How to Become a Salesforce Certified Service Cloud Consultant

One of my favorite authors and philosophers, Robert M. Prisig is quoted in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as saying: “It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.”  This certainly applies to what can seem like an overwhelming mountain of information to master when attempting to become Salesforce Certified. While the goal is to simply pass the test, it is the experience of the study and preparation process that will make you a true salesforce professional.  I just passed the Salesforce Service Cloud Consultant Exam yesterday, and was inspired to share some tips and resources that helped me along in my journey to becoming certified.

A great place to start is the official SFDC Certified Service Cloud Study Guide (Hint: read the sample questions!). There is also another excellent OpFocus blog post on keys to becoming Service Cloud Certified that provides some tips and things to consider before taking the exam.  The exam does have some basic service cloud concepts and ideas, but it is largely scenario-based, which means you are given a real-world problem and asked how you might solve it using the toolset and functionality that is available via Service Cloud.


The exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions and requires a 73% to pass (43 correct responses).  The exam allows you to flag questions for subsequent review, and with 105 minutes to complete it, there is more than enough time to revisit questions you are unsure of.  If you don’t know the answer to a question, mark it and think about it once you’ve cruised through the easy ones.

As of Spring ’15, the following rubric provides which questions/topics you can expect to see on the exam:

Industry Knowledge                                      15%
Implementation Strategies                           5%
Service Cloud Solution Design                     15%
Knowledge Management                               11%
Interaction Channels                                    15%
Case Management                                         25%
Contact Center Analytics                               7%
Integration and Data Management             7%


Salesforce University

If you are fortunate enough to have premier support from salesforce you have access to a litany of information via Salesforce University. The online training modules are quite comprehensive, feature sample exam questions and are an excellent way to prep for the exam.  I like to eat lunch and watch a video, taking notes on how it might help me solve a problem in one of my current projects. Even if you aren’t studying for the exam, these online courses will prove invaluable to review before implementing a particular feature in service cloud.  Per the official study guide, the following online courses will help you prepare for the Service Cloud exam:

  • Preparing for the Certified Service Cloud Consultant Exam
  • Implementing Case Management Across Channels
  • Implementing Salesforce Knowledge
  • Administration Essentials for the Service Cloud
  • Setting up and Building Communities
  • Administering Salesforce Knowledge
  • Publishing Articles with Knowledge
  • Administering Entitlements
  • Increase Productivity with Visual Workflow
  • Introduction to Open CTI
  • CTI Troubleshooting for Salesforce CTI Toolkit
  • Reporting for Call Center Managers
  • Release Training: Service Cloud

Note that there is a wealth of other information as well that isn’t related to the Service Cloud – take the time to orient yourself with the other resources available under “Help & Training”.

Implementation Guides & Cheatsheets

The following is a laundry-list intended to provide a shotgun approach to getting more experience and understanding in various topics associated with the Service Cloud. I don’t think it is necessary to read every single resource shown here cover to cover (though it can’t hurt) to be successful. However, if you have no idea what a milestone action or entitlement process is, you should consider reading the entitlements implementation guide (and watch the training video). Use these references as a way to brush up on the areas you might be lacking experience in:

Service Cloud Workbook
Case Management Implementation Guide
Setting Up Customer Support
Getting Started with Setting Up Call Centers
Subtleties of Configuring Knowledge
Knowledge Implementation Guide
Public Knowledge Base Implementation Guide
Knowledge Article Import Cheatsheet
Data Categories vs. Article Types
Knowledge vs. Solutions
Knowledge Centered Support (KCS)
Importing Knowledge Articles
Live Agent Implementation GuideChatter Publisher & Quick Actions Implementation Guide
Social Customer Service Implementation Guide
Entitlements Implementation Guide
Communities Implementation Guide
Portal to Community Migration Guide
Communities Templates Implementation Guide
Communities License Comparison
Communities vs. Sites
Chatter Answers Implementation Guide
Self Service Portal Implmentation Guide
Ideas Implementation Guide
CTI Toolkit Developers Guide
Console Cheatsheet
Case Feed Cheatsheet
Salesforce CTI Admin Cheatsheet
Salesforce Support Rep Cheatsheet
Solutions Cheat Sheet
Email to Case vs. On-Demand Email to Case
Visual Workflow Guide

