Understanding Salesforce Communities, Customer & Partner portals

Starting in Summer ’13, Salesforce replaced Customer and Partner portals with Chatter Communities.

What are Salesforce Chatter Communities?

Chatter Communities give you a website where your customers and partners can communicate with you and where you display and receive information.  The information you display comes directly from your Salesforce database, and the information you receive from partners and customers is entered and stored in that same Salesforce database.  You get all the benefits of Salesforce’s cloud database while reducing the need to enter data or sync data between systems.

What can you do with Communities?

  • Communicate with prospective customers
  • Provide serf-serve support via a knowledge base and FAQs
  • Enable customer service to interact with customers and resolve their questions and support cases
  • Share knowledge and best practices with partners
  • Collaborate with partners on leads and deals

How are Salesforce Communities different from Customer and Partner Portals?

Salesforce communities replace Salesforce customer and partner portals, although existing customer and partner portals will remain as-is.

Communities are essentially a way to integrate Chatter with your Customer and Partner portals. If you want to use Chatter with your Community, you can rename the Chatter tab.  (You might do this since your customers may not be familiar with the term “Chatter.)  For example, you might call it “Discussions.”

You can rename the Chatter tab with a different display name for each of your Communities.  For example, in one community, the tab could be labeled “Chatter”, in another you could rename it to “Discussions”, and in third you could call it “Messages”.

In addition to Chatter, you can use Salesforce communities to give customers and partners access to Salesforce Answers (Q&A tab), Ideas, and Knowledge.

You can now share dashboards (in addition to reports) with customers and partners.

On huge benefit of using Salesforce communities over a separate forum or portal system is that you can use Salesforce permissions to control who has access to what data.  In addition, all communications and incoming data are stored within Salesforce.

Extend Salesforce Communities

Of course, Kinetic Growth’s software – Encore for renewals and subscriptions, and Venue for eCommerce – integrate fully with Salesforce Communities.  In addition to the standard data you can show customers and partners via Communities, you can use Encore to allow customers to log in and manage their own renewals and subscriptions and Venue to sell eCommerce products.

Encore and Venue add sales transaction capabilities to Salesforce Communities – you can let customers manage their own renewals, subscriptions, and billing, and you can complete eCommerce sales.  This is the kind of integrated software solution that banks and credit cards use to allow customers to log in, view their accounts, and pay bills over the web.  Now you can combine Salesforce Communities with Encore and Venue to deliver an equally powerful integrated software solution.