skip to Main Content

Salesforce Spring 17 Features – Service Cloud & Field Service Lightning

Spring 17 will be here shortly and the release notes are officially out. As always, we’re diving in and writing about all of the terrific and interesting new features that are included in the over 450 pages of release notes. Last week we covered the Sales Cloud features. Spring 17 is a monster release for Sales Cloud with the start of the Einstein features and a ton of new Lightning features.

For this post, we’re focusing on all of the Service Cloud features. It’s not as big of a release for Service Cloud – it’s really a transition release. Spring 17 is where a lot of the features are starting to go to Lightning, and similar to how Sales Cloud took a couple of releases to get to the point where you really should be on Lightning, it’s going to take the same for Service Cloud. In the release notes, Salesforce states the Lightning features for Service are really for “Small and Medium sized businesses” and that’s mostly spot-on. Really, it’s for companies that have simple service processes. If you have a full Omni-Channel Service Cloud already Service Lightning isn’t ready for you yet. That said, it’s pretty exciting to see the direction Salesforce is headed – especially around some of the Lightning Knowledge features. So, similar to Sales, don’t just start flipping on these Service Lightning features if you’re an admin. Pay attention to what it doesn’t support yet – and if you need that – hang tight and stay in Classic until it does. Alright, let’s get into the details.

  • Lightning Case Management – The Service Console and Case Feed now have Lightning versions to support basic Case Management. The Console itself looks pretty similar to what it looks like now but it now has all of the benefits of Lightning. The biggest feature here is that you can leverage all of the Lightning page builder features to really build out your page layouts the way you’d like. We covered this pretty heavily on the Sales Cloud post but basically if you don’t like the old two column page layout with the related lists at the bottom, with Lightning you are no longer constrained to that. Multiple new templates allow you to really customize your page layout – including the heavily asked for three-column layout – but being able to add Lightning components throughout the page really opens up the flexibility. When that call comes in, is what the customer owns the most important thing for your agents to see? Then put a related lists component of Assets right at the top of the page layout. In addition to the page layout changes, the old tray item is now replaced with a Utility Bar which we also mentioned in the Sales Cloud post. It really acts the same, but is a bit easier to customize. The big benefit here is that it’s consistent across all of Salesforce – not just when you’re in the console. In addition to this, the Case Feed has a new more compact view with some flashy new icons that will make it easier to track down what is happening. Finally, the Knowledge sidebar gets a pretty nice update and we talk about that below in the Knowledge section.

    As I mentioned above, the Lightning Console is really only ready for very simple support organizations right now. Some of the big features it does not support are Live Agent, Omni-Channel, Entitlements, Service Contracts, Macros and Keyboard Shortcuts. The lack of Omni-Channel, Milestones and Live Agent support really is a blocker for anyone running a multi-channel support environment. I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or really they don’t know when it’s coming, but neither of them have an expected release date in the Lightning roadmap either. I’m hoping that’s just an oversight as those are major features for Service and it’ll be tough to move most instances to Lightning without these. Mostly, this is a preview of where Service Cloud will be and I’m excited for when it gets there as there’s a lot we can do once Lightning is fully rolled out.

    Lightning Service Console
    Lightning Compact Case Feed
  • Lightning Knowledge – Knowledge is the other major Service Cloud feature to start the move to Lightning with Spring 17. Before reading further huge warning about Lightning Knowledge – if you turn this on you can’t disable it. You need to be super careful before you activate this. Only do it in a Sandbox first and only do it in Production once you know for sure that you’re not going to lose any major functionality. When debating whether to turn this on or not, you need to also consider the Lighting Case Management side. If you can’t move your users to Lightning Case Management and need to stay on the old console – be very careful flipping on Lightning Knowledge as you will potentially lose some features. We’ve just got our hands on this, so it’s early, but basically if you turn on Lightning Knowledge and look at it with the Classic Service Console, you’ll be able to see your Article in the Classic format – even though the Article is now in Lightning. So, that’s good. The issue that we see is around Attachments. The new Lightning Knowledge uses Files instead of the old Attachments. So, once you make the move on the Knowledge side you can’t see your Knowledge Files unless you are on the Lightning Console. There might be other issues, but that was the first to jump out at us. Again, especially since you can’t disable this, test this like nuts before turning it on.

    Warnings aside, the direction that Lightning Knowledge is going is terrific. Articles has always been a fairly restrictive object in Salesforce and structured much differently than others. The Lightning update is the beginning of moving it more into the platform and getting all of the normal Salesforce functionality and extend-ability for it. Let’s get into some of those changes.

