Filed under: Administration March 14, 2011

stack_of_books

I recently received a request to write about my experience passing the new Service Cloud Consultant Certification exam which is soon to replace the more generic Certified Consultant.  I took the exam at the beginning of Dreamforce 10 so I did not have a chance to write down my immediate impressions.  However, this is what I came up with.

Jeff Douglas in his blog entry, “How To Pass The Service Cloud Consultant Exam“, covers much of the subject matter in the exam.  He did a good job so this post will provide supplemental impressions.  I would like to highlight that his list of reading materials is more exhaustive than what is in the study guide and I recommend his list. I know I consulted numerous documents.

This exam was significantly harder than ADM201 or CON201 for three reasons.  First, the subject matter goes beyond configuration and much is not covered in the online help.  One of the designers of the exam told me the goal was to test overall service and support knowledge, not simply configuring Salesforce’s offering.  I suggest Google searches and Wikipedia as places to start for items like ITIL and KCS.  You do not need to purchase or memorize all the procedures, but you must understand their purposes.

Second, there are several metrics questions such as the best ones to use to measure a particular goal.  This does require a bit of thinking during the exam which can consume time.  It definitely did help to have call center experience.  For those without call center experience, I suggest seeking out examples on the Internet and thinking out the reasoning behind them.

Finally, the exam questions and answers are simply longer.  Two or three 15 word sentences were not uncommon and each answer could be 15 words as well.  It takes time to read through everything clearly.  I used all but five minutes of the allotted time and it was primarily due to the length of the questions.  Hopefully your reading comprehension skills are more advanced than mine.  Also, by design or chance, the longer and harder questions always seem to be at the beginning of the exams.  Time management would suggests skipping those and coming back to them later.

I have been finding that the study guide provided by Salesforce is the best source of direction for all the Salesforce.com exams.  It tells you in detail what is covered in the exam and provides the percent distribution of the topics.  If it did anything more, it would have to tell you all the exam questions.  The are several websites offering home-grown sample exam questions, but caveat emptor.  I know the authors have the best of intentions, but nothing replaces a team sweating over every question as part of their official duties.

Be sure to use a Developer Edition org when working on configuration examples.  Salesforce has recently created editions specifically for Service Cloud.  For example, Enterprise Edition for Service Cloud has features that are not available in Enterprise Edition for Sales Cloud.  Using a Sales Cloud Sandbox will not help studying.

One oddity was that Force.com Flow was only available to pilot users so it was not possible to try it out.  There was at least one Flow question so relying on the documentation was the only option.  This probably has changed by now.

I spent about five hours studying for this exam in the morning, drove to Dreamforce in the afternoon, and took the exam in the late afternoon.  Having taken the Certified Consultant exam, implemented Service Cloud several times, actually being a user of Service Cloud, and having supported a call center (on a different platform) all contributed to successfully completing the exam.  It should be possible for those without experience to pass but the studying time would have to be much longer.  It can be catch-22 that you need to be certified to get the experience.  However, if certification is important to your career, you should be willing to put in the time to do the absolute best you can.

P.S.  The maintenance plan and fees are still vague to me.  I will update this post once I know more.

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