For many organizations, a disproportionate amount of energy is spent acquiring new customers – trying to close more sales, build the existing client base, etc. But what should happen after that? How can we give our customers the best possible service after the deal has been finalized and ultimately have them trust us with their business needs? Repeat business can be a pivotal source of revenue for any business and with an established Service process; a customer’s one year commitment can potentially expand into a multi-year contract. This can be in part due to the fact that any issues that occurred during their time using your services were handled expediently and professionally.
Salesforce has an entire category of tools and products designed for customer issue management and even collaboration. This platform, Service Cloud, is specifically designed so that when your client has an issue with your products or has questions about specific features, you can quickly automate the overall business process to make sure that the issue is quickly resolved. This can also extend to encouraging customers to actively take more advantage of your products by giving them easy access to Knowledge Articles, Question forums, new release information, etc. This entire process can create direct collaboration between you and your customer in addition to giving the Sales department insight into overall customer satisfaction.
One of the most common use cases for Service Cloud is handling the situation when a customer sends an email to your support staff detailing that a technical problem has occurred with one of your products. In a model in which there is no established customer service platform or system for tracking issues, this message would be sent from person to person, or even department to department in a completely manual fashion until the issue is resolved. This is not only inefficient because it takes manual effort, is quite time consuming, and is potentially prone to error. Ultimately when issues are not resolved for long periods of time, the client begins to slowly lose faith in your ability to solve their issue which potentially impacts customer retention.
In order to automate this process using Service Cloud capabilities, first one can configure Email to Case. This automatically creates a Case and associates it to the existing Contact in Salesforce so that all of the necessary information is added to the Case and is freely accessible for the support agent. Using Case Assignment Rules, one can route that Case automatically to the correct specialist or department (in the form of a queue) in order to ensure that the best possible User or group is notified to alleviate the issue. Case Assignment Rules can be configured to best suit your business process and expedite the process to resolve the customer’s issue.
Continuing with this example, the Case has been assigned to a special queue for technical issues for your organization, but the team is busy with other projects and cannot immediately devote the time to this new issue. Hours go by and the case ultimately becomes stale. If a Case has not had any activity associated to it for hours on end, it may cause issues for client because he/she has an unresolved issue which is impeding his/her work. Additionally, this misstep can potentially cause serious problems for your business because the more often that these issues get missed, the more likely that your customer will be dissatisfied by your service. In order to combat this problem, Salesforce has an out-of-the-box method called Escalation Rules for addressing this type of problem. Using Escalation Rules, one can configure Salesforce to move the Case to a different User or Queue automatically based on criteria. For this example, an Escalation Rule could be created indicating that if a Case has had no activity associated to it for 4 hours, it will be escalated to your Tier 1 Support so that they can salvage the Case and resolve the issue. This is all done independently of any of your reps having to do anything. One can create rules in order to ensure that customer issues do not fall through the proverbial cracks and can created an automated and expedited issue resolution process.
Now that the overall process for submitting Cases has been streamlined, your organization would like for customers to have a central repository for accessing their own Cases as well as a separate repository for accessing information about your products and services. This can be done by implementing a Salesforce Communities. Customers will be given access to very specific areas of your Salesforce organization and only the resources that you would want for them to have access. You do not have worry about exposing secure information to customers in the Community because Community access is easily configurable to suit your business needs by only showing what is necessary for the customer and works independently of existing internal security settings. This product is a fantastic resource for allowing customers to see the status of their Case, see previously closed Cases, and even submit new ones. There is also a feature called Case Deflection in which prior to creating a Case, the customer will be presented with possible Knowledge Articles that relate to the content of their Case in hopes that they will find a suitable solution for their inquiry without even having to create a case. Using Service Cloud, both your employees (can include Sales for account management needs) and your customers will be able to actively track the full Case lifecycle of each individual issue from creation to closing seamlessly.
Additionally, Communities can be used in conjunction with other Service Cloud based products. This can include a centralized Knowledge Base which can hold Articles such as FAQs, Product Release Information, Case Studies, etc. There can also be features configured such as an Ideas forum, a forum for asking Questions to your Users or even other Customers, and even have a feature for accessing a Live Agent within the Community if they have any questions. There is the ability to enable self-service registration within your Community so that your employees do not have manually register intended new members of your Community.
Communities are not exclusive to just customers. There is also the ability to create a Partner Community in which your employees and Partners can work collaboratively within one centralized system. The full sales lifecycle from lead to Closed Won can be shared across your organization and your Partners that you work with. This creates not only a collaborative environment, but also makes the Lead and Opportunity reporting much more consolidated because all stakeholders are working in one system and can be either reported on as individual entities (ie internal User Opportunity pipeline versus Partner Pipeline) or as a combined aggregate of all activity. If you would like to learn more about Service Cloud, feel free to reach out to us.