Welcome to part three of our four-part series with our fictitious nonprofit Coalition Against Homelessness (CAH). CAH is a combination of the issues we have seen in hundreds of organizations over the last 20 years, and helps us generalize and illustrate problems we have faced. In the previous post we saw how CAH implemented Email-to-Case to improve their support of external constituents. Now they are ready for the next phase: expanding their use of Salesforce Cases even further so that they can encourage and support increased growth of their constituent base.
Currently, CAH has two main programs support teams: a crisis center for individuals dealing with homelessness, and a community outreach team made up largely by volunteers who host awareness events. The volume for both program areas is difficult to manage because CAH relies solely on a toll-free phone line and a general email inbox to manage all of these requests. The crisis center staff is overwhelmed, and the case backlog is causing constituents to become frustrated and angry. Additionally, volunteer support has declined because the application process is poorly managed and it is difficult to keep track of volunteer preferences and availability.
In a detailed discovery and strategic planning process with leadership and department staff, CAH identified several areas that would help them better manage these areas and allow expansion of the programs:
- Refine their crisis center processes to better manage a higher volume of requests and decrease response time for each
- Create a more user-friendly volunteer application process that equips staff with the resources and data needed to leverage the volunteer base more effectively
To get started, CAH thoroughly examined their existing processes and planned a detailed strategy that would not only address the immediate issues, but would tie in with the overarching goals and needs of the organization. As in the previous posts, it’s important to note that the overall planning and strategic effort took place before any systems or tools were selected. They took the required time to consider the engagement experience from the perspective of participants, staff, volunteers, and the constituents they serve, and developed a clear flow of how requests and applications would progress through the system. It was essential that each step of these processes be clearly defined in order to identify the most effective solution to these intertwined problems.
After comparing the requirements of all stakeholders, and combining them within the scope of the larger effort, the most effective solution for CAH was implementing Salesforce’s Web-to-Case functionality. This native feature allows them to create custom intake forms that capture and route targeted requests based on definable criteria. CAH would be able to take control of both the crisis center and volunteer processes and streamline them for more efficient management and delivery of their services and mission.
Below is a detailed breakdown of what the Web-to-Case process at CAH looks like:
- Crisis Center: CAH enabled Web-to-Case and used the Web-to-Case HTML Generator to select the desired input fields to be displayed on their online intake form. CAH’s webmaster then created a new page on the “Crisis Support” section of their website, and embedded the Web-to-Case form into the page using an iFrame.
- When visiting CAH’s website, constituents needing assistance are now prompted to complete the Crisis Intake Form instead of being directed to send emails to a general inbox or call a toll-free number. Incoming forms are converted into Salesforce cases automatically, and are assigned a Type, Subtype, and Priority based on information submitted by the constituent. Assignment rules then route each case to the appropriate crisis support staff. Trained staff sort their cases by Priority and Submission Date, which ensures the most critical and longest aging cases are addressed first.
- Similar to the in-bound request process we looked at in Part Two of this series, the crisis team also leverages Solutions to quickly insert predefined response language into pre-configured email templates that are emailed to constituents. Alternatively, crisis staff can also follow up with constituents via phone and attach the selected Solutions to their case to document which resources were given verbally, without having to manually type in the information.
- Volunteer Submission: When planning for a new community awareness initiative in the San Francisco/Bay area, the community engagement team needed to solicit local volunteers from a pool of prospective supporters in their database and capture each volunteer’s interest areas and availability.
- Using the Web-to-Case HTML Generator, the community engagement manager created a new web intake form for volunteers, which captured their contact information, schedule availability and area of interest. This form was then embedded in an event-specific page on their website’s “Get Involved” section.
- The community engagement manager then used Salesforce Campaigns to create a new campaign that targeted prospective local volunteers, and sent an email inviting them to visit the event page and complete the intake form if they were interested in volunteering.
- As with the crisis center example above, incoming forms were then converted to Salesforce cases automatically, and assigned to community outreach staff for follow up based on data contained in the individual responses. Volunteer submissions that indicated wide availability and broad interest areas were prioritized as high priority so that staff could reach out to them first and secure their support. Additionally, a workflow rule and custom email template were created that automatically sent a kindly worded rejection letter to prospective volunteers who failed to meet CAH’s participation criteria.
In this fictional solution, Web-to-Case allowed CAH to leverage the same technology to solve what may have been addressed in completely independent ways if not viewed in a holistic context. We’ve often seen solutions executed per issue, per department that would have been much more effectively addressed if considered concurrently. To achieve this solution for both the crisis center and volunteer program, the key functionality items required include:
- Enabling Web-to-Case
- Utilizing the Web-to-Case HTML Generator
- Creating workflow rules with outbound email actions
- Creating custom email templates with merge fields
By utilizing the same technology tools for both, CAH’s solutions are more supportable, efficient and effective for the organization. Remember, it’s essential to approach technology issues from a perspective that takes into account department and organization strategy and goals.
It’s important to note that all the discovery and strategic planning efforts did not happen independently, but at the same time so that the complete strategy was planned and evaluated as a whole. While individual fixes and adjustments can be effective and necessary in the short term, taking a holistic view of the strategy across teams and departments can reveal elegant solutions that improve the effectiveness of the entire organization.
We hope that the story of our fictional organization CAH provides you with strategies to help you approach your organization’s challenges. In the final post in this series we’ll look at what CAH could do to expand their support services using Salesforce’s Service Cloud. If you have any questions on the information above, please contact us. We are happy to share case studies from existing client projects that outline specific solutions.