Salesforce brings its Field Service solution forward by a notch or two
On September 1, 2020 Salesforce announced its next round of updates to its Field Service Management solution. Eric Jacobson, Salesforce VP Product Management, Field Service and Gary Brandeleer, Senior Director Product Management, Field Service gave me an interesting briefing and demo beforehand.
The new releases are all about efficient processing of the engagement throughout the whole process. In detail they are about
- Dynamic job scheduling
- Using Einstein Recommendation Builder to ensure that service technicians have the right spare parts available
- Asset management capabilities that allow companies a detailed view into the installed base at their customers. This is developed in cooperation with ServiceMax
- Improvements to the appointment assistant to provide as accurate as possible information to the customer about the arrival time of the service technician.
The various features shall be made generally available through the next 6 months; as this is a forward looking statement, this may be subject to change.
For your convenience, find the complete announcement below.
Introducing the Next Generation of Field Service at Salesforce: AI-Powered Tools for Trusted, Mission-Critical Field Service
By Mark Cattini, SVP of Field Service Management
Today we are announcing the next generation of Salesforce Field Service, equipping teams across industries with AI-powered tools to deliver trusted, mission-critical field service. Built on the world’s #1 CRM, Salesforce Field Service includes new appointment scheduling and optimization capabilities, AI-driven guidance for dispatchers, asset performance insights and automated customer communications, all of which help ensure jobs are completed the first time, on time, every time.
When the pandemic first hit, many industries that send employees out to complete jobs in the field had to shut down entirely. But critical machinery still needs to be repaired — medical devices require servicing, air conditioning units need to be fixed, and assembly line machines still malfunction. After getting over the initial shock of COVID-19, frontline workers got back to work, and have been at it ever since. After an initial dip in March, Salesforce Field Service saw a more than 50% jump in usage between April and July 2020, and is actually now being used 20% more than at pre-COVID levels as companies and frontline workers scramble to clear the backlog of service requests created earlier this year.
What’s New with Salesforce Field Service
Salesforce Field Service innovations include:
• Dynamic Priority enables dispatchers to focus on the jobs that matter most, with intelligent scheduling and optimization capabilities that automatically prioritize jobs based on the service level agreement or how critical the work is. For example, if a maintenance is due or warranty is about to expire, that job will automatically receive higher priority over others.
- Einstein Recommendation Builder enables organizations to rapidly deploy machine learning models to enhance service, including AI-powered recommendations to ensure mobile workers always have the right parts for the job. Einstein will scan similar past work orders for previous, similar jobs to identify which parts will be needed for the current one.
- Asset 360 is a new set of asset management capabilities that ServiceMax is building in partnership with Salesforce. With Asset 360, companies will have complete visibility into their install base, service contracts and asset performance (e.g. machinery, medical equipment) to maximize the uptime of complex equipment and reduce operational costs.
- Appointment Assistant uses live status updates and GPS to automatically update customers on the technician’s arrival time. This keeps customers informed, and gives them a chance to vacate the premises and/or adequately prepare before the technician arrives — increasing safety for both technician and customer while social distancing is advised.
Our customers tell us that it is more crucial now than ever for their field technicians to have the right information and tools to maximize equipment uptime and first-time fix rates. Decades of industry expertise and innovation have gone into building our next-generation field service management product, and organizations across industries are deploying it to keep their equipment working, businesses running, technicians productive, and end customers safe.
These innovations are the latest in a series of milestones for Salesforce Field Service, which include last year’s acquisition of ClickSoftware, a leader in field service management. And with the combined power of Salesforce and ClickSoftware, we are truly delivering a complete field service product with all of the capabilities leading service organizations require. This was proven out recently, when Salesforce Field Service was named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management.
How Organizations Across Industries and Regions are Using Salesforce Field Service
See below for just a few of many examples of how our customers across regions and industries have been using Salesforce Field Service in unique ways to pivot their businesses and keep moving forward.
AAA Carolinas, the regional AAA club serving both North and South Carolina for more than 100 years, provides its members a full range of travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. “Salesforce continues to help us meet our goal of deepening customer relationships,” said George Figueiredo, VP Automotive Services. “Incorporating Salesforce Field Service into our wider service offering will help us provide a comprehensive and consistent support experience from the moment a customer calls to when our service technicians deliver the necessary in-person service. The new capabilities will allow us to maximize our resources and ensure that our field service techs are armed with the right information and equipment to best serve our 2.2 million members.”
Hologic, a medical technology company primarily focused on women’s health, is turning to Salesforce Field Service to quickly view all their products on a given customer’s site, determine which software version it’s on, and analyze its service history. This level of visibility will allow Hologic to provide service more effectively as they have all the information they need right at their fingertips. “One of our main challenges was our dispatch team was operating via an offline excel spreadsheet which was time consuming and inaccurate,” said Matthew Faherty, IS Manager, Customer Experience Solutions. “With Salesforce Field Service we are seeing an improved time to dispatch, ensuring the right field engineer is dispatched and our systems are available to continue improving women’s health globally.”
