The Support Team’s Guide to Collaborative Case Swarming

By Jane Kang

Drive faster resolutions to complex problems with case swarming.

In the age of the connected customer, delivering exceptional support is more critical than ever. Customers have come to expect fast, personalized, and connected engagement — anytime, anywhere.

Unfortunately, limited access to data, skills, and resources often leave support agents ill-equipped to manage the increasingly complex customer issues they’re faced with. They’re left scrambling to corral inputs from multiple teams across numerous applications — often spending more time hunting down answers than engaging the customer.

So what’s the best way to handle case resolution to ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty while maximizing operational efficiencies? The most successful support teams use a collaborative case swarming model, facilitating collaboration between the right knowledge workers to drive faster resolutions and skills development.

Collaborative Case Swarming: The Basics

The goal of collaborative case swarming is to get the right people to work on complex new issues, together, as quickly as possible. If agents fielding new issues are unable to resolve issues on their own, they should be able to quickly engage other team members who are best suited to help, leveraging their expertise to reach a resolution together. For maximum efficiency, these resources should be available in real-time and in full context of existing CRM workflows. Not only does collaborative swarming shorten resolution times and improve customer satisfaction, but it also allows support teams to capture, standardize, and scale knowledge across their organization.

Here are the key elements to building a successful collaborative swarming strategy.

Step I: Empower Agent Productivity

The first step is to empower agents to be as effective as possible in producing faster resolutions on the first touch.

1. Eliminate or automate low value tasks.
With various workflows being managed across different applications (for example, customer data tracked in CRM, and case management, escalation, and resolution handled in external tools like email and chat), 56% of agents say they must toggle between multiple screens to find all the info they need to do their job. This inevitably delays time to resolution.

Look to off-load manual tasks as much as possible so agents can focus on higher-value work.

  • Collapse your systems and tools so you can integrate disjointed workflow processes, eliminating the need to bounce between screens to locate required information. Agents should have all the customer data, support best practices, and team communications they need, when they need it, in one place — ideally in CRM.
  • Automate routine low-value activities, such as gathering preliminary case information when a customer makes first contact, or manually entering data. Instead, automate data capture and pre-fill data fields.

2. Guarantee access to the latest data.
Limited customer data prevents service agents from providing highly personalized service, so it’s imperative that they always have access to accurate, up-to-date information. Ideally, agents could access dynamically updated CRM data at all times, so changes in the customer’s case record are reflected and accounted for through resolution. Otherwise, data can become quickly outdated, which could lead to confusion and further time delays.

3. Enable a seamless mobile experience.
Mobile operations are increasingly relevant for service agents who manage complex cases, whether they’re supporting customers in the field, or need to provide timely answers while away from their desk. In the field, agents should have the same capabilities on their smartphones as they would at the office. Real-time collaboration along with offline access to critical data ensures that agents are fully informed about the latest issues and case updates before stepping onsite.

Step II: Swarm Cases as a Team

With the knowledge required to solve an issue often residing across multiple teams, 80% of service professionals say partnering with other departments is critical to providing great customer service. When additional resources are needed, agents should engage the most appropriate people to join in swarming the case together.

1. Connect cross-functional teams in real-time.
People with the skills best suited to resolve the issue need to be easily looped in and quickly brought up to speed in order to produce the most efficient solution. Collaboration solutions must support real-time chat and sharing, as well as the ability for individuals to simultaneously edit shared documents and track changes. These workflows should be embedded in the context of your team’s CRM, although the most effective solutions will facilitate seamless contextual collaboration between teams regardless of whether they have access to CRM or not.

2. Allow for full data visibility.
Once the right folks are brought in, they must have access to all the relevant case and customer data they need to assist in resolving the case effectively. Even if extended team members don’t have access to your support team’s dynamically updating case data in CRM, they should have visibility into that real-time data. With the right tools, it’s possible to extend the value of your CRM data to other teams, providing a consistent and accurate view of customer issues for faster resolution.

3. Capture case knowledge in one centralized place.
Merely having visibility into the right data is useless unless it comes with the appropriate context, which is why it’s crucial to capture case data alongside the collaborative work being done to resolve the case. By centralizing your team’s data, communications, and decision-making in a shared, collaborative workspace, anyone can be on-boarded faster and contribute to complex cases immediately.

In addition, team members should have the ability to track all the updates and progress that have been made, as well as visibility into the conversations and decisions that drove them. Not only does this empower employees to resolve cases faster, but it saves customers from having to re-explain their issue over and over as new people are introduced.

Step III: Standardize and Scale Success

Working collaboratively doesn’t reduce anyone’s individual role in helping drive a successful result. In fact, collaborative case swarming promotes rapid skills development among employees and allows support organizations to then scale shared knowledge and learning to drive continued success.

1. Standardize strategic processes.
Establish strategic best practices and build them into standardized processes whenever possible. Enforce your team’s foundation for success by providing standardized templates that have the flexibility to be customized for every unique case.

2. Scale employee skills and knowledge.
Skills and knowledge are inevitably transferred across functions as experts across teams participate together to reach a resolution. Leverage this culture of collaboration and knowledge-sharing to develop your support staff’s skill set. By not transferring ownership of cases — as commonly done with traditional case escalation — support agents can retain visibility into how an issue is resolved and still participate in and learn from the support process. Providing employees with opportunities to learn, share, and gain knowledge leads to happier and more skilled employees.

3. Capture and share knowledge in workflow.
As your team gains knowledge and insights, have tools in place within your support workflows to capture and share that knowledge. By documenting best practices for handling known issues and embedding them in the context of CRM, you can empower agents to resolve recurring issues more quickly on their own.

Ready to get started with your collaborative case swarming strategy? Learn more about building out a case swarming plan as well as other support tips at