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Salesforce Winter '21 Release Notes: everything you need to know

September 10, 2020By
Salesforce characters in a winter scene

There is A LOT in the Winter '21 Release Notes. A LOT. Every cloud has something cool to dive into and explore. So, here we go!

Salesforce Anywhere is in pilot

Remember Chatter Messenger? Well now we have Chat–it’s like it is 2010 all over again, but better. Real-time chat in the org with the ability to share the record at the same time. Collaboration is taken to the next level.

Use Salesforce Anywhere chat and alerts in your processes and flows (beta)

Wait…. What??? This is amazing. Now we can set up logic that uses actions to create a chat, add members or send a message to an existing chat, and send alerts to users. Can you think about the number of use cases we can get from this? A flow that sends a chat to advise someone of a VIP customer lodging a case or that the SLA is about to be breached. Simple, but so powerful.

Get customized alerts about changes to Salesforce data (beta)

Users can choose which records, list views, or reports they want alerts for, and what kinds of changes they care about. To keep teammates in the loop, users can share an individual alert in a chat. Or users can forward the alert subscription to others so they can get the same alerts

Einstein personalized searches

Users will now be served up searches on Accounts, Cases, Contacts, Leads, and Opportunities, based on their preferences, as determined by Einstein. The results are listed in the order that is most relevant for the user (such as location or record ownership). Einstein is beavering away and understanding what is important to you whilst not losing any of the other information. That’s a smart CRM!

Surveys

There are quite a few changes for surveys. One to look out for is the change in Org Email limits. Survey invitation emails sent to participants outside your Salesforce org now count toward the total daily emails sent from your org. A very important one to keep in mind if you are using this functionality.

Customer 360 guides

There’s a lot of stuff here to digest and I’ve got to admit that when I saw this heading I thought it was a how-to guide.

It is not–rather it is your Salesforce instance providing a guided experience to your customers, for things such as abandoned carts (via an integration between Commerce and Marketing Clouds), cross-cloud identity solutions (yes!), scheduling appointments, and one that is very timely–scheduling curbside pickups.

These are just examples of what is being rolled out. There is a lot more detail in the release notes, so make sure you check them out.

The biggest and best thing about this is the emergence of Commerce Cloud as the backbone for Customer 360.

Optimizer app enhancements

Hands up, who has used the Optimizer App? If you haven't, then you should, and the good thing is now you schedule the run of the app so it will happen without you thinking about it.

The app will also now give you a high-level overview of how actions have affected the limits on your org’s file storage, static resources, and data storage. All things that you should keep an eye on.

And security gets a bigger look-in with 7 new metrics to be assessed. These include:

  • Profile assignments
  • Critical permission assignments
  • Release updates pending review
  • Insecure community sharing settings
  • Insecure default external access levels
  • Sharing rules for all external users
  • Public groups and queues with guest users
  • A clean org is a happy org and keeping a clean org has to be one of the ongoing tasks for all Admins.

And now for the really fun stuff…

Service Cloud

Webpage with Salesforce open

Einstein Bots

Have you set up an Einstein Bot yet? Weren’t sure what to do or where you can use it? Well, the good news is that the guided setup has been updated and it’s easy as to set up a bot. When you have your sandbox updated, jump in and play.

New builders can create a bot from a template that includes popular Salesforce actions such as create a case, create a lead, add a case comment, or look up an order.

Things to remember:

Einstein Bots are available to Salesforce orgs with both Service Cloud and Chat user licenses, or to orgs with Digital Engagement user licenses. And each applicable org is provided with 25 Einstein Bots conversations per month for each Chat or Digital Engagement user with an active subscription.

Try Einstein with faster recommendations

The Try Einstein version of Einstein Case Classification now recommends field values just once to the agent, right after the case is created. That is a big improvement from being refreshed hourly on all open and updated cases.

Voice

Have you heard of Voice (and I am not talking about the TV show)? To use Salesforce's own words it is “Salesforce intelligent native telephony solution”. Leveraging Amazon Connect, it enables calls with customers directly from Salesforce natively. This is one to check out and play with for sure because it opens up so many more cool solutions, including kicking-off lightning flows, processes, and workflows based on voice call records.

You can create records based on voice call records, you can trigger workflow automation to update records, send emails, etc., all from the Voice action. Very exciting!

