Customer service has traditionally suffered from an efficiency problem.
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Contact center agents need to be able to access customer account information, product details and so on at a moment's notice to be able to effectively handle a problem. But historically, they have struggled to gain access to that information easily. Data often resides in multiple applications and requires lots of toggling back and forth between screens.
The Salesforce Service Cloud is designed to make accessing customer account information -- and, ultimately, customer service and support -- easier for call center agents. The platform's UI and Lightning development architecture play large roles in that.
The Service Cloud has become a critical add-on to the Salesforce Sales Cloud for organizations that rely on a customer support team to service customers. The Service Cloud provides a console that enables agents to easily access and input information into a CRM system without having to toggle through multiple pages of information to load and be submitted to close the inquiry with the customer. The Salesforce Service Console, as this UI is known, can be connected to customer cases, knowledge bases, employee chat features such as Salesforce Chatter and other features all on one page, giving agents the tools they needs quickly so that they can answer the customers' needs faster. It provides a world view of the customer at a glance, while also giving the agent the ability to provide information from multiple sources. But note that unless your contact center agents require many of the features that are available only in Service Cloud, the console itself is also available in the Sales Cloud at a lower price than the full Service Cloud license.
With Lightning's release, the Service Console UI has grown more advanced than in the classic version, though classic still has the same features, with a different look. My recommendation is that if you are launching at this point and users will access Salesforce through only the Service Console, it's worth developing in Lightning. That's the development direction for Salesforce applications more generally, and it will enable greater functionality going forward. If agents need to access other areas of Salesforce, however, consider staying with Classic, since many of the larger features of Salesforce aren't fully baked, and switching between the two interface types is cumbersome and confusing to users.
Either way, the console can show graphs and list views from multiple objects all on one page. You can add Live Agent chat functions, which is a longtime feature of Service Cloud -- though it comes at an additional cost -- on the sidebars with inner-page pops to the customer information in the single tab, as well as knowledge base search functionality that the agent can reference for troubleshooting issues and learning about products to providing users forms for customer self-service items.
Customer service and support features
Multiple new features have also been added to Service Cloud. There is SOS functionality, which allows customers and agents to join video support within the console or even the phone, with screen-sharing and guided assistance. Social interactions for Facebook, Twitter and other channels through the console and connected to Salesforce information are also available.
The platform also includes omnichannel capabilities that allow admins to develop a complex routing system to the proper resources from support calls, including item priority, proper record creation and assignment, and scoring, without any coding. All these features are now mobile-enabled, allowing escalating customer issues to be answered quickly and for customers to get results on-the-go.
With all these features, an agent is empowered to not only troubleshoot, but also to upsell through omnichannel enablement and product recommendations. All can be done on one screen, tailored to the specifics of a customer's situation. An agent can see which actions have taken on a customer account and then tailor the conversation according to how the customer interacts best.
Implementing a system like this takes a bit of effort; it requires a customer service and support department to work with other departments and assess all the possible opportunities for growth. To enable data sharing, it's important to simplify as much as possible by agent group. For any complex customer support arm, it is necessary to engage a consultant or implementation group to finalize the project, which takes time and money. It also requires a group dedicated to updating and maintaining its various features depending on the complexity of the implementation.
In addition, it's important to note that many of the features are available in Service Cloud, but include additional licensing fees. But if the team uses multiple applications to support customers or relies on simplistic data to gather information and provide solutions, it is likely that the cost will be returned via improved customer satisfaction.
Many organizations, particularly medium-size to enterprise-level, are purchasing the licenses for Service Cloud rather than Sales Cloud, so they have the flexibility to grow into these features and provide a stronger, more integrated experience for employees, management and customers themselves. Service Cloud brings the experience full circle within one application, which allows sellers to understand the customer support piece of the business and make it actionable, while also allowing the customer support center the ability to learn more about the customer to better support them.
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