Using Salesforce to Serve Members More Effectively & Efficiently
The Mandel Jewish Community Center (JCC) has been providing on-premises programming and services to the greater Cleveland community for nearly 75 years. Its full deployment of Salesforce and Traction Rec was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With its facility closed and camps canceled, the JCC shifted gears to create a virtual fitness center for its members.
Now the center has begun its desired digital transformation, one project at a time. Its first project has been taking the customer refund request and approval process online and automating it. Previously an inefficient paper-based system that often took 45–60 days, the refund process is now more transparent and streamlined, with an average turnaround time of 7–9 days. The success of the project has increased staff openness and enthusiasm for doing more with Salesforce, such as evaluating and processing scholarship applications.
2months to deploy new refund process
30hours saved per month on average
Innovating Ways to Do More with a Smaller Staff
Like fitness and community centers across North America, the Mandel Jewish Community Center of Cleveland was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. The JCC had to close its facility and cancel its summer day camps and overnight camps, which together represent about 36% of its annual business.
The center had gone live with the Salesforce CRM and Traction Rec only a few months before. Instead of focusing on making the most of its new membership and program registration system, the JCC staff had to pivot to find ways to keep members engaged and continue delivering fitness services despite social distancing requirements. They deployed Experience Cloud and Traction Gather, creating a virtual fitness center where members could attend scheduled live sessions or find pre-recorded fitness sessions with their favorite instructors.
Two years later, the Mandel JCC could be forward-looking again. “We can’t be reacting anymore. We need to be innovating — getting ahead of the issues,” said Jill Davidson, Director, Information Management Systems.
With the center’s financial team down from six full-time positions to four following the pandemic, their priority was eliminating paperwork and streamlining processes. Davidson took on the refund request process. It took 45–60 days for the paper files and forms for a request to move from inbox to inbox, getting required approvals. A more efficient, transparent process was needed, one that would deliver a better member services experience.
The new refund system is more customer-focused — it sped up the process from weeks to days. It’s better documented, faster, more efficient, more effective, and it allows me to approve refunds from anywhere. I love love love it.” Beth Nudelman, Chief Financial OfficerMandel JCC
Streamlining the Refund System with Custom Cases and Salesforce Flow
To revamp its refund process, the Mandel JCC worked with Cascadia Cloud Solutions, a Salesforce Impact Partner for Nonprofits. The consulting partner built a custom case type — the Refund Request Case — so each request could be managed as a case. The new refund process also utilizes Salesforce’s native Approval Process functionality and Salesforce Flow automations.
Now, when a JCC customer asks for a refund, by phone or email, the registrar receiving the request opens the customer’s account. Because Traction Rec is integrated with Salesforce, the registrar can quickly find the transaction listed and cancel it, generating a credit on the account. Then the registrar creates a new Refund Request Case; relevant information on the customer and the transaction is automatically pulled into the case. The registrar clicks a button to submit the request for approval.
The Approval Process workflow assigns the request to that registrar’s manager, then to that manager’s supervisor, and ultimately to the Financial Services Coordinator and the Chief Financial Officer. At each stage, the approver can quickly access all relevant information about the transaction and the request within Salesforce. When the CFO approves the refund, a flow triggers the correct email template to notify both the customer and the staff member who initiated the refund request. Another email is generated when the refund has been issued.
Digitizing Paper-Based System Saves Staff Hours of Work
The Mandel JCC team is thrilled with its refund request system, which was built, tested, and deployed in two months. More than 180 refunds were processed digitally in the six months after its launch, with an average refund turnaround time of 7–9 days. Now, when a customer asks about the status of a refund, any staff member can check in Salesforce to provide an immediate update.
“It’s been such a big win that everyone wants to use Salesforce for everything now,” said Davidson. Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) features help generate the real-time impact reports the center needs to provide to donors and sponsoring organizations.
Next up for digitization is their system for evaluating and responding to scholarship applications. In 2021, the center distributed more than $250,000 in scholarships to enable people in the area to become members or attend camps. The Financial Services Coordinator — who absorbed the responsibilities of a second role during the pandemic — wants to cut her work schedule to four days a week. The hours of staff work saved by streamlining the refund and scholarship processes will make that possible.
For Davidson, the ability to customize and automate is the core reason to choose Traction Rec and Salesforce. Traction Rec meets the digital business needs of community centers, from managing key card access for the facility to selling fitness packages. “It allows us to be a community center online, but we’ve got this Salesforce power to be creative, to build it out and automate things the way we want,” Davidson said. “I can dream, and we can build it and make it happen.”
About the Mandel Jewish Community Center
The Mandel JCC builds, connects, and strengthens the Jewish community and the greater Cleveland community through lifelong programs and services that reflect the richness of Jewish life and enhance physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being. The fitness, wellness, and community center welcomes all people in the community, regardless of race, religion, identity, or location.