5 Awesome Communities Enhancements in the Salesforce Winter ’18 Release

As you’d expect, I look forward to each and every new release from Salesforce and I always find at least a few goodies coming to the world of communities. The bundle of extremely impactful and innovative communities features included in Winter ’18 truly stands out to me, however. When it hits production orgs in mid-October this year, you are going to want to upgrade your template; let me share why that’s the case.

Based on demand, business value, and innovation, I’ve compiled a list of the Top 5 Community Cloud features that will be delivered in the Winter’18 release:

  1. Dynamic Branding: One Community, with a Different Look for Each Audience
  2. Audience Targeting: Create Audiences with User Criteria
  3. Embed Flows in Lightning Community Pages
  4. See Your Customers’ Community Activity with Community 360
  5. Boost Engagement with Community Cloud and Marketing Cloud Integration

 


Dynamic Branding: One Community, with a Different Look for Each Audience [link]


Salesforce’s Take
:With branding sets, you can change the appearance and style of your community pages based on the audience viewing the page. No need to create individual communities for each customer or business need. Now you build your community once, and simply style it differently for each audience.

Branding sets take advantage of criteria-based audiences in the same way as page variations. Just as you can create several page variations and target them at different audiences, you can create different sets of branding properties to produce a unique look and feel for specific audiences.

In Community Builder, you can:

  • Manage branding sets from the Branding panel (1).
  • Create a set of branding properties (2).
  • Create or assign an audience to your branding set (3).
  • Switch between a tile or list view of branding sets (4)..

rn_networks_branding3

My Take: Raise your hand if you work with the communities product and you care about the concept of personalization within your community or communities. Okay, now that all of you have your hand in the air, go ahead and put it down. Personalization may not be new, but the demand for and expectation of personalization is rampant today. Customers, employees, and even partners want to perceive that you know them decently.

In recent releases, we’ve talked about Page Variations. I’ll also be talking about user-level criteria in audiences in this post. Here, we’re focused on dynamic branding. This is pretty huge. Salesforce now allows you to change your branding colors, background image, and company logo based on an audience. How might you go about using this? You could create different branding experiences for the following audiences within a community:

  1. Customers and Partners
  2. Silver, Gold, and Platinum Customers
  3. North American and European Employees

This list could go on and on, but you get the point. Check out what I created in a few minutes with this new feature:

DynamicBranding.png

Create Audiences with User Criteria [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Narrow the focus of your audiences with the new user object criteria type. Target audiences based on user information, such as city, company name, or title, and fine-tune who sees what in your community.

For example, to target an audience based on country of residence, the user object’s Country field provides more accurate results than the location criteria type. The location criteria type determines users’ locations by their IP addresses, which vary as users travel.

Choose from several text or picklist fields on the user object when you create or edit an audience, and enter appropriate criteria.

rn_networks_audiences5-2

My Take: This is it. This is what I have been asking for since the inception of audience targeting: the use of user criteria. Why? Because you can now target an extremely granular audience in your community…without code! Pick any standard field: Title, Division, Department, State, etc. Things get really interesting when you start to use custom fields, though. Think about it – you can create your own custom field just for the purpose of audience definition; this truly means that you can create any personalization groups you want.

This is one feature you need to get familiar with immediately, once it’s available. BTW, I created the audiences for the dynamic branding experience in 1. Dynamic Branding (above) by using user criteria!

Embed Flows in Lightning Community Pages [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Flows automate business processes to collect, update, edit, and create Salesforce information. With the Flow component in Community Builder, you can now add flows to your pages. Add the Flow component to your community pages just like any other component.

rn_networks_flow_component   rn_networks_flow_component2.png

My Take: I have been extremely pleased to see Salesforce’s focus on bring business process automation into areas of the platform that haven’t previously seen out-of-the-box BPA offerings. This Flow component is pretty amazing; it exposes a Flow literally via drag-n-drop within builder. You select your Flow and the magic happens. It’s that simple. Of course, you actually have a build a Flow first, and that can be a tricky proposition at times.

Here’s a Flow I just created that allows a user to check warranty status on a product that he or she purchased:

Flow_Designer__Unsaved_Flow___Salesforce.png

I dragged the Flow component via Builder into my community, pointed to my Flow and…voila! There it is:

Home-Guest.png

Let’s submit some real data. We first enter a serial number, then click Next.

Home-Guest.png

And we get the results. Flow component for the win!

Home-Guest_and_Slack_-_7Summits_Tech_Team.png

See Your Customers’ Community Activity with Community360 [link]

Salesforce’s TakeCommunity 360—the Lightning App Builder component that you can add to your console to see a customer’s community activity—has a few surprises in store for you this release. First and foremost, the feature is taking off its pilot mantle and coming out as generally available. Then, it’s adding a whole slew of capabilities that help support agents get a holistic view of the customer. All in the name of great customer service. This feature is available in Salesforce Classic and Lightning Experience.

Using Community 360, support reps can see customers’ aggregate activity in all the communities they’re a member of. Reps can see up to 15 months of a customer’s activity in chronological order, from newest to oldest.

If a customer is a member of more than one community in the org the support rep can choose the member’s community profile from a pop-up.

 

My Take: This will be very valuable in multi-cloud solutions that involve a community. OOTB, you’ll be able to provide internal users with a view of what the community users are doing. How many times have you been asked if you have read a relevant help article by a service agent when you just read it before you called? In theory, no more of that w/ Community360.

Boost Engagement with Community Cloud and Marketing Cloud Integration [link]

Salesforce’s Take: We harnessed the power of Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder to help you reach members and turn your community into a powerful marketing channel. With Journey Builder, you can create customer journeys across email, mobile, ads, and the web. With the cloud integration, community and marketing managers can place members on rich email journeys, boosting engagement and driving activity in the community.

commcloud+markcloud

My Take: This enhancement makes a lot of sense. Previously, I’ve seen Journey Builder being presented at Salesforce events in the context of Lightning Experience, but never communities. But, let’s think about it…with examples like product purchase or service claims, wouldn’t those often come through a community? They sure would. This should save quite a bit of dev/admin time within marketing automation-enabled communities. I believe this will be the beginning of a closer relationship between Marketing Cloud and Community Cloud…let’s see what happens over the next few releases.

NOTE: You must have both Community and Marketing Cloud licenses to use this feature.

Enjoy the Winter ’18 release and follow me on Twitter for other Salesforce info! Look for my communities sessions at Dreamforce:

 

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