The Next Generation of Field Service

What is field service?

Field service refers to work that is performed remotely, away from your organisation’s main site. This work could include installing a product for your customer’s use, at their site. Field service can be applied in nearly all industries, such as in professional and business use, construction, utilities, healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. In healthcare, field service may involve the installation, maintenance, and repair of hardware or equipment in hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices.

What is the difference between FSM and CRM?

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software system will help to store and track customer data, thereby giving your company a more accurate picture of them. A good CRM system will allow you to understand your customers, respond to their needs, recommend relevant products, offer discounts on those products, and maintain an overall good relationship with them. The system should also allow customers to easily contact you and resolve issues that they are encountering.

Field Service Management (FSM) helps businesses to manage their infield technicians and provides additional data to the CRM system. FSM offers a centralised schedule and optimisation of technicians, facilitates efficient staff onboarding processes, and allows for easy-access contact information and billing statuses.

How can FSM help your organisation?

The right FSM system can allow you to deliver fast, high-quality on-site service. FSM software also allows for the efficient creation of work orders and increases first-time fix rates for your customer’s on-site issues. By being able to manage schedules in one view, it is easier to assign the right technicians to the right jobs. This would be based on time, skills, and location.

FSM can further eliminate unnecessary site visits, increasing productivity within the organisation, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing revenue loss. Salesforce Visual Remote Assistant, for example, can provide customers with real-time, visual support. This will help to fix issues quickly and avoid waiting for a technician to arrive on site.

Another advantage of FSM is being able to ensure that the right parts are available for the job. The whole process can be managed from a centralised system, complete with a mobile app for when accessing an online system is impractical.

FSM operations can effectively be integrated with your CRM. This integration would allow you to understand your customers’ needs regarding your products and installations.

When Field Service and Customer Relationship Management are combined, they can become revenue centres as opposed to cost centres. They do this by predicting customer needs, and recommending solutions, complimentary products, and services. They can also anticipate necessary repairs and maintenance in advance.

A more connected experience can make your customers feel empowered, respected, and prioritised by the organisation, leading to a vastly increased brand value. From this, organisations can create brand ambassadors through offering exemplary service.

There are various reasons for why customers will choose a certain product; an important factor is that of trust in the brand. This trust is formed by the organisation delivering a top-class service, engaging customers with the brand, and following-up from services and product installations.

Figures from Deloitte research indicate that a key factor in trusting a brand involves enhancing the customer experience through digital operations.

Both B2B and individual consumers (end users) indicate significantly higher trust in tech brands that successfully execute specific trust-building actions

Both B2B and individual consumers (end users) indicate significantly higher trust in tech brands that successfully execute specific trust-building actions

Both B2B and individual consumers (end users) indicate significantly higher trust in tech brands that successfully execute specific trust-building actions

In which industries is FSM the most prevalent?

FSM is prevalent across several industries, but it is not always successfully integrated in a centralised system. In industries such as construction or energy, there are endless applications that can help across the business. These applications might be used by different departments or managers within the business, including:

• Marketing
• Sales
• Account Management
• Project Management
• Supplier Management
• Contractors and Partner Management
• Customer Service and Field Service
• Finance and Analytics
• HR

Many of these departments will include sub-departments, and a variety of responsibilities. Sales would include bid management, tenders, and contract management, whereas HR would cover staff availabilities and timesheets.

Aside from these departments, agencies may also use applications in for those working on-site, whose responsibilities would include safety, surveyance, and compliance issues.

These systems, although internally efficient, are often disconnected, which can present several challenges for your organisation.

Often the technology eco-system becomes disjointed, and, despite its relevance across tasks, data becomes isolated. Systems do not communicate with one another, so it can sometimes be difficult to develop an understanding of the bigger picture. This occurs due to a lack of a visible overview, and difficulties sharing real-time data between all those who need it. Expensive manual intervention can address cross-departmental problems, but it can also lead to inefficiencies.

The disjointed nature of these systems can result in wasted resources, margin pressure, and higher costs, as well as missed deliveries and opportunities. This may lead to employee dissatisfaction, causing issues with employee retention and recruitment. Perhaps most importantly, these inefficiencies can lead to decreased customer satisfaction, which can force customers to look for new providers that will better prioritise customer care and customer relationships.

