In my previous blog “Why Salesforce Service Cloud makes heroes” I talked about the strengths of the platform and briefly explained how they would function in a typical business. Now, I’ll dive deeper into the core functionalities and explain the ins- and outs for Field Service Lightning, a part of the Salesforce Service Cloud.

5 reasons why Salesforce Field Service Lightning will boost your customer service.

When a company sends it’s users to repair or maintain some assets, it is not always easy to follow and manage who goes where. What happens when someone is sick? How many assets are repaired every day? How long does it take to service them?

These are interesting KPI’s which are difficult to trace… But not anymore since the Field Service Lightning managed package has been made available in Salesforce. In the following 10 minutes, I will introduce you to 5 of Field Service Lightning’s great functionalities and how they will benefit your business. But first, let’s meet our Field Service team.

The field service team

So let’s introduce you to our typical Service Team that would be using Field Service Lightning. 

Tom Character Tom: A people person, a problem solver, this is our technician or service resource.
Eve Character Eve: An expert in dispatching her colleagues, the best technicians in the world. This is our dispatcher. She manages the route for more than 100 technicians to make their days run as smooth as possible.
Annabel Character Annabel: An expert in planning and resolving customer complaints, she manages over 100 technicians in different countries. This is our planner.
Mark Character Mark: New technician? New functionalities? Then Mark is your go-to person! This is our Field Service Admin or system administrator that knows the ins- and outs of the Field Service Lightning system. 

So now we are familiar with our kick-ass team, let’s dive into the possibilities of Field Service Lightning.

The art of intervention planning

Intervention planning comes down to matching work orders (or tasks) to their corresponding service appointment (or task information) and service resources a.k.a. the people that are fit to do the job. 

The manual aspect of this job would be to consult our workforce ‘s agenda and see where Annabel and Eve can best fit service appointments in the overall schedule of their technicians. To manage this manually for one or two agents might work for Annabel and Eve. However, if they have multiple agents over multiple territories, this might become harder to handle. 

Therefore, they would need an agile system that can do just that. This is where Field Service Lightning comes into play with its built-in planning logic features. The sytem allows agents and dispatchers to choose the best resource for the right job at the ideal time. Let’s check it out.

Automate planning for service appointments

To make life easier and faster for Annabel and Eve, Mark – our Field Service Lightning Admin – needs to set up some objects and records in Salesforce. Let’s see which ones:

Skills define in what type of works Tom is a better technician. Tom specializes in replacing cables, so let’s add this to his service resource. This way the system knows this and can propose Tom the next time a cable needs to be replaced.

Service Territories define which technician is best to send to a customer in a certain area based on the nearest location. Tom lives in Belgium, so if the customer lives near Tom, it would be better to send him. By defining the territory and adding it to Tom’s service resource and the service appointment, the system can propose Tom when a customer in the same country needs help.

Work Types define information for similar works and save them as templates so they do not need to be entered multiple times. For example, replacing cables usually takes the same amount of time and requires the same skills. By defining them as a template, Annabel can quickly create service appointments based on the work type template. These work types can also be linked automatically to a service appointment when linked to a work order. 

Scheduling Policies are essentially the brain of the scheduling system. This is where Mark defines the KPI’s that need to be respected during the planning process. Which helps agents and dispatchers like Annabel and Eve to plan and manage all service appointments more efficiently. In this case, Mark defined that the service resource should have the needed skill(s), must be working in the same service territory as defined on the work order, and the service appointment should be scheduled as soon as possible

Automated Planning: How does it work?

Let’s say Annabel receives a service request from a client to replace a cable in Belgium. How does her plan of action look like in the Field Service Lightning system?

First, Annabel creates a work order for the service request and links it to the work type “replace cables”. Out of her head, she knows that there are 5 technicians with the skill to replace cables. However, she is not sure if who lives closer to the customer so she ads the country of the customer to the work order. After this, she hits ‘Schedule’ and the system will do the rest of the work. Let’s see it in action: 

  1. The system filters through all the available service resources and finds 5 technicians with the skill “replace cables”. However, only Tom lives in the country of the customer. This means that we’ve found our service resource. 
  2. As Mark has set up a scheduling policy, the system compares the available times in Tom’s agenda and propose a time-slot accordingly. The earliest time Tom can visit the customer the next day at 9:00 AM.
  3. Annabel confirms the service appointment and Tom receives a message on his mobile app with the information regarding the appointment.
Field Service Lightning - Automated Planning

Field Service Lightning ‘s Dispatcher Console

Now Tom knows which appointments he has and where, he only needs to get there? This is were Eve, our dispatcher, can use the dispatcher console to track and optimize Tom’s route.

Traditionally, Eve would calculate the estimated travel time for Tom manually. With Field Service Lightning, no more. This is calculated automatically using Google Maps which updates the route in real-time. Which means that Tom can perfectly see how much time it would take to go from one appointment one to the next and use its built-in GPS functionality. Even more, he can contact the customer or chat with Eve if any problems or delays might occur. All from the app on his mobile phone.

