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Salesforce Winter 14 Features – Part II

Salesforce Winter 14 Release Logo
Salesforce Winter 14 Release Logo

The Salesforce Winter ’14 release notes are out, and it’s another big one. In the first part, we covered the Sales, Chatter & Platform updates. In this part, we’ll cover Service and Communities as well as a few features that tie in nicely with them.

As always, in no particular order here are some of what we think are the most interesting new features:

    • Knowledge – Winter 14 is a big release for Knowledge. Some awesome improvements here.
      • Knowledge One – This came out as a beta in Summer and it was a pretty open beta so a lot of people already got their hands on this. It’s now fully rolled out with Winter 14. Knowledge One is an update to the “Article Management” tab and makes managing and finding articles a ton easier. In addition to the UI improvement, it also includes federated search to hook in external sources – like Sharepoint (boo) or others into the knowledge search. This is a big upgrade as sometimes it’s just not possible to get everything into a KB article (especially in your first phase of roll-out) but now you can still find those external answers from a single search. If you’re a new customer, this is how your Knowledge will work. If you’re an older KB customer, there is no reason not to activate this.
        New Knowledge One UI
        New Knowledge One UI
      • Internal users no longer need to purchase KB – Awesome news and this will expand KB usage dramatically. Previously you had to pay a license fee for users to view articles. With Winter 14, any internal salesforce user will get access to search and view articles for free. So many use cases for this – internal KB for Sales, etc. Still need to buy licenses for the authors and editors, but this is an exciting one.
      • Custom Field Types – A trend we’ve been seeing for a lot of standard objects, including articles, is to make them more like the custom objects – and by that I mean completely flexible. A bunch of new field types for custom fields will now be allowed on Articles including Formula (yeah!), Lookups, picklists and others. It looks like all of the field types are now supported, but I might be missing one or two. Either way, a nice update that let’s you customize Articles even further.
      • Chatter on Articles – Chatter is now available on Articles. Handy when collaborating on authoring/editing.
      • Video Expansion – Inline video for articles was constrained to a few providers like Youtube and Vimeo. Now, you can embed any video into an article using Visualforce. Very useful especially for companies that host their own videos
      • Smart Article Links – A nice little addition to Smart links in that you can now search for other articles to link to right from the Smart Articles link interface.
      • Topics (pilot) – I don’t usually mention pilots, but this is one that is interesting. Topics (rolled out to Chatter in Summer 13) expands into KB with a pilot. This is big for searching and identifying key articles. Not sure how this eventually impacts categories, but I’m a big fan of the topics feature and like where it’s headed.


  • Case Feed Updates – A few releases ago we wrote about how Case Feed was the way of the future for Service Cloud and why it was important to move to it. With Winter 14, salesforce is nudging customers a bit more by turning on Case Feed as the default look & feel for all new customers. (Hint: old customers need to get on the bandwagon too, or you’re going to miss out on a lot of new features. Read about it here.) In addition, Case Feed now has a bit of a refresh. In the picture below, you can see the feed is crisper, in particular around email messages which could get a little messy in the previous look and feel.
    Updated Case Feed Look & Feel
    Updated Case Feed Look & Feel
  • Communities – Several updates to Communities that keep expanding what rolled out in Summer 13
    • Moderation – Every community needs to have moderation, and the best ones have moderation done by volunteers and power users from within the community vs. having internal employees doing it. The self-moderation goes a long way to creating a thriving community – not just because it offloads work – but because it empowers your best users to care about the success of the community and to be a part of that. They feel an ownership of it as well. Most of them look at this as a badge of honor that they were selected and take a lot of pride in that. Well, to do this salesforce has just rolled out moderation features to allow you to flag users as Community Moderators. Outside of the normal community activities these members would do, they can also manage and see views of flagged posts, remove those flags if they deem the post is ok and then also delete posts, comments and files that they see as inappropriate. This is a big feature for communities especially ones that are public facing.
    • – With Summer 13, Communities were connected to to allow you to create your own look and feel for the community. This integration gets even tighter with Winter 14. Now you can override standard tabs and replace them with a page. You can also now toggle the salesforce header & footer on for pages, vs. having to build it yourself. Finally, salesforce has introduced widgets that can be added to the page. In this release there are two: Chatter News and Group Feeds. Without these widgets, you’d be forced to rebuild that functionality on a page. Expect to see more of these in subsequent releases as becomes an integral part of how we roll-out communities.
    • Sharing Groups for High Volume users – Since High Volume users don’t really have roles, their sharing was always a bit less flexible in the portal setup. With Winter 14 we now have new ways to create sharing rules for these high volume users which is a big help.


