Salesforce Service Cloud Review

The most valuable features for us are contact tracking, the knowledge base, and the analytics.

What is most valuable?

  • Contact tracking
  • Knowledge Base
  • Analytics

How has it helped my organization?

Through the use of the Knowledge Base, which we translated into 13 languages, we where able to increase our support reach to our customers. This included an increased support level not only for those customers whom we served directly via other channels (phone, email, and chat), but this also extended our reach to those customers whom we could not support directly (those who spoke Japanese, Korean and Russian, for example).

What needs improvement?

The treatment of email processing in the Service Cloud is still reminiscent of email processes appropriate to sales. There is a lack of flexibility to process an email (not web-to-case contacts) as a contact. This might take an entire rewrite of the approach or a purchase and integration of one of the competing email processing apps (which will go un-named, but you know who I mean).

Having said that, Salesforce is always improving, I am constantly amazed at the way they listen to their customers and (eventually) move innovations suggested by the field into their products.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using it since 2006.

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

We had no problems with any of these phases of the project. Design and deployment took six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I can’t remember a time we were down unexpectedly.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We scaled up from five contact centers to 14, and added support features like chat and more translations of the Knowledge Base with ease.

How are customer service and technical support?

I would rate the support received from Salesforce of the highest caliber. They are very responsive and helpful. They even sent a Product Director on-site to work with us on a particularly difficult issue.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

The CRM product we used was not integrated across sales, marketing or support departments, nor was it integrated across borders (Europe and the US used separate instances). Just before the transition to Salesforce, that previous company reduced support to pay only and that was the final straw for us.

How was the initial setup?

With the help of Salesforce Professional Services, our design, development, training and deployment took six months from the decision to implement to a final training day across nine cities worldwide. Salesforce has a very effective methodology for this process and is willing to help as much or as little as needed.

What about the implementation team?

We used a Salesforce Professional Services team and had both an internal and a contract Project Manager. One huge advantage is that we had an overall business process owner who acted as a go-between, communicating with all of the teams Salesforce, sales, marketing, support, IT, finance and corporate management.

What was our ROI?

Our ROI figures are proprietary. What I can say is that the biggest ROI value comes from the intangible benefits (which the financial people have to figure in the spreadsheet). One factor was the ability to reach customers whom we could not directly support (see the discussion of the Knowledge Base above). Another was having a single source of truth for Customer Data, used by all departments, sales, support and marketing. The ability to identify product problems early and quickly by analyzing our contact data meant that we solved any product problems rapidly before those problems affected sales volume. Agent productivity and satisfaction also increased. The agents had direct input to the design and any enhancements to the system. We used a process of continuous improvement with regular updates. They “owned” the system and were happier and more productive as a result.

What other advice do I have?

Appoint a business process owner who will “own” the implementation. This person needs to be totally invested in the success of the application, not only in their own department, but across all departments that will be using, or be affected by, the system. This includes IT and finance. Involve the users of the system in the initial design. They are the ones that will have to use the tool, and they know best what is easy and what is hard to do. When you incorporate their design suggestions, give them public credit, “Ed, this is the feature you suggested”. That gives them pride of ownership and may turn detractors into advocates for the system. Become very friendly with your IT Director. As a team you will be able to figure out the best upgrade and expansion strategy, cost saving strategy, and bug fix/feature enhancement process. You will also have an ally with whom you can present your cost justifications and enhancement requests to management.

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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