Field Service Lightning: A Game-Changer for Automation

December 15, 2017 Varun Vasishtha

Today, customers are creating new boundaries that are pushing businesses into the future. It is no longer the goal to gain only customer loyalty — now the goal is to gain revenue growth, and offer opportunities.

Salesforce made our lives easier when they launched Field Service Lightning.  This system, based on Salesforce software, provides a fully-automated solution to the area of field service.

What is field service automation?

For most organizations, there is a team of service technicians responsible for resolving a customer’s problem by visiting the the technology, often at the customer’s home.

Because field service employees are always out in the field, companies use complex spreadsheets to effectively manage their field service teams. This process can be tedious and prone to many errors. Now there is a centralized solution that makes scheduling easier for both managers and technicians — field service automation.

Advantages of field service automation

  1. Allocate tasks to the correct technicians, based on their skillset and inventory.  

  2. Field Service Lightning offers analytics that can be used to drive both reports and dashboards, as well as fault analysis.

  3. Get an exact location for the technician. While the software provides a database (that shows some commonly identified problems) while the technician fixes the machine.

  4. The software monitors both repairs and returns across the field service network.

  5. Technicians and customers now have self-service tools.

Conceptualization of Field Service Automation

Here at Appirio, we work on many projects concerning field service. We mainly work with Field Service Lightning and Servicemax. So let’s try to understand how automation in field service can change the game for us.

Field Service Workflow in Salesforce:

  1. Customer calls support workers in the call center for help with their service.

  2. The customer support representative will first try to solve the problem on the call with the customer by using the knowledge database.

  3. If the problem requires a technician to visit, then the rep creates a work order for that case.

  4. Based on skills and availability, a technician is assigned to that work order.

  5. The technician then go to the customer location, and provide services needed to solve the problem. They will then generate an invoice for the customer.

  6. Clients will then acknowledge that the work is complete, and sign the work order invoice. The technician will report to his/her manager upon the signing of the document.

Solution by automation

Let’s add some real time problems to this process, and resolve them by using automation. This will be simpler to handle if technicians use mobile device to complete their work order assignment and invoice generation. Let’s add a mobile device to it, and identify the problem step-by-step.

  1. Allocation of correct technician to correct task

Customer support representatives do not know all of the smaller details a technician handles. Automation makes it easier for reps to know and understand these problems.

If you’re using field service automation, you’ll be able to see a map with the current location of a technician and the location of the work order. It also show the technicians available at the desired time. It also gives you a selection of technicians based in a fixed service team and the status of their inventory van.

  1. Absence of support system

Now that the work order has been assigned to a technician, they will be fixing a complex machine. With this, there are three main problems :

  1. The machine has multiple parts that is hard for technicians to remember the details. So it’s helpful if technicians have access on their phones to common problems — and their solutions.

  2. When the machine part replacement isn’t available in inventory. If you don’t have automation, then you have to abort the work. But with automation, technicians get the capability to check another technician’s van in the same location area to get help and supplies.

  3. In the world of technology, prevention is part of the cure. The machine needs preventive maintenance every six months. Even if the field service worker doesn’t have the preventative maintenance knowledge needed to create a work order, they can still access the needed information on their mobile device.

3. Lack of self-service tools

After the job is complete, you’ll want to understand how happy the customer is with their Customer Experience. The technician also needs to get the customer’s signature, and generate a digital invoice with the work order.

All of these processes are possible on the technician's mobile device but there is a problem — the field service worker doesn’t have network access, so their phone won’t connect to the main system. Fortunately, mobile phones can do offline calculations and sync  up when it’s exposed to the main network again.

Understanding the benefits of automation

There are many crucial services which need immediate resolution, and only great field service capability can fulfill those needs. For example, the conveyor belt at a busy airport has been broken. you don’t provide great field service support, then your client won’t be satisfied due to the mass chaos at the airport.

It’s time to adopt new technologies in conventional field service. In the future, sales, service, customers, and the entire operations chain will be interconnected in order to provide a seamless Customer Experience.

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