Engagement, development, and customization are defining principles of Salesforce, and have merged for a more modern digital service. Enter Experience Cloud. In this blog, we cover everything you need to know about Salesforce Experience Cloud and how to ensure your data is safe within this platform.
What is Salesforce Experience Cloud?
Per Salesforce, Experience Cloud (formerly known as Community Cloud) allows you to “engage any audience—fast—with sites, forums, and apps…” on a single platform. These are branded, customized spaces for your employees, customers, and partners to connect. Experience Cloud provides a location for knowledge sharing, lead sharing, case management, employee engagement, and more, while making use of many of the development, sharing, and security tools Salesforce is known for.
Putting the corporate language aside, the simplest way to explain Salesforce Experience Cloud is it is public-facing portals (websites or apps) hosted in Salesforce. These portals provide a window into your Salesforce instance and the data residing there, without the need for a separate tool or painful integrations. Experience Cloud is entirely customizable and can be plugged into your Revenue Operating System®.
The benefits of using Experience Cloud platform:
- It’s fast.You can quickly create a website with pre-built templates, or choose the do-it-yourself option
- It’s affordable. It costs a lot less than building your own site or app
- It’s practical. Instead of investing in expensive and maintenance-intensive integrations, you can build a community that makes your existing source of truth (Salesforce) accessible to your clients.
Why would you need Salesforce Experience Cloud?
Experience Cloud websites or apps are essentially tools to help you collaborate and communicate. With Experience Cloud, you can:
- Reduce Churn: Decreasing the loss rate of existing customers (churn) is critical to any business using a recurring revenue model. A sure-fire way to reduce that churn is to engage with clients on a regular basis; Salesforce Experience Cloud gives you a portal with which to do that. Allow customers to interact with real-time data, exposing only the actions, records, objects, and fields you want them to see.
- Generate Advocacy & Defer Support Cases: Salesforce Experience Cloud can act as a self-help customer support tool. Users can search your portal for solutions to problems, using it as a knowledge base, and even source answers from other community users. You’ll see significant improvements in service metrics, such as increased first-contact resolutions, decreased average handle time, and lower call and chat volumes.
- Engage Remote Work Employees: It’s more important than ever to engage employees in a post-pandemic workplace. Using Salesforce Experience Cloud as a portal, your employees can connect with HR and collaborate on workflows that do not require traditional CRM functionality.
- Better Manage Partners: Salesforce Experience Cloud makes it much easier to manage the lead generation and sales process. Onboard, recruit, train, and support your partners with user-friendly features and tools built into your Salesforce portal.
- Simplify App Development: The Salesforce platform allows you to not only build websites, but your own app. You can develop an internal app—for whatever purposes you need—and open up custom functionality to other groups to make it external facing.
- Create Commerce Channels: For retail businesses, Salesforce Experience Cloud can be an alternative to Shopify. Customers can use their commerce portal to sell and transact with consumers online.
Additional Benefits of Experience Cloud
- Built for optimal search engine optimization.
- Ability to evolve—you can start with plug-and-play Salesforce tools and evolve your portal over time.
- Includes built-in notification functionality with customizable individual alert preferences/frequency.
- Serves up dynamic user experiences, security, and features based on personas and profiles.
- Offers hierarchical visibility and access to data, which allows you to use a partner portal as a CRM.
- Maximizes budgets because an Experience Cloud license is more affordable than a full CRM license.
The 4 Types of Salesforce Experience Cloud Licenses
You’ve decided you want the Salesforce Experience Cloud, so what’s next? You need to determine what you’re trying to accomplish from a business perspective and what your cost thresholds will be.
Once you have those two guidelines, you can choose between the four basic types of Salesforce Experience Cloud platforms:
- Customer Service
- Partner Relationship Management
- B2B Commerce
- External Apps & Portals
Step 1: Decide On An Experience Cloud License
You need to purchase a license specific to the Experience Cloud you want because each license has access to different Salesforce objects. Use the below matrix to determine which license is appropriate for your business needs:
Step 2: Choose How Users Will Access Your Experience Cloud
After you select a license type, you then need to decide between either Member-Based or Login-Based access. Here are the differences:
- Unlimited-access licenses are assigned to a specific user
- Best when:
- Community users log in frequently for a daily or core job related function
- A batch of logins is purchased for each month and shared across all users
- Each login is deducted against the total.
- Best when:
- Users do NOT log in frequently, and usage frequency can be predicted by the nature of the community
Is Your Data Secure On Your Salesforce Experience Cloud?
There are many types of Experience Cloud license types and each license configures data differently. Plus, once you’ve created a Salesforce portal, there are complex permutations of user access levels.
