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Service Cloud: It’s not always just about Customer Service

Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

Anyone that reads our blogs on a regular basis knows that Service Cloud is my favorite cloud and is near and dear to my heart. I love all of the different use cases of how our customers provide incredible service to their own customers and how Salesforce’s platform provides an amazing range of features to enable that experience. Every once in a while you are approached by someone trying to use Service Cloud in a very unique way or for a very unique use case. This time it was the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) and it’s definitely a use case we wanted to write about.

MCEDSV is a terrific organization that provides a much (and sadly) needed service. I’ll use their own words as they sum it up perfectly: MCEDSV is dedicated to the empowerment of all the state’s (Michigan’s) survivors of domestic and sexual violence. They had chosen Salesforce as the platform to help enable this service and in particular to provide digital support channels to these survivors. Survivors that reach out to MCEDSV are not always in a safe situation where they can pick up a phone and make a call. Due to this, chat and even SMS become critical channels to provide the support and resources that these survivors may need. MCEDSV has a small army of volunteers that are taking these calls, chats, and texts to assist these survivors. Now with voice, chat, and text available as communication channels, MCEDSV enables survivors to easily reach out to obtain much-needed resources and be securely connected to their volunteers.

When MCEDSV reached out to us, we were very excited to help. First, it’s just an amazing cause, but second, it was clear how passionate they were about providing this service and ten minutes into the call I’d already made up my mind that we were doing this project no matter what. What we hadn’t realized was how high-profile their launch of this service was going to be. We found out when we were surprised by a fairly aggressive go-live goal of 12/3/2019. The conversation of us attempting to extend this by a couple more weeks went down pretty much as follows:

Gears: “Wow, 12/3 is pretty aggressive. Is there anything driving this date to be so quick?”
MCEDSV: “Well, our sponsor is announcing it on 12/3.”
Gears: “Oh, so does that mean it needs to be available, or can it just be ready to show off by then?”
MCEDSV: “No, our sponsor is showing this on a live stage.”
Gears: “Oh. Hmph. Who is the sponsor anyway?”
MCEDSV: “The Governor of Michigan.”
Gears: “Oh……I guess we’re going live 12/3.”

It was tight, but we got there and Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the availability of the 855-VOICES4 service at Eastern Michigan University during the fifth annual “Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault” summit. 855-VOICES4 adds texting to the voice service that was already available, and chat was also introduced to the website at It was a powerful summit and we were honored to be able to attend and help in the small way we did.

Governor Whitmer accouncing the launch of texting

It’s a pretty humbling shift in your mindset moving from an agent helping a customer to a volunteer counselor helping a survivor. It turns out it’s also a bit of a shift for the technology. Everything with Salesforce is designed to retain conversations and build out that wonderful 360 degree view of your customer so you can provide even better service next time. With this use case however, anonymity is everything. Especially with a more locally-based service, there is a risk that a counselor might know the survivor calling in – maybe they are a neighbor, acquaintance or even a family member. In addition, the information that is being shared is extremely personal so the conversations themselves and all of the personal information provided can’t be stored. Half of the work in this project was building tools to undo the normal out-of-the-box Case and conversation tracking.

First and foremost we’d like to thank MCEDSV and their incredible staff for providing this amazing service and being there for Michigan’s survivors. We’d also like to thank MCEDSV for giving us the opportunity to work with you on this. For our readers, I’d like to encourage any donations you can provide as they will help many people in need. I also need to say thanks to the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) who introduced us to MCEDSV. NDVH is another amazing service to help domestic violence survivors and we had built a similar setup for them a couple of years ago. Finally, I’d like to thank our team that went above and beyond to hit their go-live date and make sure we didn’t let MCEDSV down. Caitlin Nesbitt (on her first project no less) and Marc Gartner, thanks for making this happen!

Harry Radenberg

Harry is the CEO and founder of GearsCRM, with more than 18 years of experience working with the Salesforce platform. Outside of Gears, Harry enjoys debating Star Wars and Marvel with his son and sharing music and videos with his daughter. He is an avid racquetball player, bleeds Dodger blue, cries Jets green and always tries to find spare time to read a good fiction novel.

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