  • Chatter Answers – Chatter Answers also had some nice changes
    • Rich Text for Replies – When replying to a question, users can now use the rich text editor.
    • Email Replies – Similar to chatter, you can now reply to a Chatter Answer notification by just replying to it vs. having to login
    • Customizable with Visualforce – This is a big help if you want to change the look & feel of Chatter Answers. Now you control where the different elements of Answers go using a Visualforce page.
    • Chatter Answers Search – A nice new feature allows you to leverage the Chatter Answers search in outside apps. Great for building a universal search for your company website that can look across your Chatter Answers posts.
    • User Profiles- User profiles now have a section to show how active they are within the Chatter Answers community. See the image below, but stats like Questions Asked & Answered are there as well as stats around Ideas.
      Updated User Profile with Answers & Ideas Status
      Updated User Profile with Answers & Ideas Status
  • Entitlements – A few new features for Entitlements as well
    • Recurring Milestones- A much needed improvement for service departments with more sophisticated SLA’s. With recurring milestones, you can have a milestone that keeps occurring until the process is ended. For example, if you have an SLA to respond in 4 hours after each customer response, you can now set the milestone to recur each time the Status is changed to “Customer Responded” (which using workflow you can have changed when Case Comments or Emails are received against the Case). This will continue to happen after each customer response creating a different milestone each time. If a case takes four customer interactions to solve, you will see four different milestones on the case measuring if they were met or not.
    • Entitlement Versioning – The ability to have version of an entitlement was in beta for Summer 13 and is now generally available. This probably isn’t something that happens often, but when it does, without versioning it was pretty painful to manage. Now, you can change the SLA or definition of an entitlement, but still grandfather in customers that are entitled to the previous version.
    • Milestones in Chatter – When a milestone is hit or violated, it now appears in the Case’s chatter feed for much easier visibility and notification
    • Customizable with Visualforce – This is a big help if you want to change the look & feel of Chatter Answers. Now you control where the different elements of Answers go using a Visualforce page.


  • Live Agent – Another strong release for Live Agent
    • Proactive chat – Proactive chat is when you reach out to visitors of your website to engage them in a chat session – versus when a customer clicks on a button to launch a chat session. Winter 14 now has what they call Automated Chat Invitations, which is proactive chat capabilities. Looking forward to getting our hands on this, but it includes the ability to customize the message and most importantly set the rules of when someone should be invited to a chat session. With proactive chat, you only have a limited number of users who can take a session, so the goal is to target the most valuable visitors and content on your site and then to obviously stop inviting when you’re at chat capacity. A nice new feature that really strengthens Live Agent as a Sales tool too.
    • Supervisor Page – A couple of nice improvements to the Supervisor page. Until this release the Supervisor page wasn’t able to be customized or altered in any way. Now, users can filter the supervisor page by different buttons and agent status. In addition, different users can now have different access to the Supervisor page, like whether they can use the chat whisper or peak.
    • Chat Tab Alerts – The ability to change the tab color of a chat within the service console based on events in the chat session has been a request our Live Agent customers have asked for, and Winter 14 is a start for this. In Winter 14, a chat tab will change color to red if a chat remains unanswered for a customizable period of time (the critical wait time). Most chat agents are working 3 – 5 chats at a time, so the ability to flash a tab red like this is a non-intrusive way to alert the agent that they have a chat being neglected and improves their ability to managed multiple sessions at once. In addition to the red flash, the service console tab will also flash yellow if the chat is disconnected by the end user.
      Live Agent Tab Alerts
      Live Agent Tab Alerts
    • Merge Fields – Merge fields can now be added to the chat greetings as well as the custom agent name (with this release you can now also customize an agent’s name that appears in the chat panel). This allows for a more personalized experience.
    • Preview Chat Transfers – Chat agents receiving transfer or a new chat, can now preview it prior to accepting it. This will allow them to review the details of the session quickly before jumping into the new session.


  • Service Console Most Recent Items – Service Agents can now view recent items directly from the Service Console. This was done very nicely. Not only does it show recent items, but also groups the sub-tabs under the Parent tab and includes the copy link function on each tab and tab cluster.
    Recent Items in Service Console
    Recent Items in Service Console


When you look at all the different areas of Service Cloud getting significant new features, this really is a big Service Cloud release. Awesome to see. There’s a bunch of other smaller features and also some more developer specific ones for Service Cloud so be sure to read the full release notes. Finally, if you missed it, don’t forget to read Part 1 that covers all of the changes for Sales, Chatter and the platform.

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.

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