Messaging

The two biggest updates for me are that we can now build automated templates on Leads and Ops to notify customers when conditions are met. This, together with the switch to using omni-channel skills-based routing rules for messaging, means we have more real-time actions based on the activity of the record.

Chat

We now have skills-based routing rules that can help you route a Chat session to the right agent with the right skills. This is huge and will deliver fantastic customer service from the initial interaction. We can all relate to the countless times we have been “transferred” to another person because they were in the right department etc. Skills-based routing in Chat sends you to the right person from the start!

Streamline bot responses for screen readers

This is a great update delivering more accessibility from Salesforce. A condensed summary of options in the chat window is now extended for screen reader users who interact with Einstein Bots. This update makes screen readers automatically responsive and provides a more accessible experience.

New threading behavior for email-to-case

Sometimes we get something in the updates which we think isn’t particularly exciting (or sexy) but it is vital. This is one of those times as it is an important security update and delivers a better customer experience at the same time.

The email-to-case threading behavior has been updated and now matches incoming emails with their header information instead of through a Ref ID from the subject or body. New outbound emails don’t contain a Ref ID, and existing orgs get an upgrade path with an end-of-life notification for Ref ID.

Microsoft Teams integration: bring Salesforce and Microsoft Teams together for Service Reps (pilot)

Yep, the heading says it all. Microsoft Teams for Service Cloud is coming and is in pilot. That sums it up!

Sales Cloud

Einstein call coaching dashboard

Einstein call coaching: new automatic insights, call sharing, and more reporting features

I have to admit that I was excited when I saw this, however, it's important to note that it is available with high-velocity sales in Lightning Experience and high-velocity sales is available as an add-on for Enterprise and up.

Enable Einstein lead scoring with less data

Have you enabled Einstein in your org? If you haven’t, is it because you haven't had “enough” data? With Winter '21, you can now enable Einstein lead scoring even if you have a smaller data set.

Keep in mind that Einstein takes advantage of a global scoring model that uses anonymous aggregated data to allow smaller orgs to score their leads. When an organization generates enough of its own data, Einstein switches to a scoring model built only with that data.

It's a smart way to do it and provides the best of both worlds.

Optimize the Opportunity Scoring Model

Einstein is getting smarter - or rather the inputs you provide are becoming smarter. When setting up Einstein opportunity scoring, you can choose to have Einstein look only at opportunities that meet certain conditions and if you want to exclude any custom opportunity fields from the scoring model.

Connect Microsoft Office 365 to Salesforce in more ways

As you will see in the release notes, if you use Einstein Activity Capture with Microsoft Office 365, you can now connect to Salesforce with an org-level connection or a service account. Both connection methods provide the security of OAuth 2.0. Plus, Einstein Activity Capture users don’t connect their own account, which simplifies the rollout.

Both authentication options make it easier for you to set up many users because users don’t connect their own Microsoft Office 365 account to Salesforce. Plus, service accounts give you more control over which users Salesforce can access data from.

Create larger emails with a new maximum size of 35 MB

The maximum size of outbound and inbound emails has increased from 25 MB to 35 MB. The size of an email message includes the email headers, body, attachments, and encoding. Email size can also vary depending on the character set.

Lightning Sync not available for new Salesforce customers

If you are reading this, then chances are you are already a Salesforce customer and therefore this won’t affect you.

Lightning Sync is being deprecated and not supported for new customers. Einstein Activity Capture is the way forward. It is also a reminder that Salesforce does deprecate some functionality over time and it is best to be across that as well as enhancements.

Salesforce CPQ and billing

cpq billing Salesforce dashboard

A few items to note here. Some of them I would classify as housekeeping. Such as, create orders without opportunities, which removes the need to have a parent opportunity when creating a quote.

Another is the sell add-on products on amendments and prevent backdated amendments at the same time, which allows you to add-on products and enforces the dates ensuring nothing is added with a date prior to the order. It fixes a restriction (or a bug) from Spring 2020.

Understand what your customers have bought

I love that title as it is the whole reason we use Salesforce. But - this is actually using Customer Asset Lifecycle Management. It provides visibility into products your customers have bought, from the initial sale, through to the end date of a subscription or service. It sounds like we are getting closer to the Holy Grail of customer interactivity.

This leverages the asset object, so you must be using that and Salesforce Billing.

Validation was added to ensure unique values for the number field on quote lines

That one sounds exciting, hey–and it is actually a great fix.

