Salesforce.com is rolling out several new features to its Field Service Lightning service that are designed to help technicians work more effectively in the field and make it easier for consumers to get the service they need.
One of the new features, Snap-ins Appointment Management, helps companies quickly add self-service appointment scheduling to their website. The new module lets consumers schedule, for example, an appointment to have their cable TV box upgraded without having to call in and wait on hold to connect to the right person and sort out a time and date that works.
Another new feature lets customers initiate a product return from a company’s website. Field technicians can also create return orders onsite on a mobile device when, for example, a service call reveals a faulty part and streamline the process of getting the part or item back to the factory for repair or recycling.
The third key new feature is Crew Scheduling designed to make it easier for dispatchers to assign a team of workers to a job. Crew Scheduling should be especially useful for complex projects like the repair of an oil rig or the installation of a new elevator where staff with different expertise and skill levels are needed, according to Salesforce.
Salesforce launched Lightning Field Service a little over two years ago and has made several improvements to it since. “We believe the on-site experience can make or break the brand and our job is to make that experience easier every time. For far too long companies have viewed field service as an afterthought,” Dana Chery, product marketing manager for Field Service Lightning, told eWEEK.
Salesforce is also leveraging its Trailhead learning platform to streamline the adoption of Field Service Lightning. The built-in Guided Set-Up uses a visual wizard that walks administrators through a simplified set-up process.
Salesforce says it has reduced the number of clicks needed to get started with Field Service Lightning by 66 percent on average. Over the course of several minutes, the wizard guides administrators through the process of configuring territories, job types and appointment booking windows to get their field service teams up and running.
“The Guided Set-Up really streamlines the process as far as helping companies get off the ground quickly without having to hire a consultant,” Rebecca Wettemann, analyst at Nucleus Research, told eWEEK. “Field service really is the last mile of customer engagement and it’s amazing how many folks are still using spreadsheets and paper forms.”
Wettemann said Crew Scheduling, which offers real-time information on who is in the field and the status of work in progress, could go a long way to helping companies provide better service because too often a field service dispatcher doesn’t have enough information to get the right people to the job.
Nucleus Research is finishing a report on Field Service Lightning and shared some of the early results that include comments from customers.
“One of the common things we’ve been hearing when talking to customers is that the dispatcher doesn’t send the right people to the job. It almost seems like they’re taking a blind spin when choosing who to send,” she said.
In the Nucleus Research report, one Salesforce customer discussed the inefficiencies that crop when assigning field service workers. “In the past when the team would submit a request they’d have to look up an org chart and find someone to do a job,” said the customer. “Now with service territories and resources they just have to know where the work is happening, and it automatically correlates to the right people.”
Another customer is a municipality that has connected Field Service Cloud to Amazon’s Alexa to let consumers make requests from home to remove graffiti at a specific location, for example.
Field Service Lightning is built on the Salesforce Service Cloud and connects to the entire service organization including call centers and dispatchers. All the features are available now except for Snap-ins Appointment Manager set for release in a pilot version in June at no additional charge to customers with a Field Service Lightning and Community Cloud license, according to Salesforce.