The Salesforce Spring ’14 release notes are out, and clocking in at 323 pages, it’s another big list of features to digest. In case you haven’t seen the announcements, the release itself has been pushed back about a month, and the new release dates are here.
Being too big for one post, we split this into two parts. In Part I we covered overall salesforce platform, Sales Cloud and Chatter features. In this part we will focus on Service Cloud and Communities. Unfortunately, the pre-release edition of salesforce doesn’t provide Service Cloud or Knowledge seats, so I haven’t been able to play with some of this functionality. (SFDC if you’re reading this, that would be great to fix!)
As always, in no particular order here are some of what we think are the most interesting new features:
- Moderation Enhancements – As we mentioned in our Introducing Communities Webinar, when salesforce launched communities, their goal wasn’t to just replace the old portals, but they clearly wanted to go after the public community space as well. Moderation is a big part of any kind of community, but is especially critical in a public community. Spring 14 enhances the existing moderation capabilities by allowing members to flag files and also to build triggers that would automatically flag posts as offensive. With the automatic feature (you will need apex for this), you can maintain a list of offensive terms or terms that need to be reviewed and any post containing these terms will automatically be flagged. In addition, Spring 14 beefs up the reporting needed for moderation by providing a reportable audit trail and report types for any moderation activity, as well as users and posts that have been flagged.
- Private Messages – Community users now have the ability to send private messages to each other. A message can include up to 10 other users. This is a pretty common feature for communities, so great to see it included with salesforce. In case this isn’t something you’d want in your community, it is an optional feature that you control.
- Badges – Leveraging the Work.com “thanks” functionality, community users can now give badges to each other as well. Community users will now have a recognition tab on their profile where the badges will be displayed. Especially for public community, badges and recognition is an important way to keep power users engaged. It also says users can create badges – I need to see how that works as that could be a little problematic in a public setting. All of this is available without having to purchase work.com or additional licenses for your community users.
- Account & Contact Access – Previously, High Volume users couldn’t actually click into a Contact or Account record in the Customer Community. With Spring 14, this is now possible, which fixes a bit of an annoying issue.
- Data Loader Access – Partner portal users can be granted access to the new data loader that we detailed in Part 1. A surprising addition, but I can see how this would be useful in certain situations, like when a partner sponsors an event and needs to load up the hundreds of leads generated. This is a controlled feature, so isn’t available to a user unless you specifically give it to them via their profile.
- Case Feed – After a few releases where Case Feed wasn’t a big focus, some really big improvements to it in Spring 14. We wrote a post on why you need to consider Case Feed a few releases back, and especially if you’re using email as a support channel, the enhancements below make this even more compelling.
- Drag & Drop Attachments – Another time saver and a nice addition. Agents can now drag an attachment directly into an email message. No more having to go through the 3 step process to attach a file. File size limits apply as always.
- Inline Images for Email Publisher – Great feature if you provide email support. Now you can add an image directly inline to the email. Perfect for screenshots that will help guide a customer for what to look for to resolve their issue.
- Topics Sidebar Tool – Topics are now on the sidebar of the case if you’re using Case feed. You can now add them directly to the record as we described in Part 1.
- Emails Automatically Associated with Contacts – Handy improvement. If you email from a Case (looks like this only applies if you’re using Case Feed), the email is automatically associated as a task to the Contact. This will now make that Contact’s Activity History a complete picture of communications being sent, where before you needed to look through their cases to see what had been emailed to them.
- New Way to filter – Attached Articles and Milestone records now have out of the box filters in Case Feed.
- Live Agent – Another nice release for Live Agent. If you caught our Live Agent write-up, or if you’re already a Live Agent customer, you know this is now 4 straight releases where Live Agent has rolled out significant new improvements.
- Direct-to-Agent Routing – This is a pretty nice feature and I can think of a bunch of useful tricks to using this. You can now have a button route a chat directly to a particular agent. You could use this for specialized chatting – places where you have a dedicated agent to a customer – or also in areas where an agent might be the only one with a particular skill. Once the button is pushed it would go directly to that agent. Can’t confirm this, but since this is API enabled, I’m also thinking you could do this for named account assignments, where based on a pre-chat form you could find out who the customer is and then push the chat to their dedicated rep or agent. This would also be extremely useful in Sales situations. With all of these use cases, there’s also the ability to route it back into a general pool if the specific agent isn’t available.
- Routing Enhancements – A couple of routing enhancements with Spring 14. First, you can now have a chat that is declined by all agents route back to available agents a second time. Previously, if every agent declined it, the customer’s chat was cancelled. Now, they’ll circle back again. Second, you can now have chats automatically accepted by agents. This is a nice one. Before this, an agent always had to manually accept a chat. Now, with this, if an agent has capacity, you can automatically push the chat onto the agent instead of wasting seconds while the manually accept, or worse, decline it for whatever reason. This will also eliminate any cherry picking agents might try to do.
- Transfer Files During Chat – This is a pilot, but it’s probably the most requested feature for Live Agent that we hear. With this, customers will now be able to send a chat agent files from the chat window. The agent can then associate these files to the transcript and/or Case. Definitely worth reaching out to salesforce to try and get into this pilot.
- Associating Records to Transcripts – This is a feature I hadn’t really thought of, but can definitely see the value. Without disrupting a chat agent’s flow, they can now link other records – such as a Contact or a different Case – to the chat session so when the transcript is created it will be linked to these records. Very nice quick way for agents to link information within salesforce to the Chat. Previously you would have had to do this to the Case itself. This gives a more streamlined approach, and you can also still trigger up to the Case if needed.
- Resize the Chat input – Not a common request, but we heard it enough that this is a nice addition. Using visualforce you can now control the size of the chat input box. Previously, you had no control over this component.
