The future of service is now:


2 min read

The landscape

Why your contact center must evolve to meet customer expectations

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Traditionally, organizations’ contact centers and service models have been cost centers — a necessary cost of doing business that rarely drives new revenue and often takes away from the bottom line. But it doesn't need to be that way. When implemented and executed correctly, modernizing contact centers, field service or frontline operations helps companies in any industry drive revenue, maximize business value and increase customer loyalty.

Rising customer and employee expectations require more strategic and responsive contact centers and streamlined field and frontline service strategies.

Too often organizations are embattled by an inability to meet their customers’ needs for quick service and positive interactions with your agents. These poor experiences and struggles with differentiating their service result in increased operational costs, revenue loss and a disempowered workforce — all because of a failure to evolve their service models.

To achieve effective service modernization, organizations must adapt the right mindset and use the proper platforms and digital tools. Solutions like Salesforce Customer 360 help companies unlock the holistic power of Salesforce and user data to personalize customer engagement and improve the employee experience by implementing AI and automation. Introducing such advanced capabilities provides a tailored engagement for each customer interaction and a greater connectedness to your brand.

Leading businesses need to move beyond the traditional service center model and embed service when and where it’s needed.

If customers submit requests over the phone, they should be able to track the progress online, ensuring a modern omnichannel experience keeps them satisfied. When these improvements are made across the entire customer journey — from case submission to resolution — you’ll realize value in areas like customer retention, case resolution times and employee satisfaction.

After all, customers are more willing than ever to turn to your competitors after just one poor interaction. The bar has been raised, and your service organization will make or break your ability to grow revenue, market share and customer loyalty. It’s time to drive revenue from your contact center by modernizing support, revolutionizing field service, and blurring the lines between sales, service and marketing. Unlock benefits like increased retention, stronger cross-sell and upsell opportunities and streamlined service processes by combining the power of Salesforce and IBM to transform your contact center into a source of significant revenue.


2 min read

Modernize your customer support models

How to make AI your superpower

Existing support models are often time-consuming and costly. Having dedicated agents triage unfiltered calls leads to problem-solving trivial issues that could be accomplished by AI or self-service. Using AI helps strengthen your service organization to reach new levels of case deflection and resolve issues faster — that, together, will ultimately drive value for your business:

Achieve case deflection and drive revenue with AI
Using AI virtual agents like IBM watsonx® Assistant to deflect routine customer requests allows customers to resolve their questions faster and frees up agents to handle more difficult cases. You’ll reduce cost to serve, improve employee satisfaction and enable your revenue-generating models to maximize value.

IBM Watson cognitive routing and case prioritization capabilities assist an estimated 2 million cases a year, with case prioritization saving each agent up to 45 minutes a day. Watson chatbots handled 52% of conversations without handoff to live agents or direct case creating, allowing IBM to save millions of dollars while providing a more personalized customer support experience with proactive and predictive customer support.1

Combining Salesforce AI and IBM Watson delivers exponential outcomes, deflecting more routine cases while using an advanced net promoter score (NPS) to sense and respond to customer sentiment. They can identify when human engagement is needed. Real-time voice transcription with Salesforce Service Cloud Voice, coupled with Salesforce Einstein Next Best Action, can intelligently recommend cross-sell and upsell opportunities like new service plans, extended warranties or proactive early maintenance packages to save longer-term costs.

Support agents and customers for faster resolution
Enable agents to quickly find information and answer customer questions with faster access to numerous types of data across disparate systems, multiple Salesforce organizations and third-party sources. Intelligently recommend knowledge articles based on real-time voice data and historical digital interactions. These knowledge article recommendations can be surfaced across agents, through AI with chatbots or through a self-service customer portal.

If your business is only focusing on the cost, speed and efficiency of customer service, it’s time to see things in a new way. You need to empower agents and employees with guided sales and implement predictive service models. With the combined power of human, data-driven and AI capabilities, you’ll generate value and flip the traditional mindset of contact centers as cost centers on its head.

