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Salesforce Winter 19 Features – Communities, Chatter & Files

Winter 19 is Here

Fall is in full effect – the leaves are falling, the weather is getting cold, Halloween is almost here and the World Series just wrapped up, where my beloved Dodgers lost a second consecutive one. Only way to get a little cheerful from that is to dive into Winter 19 and finish up the last of our release write-ups (and getting to play a new Thom Yorke album while I do it, doesn’t hurt either). I mentioned in our Service Cloud write-up that we’re a bit later than usual with this because of a lot of travel around Dreamforce. Due to that, we’re only doing three write-ups this time instead of the usual four, especially with Winter 19 already out. For this write-up we’re going to be focused on the collaboration features: Communities, Chatter and Files. A quick side note on Communities. This week we are hosting another webinar all about Partner Central and how you can leverage Communities to redefine your partner experience. This will be a great webinar where we go over some best practices, benefits of Communities to your Partners and then dive into a live demonstration. Definitely attend if you can. Here are the details:

View the Recording

Alright, let’s get to this. I’ve broken the post into the three main buckets, but otherwise the order is just based on what I found interesting first. Let’s start with Communities.

Communities

One quick thing to note is as usual with Communities, to get all of these features you’re going to need to update your Community to the newest version.

    • Self-Service Help Center – Communities rolls out another new template with Winter 19 – this time one centered around self service. This seems to be a bit of a spin-off of the Customer Service (the old Napili) template but much more focused on the public facing side of customer service. This template is centered around Knowledge and the main homepage features a search bar for Knowledge but also the ability to drill directly into featured topics. If customers can’t find their answers from Knowledge, it contains the ability for them to create a Case that will then route to support. We need to dig into this a bit more, but it looks like it doesn’t have the ability for that customer to then log in to manage their Case – so, it appears to be fully public facing with no authenticated functionality. In addition, the Community aspect around users answering each other’s questions also doesn’t appear to be part of this. This is a terrific way to put up a fast self-help community for your service team though. It’s more scaled down than the Customer Service template, but it’ll be much faster to launch. As with everything Lighting, this can be branded and is fully mobile responsive. This is great for quick self-help needs.

 

    • CMS for Community Cloud – We can now start creating original content – like blogs – and hosting it within Communities. This is a feature we’ve been hearing about for a while and with Winter 19 it’s out in beta. It’s available to everyone with Communities, but keep in mind this is a beta and pretty new functionality. The content looks pretty slick. If you see below, we copied some of our blog posts into this (I didn’t bother fixing some of the rich text formatting), but this will give you a good idea of how a post looks. You can also add Topics to this original content to help organize them and surface them better. Blogging has been a key piece of content customers have always wanted within Communities and now between this and the CMS integration with other platforms you really have the best of both worlds. You can either expose your external blogs from WordPress, Drupal and other sources by linking a Lightning Component to them, or if you’re building it from scratch – say like a blog for your Partner Community to discuss events and news – then you can host it directly in the Community. Also, just a side note, if you are going to add all of this content, you should give your users a way to favorite / bookmark it so they can find it easily. Our Fave&Follow app does just that and it supports this new CMS functionality. Check it out on the AppExchange or Contact Us for a quick demo / trial. Terrific update and can’t wait to see this continue to get expanded.

      Blogging in Communities with the new CMS

 

    • Audience Targeting Enhancements – We’ve been talking about how powerful Audience Targeting is as a way to really deliver the right messages and content to the right audiences for a few releases now. With this release the targeting gets beefed up with some enhancements to building out the targeting filters. Similar to list views and reports, Audience Targets can now support OR functions instead of everything being ANDs. In addition we get a range of operators like equals, not equals, contains and does not contain. Awesome to see.

      Enhanced Audience Targeting

 

    • Filtered Search Results – We now have the ability to turn on additional search filters in the search results for Communities. I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize this wasn’t possible as I’m so used to the Global Search where you can do this. Glad to see it’s available though as this makes finding content and records much easier. As of now, filters can be turned on for the following objects: Accounts, Knowledge articles, Cases, Contacts, Dashboards, Files, Leads, Opportunities, People, and Tasks. You control which Communities you want to turn this on for and for which objects.