    • Record Types vs. Article Types – Awesome change here. Articles was one of the few objects that didn’t have record types. It had article types instead. This was always a pain in the neck as behind the scenes each of these articles types was actually its own object. It made data migration and any updates to Articles pretty rough. Now we get Record Types and it behaves like every other object. You can have different page layouts per record type and in addition the security gets much simpler.
    • Simplified Permissions – Not only is the access now easier to manage, but we get some new permissions for Knowledge. You can now set a Profile to View All and / or Modify All for Articles. In addition two new permissions are available – Publish Articles and Archive Articles.
    • Article Page Layouts – As I mentioned above, with the new record types we are able to build Lightning page layouts for the Article pages. Unlike the Case layout you can’t control where the different Lightning components go yet, but we do get a slick new Article layout. With this layout you can add a thumbs up / thumbs down Article Rater, view Article Categories and view previous versions of the Article.
      Lightning Article Layout
    • Knowledge Home Page – This is a feature that is a bit overdue as well. Knowledge now gets a streamlined homepage – complete with List Views for Articles (much needed!) as well as the ability to search, view and create Articles all from one place. For some reason these have always been separate pages, but good to see it all unified.
    • Knowledge Search Enhancements – Since you need to have Lightning turned on for Lightning Knowledge, you get the benefits of the new Lightning Search. First benefit is you can quickly limit your search to just Knowledge if you’d like. In the Advanced Search some Knowledge specific filters are available. One of them is to allow you to search Archived Articles. I would have liked to have seen a permission included to allow this or not by Profile, but for now, it looks like any user can do this. Not sure I like that part. Finally, when performing the search you get a slightly different search result for Knowledge then other objects including a snippet to allow you to see part of the Article, but also a count of the total Article results. Nice touch there.
      Lightning Knowledge Search Snippet
    • Knowledge Sidebar – The Knowledge Sidebar for the Console gets an update as well. Please note, this only works if you enable the Lightning Service Console as well. For the most part this runs the same as the existing Knowledge Sidebar – contextually searches Articles based on the Case content and allows agents to attach and email the Article from the Case – but it does have a couple of new features. First, is the ability to sort the Articles in the sidebar. You can sort by Relevance, Publish Date, Last Modified Date or by A-Z / Z-A. Nice update here for the agents. In addition, agents can now follow Articles directly from the sidebar. Following it essentially is like a Chatter follow and any updates to an Article being followed by an agent will appear in their Chatter feed. This is especially useful when working on fluid issues – like a bug in a new release – where updates might be happening frequently. (we really need to get this Article Follow capability in to the Community!)
  • Field Service Lightning Updates – As we mentioned in the Winter 17 Service Cloud write-up, the roadmap for the new Field Service Lightning Product is super aggressive and we are going to see a ton of new features each release. Well, Spring 17 didn’t let us down and it includes a lot. This is a super exciting new product from Salesforce and it’s awesome how quickly it’s expanding. Please keep in mind, this does require an additional license to use.
    • iOS Mobile App – If you’re out in the field, by necessity you need a strong mobile app. This has been in pilot for a bit, so we’ve actually been able to use it for a few months now, but with Spring 17 it is now generally available. The app is awesome. I was trying to find a good video of it that shows it off, but couldn’t find one out there. If I do I’ll update, but it’s definitely easier to see how it works than describing it. First of all, the field technician can use it to view and modify their Work Orders and the schedule of their Assignments. That’s a no brainer. They can update the Work Orders and create new Appointments for follow-ups if needed. In addition they can see all of the related information about the Work Order – the Account, address (on a nice Google map interface), any Contact information, Assets, etc. All of the day to day data they will need to view and modify is available through the app. The killer part is that all of this is also available offline. The offline capabilities are tremendous and is a true differenciator compared to other field applications. Unlike other products with offline capabilities, the Salesforce app doesn’t need the user to actually “sync” once they get online. If they are offline and making changes, the app will queue up all of the edits and inserts that have been made. As soon as the device establishes a connection, it begins to send those changes to Salesforce and also receive any new changes. Basically the app is continually attempting to send these changes as the technician gets coverage. Pushing a sync button doesn’t seem hard, but it actually is a major pain point to remember and due to that, changes tend to not come in until the end of the day. With Salesforce’s approach, you’ll receive your technician’s updates and new information throughout the day.

      A couple of other cool benefits to mention about the app. From the app you can capture a customer’s signature. Just like when you’re buying an ice cream and they have one of those cool kiosks that you sign, your technician can hand over the phone to your customer and have them sign off on the work that was done. Very handy and a critical need for a lot of field processes. In addition, technicians can have access to Knowledge as well. Articles can be searched for by the technician, but they can also be associated to the Work Order itself as helpful guides specific to the work being done (not sure if this is Lightning or Classic Knowledge now that I’m looking at this – I’m assuming either). The app is also keeping tabs on your technician’s location with geolocation tracking. Essentially the app is continually pinging back with its location and that is stored within Salesforce and available for a dispatcher to view on a map. Finally, the app can be branded to your company colors.

      A few quick notes on the app. First, as I mentioned above, it does require the Field Service Lightning license to be able to use. Second, right now this is only on iOS. Android is on the roadmap. Finally, being a mobile app, it has to be downloaded from the Apple App Store. It’s supposed to be published there shortly after Spring 17 is live.