- Multiple Monitor support for Console – I love this one and can’t wait to play with it. Essentially, the console can now control how and where you want items to pop. Instead of always having to pop as a sub-tab within the same browser window you are in, you can now have items pop outside the console and you’re able to move them to other parts of your monitor, or even across multiple monitors. Big efficiency gain especially for agents that need to be looking at multiple records / screens in order to resolve a case.
- Knowledge One Widget – Big upgrade to the Knowledge widget in the Console. Basically this takes the same functionality that is in the Knowledge One tab, and puts it into the agent’s hands right in the Console. You can now search articles, search external sources linked to the KB (like Sharepoint), send articles (as a URL or a PDF), attach articles to the case and even create a new article without having to leave the Case.
- Knowledge One Footer – Intriguing new feature – especially now that Knowledge is free for all salesforce users to read articles. With this, you can add a footer to any object within the Console (would be nice to see this outside the Console too though) where from that record, the user can pop open a Knowledge One search screen and be able to look for an article. This really begins to expand the use of Knowledge to also potentially be for internal articles to support Sales vs. being a more customer focused feature.
- Data Categories now in Article Reports – You can now filter reports by the article categories. Yet another pet peeve reporting item fixed with Spring 14. Hooray!
- Topics within Articles – As we described in Part 1, Topics are now everywhere with Spring 14. Knowledge Articles are no exception. These do not replace categories, but they will help surface articles in search and suggestion article functionality, as well as continue to add to the information surfacing around a topic. Soon, just by looking at a topic, you’ll be able to see all Chatter, Cases, Articles and Records about it, as well as who the experts are for that topic. Powerful stuff.
- Suggested Articles Improvements – This is a beta (which means you can activate it if you’d like) but this is a potentially huge feature. (why can’t I have Service Cloud in pre-release?! Why?!) The existing suggested articles functionality really only went off of the Case Subject, and was pretty limited both internally within salesforce and in Communities. It looks like this beta will improve this in a few key ways. First, the suggestions will not only just be based on the Case content (it doesn’t say for sure, but I suspect this is expanded beyond just Subject and now looking at multiple fields on the Case as well as Topics), but also articles that were associated with similar resolved cases. This will make for a much smarter matching logic. Second, this appears to be available within communities. I really hope this also changes the flow of how and when articles are suggested today, where it’s done once the case is closed and submitted. This looks like it’s done as the case is being entered into the Community, and if so, that’s a giant self-help improvement. Finally, this feature is also there when a user is editing the case. I’ll update as soon as I get a Spring 14 sandbox and can get my hands on this.
- Article Actions on Cases Feed – A nice UI improvement for Case Feed and Knowledge users. Now, very easily from the Case Feed, users can attach / detach articles from a case, email the article as a PDF, or share the article via a URL (not sure if this leverages PKB to get the URL, but I’m assuming so)
- Multi-Components in Console – Previously, you could only have one sidebar component within the Console, but with this new feature you can get that up to 5 components. This is a nice addition especially since the idea is to get more information to your agent’s finger tips. This allows you to consolidate different sources of information right beside the main Case detail. With this, salesforce gives you a couple of ways to display the multiple components – frames, a single area with tabs, or an accordion type display that collapses whatever sections you are not currently utilizing.
- Rich Text Support Code Sample – A small feature, but one that has come up a lot for us. It looks like you can now add code snippets in Rich Text fields for Chatter Answers and Ideas. From the picture below, this looks like it might be in all Rich Text fields, as it’s an icon that sets the font, so I’m hoping this will also work in Knowledge Articles as that is another area that really needs this. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I can’t test this out in the pre-release version. I’ll update once the sandboxes get updated and I can confirm.
- Social Customer Service – Salesforce has had “social” customer service in the form of a free appexchange app that integrated Twitter & Facebook with Cases for a couple of years now. The app worked well, but definitely had its issues, but being free, it was still very usable. With Spring 14, salesforce officially pulls this functionality into the product, but also beefs it up considerably. Instead of just leveraging the Twitter and Facebook APIs it now uses the full data collecting abilities of Radian6 to monitor your keywords and integrate that into Service Cloud. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post around Social Service, as it’s a very cool differentiator for your company, but in short, what better way to blow away a customer than by responding to a tweet about your product that wasn’t even directed to you? If they are complaining, you can respond with a fix or work-around to their issue and if they are complimenting you, you can thank them for their loyalty – maybe even giving them a discount on their next purchase. To do this, you need to monitor your brand and brand keywords, and then use your support team to tackle these mentions. Using Radian6 to do this only makes it more powerful. That said, it looks like you do need to purchase Marketing Cloud functionality to enable this feature.
- Dynamic Entitlements – This requires apex, but it’s worth doing if you have a lot of entitlement records. Basically now you can dynamically calculate the time for a milestone based on Case and Entitlement attributes, vs. having to create a unique entitlement for each combination. If you have a complex SLA setup, this will save you a ton of overhead.
- Business Hours support for Milestones & Entitlements – Not everyone uses Milestones, but if you do, this is a nice feature. Milestones will now look at the business hours of the case and calculate based on that. A nice little part of this is it also will adjust if the Business Hours change for a case. So, maybe you offer different hours for different product lines or different severities. If the case’s business hours change, the milestones will re-calculate as well.
- Salesforce for Outlook The Salesforce for Outlook connector now lets you create Cases from the sidebar. This was something we lost a while ago going to the new connector, and nice to see it’s back.
Overall, another big release for Service Cloud this time. Similar to the last few, it’s great to see each of the individual areas in Service getting strong attention. In addition to the above, there are also a bunch of pilots (we covered the file transfer for Live Agent) that might be worth trying to get into.