Salesforce Omni-Channel is a Service Cloud feature that, as the name implies, covers “all channels”, allowing your customer service agents to handle customer concerns via any and all channels with one consistent experience.
Ask yourself: How many ways can customers contact your organization for support? Phone, email, SMS, WhatsApp – and what about webchat, social media, etc.? You want to offer all of these to open up the two-way conversation, but what impact will this have on your service operations?
Omni-Channel is a ‘win-win’. For the customer, they are satisfied that their request has been acknowledged, and can get their query resolved faster, with the appropriate approach. For your agents, they’ll no longer be required to juggle customer requests coming in from all different directions, leading to a more fulfilling role.
At a time when everyone is asked to ‘do more with less’, optimization is the word on everyone’s mind. In fact, Salesforce Omni-Channel is included on the Salesforce specializations for 2023 list; while it’s not too much effort to ‘learn the ropes’ of Omni-Channel, maximizing it for your own organization’s operations does involve a learning curve. With such untapped value, this is why these skills are so respected.
So, is your Omni-Channel setup serving your organization’s needs as we enter a new year? How far can you take Omni-Channel, and what have you not considered? Let’s first look at the foundations of Omni-Channel.
Salesforce Omni-Channel: The Three Cs
Salesforce thinks of Omni-Channel in terms of what they call The Three Cs: Complete, Consistent, and Connected. With one view of all customer support requests, Service Managers and Salesforce Admins can plan out and activate a series of responses, regardless of the customer’s communication channel of choice. Do it once, do it right – then optimize these core service automations.
Beyond Omni-Channel, there are four critical aspects of customer service to ‘hit’ in order to be successful. Here’s how Omni-Channel plays a role in addressing each, head on:
- Responsiveness: Receive customer support requests (regardless of the communication channel), and respond rapidly with an appropriate next step. Could the customer self-serve leveraging support articles, or does this case need additional investigation from your support team? Not only does this keep customer satisfaction buoyant, it also reduces customer churn (i.e. them canceling your product or service). Keeping responses consistent, in relation to the cases’ severity, goes a long way in making the first response both fast and impactful.
- Utilization: Case routing involves more than simply assigning cases to agents. To assign support cases to the right people, at the right time, organizations use an assignment strategy (e.g. skills-based routing) or a combination of strategies to apply assignment with accuracy. Remember that agents could be tasked with juggling requests from multiple channels? Complexity shouldn’t be passed on to the agent; instead, receiving cases should be a seamless experience. Imagine a duck swimming – everything appears smooth and seamless (for the customer) above the surface, with the real ‘legwork’ (assignment complexity) taking place beneath.
- Feedback: How customers perceive their service experience is a valuable data point to work into your interactions going forward. Often considered a ‘soft’ metric, feedback can be quantified and fed back into case routing. For example, if a customer gives poor feedback, the case could be automatically reopened, and reassigned to a more senior agent for further attention. This helps get to the root cause of the customer’s troubles.
- Personalization: Being centralized to one customer record, agents and the automation that supports them, can gain insight from a wealth of data about the customer and/or their company – including past requests.
Omni-Channel Channels and Reporting
We posed a question in the introduction: How many ways can customers contact your organization for support? Phone, email, SMS, WhatsApp, webchat, and social media are all ways that you want to offer to open up the two-way conversation.
- Phone: Service Cloud Voice is the CTI tool for handling and routing incoming calls through Salesforce.
- Email: Email-to-case allows your customers to send an email to your organization, which is turned into a Case record. From there, your organization can send auto-replies, distribute cases to your support team, and perform other automated actions.
- SMS: Salesforce offers native SMS support. Customers can text while agents stay right within the Service Console.
- Webchat: Salesforce-native Live Chat can be embedded on any webpage (not just Salesforce pages, i.e. Experience Cloud sites).
Multiple channels, multiple requests, multiple agents… how do you keep track of them all? Monitor agent work performance with Omni-Channel Supervisor, and for a higher-level view, the Omni-Channel Performance Dashboard is a free add-on with prebuilt reports and dashboards.
Use Cases for Salesforce Omni-Channel
To paint the picture more clearly, and help you to place this all into the context of your own organization, here are two organizations that use Salesforce Omni-Channel.
Currys, the UK’s leading technology retailer, delivers the same great experience both in-store and online – for customers to shop and seek support when and where it suits them. The scale of their operations is staggering; the operation fixed 850,000 products in one year, alone.
