Five Best Practices for Implementing a New Salesforce Service Cloud in the Middle of a Customer Lifecycle

I recently had the opportunity of working with a client with a customer base of millions to implement a Salesforce Service Cloud case management solution. In the end, we delivered a robust solution that exceeded initial expectations.

I recently had the opportunity of working with a client with a customer base of millions to implement a Salesforce Service Cloud case management solution. In the end, we delivered a robust solution that exceeded initial expectations. However, this was a unique implementation because of a few things

  1. The solution was the first service cloud implementation in the entire enterprise
  2. It was implemented for customers that needed help in the middle of the customer lifecycle
  3. The requirements were loose and it was needed by a specific and nearing deadline

It was important to deliver the right level of solution that could be nurtured and grown as the business realized the power of the system. It was critical to look beyond this departmental silo and understand how the platform would be used in other cross-functional areas. These environmental factors contributed to a unique experience in helping this business reach new heights in customer service.  Here are five best practices to consider when implementing Service Cloud for the first time in an organization.

 1. Understand your process 

This may be an obvious one, but one would be surprised at how many business units or departments don’t truly know the details of the process they own or manage.  SOPs may be out of date; current employees are doing things disparately or steps may be taken that management isn’t aware of.  As a company who is investing in uplifting the customer service experience, invest time to the discover and evaluate what is good and bad in the current process. Evaluate this from a customer and staff perspective. Then identify the key processes or functions that create risk or are wasteful.  These data can be the baseline to evaluating the success of your implementation later. Equally important to your process is…their process. Whose process? Your cross-functional counterparts.  What are the handoffs between your departments? How will the remainder of the organization use a case management product? Do the customer’s needs change in different silos? These questions will help an organization plan the right level of case model design and ensure that its scalable across the enterprise. Without this step, an organization can be in for a lot of re-work down the road – not to mention frustrated stakeholders.

  1. Don’t be afraid to adopt changes to your process as guided by the platform 

I’ve heard the following argument time and time again. “Business process drives technology…no, technology should drive the business process!”. Well, sorry opposing viewpoints, these should be harmonious with each other.  There should be a symbiotic relationship of leveraging technology to the point that it puts smiles on your customers’ face, but not at a cost that outweighs the value proposition of that smile.  Meaning, invest in the right platform and accept the ways of that platform. Salesforce is amazing – but! There are limitations. Some who are stuck in “current state” will find it hard to envision another way to do the process. However, if you let the platform guide you and keep it as declarative as possible, you’ll benefit greatly from whichever Salesforce product or appexchange products that you decide to integrate.   Of course, I didn’t forget the other part. There is going to be a break-up from the old system. Whether considered mutually agreed or a messy one, the breakup is the beginning of seeing your process in a new light.  Identify what was great from the past relationship, see if it fits in the new world, and if it doesn’t don’t be afraid to go with the new unknown world of Salesforce. With the right implementation partner (MST, duh!) you will be guided through appropriate solutions that fit the budget and timeline.  While adopting a new way to do something might be painful at first, you will be reaping the benefits of being able to evaluate the effectiveness of the new process through the collection of data, user and customer feedback. Not to mention immediate ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from staff and customers.

  1. Be careful of automating too much, too soon 

Relative to #2, you want to be careful of getting automation crazy right off the bat. Yes, Salesforce makes automation easy. Yes, it allows for many ways to automate some that require more maintenance and limitations than others. However, don’t automate for the sheer hype of automation, right away.  Instead, identify the absolutes within a process and peg those for automation.  For example, say your customer service model requires high-touch communication. It is best to provide frequent updates on their case. The business unit may decide to send email confirmations upon certain actions or triggers occurring with their case. There’s likely not a safer place to automate and create that sense of assurance with your customers. Communicating cases statuses, outstanding actions and other information is a great way to re-focus your agent’s time on more complex tasks and meet the need of giving your customer intuitive and often real-time status updates.  Another safe automation point is task automation. If there are constants in a process and it is done all the time every time, this may be an ideal process to automate. A good discovery session with end-users, then managers, then end-users again will evoke the points of automation that will be sure to please both right out of the box!

  1. Create then understand your data

When it comes to learning more about your business and the processes that create the journey and experience for your employees and customers, don’t be afraid to open the roof and look at the sky.  While you don’t want to create custom fields for the mere sake of having more data, you do want to evaluate the core fields required to run the business, then take some time to understand what type of metadata might be valuable.  Salesforce is an amazing product to leverage for metadata collection and analysis.  You can detect certain behaviors by customers, identify seasonality when you weren’t aware of it, how to better align workforce to certain case types or perhaps that your understanding of a frequent customer issue is root-caused to an external factor – one that you cannot control directly.  Through the configuration of business logic and the analysis of those written actions, a business unit to can identify powerful data points and trends that can be used to reinvest in new logic or changes to existing logic for optimal costs and benefit.  The ability to understand what your CRM is doing is the most powerful view into your customers and your process. Be sure to become an expert on dashboards and building reports so that you can leverage your data upward and downward your organization.  Identify key metrics your staff should be aware of and have the capability to serve up an answer to any question one of your executives might have for you.

  1. Always start with service console

This is a no brainer to me.  While I have nothing against Salesforce classic view, the console application is low-cost (minimal configuration) way to catapult users into an efficiency black-hole. Especially where those users were having to use various systems previously. Remember the days of having a single monitor at your desk? And then remember the day you got two? Now think about only having one again. The point here is that having two monitors was a necessary evil that was perceived as convenience. As technology emerged so did the number of applications required to perform a type of action for the end user – thus having 2-3, maybe 4 applications open at once.  With the Salesforce service console, we took an excel spreadsheet, a separate eFax client, a customer information database, a customer portal and another internal application into a single point of interacting through the Service Cloud console.  This provided a slick and powerful view into all of these interaction points that really could be done on a single monitor! (I’m not suggesting anything here! Hardware is cheap these days, right?) By combining the powerful console layout options, the list views, knowledge, history, all intertwined into the service console, we reached new territories of efficiency for this specific customer service group.

Well wishes with your implementation and path to greatness!

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