What’s important to remember is that you increase your risk surface every time you provide a doorway into your Salesforce instance, particularly when there’s sensitive information in your system like personal identifying information (PII). For example, if you have a Partner portal that you share leads through, you likely won’t want one partner to see another partner’s leads or data, so you must secure that communication.
And you must also understand where the line exists between your company and Salesforce, in terms of data security. This is the shared responsibility for security model.
That’s not to say launching Experience Cloud isn’t worth the risk—there are some significant rewards to collaborating in this manner, such as increased deal flow with partners, decreased load on customer support, and improved employee satisfaction. And one of the big benefits of Experience Cloud is it’s more secure than other portal implementations because of the tight integration.
As you think about balancing the risks and rewards, and managing the shift of data security from Salesforce to your company, Own can help. We offer the ability to know—in real time—who sees what. Own is an authority on both Salesforce and securing data, putting us in a unique position to help our clients accomplish their most aggressive business goals while simultaneously ensuring their sensitive data is protected.
We’ve helped many clients build and launch communities with Salesforce Experience Cloud and learned a few things along the way. Here are our recommendations, built on experience and technical knowledge:
- Don’t Try To Do It Yourself. Experience Cloud is very flexible with diverse options, which means your project can go in too many directions if you’re not careful. Partnering with an experienced consultant will save you time, money, and stress.
- Avoid Complex Integrations. With integrations, something as simple as adding a new field can become extremely complex, and introduce significant cost and security implications. By avoiding integrations, you can benefit from the native reporting functionality in Experience Cloud that simply opens a window to view specific data within Salesforce.
- Measure Efficiency Impacts. This should happen both pre- and post-implementation. Set up reporting before your go-live date and then get benchmarks to use for comparison.
- Mirror Your Company’s Branding. Whether targeted for partners, employees, or customers, your Experience Cloud needs to match the look and feel of your company’s website—users should have a consistent interaction. This may require help from a web or graphic designer.
Mistakes To Avoid
In addition to the above advice, sometimes it’s helpful to learn what not to do. Here are some of the most common mistakes companies make when building an Experience Cloud community:
- Not Building Advocacy. When rolling out your Experience Cloud, get as many users as possible to engage and provide feedback. If you don’t create a contingency of advocates who want to discuss and use the tools, you’ll have a weak proof of concept.
- Failing To Analyze Results. If you don’t link analytics tools to your community, you won’t be able to understand traffic and usage patterns. Analytics needs to be set up in advance of your go-live, so you can benchmark properly. This feedback is critical to determining what was successful, where to look for areas of improvement, and how to prioritize features.
- Rushing the Process. Again, Experience Cloud is a complex tool and requires expertise and precision to successfully execute projects. Rushing, cutting corners, and doing things the wrong way can be a very expensive mistake. For example, starting with the wrong object structure will leave you with data that’s in the wrong place in the system and require a full data transformation process to get the data formatted and loaded, ultimately limiting your ability to easily expand to new functionality in the future. Do it right the first time to avoid a lot of technical debt.
- Deciding To Go With a Website Instead of Experience Cloud. There are a number of issues with building a website (even with easy-to-use tools like Wix or WordPress). It is expensive, not out of the box, requires integrations (which incur cost and are typically weak), lacks built-in security, and still requires a developer to do the work. Experience Cloud can be launched with existing Salesforce developers or content experts, so you don’t need additional resources and all the features work natively with Salesforce.
Stemming from the cathedral approach, we rely on an agile and iterative methodology to “start building.” How we work:
- Define the vision
- Lay the bricks
- Look back at what you’ve built & assess where you’re going
Our journey with our clients is what we enjoy—it’s iterative and it builds upon the previous discussions and findings, with the outcome stitched together over time. Part of the awe of a cathedral is not just the size or beauty of it, but the history that goes into making it. In a cathedral you can see the thoughtful craftsmanship and layers of new and old materials. The story of the evolution is tangible in the output, which is exactly how we view our Experience Cloud projects.
We have a strong team of Salesforce Certified Community Cloud Consultants who are good, thoughtful humans and lead our clients through every step. Other consultancies are retrofitting the business needs into the technology. Our approach is the opposite—we discuss and ask the hard questions that you didn’t know you needed to ask, gather perspective from relevant users, then design the tech to augment the business functionality you want to bring to life.
We get joy out of building your Experience Cloud. Own can be the partners you need to help define your project and start movement toward your vision.
Interested in learning more? Request a free Guided Risk Assessment for Salesforce today, or schedule a demo below.