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Salesforce Spring 19 Features – Communities, Chatter & Files

Post Series: Spring 19

Spring 19

Up here in New England, we’re getting our first real snow of 2019. It isn’t quite the snowmaggedon they were predicting, but it’s still enough that the only reason I’m going outside is to shovel and to convince my dog to go to the bathroom. Perfect day to play some chill music, layer up to stay warm and knock out Part 3 of our Spring 19 release write-up. As usual, in Part 1 we focused on all of the Sales Cloud, Einstein for Sales and platform features. In Part 2, we centered around Service with the new Service Cloud, Field Service Lightning and Einstein for Service enhancements. For Part 3, we will be talking about the collaboration features – Communities, Chatter and Files (and maybe a sneak peek at Badges!). As we mentioned in both of the previous parts, Spring 19 is a monster release. Einstein was a big part of the new features in Sales and Service and it’s big with Communities as well. While this might not be as big of a release for Communities as it was for Sales & Service, this is still a significant release.

One thing to note on the Community features below. This is pretty standard process by now, but to activate these, you will need to upgrade to the Spring 19 template for your Community. With Spring 19, what’s a little different is, you might also need to do some CSS updates to the selectors in the Community. The details are here, but definitely smoke-test your Community when you do the upgrade to make sure everything looks ok. Alright, let’s jump in. As usual, the order is fairly random.

  • Translate Feed Items – This is a super cool new feature that allows Community users to easily translate a Feed Item into any language that Google Translate supports. Behind the scenes, Google Translate is doing all of the work, but the feed items provides a simple UI option to do the translation. I love this and your international users will as well. To enable this, you will need a Google Translate API Key which you add to the admin setup. Now, let’s get this exact same concept into Service Cloud for the agents to be able to do this on incoming Cases!

    Translate Feed Items in your Community

  • Badge Missions – Giving badges is a critical way to drive adoption within your Community. Just look at the gamification Salesforce does on its own Success Community as a great example of its power. Up until now, giving badges was a manual process out of the box. A user gave a badge to another user and that was it. Customers have built custom automated ways to do this, and we even have customers leveraging our BREeze rules engine to automate this. Well, Spring 19 delivers Missions, which allows for some out of the box automated badge delivery. You can now setup rules so that when a Community user does a range of actions they are immediately given a badge. For now you can do this on the following actions: updating a profile picture, creating a post / question, commenting on a post, answering a question, giving and receiving likes and finally getting your answer marked as the best answer. If you have badges enabled for your Community, you’re definitely going to want to set this up. For advanced automation of rules you can still use the approaches above, but this is a terrific start. Please note, this appears to only work for Communities and not in your internal feed.
  • Customer Contact Requests – This is a pretty cool new concept that is tied to Communities but obviously impacts Customer Service and Service Cloud (we wrote about this in the Service Cloud post too). Now, you can create a way for customers to request a call back versus having to wait on hold for an agent to become available. Behind the scenes, this component is leveraging Process Builder, so you can build out the page layouts and the flow your customers need to go through any way you’d like, but these will feed to a new object called Contact Requests. These records can be associated with Contacts, Leads, Accounts, etc. so they aren’t orphaned. That said, it’s probably best to build the flow to do some matching automatically based on the information provided, this way when your agent opens it, everything will pop for them. Speaking of the agent, these new Contact Requests are also supported with Omni-Channel. This is a lightning component, so it only works with Lightning Communities. In addition, this new Contact Request object can be setup to be integrated with your IVR, so you can get the same result from your phone without the Community aspect. Pretty slick new feature that could improve customer satisfaction and reduce hold times.

