Editor's note: Find out how a robust CRM system can solve major problems in case management and go for customer service consulting to plan a similar solution tailored to your processes.
People involved with customer service are getting more and more impressed with Salesforce Case Management functionality. But how can it help customer service? That’s exactly what we’re going to look into by selecting common case-related problems and examining how Salesforce Service Cloud solves them. Proceed shall we?
Problem Uno (1). Inaccessibility of your customer service
Lots of things can irritate a customer: the malfunctioning product, the failed delivery, the way your agents speak to them. But more than that, the inability to easily contact your support. So, if you often have to put callers on hold, be sure: it drives them mad.
Salesforce Case Management, by itself, doesn’t solve this problem. Unexpected, right? However, Salesforce Service Cloud (part of which Case Management is) offers a feature for making your customer service accessible – Omni-Channel. Not only it supports a wide range of channels: calls, web forms, web chats, mobile app chats, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Sino Weibo, Google+), etc., all these channels are easily integrable with Salesforce (for instance, through email-to-case or web-to-case mechanisms), which means you can work with all of them within the platform. So, no tool switching anymore. This feature boosts department performance since any inquiry from any channel can be easily converted into a case and routed to the right agent, which contributes to faster resolutions.
However, your customers may be centered around social media that OOTB Salesforce Service Cloud doesn’t support. Example: your company is very active on YouTube, and your customers leave a lot of comments under your videos. It would help to identify whether any of the comments are potential cases, and, thus, bring them into Salesforce for a speedy resolution. In such cases, customizations are needed.
Problem Dos (2). Losing sight of cases or not knowing the solutions
The flow of customer complaints can be rather overwhelming, especially if no solid tool strengthens your customer support process. This way, customer problems can be easily forgotten, say, if your agent soon gets a call about a more important and urgent matter. Besides, when customers need prompt solutions, your agents may be lost for words because the case is out of their area of expertise. This can result in ping-ponging customers around your call center and/or in total inability to help them.
Automated case assignment in Salesforce Case Management can help to solve these issues. Of course, you don’t need Salesforce to tell you that one needs to assign cases to agents. But you may be interested in the exact mechanisms underneath.
When a case is opened, Salesforce Service Cloud triggers assignment rules. According to them, the case is sent either directly to an agent or a team of agents and is then displayed in a case queue related to that team.
In case of direct assignment, it’s all clear. But case queues have both easy and problematic cases in them. Will service agents prefer simpler cases? Can the more complex ones be neglected? Yes to both.
To manage such imbalances, customer service managers need agent motivation techniques. And besides managers’ wit, these techniques will rely on agent performance data, which is what Salesforce Service Cloud can give. And it won’t only show the plain number of cases closed. It’ll provide data on cases’ particular levels of labor-intensiveness. It will help both to motivate agents and better monitor their load. However, it’s only available after customization.
Besides just setting clear boundaries of responsibility and motivating agents, case assignment increases resolution rates and speeds. All thanks to various case assignment parameters, such as:
- Load (based on the number of cases): if Luke is overloaded, the case goes to Leia.
- Technical competencies: if the case is connected with a luminescent lamp malfunction and has low/medium priority, it goes to Obi-Wan.
- Case priority: if the case is connected with a luminescent lamp malfunction and has high priority, it’s assigned directly to Yoda.
- History with the customer: if the customer belongs to customer group 66, it goes to Anakin who always resolved cases connected with that group.
- Working hours: if the case is created between 8 am and 4 pm, it’s assigned to Padme.
- Regions: if the case relates to North America, it goes to Han.
- Case threads: if the new case relates to the website breakdown on 08/17/2018, it’s assigned to Chewie.
This way, cases get distributed among people who have all that it takes to solve them. But to assign cases efficiently, you shouldn’t consider only one parameter. You need a complex network of assignment rules allowing for different combinations of parameters, which is where Salesforce consulting helps.
In addition to case assignment, you should also consider case reassignment. For instance, if an agent takes up a case but doesn’t manage to close it within their working day. Or if they fall ill and can’t continue working. To avoid cases sinking into oblivion, either the manager or the agents themselves need to reassign. Not to drag such cases out, specific time-based rules need to be additionally thought through.
Problem Tres (3). Wrong prioritization leading to the low customer and agent satisfaction
If some cases aren’t treated more urgently than others or if there aren’t enough high priority triggers (say, only customer importance), a call center must look hellish. Severe cases don’t get first-class treatment and cause more issues, while customers get angrier, support agents get more and more stressed out, and customer and agent satisfaction keeps shrinking.
Again, setting cases’ priorities isn’t such a new idea for you. But does your tool do it automatically? If not, your agents most likely do it manually, which is subjective. In Salesforce Service Cloud, automatic case prioritization based on multiple criteria more objectively identifies how promptly issues need solution. This, in its turn, contributes to higher customer satisfaction and makes your service agents’ work much less hectic.
