Sunday, August 30, 2015

Falling in Love...With Service Cloud


I fell in love with Salesforce Service Cloud nearly a decade ago in 2006. I was working at a startup managing an org as a Solo Admin with around 50 users, which were mostly from Sales and Marketing. There were a few departments within customer support: Service Center, Field Service and Engineering. Each of these departments had a shared Salesforce license they could use to login to see what the customer purchased or where they were in the sales process. However, these shared licenses only gave them read only access.

The Service Center Team sat in the office answering customer calls and emails. The Service Center was also responsible for handling escalated issues, meaning if they couldn’t resolve an issue through the phone or email and it needed to be escalated, they would make sure the question or issue was being resolved in a timely manner by Field Service or Engineering. Everything they were doing was tracked in spreadsheets or emails.

The Field Service Team was out in the field servicing our customers on site. The service visits were both routine visits and from service calls. Everything this team did was tracked in a separate set of spreadsheets. These also weren’t real-time so we had instances where two field service members would end up on the same property in the same day because data was only getting updated once a day.


My first few months at this startup company were really spent getting the Sales and Marketing teams up and running on Salesforce. I had to do major cleanup of roles, profiles, fields, objects and data. I also rebuilt all of their reports and dashboards and helped them define KPI’s. It was around that time that the company moved into a bigger office. Up until that time Sales and Marketing sat in one office and Customer Support and Engineering sat in another.

When we moved into our new office we were put into quads of desks. My quad mates were the Service Center Manager, the Field Service Manager and the Accounting Manager. On the third day of being in our new office, I walked into what seemed to be Customer Service chaos. Everyone seemed to be running around and upset. When I asked what was going on, I was told that the master spreadsheets that were saved on the shared drive with customer visit and call information had been corrupted. They had a few local saved versions, but they were a few days old, so they were trying to piece the data back together. The information contained in these spreadsheets contained critical data for these teams that tracked who had an open issue, who was attending to it and when a customer last had a service visit.

I offered up my services to help restore the data in the sheets based on emails and notes. As I was looking at the data in the spreadsheets something clicked in my head. This information belonged in Salesforce. These teams were working with the same customer data as Sales. Why should customer data be in all these separate places? I remembered something I heard about at a Salesforce event that finally made sense to me at that very moment, “A 360-degree View of Your Customers.” That is exactly what we needed to have and I was determined how to figure out how to use Salesforce to give us that 360-degree view.

Later that day as most of the chaos settled I started to do a bit of research on how customer service used Salesforce. I found some really good articles on the help section from Salesforce about Cases, Web to Case and a brand new feature called Email-to-Case. I had never used Cases before, but I thought, what the heck, why not try it out and see what the data would look like with a few of our customers.

I looked at the spreadsheet and configured their process right into cases. I was excited to see that cases operated like Leads, Accounts, Contacts, and Opportunities, which were the objects I was most familiar with at that time. I could add fields; have page layouts and record types. In a few hours I had a working prototype of what I thought would be a good solution for the Service Center team. I loaded cases from a few of the customers that called in frequently to see what the data looked like. I created a couple of reports so I could show them how they could look at the cases in a detail view or at a high level through a metric.

A few days later, when things seemed to be a bit calmer I approached the Service Center Manager and asked if I could show her something in Salesforce. I showed her what I built out with cases and explained the idea of web to case and email to case. I also showed her some documentation about CTI systems, Self-Service Portals and connecting Salesforce to them. The Service Center Manager loved everything I showed her. We spent an hour or two each day over the next week perfecting what I had built and showing a few other people on the team.

Since the Service Center Team was using a shared license that only had read only rights we needed to purchase 15 licenses to fully get them on board. Our plan was to build something out and “wow” the management team so they would sign off on this expense.

The following week, I sat with the Service Center Team manager in the CEO’s office along with the COO explaining to them everything we built and our proposed plan. Phase I was going to be getting cases up and running, a data migration of existing calls, setup of web to case and email to case. Phase II was going to be creating an escalation process and bringing on Field Service and Engineering Teams. Phase III was to look at doing a self-service portal and CTI integration. The CEO and COO loved everything we built so far and our phased project plan. We got sign off on the additional licenses for Phase I and Phases II and III would be put in the budget for the following year.


Building out Phase I took about two weeks including the data load. It was really exciting to see Service Center Team members entering cases while they were on the phone as well having the ability to see if a customer had any open cases with us right when they called. No guessing, no searching multiple spreadsheets. Everything was right there for them on the screen in Salesforce.

The changes we made for the Service Center also ended up having a very positive impact on Sales. In the past, Sales Reps would sit with Service Center Team members to understand if any of their clients were calling in or if any had issues that were up for renewal or a good candidate for a new product or upsell. Sales no longer had to do that. They had the information at their fingertips. It was immediately apparent to everyone in the company how efficient Salesforce was making our Service Center Team.

A few weeks after our go-live with Phase I, the CEO and COO met with me and told me to go ahead and purchase additional licenses for Field Service and Engineering and start work on Phase II and they would see about getting budget for a portal as well as a CTI phone system for Phase III. Phase I had proven to them that the spend now would save money in the long run due to the efficiency it brought the teams supporting our existing and expanding customer base.

It took just another few weeks to have Phase II rolled out which allowed us to have escalation process right on Salesforce as well as gave a unified system where Marketing, Sales, Service Center, Field Service, and Engineering were looking at the same customer data. It was an incredible experience for me to see the value of my work right in front of me.

About a month after we went live with all of the service teams on Salesforce we started building out monthly and weekly metrics. I used to do all of the reporting for the company so I knew that the average “Time to Solve” for Service Center was just over 2 business days. After having these teams on Salesforce for just over a month it was brought down to less than a day. The average “Time to Solve” was 6 hours, I did the numbers three different times, just to make sure. When I clicked “Run Report” and saw those numbers, that’s when I knew, I was in love. I had become the biggest fan of what was known in 2006 as “Salesforce for Service & Support”, now known as the very robust Service Cloud. The amount of efficiency I could bring to end-users was nothing short of incredible. Not only did I become a fan, so did my end-users. The customer service teams loved Salesforce and actually helped me get to my first Dreamforce in 2006, but that is a story for another day.

Eventually my career grew and a few years later I was bringing thousands of customer service users onto Salesforce at a billion dollar financial services firm, building out self service using portals and communities, integrating with entitlements systems and lots of other fun complexity. My favorite projects over the past 11 years of working on the Salesforce platform mostly involve Service Cloud.


I even rolled out Service Cloud for a team I was managing a few years ago where we were managing thousands of Salesforce Users. We used it to manage requests and our internal escalation process. Service Cloud can bring efficiency to teams doing any kind of support work, not just customer service.


Now, a question for you, the reader, when did you fall in love with Service Cloud? I would love to hear your story.

As always, thank you for reading. See you all at Dreamforce!!


11 comments:

  1. I can certainly relate to your journey. Mine is slightly different in that I started using Financialforce PSA in 2013. As a result, I backed into Salesforce and immediately starting writing Validation Rules, Workflows and Approvals, and Reporting. It didn't take long for me to realize the power of the force.com platform. That's my love story and I'm sticking to it. :-)

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