Best Practices for the Salesforce Case Object

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The Case object is one object in Salesforce that I come across that people tend to have a lot of very strong emotions about. There’s the proponents who love the Case object, and use it for both internal and external support requests, and then there’s the detractors who dislike Cases so much that they use a 3rd party application, and everything in between. But one thing that there’s no debate about is the fact that there are a lot of best practices and extra features that can be applied to Cases. 

This post is a compilation of many of our expert tips and best practices to help get the best use out of the Case object, and make it work both efficiently and effectively for your org.

1. Identify Service Channels

There’s more than one way to get help from a support team. Service Channels allow your agents to manage cases that come from all sorts of different channels – phone calls, emails, community, text message, web chat, and more.

Check out this great article for Rachel’s best practices for Service Channels.

READ MORE: An Admin’s Guide to Salesforce Omni-Channel

2. Case Routing

Assigning a Case to the right person, the first time, will help the support team reduce noise and wasted time, and helps the customer get the right answer as quickly as possible. In turn, this helps your customer satisfaction scores, which can increase your NPS responses, referral rates, and in turn, your company revenue. 

READ MORE: Email-to-case Best Practices

3. Case Status

Managing the Case Status properly is a crucial element to quick issue resolution for customers.

Many end users assume that a Case Status will change to “Updated’ automatically whenever the customer makes a case comment, but that is not always accurate. 

Automatically Update the Case Status When a Case Comment is Made

First, you need to decide how you will determine who is writing the comment. The most logical criteria is to use the user profile, however, it can be easily done with roles. 

If you’re using profiles then you need to have the field selected as Current User: Profile, operator as equals and then the value as the Profile ID. In other words, if you have a profile called “Support Agent”, don’t enter this, enter the ID instead. You can find this ID by going to the profile edit page and then copy and pasting the ID from the URL bar.

Automatically Update the Case Status When an Email is Sent or Recieved

You can tap into the Email Message object (as opposed to the Case object) which will still allow you to still update fields on the Case. 

You can use the criteria Email Message: Is Incoming, Operator as equals and Value as True. The “Is Incoming” field is a read only field which is automatically populated whenever an email is passed through Salesforce to the case.

4. Reopening Closed Cases

Should you reopen a Salesforce Case once it’s closed? There isn’t actually one right answer – it depends on how you deal with your Cases internally and your business processes. 

Option 1: Do Nothing

For some reason, it might be too complicated to automate, you may not be tracking SLAs, or the case itself is minor, so it doesn’t matter.

Advantages? The easiest option. Everyone can wrap their head around the process. If an email is received after it has been closed, then it will simply come back into the Case Owners inbox (who can decide what to do depending on the situation, respond and ask the customer to open a new or maybe just carry on the conversation). This gives the user flexibility depending on the customer and is probably suited to a business that does not have strict or set business processes when it comes to dealing with customers cases.

Disadvantages? You’re putting the power and responsibility of dealing with this query in the user’s hands; they may forget about that email and leave the customer hanging.  You’re also receiving no statistics around reopening cases; if one particular user is closing cases early or giving them temporary fixes, you’re not really going to be able to track this.

Option 2: Open a New Case

So another simple solution that can be very effective which can also use automation to ease the situation. If a case has been closed and a customer responds via a Service Cloud email, it will attach itself to the case. We can use a Workflow Rule to automatically respond to this customer informing them that they will have to open a new case, as well as automate a field update (e.g., Reopened) to a customer field just to track this stat. The criteria for this workflow will be on the email object and will be something similar to when Status = Closed.

Advantages? The first is stats: we can monitor which cases are being reopened and this can be put against users on a report to see who is failing to deal with customers’ problems. Obviously this isn’t completely full proof as a customer could have another issue which is unrelated, but this all comes down to qualitative statistics. 

The second major advantage is that if you are using Entitlements, it will restart the whole process and allow you to track this like you would a new case.

Disadvantages? You could very quickly annoy the customer if they experience this a lot, depending on how you deal with cases and the complexity. You are also potentially duplicating problems and having two cases for one.

Option 3: Reopen Salesforce Case Process

This is where it gets interesting. If you want to be clever, you can still interact with the customer on the same case, while tracking stats and making sure we stay within the Entitlement Process as well. The first thing will be to create a field similar to above (Reopened Checkbox) so that if an email does come in, we can automate a status change from Closed to another, and also tick this just so we know what has happened.