    Contact Requests

  • Lightning Web Components – Spring 19 introduces a new type of Lightning component called a Lightning Web Component. This is super useful for Communities, especially those with more complex branding or design needs. Essentially, this allows you to build functionality leveraging HTML and modern Javascript and then you wrap that into this new component type. This allows you to have normal Lightning components side by side with advanced web design. This offers a ton of flexibility and really opens up what we can build with Communities (you can also use these internally with Lightning, but the bigger impact is definitely on the Communities side).
  • Recommended Actions – Recommended Actions is the Community version of Next Best Action powered by Einstein that we discussed in the Sales and Service Cloud parts of the write-up. Next Best Action is the newest of the Einstein products and is officially GA with Spring 19. This is a very cool new product, but also one that you need to seriously game plan and map out ahead of time. Next Best Action lets you build out recommendations and strategies to what a user should be doing in different use cases. Two simple examples – but there are a ton of ways you can use this – are upsell / cross-sell / promotion offers and selecting the right approach to assist a customer. Using the Strategy Builder – which is the engine to build out the recommended actions and determine how/when they are applicable – you can build out all of the different scenarios and what should be suggested for each of them. Some of these scenarios could be based on basic logic within Salesforce. “The Customer Owns X, so therefore they really should also buy Y.” Others can be based off of prediction models. “The Customer owns X and bought it 6 months ago. Based on their past history, they need to re-fill X every 6 – 8 months, so we should ask if they want that re-fill now.” Obviously you can also build these out based on demographic data and similar customers, or based on what they are calling about.

    With Communities, you’re going to want to make sure you tailor these to be more customer facing. An obvious example is with suggested offers like the screenshot below shows. However, just as powerful is recommending actions / processes that your users haven’t done yet. “We see you haven’t registered your product, would you like to?” and from that prompt the user is brought into a registration flow. Recommending actions that tell you more about your customers and continue to enrich their profile is a terrific way to be able to message your Community more appropriately to your customers. All of this is super powerful, but again, it’s something you really want to think through before rolling out. Especially being customer facing a bad recommended action could be pretty embarrassing and maybe make it seem like you’re not paying attention. I’d definitely recommend piloting this and really honing it before a larger roll-out as this is one of those features that you’ll learn a lot from just within the first few weeks of trying it. You want to incorporate those findings before you do a broader roll-out. With most of the Einstein items, the release notes are very clear what is an additional charge and what isn’t. This looks like it is included as part of the platform and is not an additional charge. I’m trying to confirm that for sure – but if that’s the case – this is a total game-changer that you now have at your finger tips.

    Recommended Actions in Communities

  • Community SEO – SEO is super important for a lot of public facing communities as it’s how your customers or prospects are finding all of the great content you’ve posted externally. A lot of times this is your self-serve line of defense where hopefully customers can find the answers to their questions by doing a simple Google search, getting right to the correct piece of content and finding their answer without ever having to call in. SEO is the key for that working and Spring 19 brings a few enhancements to beef up the SEO capabilities. First, Dynamic SEO Properties is now available on more page types. This is terrific – especially for those larger Communities with thousands of content pieces. Now you can essentially use merge fields right within your meta data like Titles and Descriptions instead of having to set these manually page by page. With SEO you always want uniqueness in your meta data or Google will just pick one page as the leader. By having unique automated titles and descriptions you can achieve this a lot easier and build out your long tail traffic. Previously we could only do this on pages built with the Community builder, but now we get these on Articles, Questions and Topic pages as well. Next, we can update our index with search engines a bit more frequently. Currently, Salesforce only provides a snapshot to search engines once a week (I never knew that). If your content changes pretty rapidly or if you have a lot of time sensitive announcements, weekly could cause an issue surfacing your content to the search engines. With Spring 19 you get the option of refreshing that every 24 hours on a page by page basis. This will certainly help with that time sensitive content. Finally we get a little reporting on how many records are exposed to search engines through-out your Community. It’s a count grouped up by object. Helpful but I can see this being expanded to become more robust as well. Nice to see these changes all around.

