Naturally, when talking about customer service productivity, focus shifts towards handling cases in the most efficient way possible. But on certain occasions, there are external factors that influence your inbound case (calls, emails, chats) volume which puts more pressure on your customer service team while being unable to quickly move to more efficiency in case handling. Examples of those situations can originate from internal factors like production issues, service interruptions but also from external factors such as crises in the market – take the current COVID-19 crisis as an example here. These situations are a cause for a higher volume of inbound cases while a solution might not be at hand (yet). In this blog, we’ll give you a couple of strategies to best deal with these situations.

Proactively share information on situations that cause an increase in cases

It all starts with closely monitoring inbound case trends, ensuring that you have a solid categorisation in place as well as a way to capture new (unknown) categories as you go. As a Salesforce Service Cloud user, Reports & Dashboards are a great starting point. The trigger you’re looking for is a sudden increase in cases within a certain category or an increase in cases registered in the ‘other’ category which is often an indication of a new subject raising questions for your customers. If you want to dive deeper into these trends and automate tracking these trends, consider using Einstein Analytics and Einstein Discovery.

Example graph that shows an increase in an increase of Product Questions being raised which could be an indicator of a structural problem presenting.

Whenever those trends are spotted, ensure to dive into the details and isolate the cause for the increase in cases on this topic. Your next step will then be to proactively acknowledge the problem on various channels and updating your customers on possible solutions as they are being developed. 

The platform used for this kind of communication can be your website, your social media presence, a customer portal solution or a combination of those channels. 

Of course, a company might feel a bit hesitant in publicly acknowledging known issues as they present themselves (“Let the sleeping dogs lie”). In those cases, it would be wise to choose the right moment for sharing this information in the customer journey, for example to include it on the page where the contact details for your customer service team are or in a voice prompt while customers are waiting on the phone.

Allow your customers to solve their own issues

Acknowledging a known issue or frequently asked question is essential and might deflect cases of customers who would otherwise get in touch to verify if their issue is known yet, but the second step in this would be to offer your customers a way to get their own issues resolved. As soon as a solution or answer is available to ensure to share this proactively with the customer via the same channels. 

In case the solution requires interaction with the customer service team, it would really help productivity if the customer is guided in providing all details required for resolving the issue promptly. By getting this information in Service Cloud in a structured way, using a (web-to-case) form, it’s much easier to assign the case directly to the correct team and automate the steps to solve.

Ideally, if your technical environment allows this, customers should be able to resolve their own issue by offering them a manual to guide them or a guided flow to have this automatically resolved without any human interaction required.

Start building a knowledge base to be ready for whatever the future holds

As the future presents itself, new issues will pop up or old ones resurface without any prior warning. With that knowledge in mind, ensure to start building a central place that customers can reach where new issues are proactively communicated as well as known issues are available together with corresponding solutions, manuals and processes. Ensure this knowledge base is strategically positioned on locations where customers typically go for getting support, like the customer support page on your website. Ensure relevancy by regularly updating knowledge articles and starred resources to reflect your current case volume. Want to take it a step further? Consider implementing full-fledged Knowledge-Centered Service with tools like Salesforce Knowledge!

These are three basic strategies that might help you deflect cases in specific situations, just to get you started. Of course, there are more sustainable ways to work on case deflection in the longer term. Nextview’s Customer Practice is equipped with the know-how and tools to help companies develop their Service Innovation Roadmaps including topics like Service Innovation, Field Service, Self-Service and more! Feel free to get in touch with Stef van den Oever in case we can think along.

The next blog regarding customer service will discuss strategies for efficient case handling.