The American Kennel Club (AKC) has been trusted as the country’s leading authority on all things dog for over 135 years. Experts in dog breeds, health research, and training resources, the organization is recognized as the world’s largest and oldest not-for-profit dog registry. The AKC also actively advocates for responsible dog ownership and works in tandem with more than 5,000 affiliated clubs and organizations nationwide.
The AKC caters to dogs and dog lovers in nearly every conceivable way: ComScore rated their website, AKC.org, the #1 content site for dogs; they advance dog sports across over 22,000 unique events each year; they founded the AKC Canine Health Foundation, investing millions of dollars into dog health research; they established the AKC Rescue Network (the largest of its kind in the country); they have enrolled over 5M microchipped dogs in the AKC Reunite program, and they’ve even built the AKC Museum of the Dog and AKC Library to house the largest and most comprehensive collections of dog art and literature in the US. A mission so far-reaching and expansive demands a reliable system, backed by technology, capable of keeping up with that scale.
As the go-to dog experts, it is no surprise that the AKC handles over 55K contacts per month via voice, email, and live chat. The organization was looking for a more streamlined and automated process to replace legacy systems for their team of over 70 customer service representatives. Additionally, the organization was looking to offer a self-service solution to dog owners who were looking for information about their dogs’ DNA kits. The AKC believes being a dog lover is not a pastime, but a way of life. In early 2020, they applied that same philosophy to their relationship with technology and fully embraced the power of Salesforce Service Cloud with help from Cloud for Good.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
“AKC needed to find a way to really streamline our processes to better serve our constituency,” said Seth Fera-Schanes, the organization’s Director of Strategic Planning. “We have all these interactions with people, but where we needed to improve upon was how we interacted with our people, how we understood the needs of our customers, and how we tracked every interaction with our customers so we can engage them more effectively.” Those needs are what led AKC to partner with Cloud for Good to leverage the Salesforce CRM, Service Cloud, and Community Cloud to deliver improved customer services to AKC customers and their furry family members. “It came down to giving our great team a better toolset to help them succeed in helping our customers and their dogs,” concluded Fera-Schanes.
Through the Salesforce Service Cloud and Community Cloud, American Kennel Club has consolidated their various legacy systems and internal processes into one central system offering far greater capability and configurability. A manual process relying on disjointed Word docs and Excel spreadsheets has now been replaced with Service Cloud, allowing their team of remote customer support reps to track customer cases and access case trends with ease. The depth, breadth, and intuition of this new customer tracking system is made possible by a Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) of Salesforce Call Center with AKC’s internal calling system, and Registration Support to track customer metrics.
A System of Well-Trained Support
Utilizing Salesforce Service Console, customized specifically for the organization’s needs by Cloud for Good, AKC support reps now benefit from a centralized communication center, rather than relying on various email, chat, and other assorted internal communications solutions. Perhaps the most long-term indicator of Service Cloud’s success for AKC will be the utilization of Salesforce Knowledge. Prior to this support tool, a lone AKC employee had set up their own knowledge base comprised of local files and customer information. Cloud for Good has taken that preestablished system and translated it into Salesforce Knowledge, uploading thousands upon thousands of support pages and articles. When a customer calls in, Cloud for Good-built screen flows appear, checking if the caller is established in the system and setting up new customer IDs if they’re a first-time caller. Ultimately, this homegrown knowledge base will intuitively suggest related articles based on the subject matter of each call, further empowering AKC support reps to provide exemplary customer service with ease.
Jill Zapadinsky, Director of Call Center & Registration Support, knows better than most how impactful this solution will be for the organization moving forward: “The Cloud for Good team took the time to get to know AKC, our business, and our goals. With the Salesforce implementation, our customer service reps will now have more information about who’s calling and have quick access to knowledge articles and recent transactions which allow our reps to assist our customers more efficiently.”
The customer service capabilities inherent to Salesforce have been a welcome addition to the lives of AKC support reps handling over 55K contacts per month. A portion of these calls was once tied to the AKC DNA Profile Program, wherein dog owners can verify the parentage of their dogs by obtaining a DNA sample from their dog that is then sent to a DNA service laboratory for testing. Prior to leveraging Salesforce technology, the DNA Profile Program process consisted of customers purchasing a kit, conducting the test after receiving the kit from AKC, sending the kit back to AKC, and then waiting on the results after AKC submitted the tests to the lab.
There was a marked lack of transparency throughout this process, leaving customers without the ability to track the status of their dog’s results. Through the Salesforce Community Cloud, customers are now able to self-register their DNA kits. If they’d like to check in on the progress of their test, customers simply log in to Salesforce and enter their registration info, which greatly frees up time for the customer support reps to help other AKC customers. Better yet, customers are now able to send their test kits directly to the lab, significantly cutting down the overall processing time of the DNA program by almost two weeks.
Through the use of Salesforce Connect, AKC is able to integrate the external DNA data sources into a unified view for both support reps and customers. Data can be accessed, displayed, and changed from the external data source in real-time, granting unfettered visibility on the progress of DNA kit processing. Given the sheer amount of data coming in from AKC’s customers and their DNA kits, ensuring data integrity was paramount during the Cloud for Good implementation. The use of Salesforce Connect within AKC’s Salesforce instance now promotes a seamless connection of data for all parties involved in the DNA program and adds efficiency to the overlying process.
Building a Lasting Relationship
When asked what led the AKC to enter a partnership with Cloud for Good and Salesforce, following an extensive vetting process of other partners and CRMs, Fera-Schanes replied, “Salesforce really appealed to us because we’ve been around so long and worked with so many different legacy systems. We feature so many ways to interact and connect with our constituency, and we needed a system that could resolve the challenges we faced over time with previous systems and scale alongside our growth. We knew Salesforce could accommodate those needs. Cloud for Good gave us the confidence that we can make this dream a reality, and they delivered it!” The sheer volume of calls and customer engagement with the AKC made the move to Salesforce a much-needed one, and now the organization is poised to serve their dog-loving constituency like never before.
The American Kennel Club’s Salesforce journey has just begun, and yet the immediate results of that journey have already dramatically altered the landscape of their customer support. Over time, AKC will seek to further expand their new systems, adding additional layers of insightful Salesforce technology along the way to better support their 135-year mission. AKC customers, and their beloved canine companions, will be the direct benefactor of these upgrades, ensuring the joy dogs bring to our lives is honored and reciprocated for years and years to come.
For more information on the American Kennel Club, including how to support their many works, be sure to visit their website and follow them on social media!