Modernizing field service management (FSM) has become a priority for many organizations in a sector largely defined by legacy systems and outmoded practices. Many seasoned field service technicians are old-school — having only begun using smartphones in the recent past — creating efficiency issues within FSM. According to an industry survey, 52% of companies still use manual methods for most of their field service tasks, such as scheduling and work planning. These inefficiencies affect productivity with The Service Council estimating that the average first time fix rate (FTFR) for a field service organization is between 75 and 78%, as opposed to the bare minimum of 90% needed to achieve basic customer satisfaction.
Another major challenge is the generational gap between an aging Baby Boomer workforce and new recruits who have less experience and want more independence. According to the Service Council, 70% of service organizations indicate that the “knowledge loss” of a retiring workforce in the next 5 to 10 years will create a significant burden. Field service providers must therefore find creative ways to pass on siloed knowledge to the next generation of employees while minimizing training costs.
The Salesforce FSL Effect
Salesforce Field Service Lightning is a powerful, highly customizable, mobile-friendly extension to Service Cloud. It provides organizations with an automated platform enabling them to coordinate field operations, including scheduling service appointments, dispatching technicians and equipment, managing assets, tracking vehicle locations, and staying up to date with appointment statuses.
Salesforce FSL is the fastest-growing division in the company’s history, bringing in $100 million in revenue within two years of its launch. With the 2019 acquisition of ClickSoftware Technologies, Inc. in a deal valued at $1.35B, Salesforce’s Service Cloud product is expected to exceed $1B in revenue.
Field Service Lightning products are accessed via the AppExchange. Salesforce reports that 89% of Fortune 100 companies use AppExchange products, advanced tools that enable new levels of efficiency, tackling the most pressing problems facing the industry. Here are just a few Salesforce FSL solutions that are set to transform the industry.
It is often hard for field service organizations to keep track of their employees, ensuring their schedules are optimized and they have the support they need in the field. FSM gets even more complicated when service companies outsource parts of their field operations to sub-contractors.
Tracker Bot is a Lightning Messaging-enabled app-less product designed specifically for contractors. With AI capabilities, Tracker enables contractors to interact with their assigned appointments via SMS or other messaging channels. The bot improves quality of service by automatically providing first-level support and assisting sub-contractors in the field. They can request work, update appointments, add completion notes, and change working hours/capacity on demand.
It is not uncommon for a technician to have three appointments in one city in one day and discover too late that two of them were actually in the same neighborhood. This waste of technicians’ time is eliminated with Opti-Time Tour, an app that integrates geographic optimizations for Salesforce FSL users.
Opti-Time Tour uses powerful geo-scheduling algorithms that enable FS organizations to geo-locate customers and accounts with pinpoint accuracy. An interactive map with route optimization allows smart scheduling and ensures all movements on the ground are minimized. By generating a huge volume of data, Opti-Time enables BI analytics that can improve planning and performance.
In the field, time is money. When a technician runs into a problem, any delay in contacting an expert or colleague for help will impact the job and — most likely — customer satisfaction. Fieldy is a digital assistant, powered by Salesforce Einstein, that helps technicians troubleshoot problems while in the field.
Fieldy enables techs to ask questions on Salesforce’s in-house Chatter feed directly from their mobile devices and receive on-demand solutions from an extensive knowledge base. This avoids wasted time and the need to reschedule appointments.
Aquant Service Intelligence Platform
Everyone knows that data holds the key to better performance. The question is how to derive insights from data that is scattered across different systems, hidden deep within free text or housed in the heads of seasoned employees.
Aquant pulls data from FSM systems, executes Natural Language Processing to convert free text into structured data, and uses AI and machine learning to help companies make data-driven decisions. Aquant provides predictive, actionable service recommendations, making it simple for an organization’s experts to validate those findings. Its Intelligent Triage product helps FS techs get automated answers to their queries from the organization’s existing data, identifying root causes and delivering the correct solutions quickly.
While many backend field service systems have been partially digitized, the fruits of that labor often fail to reach frontline technicians who may still be using paper-based processes or lack access to online tools. Parsable connects field service personnel with back-office workflows via step-by-step mobile work instructions in Salesforce.
With Parsable, organizations using Salesforce FSL can digitize paper-based processes and create interactive rich-media mobile standard operating procedures to aid the training of new employees. Automated actions can be triggered via intuitive mobile procedures that eliminate extra work for techs and cut down on training time.
Computer Vision AI
Field service technicians are often dependent on remote experts for specific aspects of the job, such as confirmation, remote guidance, quality control and safety. This expert has only one pair of eyes — a fact that often causes workflow bottlenecks and delays service delivery. Automating these processes using visual analysis tools or “smart eyes” can be gamechanger, thanks to Computer Vision AI technology.
Computer Vision AI refers to the processing and analysis of digital images and videos to automatically understand their meaning and context. In field service, it enables the real-time identification of issues based on the location, position or status of equipment components, including cables, LEDs and error messages, driving efficiencies in the resolution process.
Field service organizations can leverage images collected from any visual interactions — such as remote visual sessions, recordings from the site, and bot interactions — to train their systems using deep learning, enabling them to achieve high levels of accuracy in recognizing objects in real-life conditions. These visual analysis tools deliver cost savings by reducing time on site and machine downtime, streamlining the training of novice technicians.
TechSee, a Salesforce Ventures portfolio company, enables field service technicians to receive remote visual guidance from supervisors in the form of Augmented Reality instructions on their smart device screens, as part of their Salesforce FSL experience.
It also delivers real-time automated guidance and verification powered by Computer Vision AI, allowing technicians to resolve more issues independently. With Autonomous Assistance, the field service technician simply connects to the TechSee platform and shows the issue with his mobile camera. With Computer Vision AI, the system recognizes the components of the equipment and identifies the nature of the problem, such as a cable plugged into the wrong port. Using AR, it highlights the cable and the correct port, enabling the technician to fix the problem. Finally, the system verifies that the issue has been resolved.
Salesforce & TechSee: The Dream Team
At Dreamforce 2019 — Salesforce’s annual customer success event — Martha Walchuk, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, highlighted the power of TechSee in her Dreamforce Service Keynote: The New Age of Human-centric Service.
She explained that great customer service is founded on building trust in customer relationships. With ever-increasing support request volume and higher customer expectations, many companies are struggling to deliver quality customer service at scale. Walchuk detailed how TechSee’s Computer Vision-powered solution can empower Field Service Lightning users with real-time visual intelligence.
As the field service sector modernizes, enterprises are increasingly adopting tools that boost efficiency in the field, streamline processes for both technicians and remote experts, and improve customer satisfaction. Salesforce’s AppExchange is continuously adding advanced tools that help field service organizations achieve their goals in areas such as optimized scheduling, accessible knowledge bases, technician training, and Computer Vision-powered guidance. These tools empower tomorrow’s super-technicians, preparing Salesforce FSL users for the challenges that lie ahead.
This article was first published on the TechSee blog.