      Field Service Lightning iOS app
    • Track Parts and Van Stock – Spring 17 introduces a few need objects and functionality to track inventory and its consumption. First up is the Product Items object. This object will allow you to track your parts in all of your different Field Service Locations (this is another new object) – this includes vans (a technician’s van is basically a mobile warehouse of parts), warehouses or even work sites. Anywhere you store inventory, you can create a Service Location to track that inventory. This data doesn’t necessarily need to be sourced from Salesforce. If you track some of this in your ERP or an inventory system, you could populate this with an integration versus directly entering it into Salesforce. Next, from the Work Order or Work Type, you can now track the Products Required. Essentially, how many parts do we expect the technician to use to complete the job. This will allow for you to centrally look across your parts and track that you might have 100 of a particular part in inventory, but over the next month you have Work Orders that will require 125 of that part. You better stock up. We now know what is needed according to the Work Order but we need to track what is actually used by the technician. Maybe the customer described the problem wrong and the technician winds up using different parts than expected. This is where the Products Consumed object comes into play and allows the technician to track what they actually used for the Work Order (this can be done right from their mobile app). Finally, all of this adds up into Product Item Transactions. So how does the quantity change for your different parts? These are the Product Item Transactions. The three ways it can change are being consumed, being replenished and being adjusted. Adjustments can be made if discrepancies are found. Super handy functionality.
      Product Items in Field Service Lightning
    • Field Service Reports – Another great new feature that allows your technicians to email a report about a Work Order or Service Appointment directly from the app. As an admin, you can create multiple templates – the editor for the template is a lot like the page layout builder and how you build quote templates in Quoting. From the Work Order your technician can select a template and then have that emailed directly to the customer.
    • Service Appointment Statuses – The Service Appointment Status has been expanded to allow for very granular detail of the Appointment. It now has nine different statuses running from Not Scheduled to Completed and with some additional statuses like Cancelled, Missed, Late and Running Long. Terrific for reporting.
    • Work Order Line Priority – When a Work Order is complicated and has many Work Order Lines, you need to be able to tell your technician which are the most important ones – or which ones just need to be done first. There is now a priority field to drive this that can be set in the template or by the dispatcher.
    • Turn off GPS Tracking – As I mentioned in the iOS app, you can track the geolocation of the your technicians using the mobile app. Maybe there are certain users that you don’t want this for, or maybe you don’t want to track it for any users. You can control this at the Profile level as a permission.
  • Omni-Channel Enhancements – The terrific Omni-Channel gets a few new updates as well. First up, Omni-Channel now has an Overflow Assignee. Basically, Omni-Channel has a limit to how much work can get queued to be assigned – which is the second update as this is now bumped up to 5,000 queued work items per hour and 30,000 maximum pending requests at a time. Now, with the Overflow Assignee, if you hit these limits you can specify a queue or user to assign that work that exceeded these limits. Finally, the work push sound and the disconnect sounds have been changed within Omni-Channel (Incoming and Outgoing chat still has the sound we all are used to). Just as an aside, if you aren’t using Omni-Channel yet, we did a webinar a few months ago all about it and how it can really help your Service team’s productivity.
  • LiveMessage – Technically it isn’t part of Spring 17, but Salesforce just officially announced LiveMessage as the way to enable Messaging as a new channel for Service Cloud. This came out of the Heywire acquisition which we spoke about in the Winter 17 write-up. We went into heavy detail about LiveMessage on a recent blog post and even did an good comparison between the two options. To me the biggest drawback to the Omni-Channel Routing is that you can’t use the Whisper Messages in the Supervisor Pages. Most of the other options it doesn’t support aren’t big ones.After this there are a few quick ones. First, you can now customize that lookup component on the sidebar. This should make it easier to find records to relate the Chat Transcript to. Next is that your customers can now save transcripts of a chat session from an iOS mobile device. Previously you could only do this if you were launching the chat session from a desktop. Finally, your agents can now click on links that are sent by your customers in a chat session. Previously, hyperlinks only worked when an agent sent them to a customer. Now, they work both way, and they are saved as hyperlinks in the transcript as well.
  • Email-to-Case Assignments – Quick but useful update here. Now when setting up an Email-To-Case address, you can specify a Queue for all emails sent to that address to go. Using standard assignment rules this was previously a bit of a pain to point different Email-to-Case addresses to different places as you needed something custom to capture the address the email was sent to. Now it can be done right here. The notes don’t say, but I’m assuming that if this is set, Cases created from this don’t go into Assignment Rules.
  • Web-to-Case reCAPTCHA – Tired of your web-to-caseform getting nailed with spammers? Now you can add a reCAPTCHA widget to your forms with a new out of the box feature. Turn this on and add to your form and anyone submitting the form will have to check a box to show they are a human and not a spammer.

Alright, that’s it for Spring 17 and Service Cloud. Great to see where Lightning is going for Service Cloud, but again, make sure you test it thoroughly in your sandbox before flipping on all of this – especially the Knowledge side. Next up we will be writing about all of the Collaboration features – Chatter, Community and Files.

Harry Radenberg

Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back To Top