Central and back-office efficiency

FSM software solutions can simplify back-office processes by allowing staff to quickly raise service requests, diagnose issues, and see all related assets, contracts, and parts that might need to be delivered. Jobs can easily be allocated to the best technician, and tasks that are in progress can be tracked remotely. At the same time, central office technicians can view and make changes to schedules, work orders, and customer account records, allowing for better planning and more efficient scheduling.

Remote technician support

For the infield technician, a centralised FSM platform can provide an overview of the service and account history of client, as well as the site and the issues to be addressed. This type of system can better facilitate the ordering, pick-up, or delivery of parts. It would also allow technicians to update the details of any remote tasks they are working on, or tasks that they have completed. For locations or buildings that have no internet connectivity or signal, offline and app-based technology can assist with updating the progress of relevant tasks.

Field Service: Value for agencies

FSM software can enable an agency to identify client trends, manage assets – such as equipment, tools, and parts – implement asset and inventory control, monitor progress at multiple locations, and manage reordering, distribution, and tracking. Major corporations like Amazon will use software to analyse the needs of multiple customers in the same location, and then use that information to predict the needs of customers in that same location. Agencies can echo this process and help identify the products and services they may need to supply.

One challenge that many agencies face is that the acceleration of digital transformation has created a lot of choice and subsequent confusion in the market. In the face of an increasingly complex market of digital solutions, it is vital to find the ones that really work for your organisation. The templated approach taken by Salesforce aims to simplify the following problems:

• Siloed entities causing disparate data sources for customers, call handlers, suppliers, and field service engineers.
• Lack of standardisation across business processes, which can lead to inefficiencies.
• Scaling up for peak periods and scaling down for less busy periods.
• Having the flexibility for both full- and part-time employees to access your system.
• Avoiding wasted journeys and customer no-shows by using the Visual Remote Assistant (VRA) software.

Field Service: Value for clients

FSM software can allow clients to access service history and work with the agency to perform predictive maintenance. This type of software can also help to provide useful statistical data on failures and repairs, leading to the exponential increase of efficiency and reduction of costs. Additional services offered by such a software can include self-diagnosis and self-reporting of issues, and the chance for a client to auto-book technicians.

Salesforce have identified some of the top customer success metrics delivered to clients, including an increase in scheduler and dispatcher productivity.

Top customer success metrics

Some of the USPs offered by Salesforce include:

• Creating a single view of the customer, project, and staff on a single platform
• Allowing for the optimisation of systems via application consolidation
• Real-time performance metrics
• Real-time visibility into various aspects of business operation
• Facilitating the optimisation of processes, performance, and efficiencies, with automation being used where it's required
• Integration of key back-end systems

These benefits will save costs by increasing project and job win rate, while lowering business risk. They will also improve the satisfaction and retention of both customers and staff satisfaction.

How does this help customers?

In short, it is all about operational efficiency. FSM software allows agencies to better serve their customers through driving higher levels of efficiency and productivity. Here are some of the most key ways in which this is done:

• Automating routine and mundane tasks for agents, dispatchers, and technicians
• Managing work in the field – whether online or offline – by facilitating remote access on multiple device types
• Encouraging customers to schedule or change appointments via an easy-access client self-service model

Many of the benefits of CRM analytics – particularly those related to customer retention and loyalty – can also apply to FSM, and to an integrated approach using both CRM and FSM.

Benefits of CRM Analysis

Leveraging good data can bolster the customer sales cycle, helping you to close more sales and grow your business

Firms can reduce costs for themselves and their customers by using these tactics:

• Eliminating unnecessary truck rolls with remote assistance
• Reducing fuel costs and carbon emissions through route optimisation
• Generating optimal schedules based on business priorities, with the aim to meet SLAs

Additionally, productivity can be increased by introducing:

• The ability for technicians to cross-sell and upsell in the field
• The use of Einstein AI to increase first-time fix rate
• A connected platform that allows for cross-departmental productivity