Productivity through Automated NotificationsMaximizing productivity in Salesforce is all about automating processes that inform and prompt users to take appropriate actions at the right time in the workflow. Whether it's a showing up on time for an appointment, reviewing and approving a contract, responding to a new Lead or Opportunity, or contacting a valued customer about a high priority case, users' actions are often driven by notifications. That's why it's so important to understand the notification resources available in Salesforce.
It's ironic that notifications appearing on the bell icon make no sound, but it's probably best that Salesforce, in general, is a quiet UI—it could get really noisy in some offices! I'm going to refer to all of the notifications that appear on the bell icon as bell notifications, because they share some characteristics, but there are several different types of notifications that appear here.
All of the bell notifications trigger the red badge to appear, or if there's already a waiting notification, to increment the number. The badge is persistent, meaning that if you close your browser or log-out, the badge will be waiting for you when you return. It remains until you click the icon and read the notifications. That red badge is a common UI element in many apps, indicating something new is waiting for your attention. There is a significant visual difference between having the badge and having no badge, but that visual cue is much diminished after that initial notification; adding a second or third is much less noticeable. After a while, some users just ignore the notifications, particularly if they are being notified about things that really don't require their attention (e.g., yet another post to a Chatter Group to which they subscribe.) Plus, since all the different types of notifications are grouped on the bell, there's no way to assign higher priority or attention to something urgent.
Chatter, Tasks & Events
There are several types of notifications that appear on the bell, starting with Chatter notifications, which the user can adjust in their personal settings (including or excluding email notifications, as well). Additionally, activity notifications including assigned tasks and events (calendar appointments) also appear on the bell, with or without popup reminders, as shown here.
One significant issue is that Lightning Experience activity reminders refresh (only) every 10 minutes, so the soonest you can dependably make a reminder appear is 10 minutes from the record change.
One of the best notification options was introduced last year: custom notifications. You can easily define a Custom Notification Type in Setup, then call that custom notification from Flows and Processes (easier from Process Builder) and fire off a notification that appears on the bell icon and can be pushed to Salesforce mobile. If you have the mobile app notifications enabled, the notification will appear on your phone at the system level outside the app, even if you're not logged into the Salesforce mobile app. That's a very handy feature.
Recently, a client asked for a way to send notify users conspicuously and immediately. Their business success hinges on being first to respond, so they want agents to contact new leads within the first two minutes. Custom notifications are not conspicuous enough, and pop-up activity reminders are not immediate enough, so I thought about Toast.
Toast notifications are pop-up UI feedback notification that typically appear in response to a user's action in the browser, such as confirmation that a record was saved.
These notifications are pop-up, colorful, and can be set to sticky mode, requiring users to click to dismiss. Other modes include pester where it appears for 3 seconds with no close icon, and dismissible that appears for 3 seconds but can be closed earlier by the user. There are four variants that affect the color and icon displayed: info (gray), warning (yellow), error (red) and success (green).
Toast notifications are part of the client-side logic, so you can't trigger them from Processes and Flows... until now.
We have created a new Lightning Component called Proton Toaster that enables you to fire toast messages from Processes and Flows, specifying the RecipientId (user or group), Variant (color), Mode, Title, and Message, with optional inline link to a record (Url and Label). We hope to have this app on the AppExchange very soon. Contact us if you would like to be part of the beta test.
Implementation with Moderation
The fact that one of the modes for toast is called pester points out a key element to effective notifications or all kinds: discretion. Notifications should be targeted to those users who are expected to act, and used selectively enough to avoid them becoming a nuisance to users. Finding the right balance will likely require some fine tuning with ample user feedback.