    Dynamic SEO Properties

  • Improved Feedback Component – Spring 19 gives us a more advanced feedback mechanism for Knowledge that is hooked into the Deflection Tracking. With Deflection Tracking we can report on whether content was an Unsuccessful, Potential or Confirmed deflection for your service team. Up until now, that was based on tracking a user’s behavior as they tried to create a Case. Now we can also get direct feedback from a user to see if a piece of content helped resolve their issue. This component allows you to set the question and the deflection answers to any values you like and also gives you the option of which of the three deflection options you want to display. The component can be added to Articles, but also to any Feed or Question detail as well. This gives you tremendous reporting on what content is truly solving your user issues and is much better than the normal thumbs up / thumbs down or star rating in place today. Highly recommend switching to this.

    Customizable Content Feedback Component

  • Partner Central Enhancements – We talked about a very cool Partner Central enhancement for Partner Account Relationships in Winter 19 that was in Pilot and with Spring 19 that is now GA. Basically, this will allow you to start building out complex multi-tier partner relationships and then driving sharing based off of this complexity. This is super common when you have distributors managing a reseller network. Sometimes this can even be multiple tiers of the distributor. This is a big feature not just for Partner Community but also just for the Partner Managers trying to keep track of their network of distributors and partners. Great to see the security / sharing visibility built into this as this makes it super easy to set security for related objects. In addition, Budgets have expanded to have their own hierarchy with Budget Hierarchies. This is another handy feature as now you can manage a chunk of budget and then break it out into child budgets for different partners or maybe time periods. Finally, Partner Managers can now manage a partner’s users right from the partner account itself (this one is a long time coming). Partner Managers can view all of the users, add new users, deactivate users or reset passwords. Centralized management right off the partner record. By the way, in case you’re new to Partner Central, we just recently did a webinar focused entirely on it. We go over the benefits and best practices and then also do a live demonstration of a lot of the features. Check out the recording of that here.

    Sharing Rules for Complex Partner Relationships

  • Expanded Sharing Sets – Sharing sets are now even more powerful. First, you can now create sharing sets based on Contacts with Multiple Accounts. This is huge and has been a big pain-point for customers that use this feature. Now if you have a user that really has relationships with multiple accounts you can grant them access to everything related to those Accounts by leveraging the Contacts with Multiple Accounts functionality. This avoids a lot of custom nastiness to make this work. In addition to this, sharing sets have been expanded to also work with Campaigns, Opportunities and Orders. Opportunities in particular is terrific to see, but all of this is great. Especially now that sharing sets work across all Community user types, this is a killer feature for community administrators.
  • View as a Guest User – Simple, but awesome new feature here. Guest users were always a bit of a mystery to figure out what exactly they could see / do on your Community. Now from the preview in the Community Builder you can view your Community as a guest user would. Definitely makes life easier.
  • Community Users Access to Cases – This was in pilot and really this only impacts a limited number of users – but if this hit you, it was a major pain. Basically, by default, Communities used to provide access to any Case where your Contact was listed as the user. However, some customers might have Case types they don’t want exposed to the Community but they still need to track down to the Contact – think internal only Cases that are about your customers. Now you can toggle off that default setting and then just use sharing sets / rules to only expose the Case types you’d like. A handful of customers are cheering for this one.
  • Additional Styling Options – Spring 19 delivers some extensions to the styling options. First is the addition of new style properties to button components. Now right from the button’s properties you can set the size, shape, text position and colors. These can be set for the Contact Support, Contact Support & Ask, Ask, and Follow buttons. In addition, we can now set the styles for featured-topics. You can set the text, width of the text background and the shape of the tile border. This is right within the property manager. Always good to see expanded styling control.

    Buttons & Featured Topic Styling

  • Additional Custom Audience Options – As we’ve written a few times, Custom Audiences is an incredibly powerful piece of functionality that really lets you target your Community messaging to different groups of users. Spring 19 gives us a couple of features that let us get even more granular with that targeting. First is the ability to add formulas to the targeting. Really this is giving us the ability to set conditional logic with AND / OR functions. Now you can mix and match the criteria to get the audience correct. In addition, you can now leverage standard and custom permissions assigned to your users as part of the targeting. This is pretty cool. A great example would be if you want to target all of your moderators and have special messaging just for them. You could create an audience for everyone with the “moderate communities feeds” permission.