Field Service Lightning - Dispatch Console

Furthermore, Eve can also track Tom’s location in real-time and look up real-time traffic information directly from the dispatcher console. Moreover, she can see the planning for Tom’s service appointments on a map and adjust the route for optimal travel time. Furthermore, she can also generate a view in the dispatcher console of all technicians on a map or GANTT-chart. Additionally, she can (re)schedule, cancel, fix overlaps, include coffee breaks and change the status of a service appointment with just one click. Amazing right?

Field Service Lightning - Map

Optimize for Field Service Lightning

The automatization of the planning – and routing process helps a lot. But what if new work orders come in which might be more ideal to schedule on an already taken slot of our technician’s agenda? By default, the system only looks at the available time slots but Field Service Lightning’s Optimize-component goes further than that. It can even change the order of the appointments based on the Scheduling Policy attached to the service appointment.

Let’s say that Tom has a service appointment planned tomorrow at 9:00 AM. A little while later another high-priority cable replacement intervention comes in that is actually closer to Tom’s address than the previous one. 

If you know that Eve manages more than 100 technicians, a functionality like ‘Optimize’ can help to optimize the route for her technicians. So they don’t lose a lot of time driving back- and forth. With ‘Optimize’, the system will look at all available and taken slots to propose a new slot according to the Scheduling Policy. In this case it will propose to reschedule the original service appointment to a later slot and schedule the new appointment to 9:00 AM. 

Mark can even automate the optimization to run daily or multiple times a day so that Eve doesn’t need to press ‘Optimize’ each time she comes into the office. How cool is that?

Field Service Lightning - Optimize Chart

Spare part management & product requests

Next to planning and dispatching technicians, Field Service Lightning also offers functionalities to track parts and product requests. So that businesses can track usage, stock and order parts in time to provide faster service for their customers.

To set this up, the Field Service Lightning admin needs to do some configuration in the system. So Mark needs to enter information about the Location, Product Items and Product Requests:

  • Location refers to where the spare parts are stocked such as a warehouse or a technician’s van. So van’s can be assigned based on the parts needed for the job. 
  • Product items refer to where and how many spare parts are present in a certain location. This enables businesses to move parts to other locations if needed.
  • Product requests refer to the spare parts a technician needs to do a job. If this reaches a minimum threshold, a product request can be submitted to fill the stock.

Now the business and Tom can see which spare-parts are available in his van and can use this to define what will be consumed for each work order. So the system knows which spare parts are being used and how much of them. Additionally, Tom can also request spare parts by submitting a request. When he receives his spare-parts, the system will automatically update the stock in Tom’s van so that everybody knows at any time what is available for Tom. Furthermore, this can be used to define what needs to be billed to the customer. 

Spare Parts Management: How does it work?

If we look at this practically, we would expect that each type of work would need the same products or spare parts. Let’s say replacing cables would need at least 10 meters of cable.  Mark can actually create ‘required products’ for a work type and link it to the work order. Which would then notify the technician if he does not have enough spare parts available to perform a service appointment.

The new service appointment for Tom has been made for tomorrow at 9:00 AM. This appointment requires 12 meters of cable while he only has 9 meters left. The system will identify this and send him a message on his mobile phone with the details of the appointment. Additionally, the system will tell him that he does not have enough meters of cable left in his van. This means that he can now order the 3 extra meters by tomorrow or contact Eve for further assistance. Avoiding an otherwise useless trip to customer which might impact the overall customer experience.

Sign Service Reports digitally

Besides planning and material matters, paperwork needs to be done too. However, traditional methods have some pitfalls such as a document that has been lost, forgotten or became unreadable for some reason. 

Therefore, Tom can use the mobile Field Service Lightning app to generate the document that needs to be signed. He can even let the customer sign it digitally when the work is done. Creating less paperwork and chances of human error.

Additionally, the application on Tom’s mobile phone is designed so that most functionalities are available offline and will sync afterwards when Tom is connected to the internet.

Field Service Lightning - Sign Service Reports

A satisfied team with Field Service Lightning

Depending on your business needs, Field Service Lightning can help your agent, dispatchers and technicians to manage planning, routing, spare-parts and limit the amount of paperwork so they can help your customer as soon as possible. Effectively increasing your customer service and decreasing the amount manual work.

As part of a multi-cloud platform, you can seamlessly connect your Field Service Lightning data to the Service Cloud and/or combine it with Einstein Analytics (AI) to analyse your KPI’s and increase your efficiency. Even better, you can also help your clients more proactively and contact them with a solution for a problem they weren’t even aware of using Salesforce IoT.

If you feel that Field Service Lightning might be the solution to optimize your Customer Service, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or questions.

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