Fortis is a Sacramento area company that offers managed services and IT support to small businesses across Northern California. We also provide hosted VoIP service to businesses nationwide.
Successfully scaling a technology services organization requires equal attention to people, process and technology.
As Fortis has grown, we have been careful to hire the right people to support our expanding customer base. We have had to put the right processes in place to onboard our new customers and support our existing customers. As the last leg, we have implemented technologies that our team can use to easily follow the processes we’ve defined.
For an operational system, we investigated Customer Relationship Management software options. We wanted a system we could mold to fit the customer-facing processes we had designed and that we would continue to refine over time.
In 2015, we selected Salesforce as the platform for managing our relationships with our customers. Ever since, we have been continually improving the ways we use Salesforce.
Today, Salesforce is an indispensable tool for efficiently and intelligently supporting our customers.
Here are some of the ways we use Salesforce to improve our customers’ experience.
Securing Our Customer’s Sensitive Data
Many companies that are in the internet security business use Salesforce. Trend Micro, a leading global cybersecurity firm, and for which we are a partner, uses Salesforce for customer support.
At Fortis, all customer support users are required to log into Salesforce using a strong level of two-factor authentication—the Salesforce Authenticator.
For any sensitive customer data, we use Salesforce’s encrypted field type. Only customer support users can view data in encrypted fields.
Customer Contacts, Locations, Equipment, Software & Services
When it comes to supporting customers, it starts with a knowledge of who, what and where.
Who are the people we communicate with at each of our customers?
What equipment & software does each customer own? What cloud-based services do they subscribe to?
Where is customer equipment (servers, routers, desktops, VoIP phones) located? Many of our customers have more than one location.
By having well-maintained and easily accessible information about our customers’ people, equipment, software, subscriptions and more, our support team rarely needs to spend any time “hunting down” customer information. It’s always right there in front of them.
Out of the box, Salesforce has a single billing address and a single shipping address per customer. However, many of our customers have more than one physical location.
So, we customized Salesforce to allow for as many addresses as a customer has locations.
What we call the “Service Address” is a lot more than a street address. The service address has a number of important properties. For example, the service address can tell us who has the key to the building’s phone room(s).
Within each Service Address, we store information about all on-premises customer equipment (laptops, desktops, servers, routers, switches, IP phones) that we manage. We also store information about cloud-based service accounts that we need to access on behalf of a customer.
Having this information at our fingertips means that we can be more responsive to our customers’ needs.
Customer Support Cases
If there is a hardware, software or other type of issue that a customer reports to us, that request is logged in Salesforce as a Case (a.k.a. Ticket).
While our customers are always welcome to call our support number, sending an email is generally more efficient than a phone call. Salesforce has a excellent capability called Email-to-Case. An inbound email to our support address immediately creates a new Case. The Case is connected to the customer’s record. Our tech who is responsible for triage is notified of the new Case.
Regardless of whether a Case is created from an email or a Fortis support tech key enters a new Case, we are are able to efficiently manage a customer service request through to resolution.
A Case can be easily transferred from one support tech to another tech who may have a higher level of domain expertise for a given issue.
If a support tech who opened a Case is out of the office, anyone can easily pick up on and continue the work needed to resolve on an open Case. All of the gathered information and the email communications since the Case was created are visible within the Case.
Customer Satisfaction Survey
After a Case is resolved, a customer receives an automatic email indicating that we have marked the Case as closed.
There is a link to a customer satisfaction survey page in that email.
If a customer chooses to click through and answer the survey question (and optionally enter a comment), that response automatically feeds into Salesforce. The survey response is also connected to the Case:
Here’s where we get to toot our own horn: since we first implemented surveys, we have received an Experience Rating of Great 98.9% of the time.
Customer Quotes & Orders
We generate quotes right out of Salesforce for new customers and for current customers.
When, for example, a customer has hired one or more new employees, they often need a quick turnaround on a quote for additional hardware and/or services.
How do we turn around a quote quickly? By keeping our entire price book within our CRM system and by having the ability to generate and email a quote with a few clicks.
We have almost 400 products and services in Salesforce. Since we actively maintain this information, our Salesforce users can quickly turn around a quote to a customer.
We use the Orders functionality within Salesforce to track and manage products and services ordered by a customer. Our operations team has complete information about what a customer ordered, who ordered it and what the expectation is for delivery time.
Project & Task Management
An order often leads to a project.
Rather than managing customer projects and a project’s related tasks in a standalone system, we wanted to manage the following types of projects within Salesforce:
- Onboarding of new IT customers
- Monthly server maintenance
- Monthly NAS (network attached storage) maintenance
- Onboarding new business VoIP customers
After analyzing whether we should build out custom functionality in Salesforce or subscribe to a third party app, we took the latter route. We decided to go with a highly rated solution called TaskRay.
As with many third party apps, TaskRay runs natively on the Salesforce platform. This made TaskRay a natural extension to the ways our support team already uses Salesforce.
For our customers, this means we always follow proven, structured delivery and maintenance processes.
Reports & Dashboards
Customer support dashboards allow us to measure our effectiveness and determine where we can improve to better serve our customers.
Dashboard components such as the following are projected on a screen during our weekly support staff meetings.
Fortis’ management can use these and other visual components to ask the customer support team questions and make recommendations—all in the name of responding to our customers as best as we can.
Our customer support techs are required to track the time they spend working on customer issues. This is for both internal management and customer facing reasons.
Sometimes our contract IT support contract customers request an accounting of how much time we spent servicing them over a given time period. As with other information, that data is at our fingertips.
Customer Relationship Software is better at living up to its name than ever. Knowing the who, what, where and how about customers enables a company to be much more responsive to customer needs.
Customers simply want their technology service providers to take good care of them. People, processes and CRM technology working in concert makes it easier to give customers what they want.