The number field (API name Number__c, on the SBQQ.QuoteLine object) determines the order of lines in a quote or quote line group. Not only is the order now enforced, it is unique, which means you can now ensure your quote line items are printed in order. Anybody else pulled their hair out on this one? I know I have previously.

Demonstrate Salesforce Billing payment functionality with test gateway adapters

Finally, we can provide payment demonstrations with a test payment gateway adapter that doesn't require a connection to an established payment gateway. Billing with test gateways for testing is a massive step forward.

Align cancellation and amendment calculations based on billing periods

Billing is simple isn’t it, until you get an amendment or a cancellation and then it can all go a bit pear-shaped. This may be because Salesforce CPQ and Salesforce Billing use different formulas for calculating proration periods.

You can now set your CPQ and Billing proration periods to the same date. With a bit of automation (Flow / Process Builder or trigger) you could set this up so no one needs to touch it again.

Industry clouds

Lots of improvements across the industry clouds. As this is rather specific, we won’t go into them here. Though you can click through the link above to the specific notes and read all about them.

Analytics

Subscribe to get report results delivered by email

Finally, we can again subscribe to report delivery via email. Yep.. now flood your inbox with all the reports (but only if you are on Lightning Experience)!

Snowflake with Sync Out (beta)

There is now a Beta for Snowflake that allows you to refresh your data into Snowflake. No more stale data! Contact your friendly Account Exec so you can get onto the beta and then, once enabled, set up your data recipe.

Improve insights into sales performance with the Revenue Operations Analytics App

This new app does what it says, it delivers forecasting analytics with a better user experience, better pipeline visibility, and easier deal inspection with the use of predictive analytics.

Add accuracy to your insights with date and time data in your local time zone (beta)

Note that this is in beta, but now you can view dashboard data in the time zone that matters most to your business. In case you didn’t know, dashboard data is converted to the GMT time zone. That means when your California-based support team creates a case late on Wednesday (in California time), the creation date could suddenly change to early Thursday in their customer support dashboard. With a single custom time zone, you can ensure that time-sensitive data is more precise and relevant to your global audience.

Protect data in embedded dashboards with locked or hidden filters

You know those times when someone says their dashboard has different numbers than yours? Well, to reduce those occurrences, you can use the new lock and hide options for filters. This is an easy way to configure embedded dashboards so users see only the data that you want them to see. And, with the updated dashboard reset action, you can now return an embedded dashboard to its initial embedded state.

And remember, these changes only relate to Einstein Analytics in Lightning Experience and Salesforce Classic.

Emphasize key metrics in dashboard text with conditional formatting

Now in addition to numbers, tables, and charts, you can apply conditional formatting to your dashboard text. Conditional formatting is an easy way to make important insights pop when you assign colors based on specific values. For example, change quarterly sales numbers to green when they go above your target.

Einstein Discovery

Service console for Einstein Discovery

Lots of love has been given to Einstein Disco in this release.

Embed predictions in your dataset during data prep (pilot)

Use the new Einstein Predict transformation for Data Prep to calculate and store predictions in your dataset. You can even store descriptions of top predictors and improvements. When you run a recipe with an Einstein Predict node, Einstein estimates and saves predicted outcomes on a row-by-row basis. Populate your datasets with predictive and prescriptive intelligence to quickly evaluate predictions across a large set of data, assess multiple models before deploying them into production, and aggregate this information in a dashboard.

Build accurate models using random forest algorithms (pilot)

Einstein Discovery now adds a fourth type of model that is based on a modeling algorithm known as random forest. Einstein Discovery uses this supervised learning algorithm to create highly accurate models via multiple decision trees, randomization, and other optimization techniques. You can compare a random forest model with other types of models to determine whether this algorithm provides better accuracy for your story.

Commerce Cloud

Sales dashboard Salesforce

Access new and updated order management flows

The Create Order Summary flow has been updated to use a record type trigger for initiation, instead of a Process Builder flow. This means that you only need to clone the Flow Builder flow for this release. The Process Builder flow included in previous releases is no longer required.

Connect faster with the B2B commerce integration dashboard

See all your integrations in one place and manage them with a few clicks. An admin can now work in the Commerce app to accomplish what used to require code and developer know-how. It’s clicks, not code!

Provide accurate checkout information with time to live

We all know that timeout limits drive sales because no one wants to lose the items in your cart. Oh wait - is that just me?

