5 Must-Know Communities Enhancements in the Salesforce Spring ’18 Release

Spring ’18 has been released to the Salesforce world, bringing a new bag of tricks to the table for us to explore and enjoy. Half of the battle that comes with each Salesforce release is simply knowing what we’re getting!

Based on demand, business value, and innovation, I’ve compiled a list of 5 “must-know” Community Cloud features that have been delivered in Spring ’18 that will hopefully help you to dive in and extract value from Salesforce 55th platform release. Without further adieu, here’s the list:

  1. Use CRM Fields to Target Audiences

  2. Assign Audiences to Page Components

  3. Collaborate with Community Members with Quip

  4. Gather Feedback from Your Community with the Survey Component

  5. Put Power of AI in Your Community with Einstein Answers (Pilot)

Use CRM Fields to Target Audiences [link]

Salesforce’s Take: We just gave superpowers to the User audience criteria. Select your way to fields on CRM objects, like contacts or accounts, and create audience criteria that you can apply to pages, branding sets, and components. Drill in up to four levels, and get to the field that you really want. Now you can target your audience with awesome precision.

Let’s look at how it works. Say that you want to set up your community so different pages appear to different departments. First, create an audience, then click the dropdown next to User.

Dropdown next to User showing multiple options including Contact, Manager, and Profile.

Selecting Contact opens another dropdown with more options.

Modal showing user and contact selected and the dropdown showing department.

Next, select Department and then enter the criteria. Give your audience a name, and you’re ready to start assigning.

New audience modal showing the user, contact, department selection path.

My Take: I am absolutely loving what is happening with audience targeting within Community Cloud. This stuff is not only powerful, but it’s intuitive, as well, and that’s a deadly combination for other communities platforms.

Let’s talk application. How can this be used to enhance your community? Well, let’s think about the fields that are now opened up to you for audience assignment…yep, all text and picklist fields on the Contact and Account objects. That’s huge. I think the most obvious application here is targeting a user based on account. Let’s say you have a partner community and you want to show a different branding set for each partner. No problem; create an audience based on Account Name and show a different logo for each partner. Take a look at the following diagram for how this would work.

Communities Book - Audience Targeting CRM Fields

How about contact fields? If you are storing customer-related info about a community member on the contact record, you can now build an audience from that data. The possibilities are limitless…

Assign Audiences to Page Components [link]

Salesforce’s Take: You can now assign most audience criteria to individual components on a page, making it that much easier to get the right content in front of the right members.

Say that you have a page that’s assigned to customers in the U.S., but you want different topics and feeds to appear for customers in California. Go to the page in Builder, and click the component. Check out the blue outline.

Screenshot showing selected page component with blue outline and component edit box.

Click the arrow next to the component name, and select Assign Audience. You can delete or duplicate a component using the same dropdown.

New drop box next to component name in edit box with duplicate, delete, and assign audience actions.

Choose California from the list of audiences, click Assign, and then click Done.

Assign audience modal.

That’s it! Notice that the header component’s outline is now purple and the audience icon appears next to the name. A note at the top of the page states that at least one component has a specific audience. The component details lists the audience.

Component now in purple border with audience icon, edit box with icon and note about audience visibility, and icon and message at top of page that some components are only visible to specific audiences.

You can use just about any audience criteria for your component, except Record Type. You can’t assign audiences to components in the template header and template footer sections.

My Take: I love this! It feels like one of the final pieces to provide a fairly complete picture of audience targeting. Page variations are great, but this is better for when only small variations exist on a particular page. Take a look at the following examples.

Here, two pages are fairly different. This makes sense for page variations.

Communities Book - Page Variations

However, what if the actual variations were minor? That quickly becomes a pain, as a community administrator would need to manage two pages, even though the content was significantly overlapping. See the next diagram for when component-level audiences make much more sense.

Communities Book - Component

In this case, an admin can simply drop C3 into the Content Footer section and assign it to the applicable audience. No page variation needed!

Take a look at the next image to see where you can set your audience on a component:


Collaborate with Community Members with Quip [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Quip allows you to create, share, and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets within communities. After you set up Quip in your org, you can use the Quip component on community record pages to give community members access to records. Use integrated search to find Quip files and link to Salesforce records. You can create Quip documents and link them to records and groups.

Use the guided setup to connect your Salesforce org to Quip. Go to Setup, enter Quip in the Quick Find box, and follow the steps.

The Quip Guided Setup screen.


My Take: This one is a bit forward-looking, but I think the impact of Quip within communities could be fairly large. Quip is all about collaboration. Know anything else that benefits greatly from collaboration? Yes, community members! Watch this space closely…

Gather Feedback from Your Community with the Survey Component [link]

Salesforce’s Take: Your community members are a valuable part of your business—and they have valuable opinions. Salesforce Surveys lets you create customized surveys to gather important data from your customers. Tap into your community’s fount of knowledge and experience by embedding custom surveys into community templates with the Survey component. This component is available in Lightning communities and Lightning Bolt solutions.

The Survey component embeds an active survey into any Lightning community template. When your community members log in, they have the option to participate in the survey.

A customized survey is embedded in a Lighting community page.

All the valuable data that you collect is stored in Salesforce, so you can run reports and gain insights right from the app. The Survey component is available in the Spring ’18 versions of all Lightning community templates.

My Take: Some partners won’t be too excited to see Salesforce infringe on their territory, but this will provide an immediate lift to community administrators looking to inject basic survey functionality into a community at no charge.

The applications are significant; ask partners about how a program is working, solicit product feedback from customers, and even gather HR-related data from employees.

Put Power of AI in Your Community with Einstein Answers (Pilot) [link]

Salesforce’s Take: When your customers come looking for answers in your community, they want accurate results that solve their issues quickly. Einstein Answers is here to help. When a community member asks a question, Einstein Answers looks through articles and past discussions in your community. After sifting through your community’s data, Einstein Answers suggests answers to the community member’s question. Power users, known as Answer Champions, review and rate the suggested answers and post good ones to the community.

Einstein Answers

Other new features work with Einstein Answers to give your community the most responsive Q&A experience possible. For example, top-five questions steer topical questions with lots of engagement to the person most qualified to answer them. The combination of likes and upvotes ensures that engagement is gauged accurately.

All the data gathered by Einstein Answers, including ratings, feedback, posting of suggested answers, and end-user behavior are used to improve suggested answers when customers ask questions in the future. The more you use it, the smarter it gets.

My Take: This is a pilot feature, but still worth mentioning. I have personally sat down with the Einstein product managers on the Community Cloud team and I do believe that this will add some real value to communities. I pressed them on how real AI was/is (as we all know that the Salesforce marketing machine often moves well ahead of product development) and I was pleasantly surprised. Without going into the low-level details, the way the team is building Einstein into Community Cloud does seem to make sense.

Have a use case for Einstein Answers? Contact the Community Cloud team and apply for the pilot program today!