers Apex Leaders’ clients to own their experience on the platform without losing the personal touch that they’ve come to expect from the Apex Leaders team.
Clients are now able to connect with potential advisors and set up meetings directly through the platform in a matter of seconds. Once a meeting has been scheduled by the client, a series of emails will be automatically triggered informing all necessary parties, including the Apex Leaders team.
Create a Network
Clients now have immediate access to a conveniently organized list of all the advisors they’ve made contact with. They can even assign personalized ratings and write notes about the advisors to help them keep track of past conversations. Most importantly, this new portal provides every client with a broad and comprehensive (and easily searchable) view of the network of advisors they’ve accrued, making it significantly easier for them to reference as they refine their advisory team.
The Advisor Side
The distinctly different, but equally as powerful, advisor side of the platform provides the same depth of experience and functionality, including allowing advisors to set their own availability and accept appointments in a matter of seconds.
“I think everybody here has been really impressed and really happy with where the app is going. We trust that any crazy idea we cook up, you guys can really digest and say how it can be feasible, which is great.”—Patrick West, Vice President
The new portal launched in March 2019, and by August, it had greatly exceeded Apex Leaders’ initial expectations.
Within 6 months, over 85% of all new client engagements were being booked through the portal, and an amazing 95% of all client/advisor calls were run through the platform. Further analysis revealed that the time spent coordinating schedules and appointments was reduced from 20-25 minutes per person scheduled (using phone calls or traditional email) to just 2-3 minutes per person scheduled.
Obviously, this reduction in hands-on client service has allowed Apex Leaders’ Project Leads to handle a higher volume of clients and focus more on high value work, improving overall efficiency and giving the company room to grow in terms of client acquisition, while also reinforcing their brand identity as a premium service provider.
Into the Future
Thanks to the phased execution strategy initially employed by Apex Leaders, our team has been able to remain agile and adaptive since the launch of the portal, including building a custom backend admin panel that empowers Apex Leaders team members to access the portal and initiate corrections within their own workflow without having to rely on the LaunchPad Lab team to make minor changes to the platform or data.
Apex Leaders uses this flexible approach to maintenance and management to their advantage by integrating client feedback into their service offering. They regularly capture user feedback in Salesforce and are constantly evaluating it to update the running backlog of updates to the platform, so that clients can see their suggestions absorbed and executed quickly, usually within just 3-4 weeks. Again, this level of commitment underscores Apex Leaders’ promise of quality client service.
We continue to iterate and alter the platform as needed, while also working on some more forward-looking projects, including an algorithm that will suggest advisor recommendations to clients based on their previous experiences and preferences. For a company that started with very little technological presence, Apex Leaders has come a long way in a short amount of time, and the overwhelmingly positive adoption of this platform speaks volumes about the quality of their vision, as well as our team’s ability to listen, adapt, and create based on the ever-changing needs of our partners.
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