    Conditional Logic in Audiences

  • Control Your Record Lists – A pretty cool new features allows us to edit the properties of a record list within the Community. We could always set the number of records, but now we can control if the record list should allow inline editing, shows the list actions or shows the list search. You pick and choose which ones of these you’d like on each record list.
  • Expanded Google Analytics – Communities has had Google Analytics integration for a while now and it has slowly been expanded over time. With Spring 19 we now can send over the path data to GA in order to use GA to get click path analysis of how the Community is performing. With this integration, Salesforce sends a custom dimension to GA for every page view and this contains data about the audience and targeting from Communities. Now you can get very in depth analysis from GA. Keep in mind, this is all anonymous tracking and it can’t track an individual (that’s actually against Google’s terms of service). Great to see.
  • Move Feed Items – Sometimes your Community users simply put their posts in the wrong place. Now we have the ability to move those posts to the current public group with a single click. You must be a system / community administrator or a Chatter moderator to use this, but it’s a great feature to keep your groups on topic.
  • Control Community User Visibility – We now have the ability to control whether users of one Community can see members of other Communities in your instance. With the “Enable Community User Visibility” toggle you can now control this with a simple click. Especially if you are a company with multiple brands / business units, this is a critical feature as you don’t want the members co-mingling or in some cases even knowing the business units / brands are owned by the same company.
  • Badges in Lightning – A big hooray here (finally, someone re-posted this classic Woody Woodpecker scene)! This is one that has befuddled me for a while as it was starting to look like Badges would never make it to Lightning. We are a big badging company at Gears and this is literally the only reason left that I need to drag myself into Classic. Due to that, the adoption of the badging has dropped significantly. Very excited to see this is finally in Lightning. It looks like it works exactly the same – the only difference is they no longer support the reward badges (which I don’t know anyone using). I’d love to see the Badge Missions concept also available internally. That’d be a great way to automate badging for users. Please note though, this is a Pilot for Spring 19, but looks like by contacting support you can get it activated. Overall, this is stand-alone enough, I wouldn’t worry about turning it on even as a Pilot. What’s the worst that could happen, right (*knocking on wood*)?

    Badges? We now have stinkin’ badges in Lightning

  • Other Chatter Updates – In addition to getting Badges back, Chatter gets a few quick updates in Spring 19. First, you can now insert URLs directly into the Chatter post from the editor. Definitely a handy feature, as sometimes it wouldn’t hyperlink different URLs you put into the text itself. Next up, you can now report on Topics and how they have been used in Chatter posts and comments. Within the report itself you can also include the content of the post to see the context. Very cool if you’re a Topic fan like myself. Finally, the sort order that a user selects for a feed is now sticky. Next time that user goes to that feed the feed will default to how that user sorted it before. Nice to see.

