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There’s a Better Way to Solve Tough Customer Service Issues. It’s Called Case Swarming

Here’s how to stop escalating and start collaborating to help your service team reach resolutions faster with a case-swarming support model.

Case swarming — also known as intelligent swarming — is a collaborative approach to customer service. [Getty Images]

When a customer reaches out with a complex problem, it’s a moment of truth. Does the agent escalate or collaborate? If the answer is always to escalate, consider this scenario: Imagine a team of highly-skilled experts coming together to support your agent as they work through the resolution. This is known as case swarming. 

If you’re unfamiliar with case swarming, the idea is that service agents unlock knowledge by pulling in resources to reach resolutions for complicated customer requests faster. It takes the guesswork out of customer service. 

Let’s take a closer look at what case swarming is and the ways it benefits your customers and your agents. 

What is case swarming?

Case swarming — also known as intelligent swarming — is a collaborative approach to customer service. Your agents bring in a team of skilled experts from across your organization to work with them to solve complex service cases. This can be an expert in finance, legal, operations, sales, or other departments, depending on the problem.

The goal of this model is to enable the right team members to leverage their expertise and work together on complicated issues as soon as possible after they emerge. During the case-swarming process, experts share background knowledge and resources with agents. Once a resolution is reached, the team documents the steps in a knowledge article to help other agents with similar issues in the future. 

“In today’s hyperconnected world, organizations must be prepared to respond at a moment’s notice to security attacks, service outages, and other major incidents,” said Clara Shih, CEO of Salesforce Service Cloud. “When such incidents occur, the clock starts ticking. Customer calls begin flooding in. Service agents scramble to diagnose the issue. A PR crisis or breach-of-service level agreement looms. It’s imperative for customer-facing teams to be able to easily collaborate and stay in lockstep with engineering, DevOps, security, and the other experts involved in diagnosing, problem-solving, and resolving the incident.”

It’s imperative for customer-facing teams to be able to easily collaborate and stay in lockstep with engineering, DevOps, security, and the other experts involved in diagnosing, problem-solving, and resolving the incident.

Clara Shih
CEO, Salesforce Service Cloud

Case swarming is useful for addressing complex issues affecting a single customer, such as a security breach to a personal account, or major incidents that impact multiple customers, like a power outage. In both cases, a collaborative approach across multiple teams, departments, and even external partners in your ecosystem is key to delivering a proactive and timely resolution. For example, if a business-to-business (B2B) customer reaches out to a consumer goods company about missing products that show as delivered, the agent can bring in the third-party fulfillment partner to help.


The benefits of case swarming as a customer support model 

In a traditional, tiered customer support model, agents are left on their own to solve complex cases. They search your knowledge base and ask various colleagues for help. As more time passes, the customer’s patience starts to thin. Unable to figure it out, the agent escalates the case to the next-tiered agent or to a different department entirely, which frustrates the customer. 

A case swarming support model flips this entire scenario on its head. Agents not only reach a resolution faster because they’re working with a team, but they become more efficient and knowledgeable. This leads to: 

  • Better customer experiences. Eighty-two percent of customers expect to solve complex problems by talking to one person. Case swarming helps hide the complexity and handoffs from the customer because the agent is their single point of contact throughout the case. This allows the agent to become a trusted contact and creates a one-on-one relationship that builds loyalty.
  • Accelerated skills development. In a tiered support model, knowledge is spread across many sources of truth. If an agent simply passes off a case because it’s too challenging, they lose out on a valuable learning opportunity. When agents bring in experts to swarm a case, they learn new skills on the job. This type of expertise would otherwise take years to build.
  • Improved agent productivity. Sixty-three percent of agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality support, yet that’s exactly what customers want. But too much information and too little structure overwhelms agents. By swarming cases, agents solve them faster and document the process for future issues.
  • More team-building: Agents gain access to a built-in support network of experts. No one is left on their own. In fact, agents are incentivized to offer a helping hand. Contact center managers use their data to understand performance and participation levels. When a case is resolved, they recognize those involved in the case swarm process, which encourages future participation from more agents.
  • Evolved success metrics: While key performance indicators (KPIs) like average handle time and first-contact resolutions are always important, those metrics don’t always apply in case-swarming scenarios because of the nature of the issue. Instead, lower customer effort scores, escalation rates, and case handoffs take priority. And contact center managers can expect to see improvements in agent productivity, satisfaction, and retention. 

Case swarming makes you think differently about your service team because the dynamic changes between your agents, your experts, and your customers. Camaraderie becomes central to customer service. No one is an island.

A case swarming support model requires a unified platform 

“Service, sales, and marketing teams should be able to quickly access relevant case, incident, and customer data,” said Shih. “They also need to communicate and make decisions in a shared virtual workspace embedded in the context of service workflows including incident management, change management, proactive alerts, and status updates to keep all parties informed and minimize the number of handoffs customers are subjected to.”

To implement case swarming in your organization, invest in customer service technology that gives your agents a unified platform to access resources and bring in the right experts. 

Service, sales, and marketing teams should be able to quickly access relevant case, incident, and customer data.

Clara Shih
CEO, Salesforce Service Cloud

Productivity tools, including chat, video, and collaboration documents, enable them to work together from anywhere. Once the case is resolved, your support team is empowered with new knowledge and they’re ready to move on to the next case — together. 


Nausheen Najib is on the Service Cloud product marketing team based in the Bay Area. When she’s not building customer-centric marketing programs, you can find her traveling to new places or baking something extra sweet.

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