General Tips for Prepping for The Exam

  1. Practice –If you can land a project or task that involves building out a service cloud console, setting up a community, creating entitlements, or implementing knowledge, then by all means, do it!  Nothing is better than real-world experience. If not, open your own (free) development org and start playing, taking time to follow the implementation guides and workbooks to set up an example implementation.  In the words of my Alma Mater (WPI) Lehr und Kunst (Theory and Practice) makes perfect!
  2. Logically analyze the question and answers – I utilized techniques that took me back to LSAT prep as an undergrad- break the question and answers down into their base components and carefully study the answers for logical fallacies, eliminating any ridiculous answers from the multi-select options right away.  Take your time, and read each question very carefully. Write the question and answer out in summary form decomposing which Salesforce objects or features are being referenced. Even if you don’t know the answer, eliminating one or two “wrong” answers increases your likelihood of a correct response that much more.
  3. Failure IS an option – with only a $100 fee to re-take the exam, you should seriously consider the price of failure, because the cost might not be too bad for you. No one will know that you failed except yourself! There is no secret salesforce transcript or permanent record, and the exam is truly pass/fail (though it would be nice to see Salesforce Recognize near-perfect test scores). Worst case, you fail, but you also get perspective on where your weaknesses are, you gain experience with the exam format, and most importantly, you can know where to focus your studies for next time…
  4. Persevere – If you do fail it the first time, it doesn’t mean you should be discouraged – just dust yourself off, debrief on what you need to focus on next time (right after the exam), and study some more. I suggest taking the exam within a couple of weeks while the topics are still fresh in your mind.  Hint: you are quite likely to see similar or the same questions the second time around.
  5. Understand Support Objects – Salesforce has a number of support database objects that compliment each other in order to build world-class customer service & support systems. Understanding how cases interact with solutions, knowledge, case comments, assets, service contracts, entitlements, etc will make you a service cloud guru in no time. This Entity Relationship Diagram provides a visual representation of how the support objects relate to one another.
  6. Brush up on CTI Concepts – While there is no substitute for real-life experience in working with computer telephony integrations, google and wikipedia are your friend. Knowing how the following items work and what they are will help you be successful for the exam and in your career as a service cloud consultant:
    • Salesforce’s CTI Architecture
    • Private Branch Exchange (PBX)
    • Integrated Voice Response (IVR)
    • Automatic Number Identification (ANI)
    • Predictive Dialing
    • Softphones / Softphone Layouts in Salesforce
    • Call Center Setup In Salesforce
    • “Screen Pops”
    • Dialed Number Identification Service (DNIS)
    • Automatic Call Distributor
    • Computer Supported Telecommunications Applications (CSTA)
    • Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN)
    • Telephone Application Programming Interface (TAPI)
  7. Understand Call Center/Service KPIs and Jargon – I guarantee you that Call Center Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and their related dependent metrics will come up in the exam. Not only is it crucial to understand these for the exam, but it will also help you professionally.  Make sure you understand how the following metrics work and why it is important to measure these:
    • Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
    • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
      • First Call Resolution (FCR)
      • Average Speed to Answer (ASA)
      • Call Abandonment
      • Average Wait Time
    • Cost of Service
      • Average Handle Time (AHT)
      • Cost Per Call/Contact (CPC)
      • Calls Per Agent (CPA)
      • Agent Utilization
      • Call Deflection & Salesforce Deflection Techniques
    • Revenue
      • Customer Retention
      • Customer Satisfaction

I hope that you find these tips and resources useful. If you do put the time and effort in, you are certain to succeed. Happy studying and good luck!