Customer support used to be thought of as “a necessary evil.” A common refrain from customer support is, “nobody calls to tell us we and the product are doing a good job.” In many cases, customers dread having to contact support, expecting it will be a one-way interaction with poor response times and answers intended to push you away as fast as possible.
Many of the best brands now have a completely different view on the role of customer service. They invest in it as a differentiator—a part of the customer experience that enhances the relationship, not just having to “deal with it.” Times have changed, and a lot has to do with customer expectations on how they interact with brands, fueled by the pace of innovation.
When you contract with a product like Salesforce, you are getting the power of the entire platform behind you—and the realization of all its benefits and capabilities are often gated by you, the customer. Many customers only use a fraction of the capabilities they have in front of them and that translates to missed opportunities.
We have worked with many notable brands and are happy to share a few anecdotes of how they use Salesforce to differentiate their service offering in the marketplace. Some examples:
Adding another channel by which your customers can reach you does add more “cost” in training and attention; however, if the chat channel is more efficient and scalable, it is an area worth investment. Almost every company offers a form of chat—either chat support or chatting with a salesperson. It is a great communication method that enables both parties to make progress while also, without shame, multitasking. Most customers would very much welcome a chat session over being on hold for 15 minutes on the phone.
The great thing about chat is that it serves as a platform for future growth. With Salesforce, you can easily turn that function into SMS chat, which companies are increasingly seeing the value of (and not just interactive communication but broadcast communication to opt-in customers).
Many companies that offer chat support quickly build a stable of canned answers to their most common questions. These can be turned into Quick Text, a Salesforce feature that enables agents to choose answers quickly in response to customers via chat. Salesforce Einstein can recommend the best answer too, saving agents even more time. Once the canned answers are established, chatbots become the next logical step—making this step completely automated. Enabling customers to talk to a chatbot at any time of the day to address their most common concerns and quickly get answers is a big winner in responsive customer service.
Better yet, you now have a scalable platform to add even more interaction types as your products and services evolve.
Self-service portals are table stakes at this point for customer service organizations. Customers expect to log into a customer portal to handle most of their issues, which is ideal for both the customer and customer service organizations. Customers can interact and get their business done at any time of the day, while customer service organizations can focus on value-add tasks versus routine questions and issues that could have been handled by a computer. The Salesforce Experience Cloud (formerly Customer Community) is a powerful, flexible solution that can create seamless portals that match your branding and effectively integrate with your customer applications (using single sign-on).
“Follow-the-sun” support is a great differentiator for many global organizations where customers expect to receive prompt support at any time of the day. Salesforce Service Cloud can be set up with seamless routing during shift changes, and case collaboration features can support working jointly around the clock, including the efficient transfer of high priority issues to the next shift. What this means is better customer responsiveness and faster case close times.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
NPS is a standard way to measure customer satisfaction. Salesforce Survey, as well as third-party survey tools on the AppExchange, enables companies to survey their customers at critical points—perhaps right after a case is closed or 60 days before renewal to get that all-important temperature check. Because the data is stored with the customer record, reports, alerts and even automated process actions can be kicked off that can predict churn. This kind of data collection lets you proactively improve the customer relationship, helping you gain customers for life rather than lose them to customer attrition.
Of course, the incredible flexibility of the Salesforce platform enables you to easily create and launch your own applications. We have some customers who have used it to put large parts of their business online. Try putting your customer processes online in your customer portal with the ability to “Start Claim,” “Submit Application,” or “Onboard Customer.” In doing so, it enables you to automate your processes so that you only need to deal with the exceptions. Not only does it make the customer experience better, but it enables you to massively scale.
Outward-facing differentiators get all of the attention; however, other differentiators in service leadership can have a significant impact as well. These include being highly responsive at less cost, having the best information available to close calls on the first interaction and efficiency tools that make your agent’s job a dream rather than a drag. These efficiencies can make your customer service team score at the highest levels with five-star reviews and “10” NPS scores. Check out our article on agent productivity, which is a key component to agent satisfaction. When you have less turnover, you have better service, because experienced agents provide better service in general than less experienced ones. Our Customer 360 article and whitepaper cover how your team can provide differentiating service when provided with all of the data in one console, so you can serve customers quickly and completely.
Products like Service Cloud Voice enable your agents to take calls from anywhere, supported by great capabilities like full-call transcription, allowing your agents to spend less time typing and more time interacting with customers. RSM offers Rapid Deploy for Service Cloud Voice to get up and running on Service Cloud Voice in just four weeks—it is an incredibly powerful capability.
Taking your first steps in becoming a service leader, view it from the customer’s perspective and imagine what the ideal experience would look like. Many customer service leaders have already blazed the path using Salesforce technologies that are ready and waiting to be deployed. For those at the forefront of innovation, the flexibility of the platform’s programmatic and user interface (UI) capabilities can push the envelope even further in differentiating yourself in the marketplace.