How to Be a Customer Service Innovator

A service center and its agents are the backbone of customer support. Consumers continue to have evolving expectations and customer service strategies need to change to meet them. Over 150 service professionals from the US, UK, Australia and 7 other countries took the Bluewolf Customer Service Quiz to get their company’s Service Innovator Score. Their quiz responses provided insights into the state of customer service today.

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Take the quiz for your own Service Innovator Score and read on for our tips on using Service Cloud to improve your score. 

For over 98% of our survey respondents, there were ways in which their company could improve to be a customer service leader. More than half of survey respondents do not currently use Service Cloud for their Customer Service Management— and the majority of those who do use Service Cloud are not using it to its full capabilities. Whether your company currently uses Service Cloud or another platform, here are some suggestions on how to be a customer service innovator, and get the most out of Service Cloud. 

1. A single interface is key to successful customer service.
A single user interface allows agents to be more efficient and not waste valuable time logging into and toggling between different systems. Most of our respondents are moving towards single-system case management and more than 65% of survey respondents are already using between 1-3 systems to manage their customer service database. 

Tip for Service Cloud Customers:
Leverage Lightning Service Console, which allows agents to manage all customer interactions (from chat, social media, email, etc.) in a single user interface.

2. Embrace an omni-channel case management philosophy.
Companies that utilize omni-channel case management create a consistent experience for the customer. This means anyone from service can record and see customer interactions on a unified contact record, regardless of the customer’s original contact channel. Despite these benefits, only 25% of survey respondents classify their case management process as omni-channel, and 75% are currently storing customer service information in multiple, disconnected systems. 

Tip for Service Cloud Customers:
Rely on tools such as Case Feed or Omni-Channel to help your organization manage multiple channels in a single location. Case Feed allows agents to view all interactions related to an individual case in a single view. Omni Channel enables managers to automatically assign cases to agents based on an agent’s listed expertise, priority of cases, or agent’s presence, reducing the amount of time cases are sitting idle in a queue.

3. Have a documented escalation process that can be automated, measured and improved.
A defined and automated system will improve case management accuracy. To get this off the ground, organizations must first define how cases should be routed to agents, how often agents interact with cases, and how agents know when to escalate a case. By setting up service level agreements and escalations, the cases can then be auto-assigned or escalated based on designated timelines. The best customer service organizations utilize automation to program cases to pop back into queues when open, and route escalated cases based on agent experience and availability.

More than 40% of respondents don’t understand the full escalation process at their organization and need to ask a team member or manager before moving forward. Similarly, over 70% of survey respondents employ some sort of manual process to determine when and how to escalate a case, rather than having an automated process. With improved clarity and an automated system, the time it takes to questions or research escalation could be spent elsewhere.

Tip for Service Cloud Customers:
Take advantage of Entitlements and Case Milestones in Service Cloud. With Entitlements, you can easily verify if customers are eligible for support, create and maintain service contracts for customers, and enforce service levels with automated processes that instruct agents on how to resolve cases. Case Milestones allow you to define critical steps in the service process and create alerts for “due dates” throughout — ultimately giving agents full visibility into what your organization expects of their resolution process.

4. Define knowledge and make it accessible in one place.
Members of the customer service team are inundated with requests every day and need to quickly answer any questions that arise. Relevant and easily accessible knowledge will make their job easier. More than 55% of our survey respondents say that their agents currently have to sift through a few sources when looking for knowledge. Less than 20% have agent knowledge consolidated in one source.

With a single knowledge database, As agents use knowledge, edit it, and improve it, there must be ways to track success and bring the best knowledge to the top. Ensure agents can attach articles to each case, rate the articles, and see which articles are being used the most.

Tip for Service Cloud Customers:
Salesforce Knowledge now allows users to access knowledge through a single interface without bringing every content repository into the platform. Structure this matrix to include the location of all knowledge articles, who owns each article, whether it is internal or external, and the knowledge type, all of which will become the basis for future enhancements. 

5. Ensure there is an automated process that checks data quality and alerts managers to potential errors.
The best companies invest in an automated process that continuously checks data quality and alerts customer service managers to potential problems. This allows teams to customize rules for data quality management that suit their needs as well as run reports and be notified of errors themselves instead of relying on IT.

Data quality continues to be one of the biggest obstacles across the board. 76% of companies struggle with integration and data quality yet only 25% of our respondents are using an automated process to ensure data quality.

Tip for Service Cloud Customers:
You do not have to start your data quality monitoring system from scratch. Depending on the complexity of your needs, there is everything from free Data Quality Analysis Dashboards on the Salesforce AppExchange to full-featured master data management solutions, like Informatica, that integrate with Service Cloud.

You can take the quiz and get your Service Innovator Score here. For more insight into improving your customer service with service cloud, download our special report, or join our expert, Bob Furniss, at New Voice Media's Connect 2016.  

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Bluewolf, an IBM Company, is a global consulting agency and proven Salesforce strategic partner that builds digital solutions designed to create results. Now.