It's a full-on blizzard over here in New England so I find myself yet again…
We recently did a Lunch & Learn for our Service Cloud customers to demonstrate all of the new features to the Case Feed. (our next Lunch & Learn in on Advanced Reporting Features) Case Feed came out about 3 releases ago in Spring 12 and salesforce has steadily been adding new features to it since. As of the Winter 13 release we’ve begun advising all of our Service Cloud clients that they should begin moving to the Case Feed for a few reasons. First, with the features and functionality that exists today, Case Feed has really become a compelling addition to the Service Cloud that will truly help Service agents improve their productivity. I’ll go over these below. Second for the first time, brand new features were released that only were available if you were using the Case Feed. In my experience – and in full disclosure I have no inside information, I’m strictly going off of over 10 years experience with salesforce – this is typically the beginning of a trend. Meaning, if you want to keep getting the benefits of new Case Management features three times a year, you need to move to the Case Feed.
Before diving into the specifics, let’s talk high level about what the Case Feed is. Essentially, Case Feed is a new look and feel to the standard Case page layout. It is considerably different than anything else within salesforce and it’s primary purpose is to increase agent efficiency by presenting information faster and by allowing agents to action the Case with less clicks and steps. It sits very nicely within the Service Console (although that isn’t mandatory) and combined with it, salesforce gives service agents a streamlined experience. Here’s an example of one:
The Case Feed is broken out into several sections which we’ve numbered above. We’ll use the different sections to describe the functionality Case Feed provides below.
1. Highlighted Fields – Very similar to the Service Console Highlighted fields section (but not replacing), this allows you to anchor key fields for your service agents at the top of the page. You can use images, links or standard fields here. A key piece for this is that it is persistent across the top no matter how you navigate around the Case Feed.
2 & 5. Feed Filters & Feed – The feed is one of the key features of the Case Feed functionality. (hence the name I suppose) One of the complaints we hear from a lot of Service users is that there is no way to view a chronological list of everything that has happened to a Case in one place. You can see the various related lists – like Case Comments, Emails, Case History, Attachments, etc. but they are all separate lists. In the past, we’ve actually built Visualforce pages to handle this. The Feed addresses this, and places a history of all important events that have occurred to a Case in a single feed. This includes Emails (a nice bonus is the feed shows any Attachments from the Emails right in the feed), Portal Answers, Activities (Call Logs), Case Comments, Case History, Chat Transcripts (if using Live Agent) and even the Twitter and Facebook posts if you’re using the Social integration. The Filter functionality on the left hand side allows a user to very quickly drill down into specific types of events to find information. Finally, where appropriate, the feed items are actionable. For example, right from the feed, you can reply to an Email message like you would from the related list. Overall, this is a huge improvement that allows users to scan a case and see exactly what occurred and in what order to that case and without having to drill down or click into multiple related lists. This alone is a big improvement over the existing Case page layouts.
3 & 4 – Actions (Publishers) – As I mentioned above, a key reason to switch to Case Feed is that it makes your agents more productive. The Publishers area is a large part of this. I’ll start with an example for comparison. Today with the standard Case Layout, if an agent wants to send an email, they need to click on the “Reply” or “Send an Email” buttons. This then brings them to a new page. From there you select a template if needed, write up the email, hit send and then are brought back to the case. From there you need to then flip the Case Status, etc. With Case Feed, this is all down within the context of the Case. You select “Answer Customer” and right in the page you can choose how you’d like to answer the customer – with an Email or a Case Comment. The drafting of the email is done right within the Case and even selecting a template keeps you in the same screen. Seconds count for in the Service business, and this will shave time off of each reply your agents send to a customer.
Answering is just one of the actions that an agent can take. The Publishers bar allows an agent to perform their most common needs against a case right from the drop down. Entering a Case Note, Changing the Status, Logging a Call, etc. If needed, right from there you can select “See Case Details” and you’re brought to the current page layout where you’ll see all fields. Case Feed allows you to easily customize this Publishers bar not only with the standard out of the box options, but also with Visualforce to allow you to place high volume functions there. For example, if you have an escalation process where the Status and Case Owner are changed as part of the escalation, create a button that will do both just by clicking it vs. having your agent have to walk through 5 clicks to do it. Again, while these might not be earth shattering time savers, 20 seconds here, 15 seconds there, quickly add up when you look at your case volume and the number of agents your organization has. That said, it’s not worth cluttering the page with every action an agent might make, but instead, automate the ones that are done often or are extremely time consuming when done.
On the “Answering” function there are some other terrific features included with Case Feed:
- Email Drafts – With the Winter 13 release, salesforce rolled out Email Drafting. This allows agents to write-up an email response and save it as a draft before sending. The draft email is tied to the case, so as soon as the agent goes back to the case, the draft is waiting for them to continue. In addition, the drafts can use the approvals engine to route the draft to a manager for approval prior to sending. Once approved, the email is automatically sent. Very handy especially for service departments that have to issue sensitive responses such as escalations or credit departments.
- Quick Templates – A nice new feature that allows you to pre-load a template for your support agents. Have a look and feel or a standard text header/footer you want all responses sent with? If so, you can use the quick templates and when sending an email, that template is pre-loaded for your agent. Saves your agent multiple clicks for each email.
One last quick note is the look and feel for this panel. You can show these as a left hand navigation or across the top. We find for Service Console users, across the top fits in the best as it matches the sub-tabs functionality.
6. Knowledge – The Case feed offers some improvements to the Knowledge Sidebar that appears in the service console. The actual contextual searching for relevant articles still works the same as the Service Console side bar, but the improvements are with what you can do once you find the right article. First, beside the article, you now have a drop down that let’s you immediately associate a PDF of the article onto an email response. Previously, you had to do this with a custom button and you had no clean way to update the email itself. With Case Feed, this simply adds the PDF as an attachment in one click and let’s the agent still work on the email. Seems small, but this is a great improvement. Second, if you also have a Public KB, you now have the ability to insert the link for the article from the KB directly into the Email or into the Comment. (you can’t do it into Live Agent chats yet) This is a huge time saver as there is no easy way to do this without the Case Feed. With a single click your agent can grab the PKB’s URL where as today, they’d need to navigate to the article in the PKB to find it.
As with the Service Console sidebar, you also have the option of attaching the article to the Case itself. A subtle difference is this happens automatically if you insert the article onto an email, and also that KB article also goes directly into the Feed itself within the history.
7. Interaction Log – If your Service Agents are required to track each interaction / call in the Activity history, the Interaction Log works the same as it does in the Service Console and gives you a way to do this without having to navigate to Activities.
The Case Feed is a powerful tool that will improve your Service Agents productivity and reduce a lot of the navigation and clicks they have to do with the standard Case layout. It’s extremely customizable and using Visualforce, extendable even beyond the out-of-the-box functionality I described above. Similar to standard page layouts, it can be setup for specific users and we recommend rolling it out to a pilot group to start off with and get feedback. From a roll-out perspective, it’s mostly a UI change for the users so there is a learning curve for the agents to get used to it, but we’ve typically seen this happen very quickly and overall feedback has been positive from the users. If you are a Service Cloud user, or considering Service Cloud, we strongly recommend adding Case Feed into your road map.
Update – 1/27/2014
The Spring 14 release notes are out and it has even more features that are only available with Case Feed including Drag & Drop Attachments and Inline Images support. To read more, see our Spring 14 Service Cloud write-up.