First, I hope everyone had a happy and safe New Year. Personally, I was very happy to see it was a quiet New Year’s and sort of hoping 2016 stays that way. Alright, in Part 1 of our Spring 16 write-up, I was on the verge of going to see the Force Awakens (it was awesome!!!) and distracted myself by focusing on all of the new Lightning Experience features that are coming out with Salesforce’s Spring 16 release. In this part, we’re going to focus on the Service Cloud features. There are some great ones, so let’s jump right to it.
- Field Service – Well, more to the point, the start of a salesforce Field Service offering by introducing some new features to support Work Orders. Many service organizations have a field division that supports their support agents by either implementing new products that were sold, or repairing / upgrading / maintaining existing products that are at a customer’s site. The backbone of the field service process is generating work orders to support what needs to be done. Typically once you go onsite the Field Service Representative will have a checklist of steps that need to be accomplished. These can be part of a something like a routine maintenance check-up where it’s a repetitive list of tasks they do for each check-up, or it can be something very specific to the problem a customer has called in about – and in these instances, it’s typically driven by a Case from a service agent. Once the Field Service Rep runs through their list they usually need to check-off that they’ve done all these steps, and then sometimes a Work Order for something is needed. Maybe new parts are needed or maybe a whole new replacement is required, or maybe even additional field work is required. With Spring 16, salesforce is introducing standard Work Order objects – Work Orders and Work Order Lines. The Lines would be what you’d use to list out all of the steps needed to fulfill the Work Order. These can be related to any object – Accounts, Cases, Assets, etc. and behave like any other object to allow you to use workflow, approvals, triggers, etc. This is really the first step in a broader vision of features that will build off of these objects, so if you are using custom objects to perform these functions – it’s worth thinking about migrating over to the standard objects. This is a big step into a whole new area for Service Cloud. Very exciting. (by the way, this works in LE as well)
- Complex Assets – We need a big-time hooray here. We’re a huge user of Assets at our customers and one of the consistent customizations we need to do is to create a hierarchy for the Assets. A lot of times customers will sell in bundles – think Microsoft Office, where Office is the Parent Asset, but it includes Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Each of those sub-components would be a Child Asset to the Parent Asset (Office). In other situations, the Asset just consists of a lot of components. Tying into the Field Service scenario above, your Field Agent is sent to go fix a particular gear within a gearbox. That gearbox could have 7 different gears, a couple of shafts, a clutch, etc. Wouldn’t it be great for the Field Service rep to be able to see the Gearbox as a Parent Asset, and then see the specific gears and shafts and other parts that make it up? Wouldn’t it even be better if you could log the Case right against the particular gear that was broken? Previously we had to do all of this with Assets and then custom objects or custom lookups to other Asset records. Now with Spring 16, Hierarchical Assets is a standard feature. It allows you to have up to 1,000 Child Assets associated with a Parent and the hierarchy can go 50 levels deep. Similar to the Work Orders objects above, this is part of a larger feature set coming from salesforce. Just like the above, if you are doing this with Custom Objects today, it really is worth looking into migrating to the standard feature here as this will continue to improve over future releases.
- Knowledge Improvements – A couple of improvements along the theme of “making Articles behave like other objects”. First, Articles now can have Validation Rules applied to them. This is done at the Article Type level and is a great addition to help with Article quality. Second, Article page layouts can be applied per profile per Article Type – very similar to other objects that are per profile per Record Type. Previously you could only have 1 page layout per Article Type that had to be applied to all users. This enhancement is particularly helpful for Community users. Now you can have different layouts for internal, Customer Community and Partner Community users. Finally, Knowledge can now be exposed to Chatter Plus and Force.com user types. A nice little update there.
- Macros on any Object – Very powerful new feature. Now your Agents can have macros that fire on any object, not just Cases, Accounts, Contacts and Leads. The object still needs to be Feed Enabled and this still needs to be done from the Console. This opens up a whole new range of capabilities though and really should speed up your Agents work through-out all of salesforce. Definitely something existing Service Cloud customers should start looking into to see if there are things you can add to macros vs. being manual or triggers / workflow driven.
- Macros from the API – An equally powerful new feature that allows us to fire macros from code vs. making an agent do it. This is terrific if you already have a library of macro resolutions, why re-create that if you’re trying to get the same results in bulk or in automated scenarios? Now you can just call the macro so your code is grabbing the exact same steps as your Agents are. We’re already looking at how we can do this with our BREeze rules engine to have rule based macros fired and even automate the determination of what macro should be fired when. The second part of this new feature is that we can now develop Visualforce components that can display macros and allow agents to select and fire these macros from the Visualforce component. This gives us the ability to maybe suggest or filter the list of macros, but also have common macros for particular case types displayed. Both of these new Macro features are big.
- Hovers for Console Tabs – Handy little time-saver that allows you to hover over a tab in the Console and see a preview of what the record is.
- Prevent Console Tabs from Closing – Interesting new feature here. With the Console API, developers can now prevent a tab from being closed until certain actions that you determine are met – like all required fields are filled out etc. Basically, until the conditions are met, the “X” to close the tab is replaced with an icon of a lock. A couple of things to note here. First, you do need a developer to do this. Second, this won’t prevent users from just closing the whole browser – so this isn’t completely foolproof. Finally, looks like Macros are not fully supported on this, so you could have a Macro close the tab even though the user can’t. So just be careful with your Macros if you’re using this.
- Tab Limits for Console – Protect your Agents from themselves by limiting the number of tabs and sub-tabs an agent can have open at a time. The main reason to do this is just not killing your browser’s performance by having a ton of tabs open, but also at some point if you have too many tabs, you’re destroying the whole organizational benefit of Service Console. No agent can remain organized if they have 75 tabs open. Salesforce recommends you don’t allow more than 20 primary tabs at a time, and each primary should only have 10 sub-tabs. Even that seems a little high to me, but play around and see what fits your company.
- Lightning Experience Case Feed Email Improvements – Case Feed gets some improvements to viewing emails but this requires Lightning Experience to be activated in order to view. First, Lightning Experience now supports Email Templates, so users can grab templates when using LE. The other improvements are all UI updates to make viewing emails easier. The To, CCs and BCCs are now all stored in a single line to improve visibility and take less space. You can optionally also view this as part of a drop-down option to save even more space. In addition the Feed itself doesn’t show the subject line to cut down space. It’s still visible if you click into the Email Feed record. You can now also click right to the Contact or User records of anyone receiving an email. This is a nice improvement as more details on who was copied is just a click away. Finally, all of the rich text formatting within an email – colors, formatting, even images – are now visible within the email body. Again, this required Lightning Experience to be turned on to use, but in particular for agents that focus on emails, this could be a big driver to activating LE.
- Enhanced Transfers for Live Agent – Only one enhancement to Live Agent in Spring 16 and it improves the Transfer Chat function. Now, transfer is broken out into 3 options – specific Agents, Skills or Agents who receive chats from a Button. You have the flexibility to allow any or all of these options. Once a transfer is initiated, your agents now also have the ability to add messages to the transfer which will allow them to provide quick notes that aren’t in the Case to whoever receives the chat. Really nice feature there.
- Automatic Re-routing of Work with Omni-Channel – Similar to Live Agent, now in Omni-Channel if the agent isn’t able to accept or reject a work request in time (the time can be set by an admin), the work request will automatically be re-routed to another agent. Glad to see this updated.
- Assets now available to Customer Community users – Previously Customer Community users could not see Assets. With Spring 16 this has been included.
That’s it for the Service Cloud features. Some great net new features and a few good improvements to others. Overall, a pretty strong release for Service. Next up will be the Chatter and Communities update.