A Salesforce multichannel service desk with CTI implementation

The Service Cloud Agent Console provides access to various customer support features, in addition to handling incoming and outbound calls via CTI / Softphone. It also provides chat and email channels for communication, as well as access to knowledge articles and customer self-service communities through which agents and customers can take their collaboration to the next level. This is really about giving an agent more powers, for him to carry an effective customer engagement forward. Multichannel Service Desk or MCSD, as we fondly call it, is a dream come true for support agents.

About a year back, as the delivery manager, I had an opportunity  to closely associate with this kind of an implementation for an overseas client. We had implemented a ticket management system for different customer groups and business units which involved multiple processes for case handling and resolution.

The implementation, apart from the usual processes, consisted of a delicate piece of integration which involved the use of SSL and the handling of financial information for authentication.

Some of the functional areas covered included:

i) Email2Case: It has two versions. The first one is the standard version, one which is pretty much out-of-the-box and comes with limited customization features. The second one, called Apex Email Services, is largely customizable with possibilities including parsing emails, populating case fields on to the email, and so on. In this MCSD implementation, we had achieved both. One of the challenging areas that we had to handle was PCI masking on incoming emails.

ii) Web2Case: This nifty feature is a quick way to come up with a contact form which can be incorporated on clients’ or customers’ websites. It is particularly useful if customers have their own landing pages and want to just make use of an extension. Currently, with Salesforce, there are powerful communities which can be leveraged for customer support, and partner and employee collaboration.

iii) Live Agent: Thisfeature provides pre-built chat capability, which can also be exposed on any website. Salesforce also provides a Chat Rest API which can be used to build a custom chat feature. However, we have implemented the standard feature with customizations specific to client requirements for routing their customers from different sites into different agent queues specialized with the corresponding support capabilities. The Live Agent, when compared to internal chat, is essentially a customer-facing interaction tool and can be customized to some extent.

The Support Agent Console makes all sorts of communication channels available. Agents can converse with customers via live agent, accept incoming calls, connect with customers on communities, and collaborate internally via chat. They can also access cases, accounts, entitlements and other objects to quickly service the customer, thus, improving the customer support experience. Recent releases of Salesforce have  extended this console to sales cloud licenses also.

One of the functionalities we had to implement was Open CTI integration with Salesforce and BT Adapter. Some features were also customized. For instance, when a call came in, we had to auto query the customer’s details and display it on the console. While we did face a few issues related to browser versions, especially Internet Explorer 9 which gave some hiccups, these issues were eliminated in subsequent versions of IE.

Extrapolating from the aforementioned, we can also implement Survey Force as a value add to gather feedback from customers on support cases they might have raised. This is a very handy application, and the good news is that it’s available for free on AppExchange.

Salesforce’s rich analytics capabilities extend to reports and powerful dashboards that can convert your data in to meaningful information for the management team. It has various features like mailing and sharing of reports and dashboards. It even allows for automatic report generation, and can send mails based on pre-defined time and data criteria. With the latest addition of Wave Analytics, Salesforce now packs a greater punch by bringing real-time analytics to customers. It can now show dynamic graphs and dashboards that come alive with real-time feeds from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Getting back to the topic, companies these days not only have to enable multiple channels of support, they also have to manage them efficiently since too many channels can also lead to confusion. Organizations need to consolidate and make it easy for customers to resolve issues and reach agents effectively at their convenience and preference. This way, they will not only provide great customer service, but will also flourish courtesy the resultant goodwill generated and manage to save costs along the way.

Multichannel service desks help customer support representatives to dramatically improve customer experience on a call. Addressing issues faster, utilizing several ways of communicating with customers based on their channel(s) of comfort, and getting a full view of customers’ preferences and histories are just some of the advantages that customer support representatives can garner. With powerful communities coming into the equation, the overall customer engagement experience has reached new heights. It’s now all about the ease of interacting with a support center or getting quick access to support personnel for issue resolution – something that has drastically elevated customers’ relationships with companies. Post CTI implementation, the time to resolve cases and the time that a customer is on the call came down by 35%. This translated into reduced support cost for companies.

Post CTI implementation, the time to resolve cases and the time that a customer is on the call came down by 35%. This translated into reduced support cost for companies.

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