    URLs in Chatter Posts

  • Chatter Profile Apps – We just recently wrote a blog post all about different business and fun things you can do with your Community or Internal Chatter profile pictures (worth reading if you missed it). As part of this post we highlighted two free apps that we’ve released that focus on Chatter profile pictures. The apps are PhotoLoader and PhotoDefaulter (as I mentioned in that post, Gears can not be accused of coming up with fancy names for our apps). These apps pretty much do exactly what they say and can be a great help for administrators. PhotoLoader allows you to easily bulk load profile pictures to your instance or community. Especially handy when you are first going live, but can be useful for clean-up as well. PhotoDefaulter gets rid of the dreaded “Astro” default picture and allows you to default a photo (or photos) of your own choosing. Give your Salesforce some character and branding of its own. As I mentioned, these are both free apps on the AppExchange, so give them a try.
  • Files Enhancements – A few really quick updates to Files in Spring 19. In Winter 19 we finally got all of the cool folder functionality for Files and in Spring 19 that gets extended to the Asset library as well. Now we can tidy that up and get everything organized. In addition, a new profile security option called “Query All Files” is available. This will allow users to see all files in your instance – including files on older versions as well as files they don’t have explicit access to. Definitely be careful handing this one out, but this was a pain-point for administrators or IT that needed this access. Finally, there is now a new component that allows you to embed your Quip functionality right into a Lightning app. This includes the Collaboration features within Quip so if you’re leveraging Quip internally, this could be a really powerful way to extend it out. On the Community side, Files also get two updates. The first is you can now add a stats tracker component to the File details that will show the number of times that File has been viewed or downloaded from the Community. Last, we now have a security option that allows guest users to upload files. This is super handy for those public facing Communities.
  • Favorites for Public Communities – Not a feature of Spring 19, but our latest app – Fave&Follow – has some new features coming out in an upcoming release. With Fave&Follow, you can make your Community stickier by allowing your users to add Favorites for any Community content and even by subscribing to receive notifications when an Article is updated. This is a common request that we get during our Community implementations and while Lightning Experience has this, Communities do not. The concept is pretty simple – you can now add a Favorites icon to your Community that your users can click to create Favorites. Any page within the Community can be added as a Favorite. Your users can click on the icon to get a list of their Favorites (just like your browser functions) and quickly navigate to their top content. They can also manage, sort and search their Favorites. Finally, specific to Knowledge Articles, if they Favorite an Article they have the option to also Follow that Article. When that Article is updated to a new version an email will be sent to all of your users that follow it. Great way to keep your users up to date on all changes. This is a simple way to make your Community stickier and help your users find the content they want. From an Administrator stand-point, all of these Favorites are stored in standard Salesforce objects, so it’s all reportable. We include a standard dashboard to allow you to track which content is being Favorited and Followed the most. You can use this as another KPI to add to your analytics that measure your content effectiveness. Finally, just like any Lightning component, Fave&Follow can be branded to match your Community’s look and feel. Our v1 of Fave&Follow was for Lightning Communities only, but with v2 we will be rolling out the ability for your guest users to leverage this as well. Now anyone hitting your public community can subscribe to Articles to get alerts. Instead of linking the subscription to their user, we will prompt for an email address and from there notify that email address any time that Article is updated. From the emails, the customer can opt-out of their subscription as well. We have multiple customers looking for this functionality, so we’re excited to see it coming.
  • Mobile Publisher for Community Cloud – This is more of a new Community offering from Salesforce than a new feature as it’s not in the release notes. Mobile Publisher for Communities essentially allows you to package your Community as a mobile app on the App Store or the Google Play Store. Obviously if you’re on the Lightning Community platform, your Community is already mobile responsive and can be browsed using your mobile browser, however, whether it’s for branding or trying to reach a broader audience or simply for ease of use – having that Community as an app can be a big benefit for you. If your customers are only hitting your Community as a one and done use case, this probably isn’t needed. If you have users that are repeatedly coming back and interacting with you or finding information from your self-service tools this is definitely something to consider. A couple of things to note though. First, you’re going to need to go through the normal submission process to the app stores, so this will take a little time to publish – especially with Apple who is more restrictive than Google. Second, this is a paid product and not free with Communities. You’ll need to buy the Mobile Publisher add-on. Finally, for Spring 19, this is only available for North American and European users. Other users won’t be able to get this from their app stores yet. Overall, a pretty intriguing option for your Community.

Alright, that’s it for Communities, Chatter and Files. Even though this wasn’t as big as Sales and Service, this was still a big update. Lots of new features here. Our final Spring 19 post will cover all of the new Pardot features. That’s always our rotating product post and we haven’t touched on Pardot in a while so it’ll be exciting to write about all the great new stuff there. As always, thanks for reading and feel free to reach out if you need help with any of these features or have questions.

Harry Radenberg

Harry is the President and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 15 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys building 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, and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.

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