Well, if you need this, you can use Time to Live (TTL) to set a timeout limit on your B2B Commerce checkout. Set limits appropriate to your organization and provide users with an easy path back to their cart.

Get an effortless no-search-results experience

The No Search Results page now comes populated with a no-results image and message. When a search returns no results, customers will see a meaningful, professional-looking message.

Dismiss cart errors for good

When buyers trigger cart errors, they can dismiss them. Previously, when a cart error popped up, it stayed up. Now buyers never see the error again unless another action triggers the same error type.

Add all cart items, rename, and delete lists (beta)

A new set of features makes lists more flexible, and easier than ever to work with. Buyers can add all cart items to a list in one action, rename their lists, and delete the lists that aren’t useful anymore.

Experience Cloud (formerly Community Cloud)

Salesforce page showing social activity for client

Secure guest user record access can’t be disabled

This is an important one so we have copied the exact text from the release notes.

The secure guest user record access setting was enabled in Summer ’20, but could still be disabled during that release. To safeguard your Salesforce org’s data, in Winter ’21, this setting is enabled in all orgs with communities or sites and can't be disabled.

The secure guest user record access setting enforces private org-wide defaults for guest users and requires that you use guest user sharing rules to open up record access. You also can't add guest users to groups or queues or grant guest users record access through manual sharing or Apex managed sharing.

Reduce object permissions for guest users

Another important change.

With the Winter ’21 release, Salesforce is disabling the view all data, modify all data, edit, and delete object permissions for guest users in existing orgs. These permissions are removed from orgs created in Winter ’21 and later.

For existing orgs, reduce object permissions for guest users if they have view all data, modify all data, edit, or delete permissions on a standard or custom object.

Let guest users see other members of this community setting disabled

This is an important one and something you need to check if you have an existing Community already setup.

With the Winter '21 release, the setting [Let guest users see other members of this community] is turned off by default in all Salesforce orgs that have active communities with at least one community created before the Winter '20 release.

Depending on your security configuration, this setting could allow a guest user, essentially anyone on the internet, to access community users’ personally-identifying information. This information can include first and last name, email, custom, and other fields.

To protect your customer data and privacy, Salesforce is turning off the [Let guest users see other members of this community setting for all communities].

Please check this setting today!

Allow users to use standard external profiles to self-register and log into communities and portals (previously released update)

This setting allows admins to use standard external profiles for self-registration, user creation, and login.

Activate this update if you're currently using one of the standard external profiles for login, self-registration, or user creation in communities or portals.

After the Spring ’21 release, users in your org who are assigned to external standard profiles can no longer log into communities.

Let users authenticate by SMS

Sometimes the title tells you exactly what it is. Community users can now authenticate by SMS, no other app is needed. Simple!

Build fast, efficient experiences with the LWC-based template (pilot)

More flexibility is coming into Communities through a new template - Build Your Own (LWC) template. Based on Lightning Web Components (LWC) this lightweight template supports fully custom solutions. The template, now available as a pilot, includes some changes since the previous release.

Customization

Flow builder

Lot’s of enhancements in this space and lot’s of fun to be had. You'll definitely want to read all the release notes because we are only going to highlight some items here.

Trigger a flow to run before a record is deleted

In Flow Builder, you can now configure a new record-triggered flow to run before a record is deleted. You no longer need to write Apex code to set this up. This auto-launched flow runs in the background and updates related records when a record is deleted.

For example, suppose that your Salesforce org has a custom field on the Account object that tracks the total items related to that account. Without automation, this field is updated manually every time a related item is deleted. Now, you can automate this task with a record-triggered flow that runs before a record is deleted.

Build multi-column screens in Flow Builder (pilot)

Multi-column layouts have hit Flow Builder! You can use the new section component to arrange your flow screen components into multiple columns without touching a single line of code. Divide each flow screen into multiple sections, and easily modify the number of columns in each section to create effective, visually appealing layouts.

Place Flow Elements Automatically with Auto-Layout (Beta)

The new auto-layout feature makes building flows and aligning elements easier. When auto-layout is enabled on a flow, elements in the canvas are spaced and connected automatically. No more elements positioned slightly out of alignment - we can now sleep well!

Debug auto-launched flows directly on the canvas (beta)

Now you can debug an auto-launched flow without opening a new browser tab.