The Entitlement process part is a bit more complicated. A case can only enter and finish an Entitlement process once. This means if you tell Salesforce to exit the process when it’s closed, it won’t be able to enter it again. So, you will need two closed statuses, one for an in-between temporary stage (Solution Provided or similar) which may close automatically after a month or so, and one that means it’s closed for good.

Having an infrastructure like this in place means that if a case comes into a temporarily closed case, we can update the reopened checkbox and from that enter it into new steps in the Entitlement Process.

Advantages? The customer doesn’t have to do anything – from their point of view it is the same interaction as they had before. You keep your statistics while also keeping within your SLAs to make sure these are still tracked and hopefully kept within.

Disadvantages? As you can probably tell, it can get complicated. There are also probably a million use cases you can think of where this won’t work, for example if a customer reopens a case for a SECOND time. You’re never realistically going to cover all bases but should have a process in place, maybe not in Salesforce, but in your business, so you can deal with all of these.

Note: If you are using Milestones and Entitlements think carefully. Depending on how you have this set up a user may reopen a Case, and it will not enter the Entitlement process (having already been closed).

5. Case Teams

A Case Team is a predefined group of users who generally resolve Cases as a team. This can include a Support Agent, Support Manager, Technical Support Agent, and anyone else who typically helps to resolve Cases. Case Teams are a way to quickly the right set of people working on a Case for a quick resolution.

6. Service Console UI

If you’ve not rolled out the Service Console for your agents, they could be missing out on some great time-saving features. Split View, console navigation, and workspace tabs/subtabs give your support reps a view that allows them to work faster than in the standard Salesforce view. This will reduce the amount of time they spend navigating and clicking around and increases the number of Cases they can resolve.

READ MORE: Service Cloud Console: Improve Agent Efficiency

7. Screen Flows for Service Agents

Screen Flows for Service Agents are a great feature that helps Service Agents resolve cases with repeatable steps. For example, if an Agent needs to complete various steps in a particular order, this feature will walk them through those steps.

READ MORE: How to Create a Salesforce Screen Flow

8. Service Cloud Macros

If you’re a Salesforce Admin and you’re not familiar with Macros, it’s time to get up to speed! Macros are an easy feature you can share with your users, and they will love you for it. As Admins, we’re generally the experts in what Salesforce can/should do or not do. We’re not the experts at whatever magic that Customer Support teams do!

As such, there’s a lot of steps that a Support user might take that are the same every time (for example, closing a Case.) Imagine that Macros are a kind of custom quick button actions that individuals can set up to manage their particular job function. 

READ MORE: Service Cloud Macros: Automate Manual Tasks

9. Email-to-case

Another great (and sometimes hotly contested) feature of Cases is Email-to-case. This gives your customers a single email address where they can send an email, and a Case record is automatically created. But beware, danger lurks! Spam emails, and out-of-office loops are some of the most frequent issues with Email-to-Case. 

READ MORE: Email-to-case Best Practices

10. Case Scoring

You’ve got a lot of Cases, but how do you know which Cases to prioritize? There’s the Priority field, but if your customer filled that out, you may not want to use that as your only prioritization metric. You may also want to prioritize higher tiered customers, or certain issue types. This blog is a great explainer on how to set up your own Case Priority Score.

READ MORE: Everything You Need to Know About Salesforce Case Scoring

11. Merge Duplicate Cases

It never fails – the customer is experiencing a problem, and three or four people at the customer all create Cases for the exact same issue. Most of us are humans (I think) and prone to the occasional mistake, so the ability to merge records without losing related data will always be necessary. Check out what expert Howard Yermish has to say on the topic here: 

READ MORE: Merge Salesforce Cases: Is the New Feature a Game Changer?

12. Speed Up First Response Time

Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than when you have a problem, you create a Case, and you end up waiting days for a resolution (or worse, you never hear back at all).

First Response Time (FRT) or Initial Response Time (IRT) is a key metric to measure how quickly your support teams respond to customer issues. Faster response times means happier customers, which makes this a critical KPI for support teams.

