by David Taber

20 questions for screening a Salesforce Service Cloud consultant

Jul 31, 2017
Cloud ComputingCRM SystemsEnterprise Applications

Some parts of vendor evaluation never change, but doing a deeper screening for your Salesforce Service Cloud system in particular, and cloud-based service CRM in general, is critical. These questions will set you (and your consultant) up for success.

Service Cloud projects have been part of most consultancies’ Salesforce work for years, but because of the range of products and add-ons available, there is still an issue of general competence and ability to execute.  Further, there is a huge range of service models out there, so it is critical that the consultant understand how your service team works.  If the consultant doesn’t get it, the system they build for you will be clunky or just get in the way.

This brief set of questions is designed to help you evaluate the suitability of a (SFDC) consultancy. It is not meant to be delivered as a questionnaire for the consultancy to fill out in the RFP.  Instead, use the questions conversationally so you can see their flinches and know where to probe.

Since client requirements vary, there’s no single “correct” set of answers to these questions. Instead, score the vendors on how closely they fit your organizational needs and corporate IT style—and no firm is going to get a perfect score (be happy if you find a “solid B+”).

Service Cloud experience

  • If you are looking to have a call center, does the consultant have experience building and deploying these configurations?  What third-party products do they recommend?  What CTI projects have they used?  Should the CTI be connected only to the ACD, or also to the IVR system?  (If they don’t know what these acronyms mean, they don’t have much depth.)
  • If you are looking for a mobile-driven field-service strategy (where each service person uses the phone as their CRM link), does the consultant have experience building and deploying SFDC for the smart phone models your reps use?  What third-party products do they recommend?
  • If you are looking to have a service portal (with a knowledge base, forums, and case-tracking capability), does the consultant have experience building these?  Should SFDC Communities be the core of this portal?  Why/why not?  What third party products do you recommend? 
  • Which tiers of support should be actively using SFDC throughout the day?  Why?
  • How should account managers be involved in Service Cloud?  What alerts should account managers receive about Cases?
  • What is the most reasonable enforcement of service entitlements?
  • Should service reps have full access to the provisioning / licensing / fulfillment system?  Why or why not?
  • If you use service partners (particularly internationally), how should they be represented in the system?  What level of access do you recommend for them?
  • If you use the Named Account Model for assigning service reps, ask the consultant (1) what it means and (2) have they implemented it.  What is the consultant’s recommendation for assigning cases across international jurisdictions?
  • If you use purely geographic service territories, what is the consultant’s recommendation for how to define/specify the territories in the system?
  • How many fields on the Case should be required and enforced by validation rules?
  • What should happen to a Case once it is closed?
  • What’s the difference between an incident report and a bug report?  How should bugs be handled in the system?
  • For our company, what are the pros and cons of an omni-channel service model?  Has the consultant implemented one?  What are the lessons learned?
  • What sort of “screen pops” are effective for SFDC users? (Take points off if they don’t mention CTI, product-specific troubleshooting questions, or upsell prompts.)
  • What dashboarding system do you recommend?  Why?
  • What are the key metrics for a service organization like yours?  Does the consultant have an example of a similar set of metrics implemented for another client?
  • If you are considering using gamification for the service team, what is the consultant’s experience implementing  What are the lessons learned about effective gamification?  If the consultant is recommending something else, what are their reasons?

Service Cloud deployment

  • What should be the general deployment strategy for go-live?
  • If you have an international service organization, what strategy does the consultant recommend for:
    • Discovery of local requirements?
    • Implementation of country-specific requirements?
    • UAT of country-specific features?
    • Sequencing / prioritization of country roll-outs?
    • User training?

Generally speaking, the biggest problem in Service Cloud projects is getting everything to work.  Service Cloud projects typically involve more integration with non-Cloud systems – some of which don’t make it easy.  The good news is that once you get things working, user adoption is not particularly problematic, particularly for a highly transactional call center.  Don’t miss the opportunity to leverage mobile devices for the field service folks – get that working, and they will love you for it (and the customer will be truly impressed).