Community Customer Roles - Elusive Configuration and Gotchas

Salesforce Communities are quickly becoming one of the most requested products for our clients. Price points on Community Cloud licenses have been steady coming down and its become a very viable solution for non-profits, who receive deeply discounted licensing.

Recently I've been working on a community based counselor portal solution, that will allow counselors from different nonprofits manage their cases in Salesforce. As we were exploring licensing solutions, we needed to implement some sort of role hierarchy, where cases and records are visible to counselors within the same nonprofit, and nonprofit groups could see data across the board. I knew that Community licenses don't offer role hierarchies, but Community Plus licenses do. I wanted to be able to test this out, so I spun up a partner org in order to investigate.

Elusive Community Roles Configuration

Communities can support up to 3 customer roles. You can configure the number of roles by going to SETUP -> Feature Settings -> Communities -> Communities Settings -> Community Role and User Settings | Number of Customer Roles.

Communities Settings.png

Setting the number of customer roles is an org wide setting, which will impact all communities you have in that org. Once you have set the number of customer roles that communities can have you'd likely head over to the Roles Setup Page to define those roles, but you'd be heading in the wrong direction. Queue the frustration.

After a lot of searching, I found that you don't have much control over the Customer Roles or its hierarchy. When you enable a customer for community access, and a user is created, Salesforce will automatically create up to three roles for the given contact's account: Executive Role, Manager Role, User Role.

For example, if you've configured your org to have 3 Customer Roles, then a contact, or more formally the community user, under Acme Account can have an "Acme Customer Executive", "Acme Customer Manager", or "Acme Customer User" role. When you create the user for the first time, it will auto assign the lowest level Role - the Customer User role. During the user creation process you will not see the Role field at all; its only visible once the user has been created. Once the record has been saved, you can click on the customer user Role Name, to see the newly created Role Hierarchy. This view of the hierarchy is only available through this navigation and Community Roles are not visible in the main Roles Setup Page.

Customer Role Hierarchy.png

Community Customer Roles Limitations

Here's the summary of the limitations for Customer Roles, so far:

  • Customer Roles are limited to a max of 3.
  • You can't edit the names of the 3 roles (Executive, Manager, User)
  • When enabling a customer user from the contact screen, they are assigned the lowest role on user creation. You can then edit them accordingly.
  • The roles are account specific but you can't really change the way that each role behaves.
  • You must visit a user and click on their role to see the Role setup page for that role, though there is nothign to configure in them.

Next up, I'll be playing with the sharing settings to explore any limitations that Customer Roles might have .

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