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Plan a Console for Support Agents

Note

Note

Attention, Trailblazer!

Salesforce has two different desktop user interfaces: Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic. This module is designed for Salesforce Classic.

You can learn about switching between interfaces, enabling Lightning Experience, and more in the Lightning Experience Basics module here on Trailhead.

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
  • Understand how to create a useful console for your support team.
  • Learn questions to ask your agents before you roll out a console.
  • Sketch out workflows to better support your agents.
  • Optimize highlights panels to reduce clicks.

Introduction to Console Customization

In the Service Cloud Basics module, we showed you how a Salesforce console increases support agent productivity, and we even configured some console features. In this module, we're going to customize a console even further. That's right. Buckle your seat belt and get ready to turbo-boost your console for agents!

Before you create a console for your support team, we recommend that you ask this question:
A quote of what do I want a console to do?
We suggest that you introduce a console to your agents, help them understand that it’s a unified help desk with multi-channel support (what you learned in the Service Cloud Basics module), and then ask them a similar question:
A quote of what do you want a console to do?

Take notes. Listen thoughtfully. Plan accordingly. Even though you can change a console at any time, it’s best to roll out a console to your support team when it’s most useful for them. The more time you spend planning a console, the less time you’ll spend responding to agents’ requests: “Please change this. Please change that. Hey, can you please change this and that?”

If you don’t know what would help your agents, ask them. Here are a few questions to start a conversation:
  • Which records do you use most?
  • Which fields do you want to see front and center?
  • Do you prefer to work off of lists?
  • Do you want more than one console?
Once you’ve asked these basic questions, then it's time to drill into the nitty gritty details. Ask things like:
  • Who will use a console in your org?
  • Have you purchased enough feature licenses?
  • Which items do you want agents to access from the navigation tab?
  • Which records do you want to display as primary tabs or subtabs?
  • Which fields do you want to highlight on records?
  • How do you want lists to display in a console?
  • Do you want to add any keyboard shortcuts to a console?
  • Do you want agents to access domains outside of Salesforce?
  • Do you want agents to see notifications when lists or records they’re working on have changed?
  • Do you want to display any third-party data in a console’s sidebars or footer?
A Console Customized for Support Agents A screen shot of a console customized for support agents

As you can see, there are a few things to think about. But planning to create or customize a console isn’t that hard, and it won’t strain your brain. That’s why in this module, we’re going to show you a handful of console features that you can easily set up with a few clicks. And that’s the Salesforce way: a few clicks to cool! To get your support team on the trail to increased productivity (see what I did there?), we’re going to learn to customize these console features:

  1. Highlights panels
  2. Pinned lists
  3. Push notifications
  4. Keyboard shortcuts

Define Support Agent Workflows

Before we dive right into clicking our way to a customized console that boosts agent productivity, let’s take a step back. A tiny step back. What are the most common ways your support team “works” and “views” a case? Do they respond to inbound emails 70% of the time? Do they search and review articles in a knowledge base before responding to customers? Do they need to see specific information about a customer, whether the case arrives from email, the web, live chat, or some other channel?

You might be thinking, “There are a lot of questions in this module,” but understanding how your support team works will help you build a console that boosts agent productivity. You can build as many consoles as your org’s limits allow, but if they don’t match your support team’s workflow, all the consoles in the world won’t increase agent productivity. And what we mean by “workflow” here isn’t the time-based workflow or process automation features in Salesforce. What we mean by workflow is how efficiently your agents work with cases.

For example, let’s take the case (pun intended) of a support team that primarily reads and responds to cases converted from customers’ emails. Their workflow looks like this:
A flow chart that shows reading incoming email, followed by a reply
Now, let’s see how the workflow looks for a support team that reviews articles in a knowledge base, and selects an email template, before responding to cases from customers’ emails:
A diagram that shows a workflow of reading and responding to imcoming email, then knowledge, followed by email template

Notice how the workflows look a little different? That means the console for each workflow should look a little different too. In other words, if your support agents rarely use a knowledge base or email templates, then adding those features to a console won’t boost productivity. In fact, it might hinder productivity because the agents have to stare at a screen cluttered with features that they rarely use.

To prevent a clutter of rarely-used-features for your agents’ console, we recommend that you follow these simple steps:

  1. Identify your support agents’ workflows
  2. Sketch out the workflows to visualize them
  3. Use these sketches to create your console’s layout

As you saw in the Service Cloud Basics module, a console layout focuses on page layouts. Page layouts include highlights panels and custom console components that let you determine how records appear in the console. In the next exercise, we’re going to add fields to a console’s highlights panel to change the console layout and boost agent productivity.

Note

Note

If your org was created before Spring '15, you might see console layouts in Setup. This is not what we're talking about here. Salesforce console improved on and replaced console layouts. Just say no to console layouts.

Add Useful Fields to Highlights Panels

The easiest, most impactful customization that you can make to a console to boost your agents’ productivity is to add the fields they use most to the highlights panel. As you probably remember from the Service Cloud Basics module, the highlights panel helps agents see key information at a glance without having to leave their current page or dig through other pages.
A screen shot highlighting a highlights panel in a console

If customized correctly, the highlights panel boosts agents’ productivity because no one has to search or scroll to find the fields they need to understand and close a case. To do this, let’s first assume that you’ve chatted with your support team and learned that their workflow relies on glancing at these case fields in this order:

  1. Priority
  2. Status
  3. Case Origin
  4. Case Owner
  5. Subject
  6. Description
  7. Contact Name
  8. Contact Email
  9. Contact Phone
  10. Account Name
Let’s add those fields to the highlights panel on cases, and lay them out in priority order so that they look like this:
A screen shot of the highlights panel on case page layouts
  1. From Setup, click Customize | Cases | Page Layouts.
  2. Click Edit next to Case Layout.
  3. Click the highlights panel icon.
    A screen shot of a highlights panel for cases in setup
  4. Change the default fields on the case highlights panel to include the fields requested by your support team.

    You may notice that some of the requested fields are already on the highlights panel. Before you can move them around, you must remove them by selecting None in the drop-down lists.

    A screen shot of the highlights panel overlay in which to choose fields
  5. Click OK, then Save.
  6. Return to your Sample Console by clicking Back to Sample Console under the global header, or by selecting it from the App Picker.
  7. From the navigation tab, click Cases, or select a case if a case list automatically appears because it was the last thing you looked at in your console.
    Now, the updated highlights panel appears with the fields requested by your support team. This guarantees increased productivity because it matches your agents’ workflow, and they no longer have to hunt for the most useful information on cases.
    A screen shot of agent requested fields on highlights panels
Tip

Tip

To further assist agents with their workflow, you can streamline the items that appear on a console’s navigation tab so that your team only sees items that they work with most, such as cases, contacts, or custom objects. Since we covered how to customize the navigation tab in Service Cloud Basics module, and it’s super easy to do, we’re not going to rehash it again here.