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1.30 min read

Get ahead of the curve by adopting case swarming

How to implement more collaborative service models

In addition to the more common ways of delivering customer service discussed earlier, companies should begin to embrace a newer method: case swarming. Rather than having to constantly escalate service requests, case swarming allows your organization to collaborate on them directly in Slack. You’ll eliminate the need to pass customers across multiple agents who each specialize in different topics, complexity or other escalations. Using Slack allows you to collaborate quickly across your organization to resolve high-visibility customer issues, from sales or product issues. By combining tools like Slack with Salesforce Service Cloud, service agents can post issues and allow a team of your organization’s experts weigh in and solve complex issues in real time, increasing first-contact resolution and NPS.

This process enables the right team experts to work together as soon as a request emerges. And after case resolution, it’s easy to document that knowledge when similar requests are submitted in the future. Companies like Salesforce have implemented case swarming models using Slack, and the benefits are easy to see. Salesforce has reported a 33% reduction in case resolution times and a 19% improvement in same-day resolution — all while seeing a 57% increase in customers and 110% increase in case volume over the same time period.2 When your customers remain satisfied, they are likely to come back, and you’ll ensure short-term and long-term revenue for your organization as they continue to develop a preference for your brand.

Two smiling people who are sitting at a table, reviewing papers.

So how do you get started with adopting a case swarming model? Don’t be afraid to start small. Identify a few simple case types that would benefit from this type of service to allow your agents and experts to practice before trying to use it on more complex issues. Finding obvious and more pressing issues is a good place to kick off. Over time, you’ll be able to expand your case swarming capabilities to cover more requests.

When you embrace case swarming, you’ll close cases faster, create deeper insights and find the right experts to delight your customers and improve efficiency for your service agents.

2 Tips for Getting Started with Case Swarming, Salesforce: The 360 Blog, 19 November 2021.


1 min read

Revolutionize your field service

The value of augmented reality and predictive service

Customer expectations for seamless interactions now apply to your field service as well. New trends necessitate self-service, contactless service, and more advanced technology, with a rapidly approaching future-state that includes more AI, more cloud and more automation. Adapting to these new models will allow you to strengthen relationships with users and keep retention levels high at a time when a single poor experience often causes customers to flock to competitors.

With the adoption of smart things and devices, the Internet of Things (IoT) and telemetry data has exploded in recent years. Using this data allows your organization to drive proactive service, including auto-scheduling optimal maintenance routines to avoid unplanned downtime, effort and cost, or to predict when repairs may be required based on usage data.

For example, new Salesforce capabilities, such as Visual Remote Assistant, let you help customers quickly by giving you faster insight into the issues that need to be addressed. Video support and AR guides customers through fixes and deflects the need to dispatch field service technicians for minor issues that can be costly. This technology also helps increase parts accuracy and first-visit resolution rates when field technicians are required. AI builds upon these features by allowing you to automate processes, such as scheduling field service workers and optimizing routes in real time for tasks that can’t be addressed through virtual assistance, allowing you to proactively serve customers and drive additional revenue.

And as the IoT and AR become more prevalent in the business world, opportunities to revolutionize your field service will continue to emerge.

Person standing in warehouse, wearing hard hat and holding tablet computer

Virtual assistants like IBM Watson can be embedded into intelligent workflows to drive automation, helping you scale operations, reduce costs and improve the productivity of your field agents. Meanwhile, MuleSoft integration capabilities give field service agents a unified customer record, connecting employees to data across front-office and back-office processes and systems. Combined with Tableau, these tailored AI capabilities unite knowledge from disparate sources to help your employees service needs faster.


2 min read

Salesforce Customer 360 as a value driver

The magic of combining sales, service and marketing across the customer journey

Customers are growing increasingly comfortable with using digital service, and they expect these interactions to be easily accessible. This increased use creates a major opportunity to generate revenue — but you need to have the right strategy and execution to convert the leads that originate from your contact centers.

A single system of engagement across sales, marketing and service — combined with dispatch and field service — will transform operations through data, intelligent workflows, cognitive capabilities, analytics and more — all enabled by IBM Consulting and Salesforce.

