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3 Tips for Getting Started With Case Swarming

Add this innovative ingredient to your recipe for customer success to resolve cases faster and improve same-day resolutions.

An illustration of a customer service agent talking to colleagues.
Slack connects an agent’s service console with the rest of your business so that experts come together to solve problems in real time. [Fedrunova / Getty Images]

With the holiday season upon us, I started thinking about how service teams are doing. How are they working together? Do they have an easy recipe to follow? Have customer service leaders provided them with new tools that make their jobs easier?

One such tool is case swarming, which helps take the guesswork out of customer service. With case swarming, service agents unlock knowledge by pulling in resources from departments all over the business to resolve complicated customer requests faster. How easy is it to get started using case swarming? It sounds a little daunting — but taking the first step is probably the hardest part. 

In fact, getting started with case swarming reminds me a bit of what adopting a new tool was like for me in 1978, when I was cooking a memorable holiday dinner. Back then a dear friend (who is also a great cook) recommended the “Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer. This cookbook classic became my constant companion as I shopped, prepped, and finally cooked and served a mostly successful meal for my four sisters, three brothers, and dad. 

Sheila McGee-Smith
Just as recipes from a trusted cookbook make holiday dinners tastier, case swarming with Slack makes customer service sweeter for customers and agents. [Sheila McGee-Smith]

As I thought about this blog, I wanted to convey how surprisingly easy it would be to get started with case swarming. Just as the “Joy of Cooking” came to me by recommendation of a wonderful cook, case swarming is an approach used by a trusted business partner: Salesforce. The internal service teams at Salesforce are often the first to deploy the latest innovations the company has to offer, and successfully introduced case swarming with Slack.

But first, let me explain how you can case swarm with Slack and Service Cloud. Slack connects an agent’s service console with the rest of your business so that experts come together to solve problems in real time. This sets off the case swarming process (also referred to as intelligent swarming, or incident swarming). 

“Not only are cases being solved more quickly, but we’re building a collective knowledge base in Slack that agents can reference. This sets us up to solve issues even faster in the future,” reports Jim Roth, executive vice president of customer support, Salesforce. 

By swarming issues in Slack, we can bring the right experts into the case at the right time, eliminate tiers and escalations, and ultimately find the best person available to help troubleshoot the issue.

Tamara Carpenter, Salesforce

At an operational level, Tamara Carpenter, senior manager, operations, Salesforce, reports “by swarming issues in Slack, we can bring the right experts into the case at the right time, eliminate tiers and escalations, and ultimately find the best person available to help troubleshoot the issue quickly.” 

Just as the “Joy of Cooking” has become my go-to resource for my favorite recipes, case swarming with Slack gives agents a resource to quickly find answers to help customers. Since introducing case swarming, Salesforce reports it has seen:

  • a 33% reduction in case resolution times year over year 
  • a 19% improvement in same-day resolution of cases

Even more amazing? These results were accomplished in spite of a 57% increase in the number of customers, and a 110% increase in case volumes, over the same time period. 

All of that sounds so impressive (you are probably thinking)! You’d love to deliver results like that for your customers and company. But how to get started? Here are three tips:

Start small 

For that first holiday dinner back in 1978, I didn’t try to cook seven courses on my own. Instead, I had family members bring some of their favorite side dishes to limit what I had to do alone. This helped me manage the timing so that the next year, I was ready to take on more. 

When getting started with case swarming, narrowly defining the types of cases that will use the swarming method will help your organization evaluate how the process is working, and where it needs to be tweaked. Then you’ll be better equipped to expand swarming to more complex issues.

Start with the obvious 

When cooking holiday meals, starting with the obvious means identifying what people care about most — in my view, that’s the main dish and the dessert!

In the contact center or service center, you can ask any supervisor or customer care manager what type of customer issue causes the worst problems, and they will rattle off their top three immediately. Ask a few more people and you will quickly see convergence on the most pressing issues. 

Start by learning more 

I have already extolled the virtues of the “Joy of Cooking.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it is on your kitchen shelf as well! When it comes to case swarming, Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, has a number of how-to modules about Slack-first service and there are additional Salesforce blogs that can help you learn more.

Happy swarming! And when it comes to cooking the perfect family meal, don’t forget everything’s better with butter.


Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the contact center and enterprise communications markets. She has a proven track record of accomplishment in new product development, competitive assessment, market research, and sales strategies for communications solutions and services. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

More by Sheila

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