Portals – A Thing of the Past
In the not-so-distant past, Salesforce had several portal offerings:
Customer Portal: Allows customers to manage their cases, view solutions/knowledge, contribute to communities (questions, answers, ideas), and access data within custom objects.
Partner Portal (Partner Relationship Management): The key difference between customer portal and partner portal is that partner users can access leads and opportunities. This allows your organizations and its partners to collaborate on your organization’s sales pipeline. Partners can also manage cases, view solutions/knowledge, contribute to communities (questions, answers, ideas), and access data within custom objects.
Self-Service Portal: Allows customers to manage cases and view solutions/knowledge. Discontinued prior to launch of communities.
Communities – The Future
Communities replaces these portal offerings moving forward. Whereas portals essentially gave external users (partners, customers, etc.) the ability to access Salesforce, Communities is aimed at connecting the right people (whether internal users, partners, or customers) together within Salesforce. The structure of the features is similar, but there are several differences as well:
- External users (partners/customers) can communicate via Chatter in Communities. Portals do not support Chatter.
- The standard Communities user interface is very close to that of a regular internal Salesforce user. The out of the box portal user interface looks dated.
- The licensing model for each is similar; however, Communities may have a slightly higher fee ($500 additional per year per community with the same license cost, last I heard).
Upgrading to Communities
Contact Salesforce to upgrade an existing Partner Portal or Customer Portal to Communities. Portal licenses can only be added for customers with an existing portal – new Salesforce customers must purchase Communities.
Ideas & Answers
Chatter Questions allows internal users, partners, and customers to collective ask and answer each others’ questions. Chatter Questions replaces Chatter Answers and Answers moving forward.
[Could / Short / Salesforce.com]
Chatter Questions can be used in a variety of ways, most commonly:
- Internally, as a digital Q&A referendum for employees.
- Internally and externally, as a method for customers and employees to interact together.
Chatter Answers has been replaced by Chatter Questions.
Chatter Answers Implementation Overview
[Could / Medium / Salesforce.com]
Chatter Answers allow internal users, partners, and customers to collectively ask and answer each others’ questions. Chatter Answers replaces Answers moving forward.
Answers has been replaced by Chatter Answers.
[Could / Short / Salesforce.com]
Ideas provides a mechanism to capture feedback. Users submit ideas, and vote on ideas submitted by other users. Each vote translates into additional points for the idea; the most popular ideas gains the most points. This allows moderators to prioritize the most popular ideas.
Ideas can be used in a variety of ways, most commonly:
- To capture feedback on how to improve your organization internally.
- To capture customer feedback for ways to improve your product or services (e.g. Salesforce IdeaExchange, My Starbucks Ideas).
You can create multiple communities; each has its own members, login page, branding, etc. A typical example would be to have a partner community and a customer community.