  • FRT does not measure the quality of the response, the time to follow-up responses, or the resolution.
  • Measuring only FRT encourages agents to close cases prematurely–before the issue is resolved.
  • Unresolved issues often translate to frustrated customers who open additional cases in additional channels. This creates a new problem: duplicate cases.
  • The metrics show a quick FRT, but case volume skyrockets as customer satisfaction plummets.

1. Create a “Follow-Up On” Date/Time and “Next Step” Fields

To prevent stale cases, set a short, reasonable follow-up time based on the next steps. To start you’ll need to create two new fields on the Case object: a “Next Steps” text field and a “Follow-Up On” date/time field. Add the fields both to the appropriate page layouts and case list views.

With the “Next Steps” field, an agent can write a short directive to move the case forward. Pairing these fields with case status offers a comprehensive view of priorities from the list view.

2. Measure Time With Support Team and Customer

Depending on your product or service, you may find that your customers respond quickly to the first interaction, but slowly to subsequent interactions. On the other hand, you may find that agents are quick to respond to cases that can be easily resolved, but not so quick to respond to cases that require investigation, such as fact-gathering or reaching out to other departments or vendors.

Knowing how much time a case is with support versus the customer identifies gaps in the support process. For example, you may notice that customers take several days to respond, implying the need to create better follow-up procedures. You may also find that certain agents or specific products result in bottlenecks, potentially creating a need for training or a shift of resources.

One approach would be to use Entitlements and Milestones for your support process. Configuring Entitlements and Milestones is way beyond the scope of an article here, but there is a good Trailhead module as well as the standard Salesforce documentation to provide the details. When reporting on this, you will be measuring whether you met the promised service level agreement, essentially getting the “support team” side of the metrics.

3. Case Flags

Case Flags promotes responsiveness by prioritizing the next action agents should take to resolve a customer issue. The Lightning Utility Bar displays cases in priority order. Agents can focus on urgent cases or cases waiting for a response until all cases have been resolved: inbox zero! When a customer responds, cases will be flagged in the utility bar in priority order.

Using Case Flags for follow-up ensures a seamless agent experience. When cases are flagged at a follow-up time, the timer starts again in the Utility Bar.

Also, there’s no need to struggle for responsiveness metrics. Case Flags History Tracking makes it easy to measure the time between interactions, measuring both the time with support and time waiting for the customer as well as specifics about each interaction.

13. Experience Cloud Self-Service

One of the great features of Service Cloud is the Service Cloud Experience. There are a lot of different ways to build a community Experience, but no matter what you build, you can always add some elements of Self-Service for the end user. This could be when you allow them to find their own solutions to technical problems or find help documentation. Or it could be allowing them to manage their own support Cases.

14. Service Cloud Dashboards

While each support team, and the services they provide might be unique, the overall goal of customer support is the same: to support the customer in a timely and efficient manner. Generally, this includes a lot of the same KPIs: Initial Support Times, Case Closure Rates, Case load per rep, and more. You could do discovery and build all these by hand but consider this preconfigured pack from the Salesforce AppExchange. Not only does it give you four dashboards for managers and agents on the front line, but it’s also free! 

READ MORE: Service Cloud Dashboards Pack

Summary

Case objects are certainly one of the most notorious objects in Salesforce, but hopefully this best practice guide highlighted the ways these objects can be helpful. In general, you should always use them before resorting to custom functionalities; however, there will be many times in which standard features will not be enough to build a process you need for your business and, in those cases, you should, of course, resort to custom solutions.

To recap:

  • Case objects can be utilized in different ways: using Service channels, assigning cases to teams, using Service Console and Cloud Self-Service, plus loads more.
  • There are advantages and disadvantages to experimenting with the different Case object options like reopening closed cases, and this should be evaluated each time.
  • Case objects can be really useful in making processes less time consuming, repetitive or risky, so it’s worth giving them a try before opting for other, custom solutions.

4 thoughts on “Best Practices for the Salesforce Case Object

  1. We always have a web form and email-to-case setup for each group as customers differ in what they prefer. We also push towards the form and don’t publish the email though as it is ideal to get the form submission.

    As a lower bar to a community build we use form assembly behind SSO. This allows showing a customer cases they have and also a secure way to submit a case as we know for sure who the person is.

  2. Brian – how are you determining a specific customer user with form assembly? Where is the authentication of a specific customer happening?

  3. The biggest problem to me is knowing there has been a response to a case or a lead if you communicate via SF

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