Our client was looking to switch their online customer service portal to one that was fully integrated with their Salesforce instance. Included in the requirements were 3 main sections of the portal: knowledge, support, and community. The portal would need to support internationalization (languages) in the future. The portal would also need to have the same look and feel as the client’s other websites, as well as be responsive and support multiple breakpoints.

What we did

We leveraged Salesforce communities as a basis of the portal, but created custom visualforce pages and apex controllers for the entire site. The portal was skinned following the client’s main website style guides, with a standard 4-size breakpoint design of all pages. All of the content hosted on the portal was stored within the client’s Salesforce instance, either in custom labels and objects for text, or standard Salesforce sObjects. This allows for the client to make any content changes from within Salesforce without requiring any HTML code.

Knowledge Section

Using Salesforce Knowledge, we created a section of the portal where customers can search through multiple types of knowledge articles by either product or topic. We built a custom knowledge voting system to allow for vote tracking across each individual knowledge article by version for in-depth reporting purposes. When viewing an individual knowledge article, a list of related articles will display to the customer, with the ability for the client to surface articles of their choosing.

Support Section

The portal support section was fully tied into the client’s Service Cloud, allowing customers to see old support cases tied to their account, and submit new ones. Custom carbon copy functionality was built to give users the ability to add others within their company to a case to receive notifications and updates on the case status, regardless of their portal membership. Custom search was added to allow customers to search all of their cases and cases they have been cc’d on for key words.

Deflection

The client has a large base of knowledge articles for their products, and an active community regularly posting topics and questions. Case deflection was added to submissions to cut down on duplicating entries for issues that already have been solved. When a user begins to enter their case or question title, a type-ahead search is performed. The user is presented with a drop down menu containing links to suggested knowledge articles or forum threads that may address their particular problem.

Internationalization

With no hard coded front-facing text, the entire portal was built to support on-the-fly addition of new supported languages. The client is able to add translations to all text, and change images on a per-language basis across the entire portal, without ever touching the code.

Authentication

We set up SSO (single sign on) for the portal so that registration and authentication handling was offloaded to the client’s product. All portal users have a product account, and information from the account is pulled into Salesforce to handle user provisioning upon initial login to the portal. Settings like the customer’s profile picture are controlled from within their product account.