However, scale should not automatically equal complexity; Currys had 500+ applications and complex digital journeys across multiple websites and brands. Salesforce Omni-Channel simplified this into a centralized support center, with some fascinating results to boast:
“While 60% of Currys customers prefer to shop across multiple channels, its omni-channel shoppers are 27% more likely to shop again compared to those who use one channel.”– Salesforce
Adidas, a global leader in athletic, fashion, and footwear, enabled their customers to connect with their brand via social media, the web, email, or phone calls. Feeding into a single application (omni-channel), they’re able to connect customer queries with their 1,100 support agents.
Case assignment describes the logic and automation that delivers Salesforce records to the right owner at the right time. Interchangeable with the terms “case routing” and “case distribution”, there are countless ways that logic is applied (described as “strategies”). Case assignment could be designed by a number of dimensions:
- Right agent, i.e. skills-based, capacity-based.
- Right time, i.e. if the case can’t be deflected using self-serve methods.
- Right language.
Add in all of the channels’ inputting requests, and you could end up with quite the mess to untangle:
To assign support cases to the right people at the right time, all from one centralized support center, Omni-Channel caters to the following:
- Queue-based routing (native Salesforce case routing): Agents are assigned to queues. Omni-Channel routes work to those queues.
- Skill based routing (native Salesforce case routing): Agents are tagged with their skills (such as specializing in a specific product, etc.) and work is assigned based on the skills necessary.
- External routing: This uses a third-party tool for the routing logic (such as a third-party CTI) but still has work handled by Omni-Channel. It uses APIs to tie Omni-Channel to the third-party tool, and is ideal if you have a third-party application that already has routing logic and you wish to keep this logic with Omni-Channel.
To add to the complexity, organizations often need a combination of strategies to be applied with accuracy. Think about organizations that need assignment rules to deliver on multiple criteria simultaneously – for example, product specialism, plus language, plus agent availability, plus location, and more. This is especially true for global service teams.
Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether you need to extend Omni-Channel routing for your service operations:
- What if case records need to be reassigned (after being created)?
- How can case assignment reflect real-time workload, and not only workload at the time of assignment?
- How are cases weighted in terms of complexity? There are multiple factors that go into deciding ‘complexity’. Combining these factors into a single ‘score’ can improve assignment accuracy.
- Are business hours and out-of-office periods respected? This avoids cases being assigned when agents aren’t online, creating a lag between the request and its resolution.
- Perhaps you’d prefer cases to be assigned using an alternative strategy, such as Round Robin, where each possible owner in a group is assigned a case, until each owner has received a record, then repeat (this ensures equal distribution relative to the number of incoming records).
- How would additional inbound channels be added over time, and have the same complex assignment logic applied?
Extending Omni-Channel Routing
Let’s take a look at two organizations that have enhanced Salesforce Omni-Channel routing.
Guideline were assessing their case distribution, and how they could use Omni-Channel. They soon realized that some of their requirements were uncommon. Take their parent-child account relationships, for example – case assignment is determined by the agent related to the parent account, and all cases related to child accounts (i.e subsidiaries) should be automatically assigned to that specific agent.
They needed a solution that could:
- Base assignment logic on any Salesforce object – standard, custom, or managed package (i.e. third-party app).
- Adjust assignment based on agent workload, on a rolling basis (i.e. tickets per hour), and setting different limits per agent.
- Pre-configured holiday schedules to auto-disable during these periods.
- Set assignment schedules based on agent time zone.
Similarly, Volvo were looking to extend their Salesforce Omni-Channel usage. Salesforce Omni-Channel has been proven as essential for agents to respond to chat messages without leaving the Salesforce Service Console, their Case assignment logic has become increasingly complex as they fine tune their service operations.
This has been possible, thanks to Q-assign. Q-assign has been highlighted, not only for the ways that Omni-Channel routing can be extended, but also because they scored highly in InVisory’s vendor analysis methodology. The score takes into consideration factors like robustness of features, ease of integration, customer success, and if the app is native or not, among many others.
We recommend that readers check out a case study developed by InVisory, on a fast growing consumer business that leveraged Q-assign to amplify their Omni-Channel experience. Download the case study here.
I hope this post has provided the inspiration and insight required to harness the incredible potential Omni-Channel holds – a ‘win-win’ tool that can take care of the heavy lifting when it comes to providing a smooth and seamless customer (and agent) experience.
For anyone currently working on use cases that involve Omni-Channel initiatives, it’s well worth reaching out to the Ortoo team. As a special offer for Salesforce Ben subscribers, you can enjoy a free trial, plus a tailored 30-minute ‘lunch and learn’ session with an Omni-Channel specialist – simply mention this article when you get in touch.