However, it can be challenging to identify what criteria need to influence case priority. For instance, a household goods online retailer may choose these:
- Case severity: serious cases obviously need to be closed faster. For the retailer, a minor case will be a customer’s inability to view the description of a chair, while a serious case can be a customer’s complaint that the chair’s description on the website completely disagrees with what he received.
- Customer importance: the more customers pay, the quicker companies want to solve their cases. An individual end-customer’s delivery-related case can be solved not so fast as that of a huge real estate agency.
- Case type: cases can be connected with various areas of the retailer’s work. For instance, they may have cases about website availability, payment system work, purchase checkout, delivery, website data accuracy, etc. And problems related to website availability will be more important to solve than delivery-related ones.
- Customer sentiment: customers react to problems differently. Some find a slight chair description mismatch infuriating, while others think that a delivery delay is nothing much. If our household goods retailer wants to close angry customers’ cases a bit faster, they may customize Salesforce Einstein to be able to perform customer sentiment analysis.
The proper combination of these (or any other) criteria can help to manage cases more efficiently. And if you find the OOTB 3-level-based priority (low/medium/high) insufficient, you can easily configure Salesforce Service Cloud and add more priority shades to it.
Problem Cuatro (4). Improperly long case resolution times
Customers want everything quick. And the fact that agents drag out case resolution doesn’t amuse them. The reasons behind the inability to deliver fast resolutions can vary: it can be agent overload, lack of agent responsibility, absent prioritization and so on. But let’s say, your agents get adequate load, and cases get properly assigned and prioritized, but, still, they don’t close on time. Why? It might have something to do with case escalation mechanisms.
Time-based rules may regulate various things: total time to case resolution or, say, how long a case can stay in the New status. When agents are about to breach time-based rules, they are notified, which helps them stay within limits.
If, according to a rule, an agent has failed to close a case, Salesforce Service Cloud triggers escalation mechanisms. It means setting the case’s priority higher and reassigning the case (maybe even to a higher authority agent, including the manager).
The real use behind Salesforce escalation is that, firstly, agents are more interested in meeting deadlines, since it affects their overall performance. And, secondly, no one needs to keep track of time, since Salesforce does it automatically based on your pre-established time-bound preferences. However, a crucial task ensues from it: calculating the right time rules. If you get them wrong, unpleasant consequences may follow: say, your agents will focus on easier tasks since complex ones have unrealistic time-related demands, which spoils their performance. This means you need to work out a comprehensive set of rules that fits different situations, case types, priority levels, etc.
You also need to mind the ‘prolonged’ cases whose resolution takes several days. For instance, if a field worker visit is required. When a worker’s appointment is booked, the agent can put the case on hold and wait for the appointment. However, you need specific time rules for the On hold case status (as well as for the prolonged case type on the whole), since it is unacceptable to have them hanging for more than 2-3 days.
Problem Cinco (5). Difficulties in performance monitoring
It’s hard not to notice angry customers and huge numbers of hanging cases. Your job is to avoid both. But besides that, you need to improve your department performance, which is difficult to do without proper analytics.
If customer service managers have troubles with agent performance monitoring, lots of ‘harder-to-see’ things can go unnoticed. Agents may simply cheat without your knowing. They can close cases that weren’t solved though could have been. They can set up their colleagues reassigning to them the cases that are about to breach time rules and so on. You need to spot such things and deal with them.
Salesforce Service Cloud offers multiple options for analytics. The most common ones for customer service are standard Salesforce reporting and Einstein analytics.
With the help of Salesforce reporting, you can create reports based on any field of a case record (or a combination of them) to know virtually anything you need. The reports can be as simple as the number of cases your department has closed this month. Or as elaborate as this month’s average case resolution time and a number of case reassignments per each case type depicting the agents who reassigned cases more than 10 times a week.
Einstein analytics can also prove useful. It analyzes all the data in your Salesforce Service Cloud and makes predictions with regard to your department’s performance. For instance, what kind of trend is there behind your customer satisfaction (CSAT) rates? Are they on the rise? If not, Einstein can give recommendations as to what you need to do to increase CSAT. And besides that, Einstein can analyze your agent-customer communication and, say, identify where your agents weren’t polite enough.
On top of that, you need to identify and better manage problematic cases. For the ones open for ages, you need comprehensive reports on numbers of case reassignments and conversations with the customer, etc. The cases that are impossible to solve will require a separate case state Closed – Not solved with obligatory closure comments where the type of the incentive offered is stated. However, you need customizations to do all that.
Finally, el fin
To put it briefly, OOTB Salesforce Service Cloud demonstrates quite a promising potential for solving customer service managers’ problems related to case management (customer service inaccessibility, long case resolution times, etc.). But this potential needs to be revealed or at least honed through configurations and customizations.
Surely, we didn’t mention all the problems that customer service managers may face. If you’re interested to know how (or whether at all) Salesforce Service Cloud can solve your specific problems, hit the ‘Ask the author’ button below – and we’ll be more than happy to share. Also, to have an idea of how exactly Salesforce Service Cloud works in real life, you can have a look at an example of case resolution in our guided demo.