Two smiling people standing in brightly lit area, one is holding tablet computer
A recent Salesforce report found that more than 75% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments — but more than half didn’t feel that sales, service and marketing were sharing information.3

Customer 360 connects all your departments and customer data, which helps deliver seamless, effective service. This seamless integration across all touchpoints also helps you drive revenue from your service model, and those opportunities continue throughout the customer lifecycle.

For example, if a customer calls with an issue, your agents don’t need to ask them for purchase details; they can easily look up information and respond even faster to customer needs. When your agents engage with customers, they see exactly what those users have bought and can recommend additional products that could supplement their initial purchase. Your people will be able to predict new opportunities for up-sell and provide fast and effective service that turns one-time buyers into lifelong advocates.

Enhanced customer acquisition, improved cross-selling and offers to better retain existing users all represent effective ways to save costs and maximize value. Take this example from the banking industry: among customers who feel valued by an organization during their customer service interactions, 92% plan to stay with the brand, 87% plan to purchase more and 87% are likely to act as brand advocates.4

84 % of organizations working to improve their customer service report an increase in revenue”5

Whether additional revenue comes from direct sales executed by agents and field technicians or in the form of passing leads to sales teams, there are opportunities to drive revenue when you use intelligent, innovative workflows to transform the service experience. And Slack-First Customer 360 makes it even easier to get these cross-cloud benefits.

Imagine being able to work an opportunity in a deal room entirely in Slack but with Salesforce Sales Cloud supporting your actions and decisions. Or swarm a case in Slack with Salesforce Service Cloud informing your outcomes. Or collaborate with an agency on a campaign in Slack with Salesforce Marketing Cloud supplying the inputs. These examples are just some of the ways that Customer 360 enables you to connect every part of your business to provide the most effective service possible.

3 What is Salesforce 360?, Salesforce blog, 14 April 2021.


1.30 min read

Your service transformation partner

Salesforce unites IBM’s sales, service, partner and employee experiences on one platform

Re-evaluating and building your contact center are not projects that should be taken lightly. Organizations that focus on customer and employee experiences and build intelligent workflows will find themselves delivering high-touch, seamless experiences that generate value for their company.

Undergoing a service transformation with Salesforce and IBM Consulting is a smart way for companies to significantly increase the revenue generated from their contact centers. IBM’s own Salesforce transformation6 is a strong example of how to save costs and drive value. IBM replaced multiple systems and streamlined onboarding for its support teams. They now solve client problems faster than ever before, while Watson helps reduce call volume and surface answers to complex questions for customers and live agents. Self-service virtual assistants resolve questions in 12% of sessions without needing to create new cases.6 Case prioritization saves each agent 45 minutes per day and optimized operational efficiency has led to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings. 6

Those who miss the mark on modernizing their service models and contact centers may see diminished returns — particularly in an environment where business resiliency and continuity are more important than ever before. Here are a few steps to remember when reinventing your contact center:

human-centered approach to designing
Take a human-centered approach to designing the end-to-end customer experience, bringing your distinct service excellence vision to life in every interaction with the help of data, AI and automation.

continuous improvement and transformation
Revisit the business case to determine where best to unlock value and fund continuous improvement and transformation.

coach up internal stakeholders
Identify opportunities to coach up internal stakeholders on how to drive revenue while providing service. Cross-sell and up-sell opportunities are one example of how to maximize value.

new methods of collaborative service
Embrace new methods of collaborative service, using tools like Slack to enable case swarming and other practices.

AI tools based on a time-to-value approach
Find gaps where AI and automation can add immediate value. Start small, such as setting up a virtual agent to help deflect frequently asked requests. Add on additional AI tools based on a time-to-value approach, such as exploring discovery or “next-best-action” technology to support your live agents.

iterate with continuous feedback
Build feedback into your iterations. It’s important to learn quickly and pivot if something is not working, which will turn your agents into stakeholders of the transformation project.

Next steps

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