An organization can have the best CRM in the world, but if their customer-facing employees in the field struggle with disconnected, outdated technology (or no technology at all), your Customer Experience will fail. For organizations on the Salesforce platform, Field Service Lightning (FSL) is here. To learn about this exciting new tool, I spoke with Service Cloud expert, podcaster (he’ll be featuring the COO and SVP Service Cloud at Salesforce, John Hernandez, on a future podcast), and Salesforce MVP, Jeff Grosse.
Jeff is Appirio’s Salesforce Service Cloud Practice Lead, and has been helping companies improve their customer service technology with the cloud for over 11 years. He is a certified Salesforce Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Developer, Service Cloud Consultant, Sales Cloud Consultant, and self-proclaimed Evernote and Disney freak.
What do you see as some of the key use cases for FSL?
Jeff: First of all, it’s key for organizations to realize how important it is for their customer-facing employees to be tightly connected with the rest of the CRM system. Our team has been working with FSL for a year, and have seen companies dramatically improve their Customer Experience.
But keep in mind, FSL has a much broader use case than many people might guess. It crosses all kinds of industry boundaries; it’s not just about maintenance and installation. Sure, it works great for an HVAC person needing to come out for an emergency furnace fix in the winter, but it goes far beyond that — into other service industries like healthcare, lawn services, pest control, appliance repair, computer repair, dietitians, nonprofit social services, and even banking and financial planners. It’s suited for anyone who makes a commitment to their customer to make an out-of-office visit by a skilled representative. It could be used by a retirement planner just as easily as by an insurance adjuster or social worker. The primary use case everyone thinks of is the cable technician who needs to come out and install your cable, but that’s just what people can most relate to. Organizations need to expand their view a bit.
What does FSL bring to Service Cloud customers that they didn’t have before?
Jeff: The part of FSL that’s most visually impressive is the scheduling engine. It’s a dispatcher’s dream to be able to see all the work orders, resources, and activities in a real-time, color-coded, easy-to-use interface. It’s easy to look at the scheduler and get down into the details of what’s there, but deeper down there are some equally impressive features, all of which are possible because they are built on the platform. Having the field service operations on the same platform where quotes, knowledge, sales, and service take place has built-in efficiencies that are hard to replicate in other solutions.
One includes a complex rules engine that determines how resources are picked and placed. You might be surprised at the level of detail that organizations can get into with these rules — including location, skills, available hours, past completed jobs, or even maximum travel distances. Depending on the service objectives of the organization, the application adjusts to best meet objectives like urgency, minimum overtime, preferred resources, skills, or even minimum travel. In essence, it reduces the complexities of providing field service because all of those variables are met with business rules that balance customer needs and organizational objectives. All this comes together in FSL and reduces the frustration of having to rely on humans to make decisions that are best suited to let systems automate.
What are some things organizations need to consider before implementing FSL?
Jeff: Take a walk in the shoes of those who are currently handling the headache of appointment intake and resource assignment. These people usually have a challenging job servicing both customers and field staff, and those who report on all those areas. If you don’t realize what a pain it is today, you won’t fully appreciate how challenging their work is. Think about how disconnected these processes are from CRM today. Imagine fewer handoffs between agents, dispatchers, and technicians. Preventing misaligned expectations for service can help get the right work done the first time.
The same things should be considered when implementing Service Cloud itself; be interactive and design with success metrics in mind. Make your Service Cloud knowledge-centered, plan for all channels, and plan out your integrations. But most of all, keep the Customer Experience front and center.