Use AND, OR, and custom operators across all Flow Builder elements

Now you can use the condition-defining options you’re familiar with in the Decision and Pause elements and extend them consistently across Flow Builder. Specify that you want the condition logic to meet ANY conditions or that you want it to meet ALL conditions.

Locate a Flow Builder error with the click of a link

If you get an error in Flow Builder, go straight to it instead of hunting through your flow. Flow Builder error messages now include a link, when available, that opens the erroneous element and highlights it on the canvas.

Going to wait for that one to sink in….

The auto-layout canvas and resources don’t support highlighting.

Quickly see the triggers of your flows on the flows page in setup

Now you can see which trigger your auto-launched flow has with just a glance at the Flows list view in setup. In the new Trigger column, see if a flow’s trigger is a record, a schedule, or a platform event. For a record-triggered flow, see if it makes before- or after-save updates. You can also discover which trigger an auto-launched flow has by viewing the flow’s detail page.

Run flows in system context without sharing to access the recommendation object for external users

Now only internal users can access recommendation object records. Previously, community, portal, and guest users had read-only access to recommendations by invoking a flow that obtained recommendation records for them. To continue those external users’ access to recommendations, you can configure the flow to always run in the system context without sharing.

Some flow updates postponed

The following updates have been postponed till Spring ‘21. More detail is in the release notes.

  • Evaluate criteria based on original record values in Process Builder (update postponed)
  • Enable partial save for invocable actions (update postponed)
  • Enforce data access in Flow Merge Fields (update postponed)
  • Make flows respect access modifiers for Legacy Apex Actions (update postponed)
  • Disable rules for enforcing explicit access to Apex Classes (update postponed)
  • Check for null record variables or null values of Lookup Relationship Fields in process and flow formulas (update postponed)

Break up your record details with dynamic forms (generally available)

We’ve spoken about dynamic forms in Lightning before and we are excited to use it because it is now generally available! You now have the ability to configure record detail fields and sections inside the Lightning App Builder.

Unleash new flexibility with dynamic actions on desktop (GA and beta) and mobile (beta)

There are now more ways to add the flexibility and control of dynamic actions to your record pages. Dynamic actions for custom objects are GA for desktop and beta for mobile. Dynamic actions for supported standard objects (Account, Case, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity) are Beta for desktop.

Improve org security with the profile filter option

Keep your Salesforce org as secure as possible. Limit users from viewing any profile names other than their own.

Restrict permissions cloning in profiles

Use the Restricted Profile Cloning option to ensure that only permissions accessible to your org are enabled when you clone profiles.

Important: If you don't enable this setting, all permissions currently enabled in the source profile are also enabled for the cloned profile, even if your org can't currently access them.

Deploy organization-wide defaults and criteria-based sharing rules together

You can now simultaneously update the Sharing Model Field for an object and create new criteria-based or guest user sharing rules via the Metadata API.

Disable rendering of HTML in custom field labels (update)

To better protect your Salesforce org, this update removes legacy behavior that allows HTML formatting in custom field labels. When enabled, HTML tags in custom field labels are rendered as plain text.

Choose your utility bar alignment

Customize where your Salesforce org’s utility bar appears on the screen. You can choose to align the utility bar to the bottom right or the bottom left of the screen. The default alignment matches the directionality of the user’s language.

Choose when to show the submit for approval action (generally available and beta)

This one is a good one. Ever wanted to display the Submit for Approval action only when a record is eligible for approval? That day has come! With dynamic actions, now you can set conditions for when each action is visible, including the Submit for Approval action.

Domains

Deploy a My Domain (update)

To use the latest features and comply with browser requirements, all Salesforce orgs must have a My Domain.

Deploy one, or Salesforce will assign one for you based on your company name. Because your My Domain affects all application URLs, it is recommended that you test and deploy a My Domain before this update is enforced in Winter ’22.

Setting that allows non-secure HTTP connections for sites was removed

As part of updates related to Google Chrome’s SameSite cookie changes, HTTPS connections are required to access Salesforce. The require secure HTTPS Connections release update was enforced in production orgs on May 1, 2020. In Winter ’21, Salesforce removed the sites setting, require non-secure connections (HTTP), because HTTP connections are no longer permitted for authenticated requests.

And that's a wrap! If you made it this far you should give yourself a pat on the back.

If you're keen to dive deeper, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Winter Release Notes video recaps!

There's more where that came from.

Check out our video recaps for all the highlights from the Winter '21 Release Notes.

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