      Filtered Search Results in Communities

 

    • Threaded Feeds – Discussions get an alternative look and feel with Winter 19 and I really prefer it over the current one. As you can see below, the feeds can now have a more threaded look and feel where it’s clearer which post someone is replying to. Especially when you have a really active thread, people could be responding to different parts of the thread and you literally have multiple conversations going on at once. This makes it a ton easier to read and follow all of those conversations. You have the option of turning this on, although all new Communities will turn this on by default. In addition to the feed itself, the notification emails have also been adjusted. Now when you click reply, you go directly to the answer you are replying to within the feed. Previously you were always brought to the top of the feed and then had to find the specific post to reply to. Nice update.

      Threaded Discussions in Communities

 

    • Guest Access to Flows – This is a really nice improvement. Now, you can offer your guest users to the Community (customers hitting your public facing Community without authenticating) all of your various Flows that you’ve built. Previously you had to be authenticated to take advantage of this. The biggest thing this means is that you can now leverage flow to do more complex registration processes. The self-registration that’s out of the box is great, but it’s pretty basic. Now, if you have really complex or multi-part forms you need for registration, you can leverage Flow to really build that out and then place it on your public pages. That’s huge. In addition to that, you may have data collection needs outside of registration that you need completed, but don’t need someone authenticating for. Basically a fill it out and you’re done process. Any of those types of processes can now leverage flow as well. Keep in mind, if you want to ever offer a status on these forms (like a pizza tracker) or if you ever need those customers coming back to provide more information, you really need to give them user names and passwords and then it’s best to offer the flow also within the authentication. If it’s really just fill and out and go, this is perfect.

 

    • Partner Central Enhancements – We get a bunch of new enhancements specific to Partner Central with Winter 19. First one up is an exciting one, but unfortunately it’s still in Pilot. I normally don’t write about features still in Pilot but this one is pretty cool. 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. Next up is Co-Branded Email Templates. This is another big one. Now your Marketing or Partner team can make email templates available to your partners within Partner Central, and they can easily apply their own branding to them and use that content in their marketing campaigns, emails or even their website. Great way to empower your partners with marketing collateral that they can add their own branding to. It let’s you control your messaging, but let’s the partner get some co-branded credit for it. Another big new feature is the ability to give Delegated Admins the ability to manage their team of Community users for you. Now, you can assign delegated administrators to each partner and they’ll be able to create, edit, reset passwords, and most importantly de-activate users from their own company. Instead of all of this having to go to you as an administrator, the partners can take care of their own users. Huge time saver and a big value add. Finally, we get a small update around Budget Management. If you’re just trying to use swag numbers, you can turn off the validation rules that were enforcing the budget numbers to roll up perfectly. Your option. Lots of great updates to Partner Central and don’t forget to sign-up for our webinar and see some of this in action!

      Delegated Partner User Administration

 

    • Sharing Sets for Contacts with Multiple Accounts – This is an exciting update, but it’s in beta for now. If you’re using the Contacts with Multiple Accounts functionality, it was a great for internal use, but the Community didn’t use it for sharing at all. Now it can. If you activate this, a user will be able to view any Account that you have setup a relationship with by leveraging sharing sets. Hopefully the sharing sets let you look at the relationship type field because a lot of customers use this to track former Accounts the Contact had relationships with and you’d want to exclude those. Definitely test this out before flipping it on – especially with it being in beta.

 

    • Expanded Sharing Sets – In Summer 18, the ability to use Sharing Sets across all Community licenses was in beta and with Winter 19 this is now GA. Not only is this GA, but the sharing sets get some extra power outside of the Multiple Accounts enhancement. This one is also a beta, but you can now create sharing sets for Campaigns, Opportunities and Orders. Super handy way to grant access and awesome to see this expanded. Again though, with this in beta, be sure to test like crazy before rolling it out!

 

    • Sign-up without a User Name & Password – This is a really exciting feature that really can make it easier (or even possible in some cases) for your customers and partners to sign-up for your Community. Now, customers don’t need a user name and password to sign-up for your Community but instead they can join just by entering in their email or phone number. This is all part of the self-registration process and offers a bunch of interesting options for Community administrators. First off, not everyone has an email address anymore. Having to require an email address essentially makes it very difficult for this user base to access your Community. Now, they can simply do it via SMS and their mobile device (which pretty much everyone has). Second, this can make the process quicker for you to get your customers into your Community and then once they are in, you can slowly build up their profile as they interact with you more. If you offer the email address option, they will get a one-time use password email, which you can customize. In general, this makes getting into your Community much more seamless. If you have an audience that needs this, these options are huge. If you’re a classic B2B company selling or servicing people are corporations, this probably isn’t as exciting.

