The Basics of Customer Case Management

Giorgina Gottlieb | February 8, 2019

Laptop screen displays business charts

As anyone who has worked in a customer-facing role well knows, there are a lot of different aspects involved in a single issue or service request — from the basics of the customer’s name and which product they’re using to details about the issue itself and communication back and forth. With so many components to just one service request, it’s easy to see how things could become unmanageably complex.

There’s no need for customer support professionals to fret, however. Customer case management was created to solve this very problem.

What Is Customer Case Management?

As ServiceNow explains, a “case is the primary entity” of customer support. “An agent creates a new case to identify a customer’s question or issue and to track the activities related to resolving the issue. An agent also uses a case to track communication to and from the customer, including the communication channels being used.”

As one would logically expect, then, “case management involves the coordination of work around a specific customer case,” adds ITProPortal. “The process differs by industry, but in a typical flow a case is opened; information is captured, shared, reviewed and approved; decisions are made, actions are taken and the case is closed.”

Case management processes have been necessary in some form since the dawn of customer support. But as customer experience (CX) has evolved over time — particularly with the proliferation of new customer communication channels — the need has arisen for more sophisticated case management solutions.

Case Management Software to the Rescue

In a world where two-thirds of customers report using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook to contact businesses, a standalone phone number or email address for support just isn’t going to cut it. “When handling customer cases, an Outlook or Gmail inbox will never suffice,” writes HappyFox. “It is also decentralized and you cannot handle multiple accounts from one mailbox.” Instead, what’s needed is customer case management software.

According to Salesforce, “Electronic case management software refers to applications that help businesses and nonprofits with managing their customer interactions across social media and other digital channels such as email and contact forms. Using case management software, businesses can automatically collect and organize customer interactions into one easy place, allowing for convenient access and a comprehensive view of each customer.”

Features of Good Case Management Software

As detailed below, there are a variety of case management service providers available today — from behemoths like Salesforce and Zendesk to smaller players like HappyFox and Q-nomy. Here are the qualities to look for when selecting customer case management software:

Omni-Channel

Incorporates customer interactions from every available support channel including email, live chat, and social media

Filters and Prioritization

Enables agents and managers to sort and arrange cases by customer, type of issue, current status, or priority

Assignment

Allows the support team to indicate who is working on the case and assign it to other agents or even other departments if necessary

Internal Notations

Ability to add custom labels (e.g., customer ID, product purchases), as well as notes to facilitate collaboration among multiple team members and document a case’s progress over time

Reporting and Analytics

Standard reports based on automatic tracking of key metrics, in addition to custom queries for deeper analysis that uncovers new insights from customer data

Integration Across Applications and Devices

Accessibility across multiple devices, including mobile, along with the ability to connect to any relevant external applications or networks for seamless integration across the support ecosystem

“Future Proof” Platform

Ability to adapt to accommodate future business needs and take advantage of new technology

Top Case Management Software Providers

Now that you know the characteristics that distinguish a good customer case management solution, let’s take a closer look at the top service providers.

In April, CRM Magazine announced its 15th annual CRM Service Awards. Its list of Best Customer Case Management vendors includes:

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Microsoft calls its Dynamics 365 product the “next generation of business applications,” allowing users to “unleash your organization’s potential by breaking down data silos to connect customers, products, people, and operations.” CRM Magazine named Dynamics 365 its 2018 winner based on its high scores in depth of functionality, company direction, and cost. The magazine notes that the solution is “only getting stronger as Microsoft bolsters it with artificial intelligence and conversational tools.”

Oracle Service Cloud

Another top case management software provider identified by CRM Magazine is Oracle Service Cloud, which the magazine explains “continues to be a viable leader this year, though it earned a slightly lower score for depth of functionality than it did last year.” According to Oracle, Service Cloud allows businesses to “differentiate your brand by developing lasting, profitable relationships with unified web, social, and contact center experiences.”

Pegasystems

As described by the company, “Pega’s case management software connects all the people and systems required to resolve each customer inquiry. It tracks related information, automates and assigns outstanding tasks, and connects all front- and back-office activity.” Named the “One to Watch” in 2017, Pega remained on CRM Magazine’s leaderboard this year primarily based on its outstanding score on depth of functionality.

Salesforce Service Cloud

Another CRM Magazine award winner is Salesforce, which “continues to shine as a ‘customer company,’ [Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research] says, though it was unable to defend last year’s title as the category winner, as Salesforce’s lofty price tag kept it from the top spot.” According to Salesforce, its Service Cloud product is a “time-saving, joy-boosting, relationship-building machine” that can “create 32% more customer happiness.”

Zendesk

Earning impressive marks for company direction, customer satisfaction, and cost, Zendesk was also a CRM Magazine award winner. “Zendesk offers an excellent interface that users love, and its customer success team is invested in achieving customer outcomes,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of technology and social research at the Technology Services Industry Association.

Verint Systems

Rounding out CRM Magazine’s top case management solutions is this year’s “One to Watch:” Verint Systems. Leggett calls the Verint Customer Engagement Portfolio “a strong product,” which Ragsdale adds is “great at multichannel [customer case management] with embedded knowledge.”

Other Providers

Other customer case management software solutions include: MaritzCX Case Management, HappyFox, and Q‑nomy’s Enterprise Case Management.

Benefits of Customer Case Management

Regardless of which software vendor you choose, the benefits of customer case management are clear. The ability to view and respond to customer issues across all channels from a single place streamlines the support workflow, contributing to increased agent job satisfaction. Meanwhile, a streamlined workflow translates to faster issue resolution, leading to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Case management software can even help businesses more easily navigate various rules and regulations. As ITProPortal explains, “The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018, requires that organisations release personal information held about an individual to them on request within one month. In order to comply with this and other requirements of the GDPR, such as those around data retention, organisations need effective case management more than ever.”

From increased agent and customer satisfaction to smoother compliance with regulations, customer case management can not only improve your overall customer experience (CX) but also boost your business’s bottom line.