St. Francis Healthcare System was able to rapidly operationalize a new meal delivery program for homebound seniors when the COVID lock down hit in just a few days with the support of its partner, Pacific Point, and its Salesforce account team. Using Salesforce Field Service, St. Francis is able to coordinate local restaurant meals and efficiently dispatches drivers to deliver these meals to the homes of seniors. Now in its third month, St. Francis has delivered more than 50,000 meals to date.
During the COVID crisis in France, Wartner employees wanted to extend their platform to facilitate a laundry service for those at the heart of this sanitary crisis: medical staff and nurses. Through delivery management facilitated by Salesforce Field Service and Community Cloud, Wartner delivered more than 8,000 laundry orders to 60 overloaded Parisian hospitals to serve 90,000+ hospital staff in just one week, saving precious time and money in a situation where each minute counts.
WBP Group, one of Australia’s largest, independent property valuation and advisory firms, needed to reshape how it operated to minimize contact between employees and customers in response to COVID-19. Service Cloud enabled the rapid launch of virtual valuations, creating a safe no-touch experience for customers and employees. Salesforce Field Service has increased the efficiency of scheduling appointments and will be used in the future to manage valuations from end-to-end.
Go here to learn more about Salesforce Field Service, and check out this demo video of Salesforce Field Service.
Check out the Forrester Consulting TEI study, commissioned by Salesforce in July 2020, to learn the benefits four organizations saw over three years with Salesforce Field Service, including a first-time fix rate improvement of 90%.
Dynamic Priority will be generally available in October 2020. Einstein Recommendation Builder will be in beta in October 2020. Asset 360 will be generally available in November 2020. Appointment Assistant will be in closed pilot in US in October 2020.
The Bigger Picture
Field Service Management is one of the areas in the wider CRM area with fast growing demand. Dispatching of the right technicians is still more an art than a science, accuracy of appointments on site is difficult to forecast and information to customers is less than optimal. Additionally, it is crucial to achieve a first call resolution to avoid technicians traveling twice for the same incident and antagonizing customers. This potentially means that a lot of different parts need to be kept at hand or even as van stock. At the same time technicians cannot keep an abundance of spare parts available but need to focus on what tasks are at hand. Consequently, it is important for the service technician to have the right parts readily available, which is also a supply chain topic. Last, but not least, the site visit of the service technician is often an opportunity to cross- and upsell.
Many parts of this demand have been covered by specialists in the past years, e.g. ServiceMax or IFS.
At the same time the big players, including Salesforce, have made inroads to providing good field service management support. They did this both ways, organically as well as with acquisitions. SAP acquired the IP of Coresystems in 2018 and Salesforce acquired Clicksoftware in 2019. The market is highly contested, as a part of the platform play that replaced the applications play of the big vendors. This means that functional gaps need to be closed fast and in alignment with customer demand in order to back the platform.
My Analysis and PoV
Salesforce started its road to Field Service Management in 2016 and, according to the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Field Service Management has become a category leader since then. This is based upon a solid foundation, which came with Clicksoftware, Einstein’s AI capabilities, fast growth and successful ecosystem play.
With this announcement, Salesforce covers a wide range of important functionalities while partly using the strength of its ecosystem. This is evidenced by co-innovating asset management functionalities with ServiceMax, which has some strengths in equipements, which is also a Salesforce funded company. One might speculate about an upcoming acquisition here as ServiceMax is also built on Force.com. However this may be, focusing on asset management at least partly closes the gap that Salesforce has compared to SAP. This part of the announcement might very well be its most important aspect.
Improvements to scheduling and identification of necessary parts are important refinements of the existing functionality. Especially the ability to prioritize service jobs dynamically is important. As I wrote above, scheduling and dispatching are still more of an art than a science. According to Gary Brandeleer, most of the knowledge is still in the heads of the dispatchers who also like to stay in control of the process. Based on this argumentation, the dynamic prioritization of the dispatcher works based upon rules that are provided to the system. This also makes the results of the dispatching system easier to understand.
On the other hand, combining location and skill information of the service technicians with the type and prioritization of the jobs is something that could be accomplished by Salesforce’s Einstein technology. Salesforce not going the rule-based route is a bit surprising, but still probably the faster way to deliver this much needed functionality.
Offering the ability to recommend products and services to ensure that service technicians have the right parts available to complete the service closes the gap to the competition and, to the customer, provides another important improvement.
Lastly, we have the Appointment Assistant that can be used to inform the customer about updated arrival times etc. Being built based on the Salesforce Community Cloud notifications do not need to be sent into an app but can be embedded into any web site or application plus the social media channels that are supported by Salesforce Digital Engagement.
All in all, the announcement shows that Salesforce is looking closely at customer requirements as well as how analysts perceive functional gaps. So far, for Salesforce Field Service Management, the result is a nearly meteoric rise into the leaders quadrant of Gartners MQ for Field Service Management — and that being ranked with the most complete vision of the companies that made it into the quadrant, and this although interesting enhancements like crowd sourcing of service are not yet in scope, which would play well with Salesforce being a strong proponent of ecosystems.