 

    • Rich Publisher Apps on Mobile – Now mobile users posting on your Community get the same rich app experience as users on the desktop. When posting to a thread from a mobile device, any rich publisher app – like adding a video or calendar invite for example – that is available in the feed will be available for that mobile user. Nice to see.

      Rich Publisher Actions on a Mobile Device

 

    • User Profile Changes – A couple of nice changes to the User Profile as well. First, the ability to give Community members badges came out in beta in Summer 18. This is now GA and with that, you can now see those badges that have been given to a user directly on their user profile. Great way for your users to show off their rewards for hard work and help within your Community. Along with this, there is now an easy “Give” button allowing users to easily give each other a badge. Just go to that user’s profile page and click give and badge away. Finally, the user profile page is a bit more customizable. All of the action buttons on the user profile – Edit, Follow, Freeze, Message and the new Give actions – are now optional. As a Community Administrator you can pick which ones to have available and in what order you want them to appear.

      User Badges in Communities

 

    • Theme Improvements – We get a couple of improvements to Themes with Winter 19. First, you now have the ability to export them. This allows you to share that theme with someone without having to share the whole site. It can be shared via a file or on the AppExchange. Would be interesting to see a theme library built up on the AppExchange. In addition we get two more default templates: Ember which includes a stacked header and Webster which is a search first approach. More flexibility to mix page designs without having to build your own.

 

    • Edit Most Page URLs – The URL for almost all pages in the Community can now be adjusted from the Community Manager. You obviously can’t change the domain, but you can change the URL that follows the domain address. The only pages you can’t adjust are the Home page, Login pages and Error pages. This is great for helping with SEO and also making some of the page URLs a bit more user friendly. Speaking of SEO, we also get some improved validation when doing head markups. Right on the fly, it’ll show you if you have issues with your markup.

 

    • Topic Improvements – If you read these blogs even semi-regularly, you know I love my Topics. Now Topics can be unleashed from internal users and even Community users can add Topics to your records and really expand your meta-data. This is optional to turn on, but if you’re really trying to organize your content and make it easier to surface, this is a great feature to turn on. In addition to this, Topics now get List Views! You can create a list view to manage your topics and see how your Topics are enabled. Great tool to help manage all of your various Topics.

      Topic List Views

 

    • Google IP Anonymizer Support – If you have your Community connected to your Google Analytics, you can now optionally use IP Anonymization that GA offers and address any privacy compliance concerns you might have. Very needed especially if you need to comply with GDPR.

 

Chatter

    • Chatter Post Drafts – Only one new feature for Chatter this release (when are badges coming to Lightning???), but it’s a good one. Now your Chatter Posts will automatically save as a Draft as you write them. As part of this we get a new tab called “My Drafts” where your draft posts are saved. Every aspect of the post is saved – the text, rich text, images, files, mentions, etc. Great update.

      Chatter Post in Progress

      Chatter Post in Drafts

 

Files

    • Public Links for Multiple Files – A nice addition to the Public Link sharing functionality for Files. Now instead of having to share one file at a time, you can select multiple files and then create a public sharing link that will be for all of the selected files. Nice time saver and a good way to create quick packs of files.

 

    • File Engagement Card – A cool new feature for the Files detail page is the File Engagement Card. Basically, this gives you a super quick and simple view of how much the File you’re looking at has been engaged with by showing how many times it was viewed and how many times it was downloaded.

      Engagement Card for Files

 

    • File Details Page for Mobile – From your mobile devices you can now view the Files Detail page. This includes being able to see the preview of the Files, as well as the details surrounding. The preview is definitely handy so you don’t need to keep downloading files to your mobile device.

 

Well, that’s it for Winter 19. Another monster release from Salesforce, especially in Service, Einstein and Communities. Can’t wait to see a bunch of the stuff they showed at Dreamforce hit with Spring 19, but in the meantime enjoy the new Winter 19 release. As always, if you need any help activating or game-planning any of these features, feel free to reach out. Thanks for reading.

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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