Salesforce Poised to Strike with Its Field Service Lightning Solution (Part 3 of 4)

[This is part 3 of a 4-part series on the launch of Salesforce Field Service Lightning. Part 3 focuses on the Industry’s “Take” on the new offering. Part 4 will follow over the next week or so.]

Field Service Lightning – The Industry’s Take

Early on, CRM Daily cited that “Salesforce is adding some lightning to its customer success platform. The latest iteration of Salesforce Lightning aims to raise the bar on customer relationship management with a platform that taps cloud, mobile, social, IoT (Internet of Things) technologies and data science.” The publication also reported that, “Salesforce launched Lightning in 2015 as a multi-tenant, next-generation metadata platform that enterprise workers can use on any device. It quickly gained traction, boasting 90,000 customers and 55 partners today.”

NewsFactor referred to Salesforce chairman and CEO, Marc Benioff’s, press release statements hyping Lightning as a “game-changer” for Salesforce and its customers as just that – “hype!”. But, in a direct response to the press release, wondered whether Benioff was “overselling the platform.”

However, Mary Wardley, vice president of enterprise applications and CRM Software at research analyst firm, IDC, believes that Salesforce is on to something, as she opined (in a Salesforce statement) that, “Salesforce has set the standard for innovation in the cloud, and by association, CRM, delivering an unprecedented three releases per year for the last 17 years. Maintaining that pace of innovation is even more crucial as both the pace of technology and customer requirements continue to accelerate and become more complex.”

She further went on to say that, ““Field service operations remain a bastion of antiquated systems in many organizations. With the advent of IoT and more objects becoming connected, field service will only become more complex and critical to the success of service organizations. Having a complete end-to-end view of the entire customer service experience – from purchase to installation to maintenance – will allow companies to grow customer loyalty and engagement.”

ChannelBiz reported that Sarah Patterson, Salesforce senior vice president of marketing, after presenting a preliminary demo of the new Field Service Lightning platform, referred to the app by calling it “the Uber of field service apps.”

Also according to ChannelBiz, “the demonstration showed how Field Service Lightning tracks the location of service representatives and has the ability to assign the one closest to a new job. But the system also lets the dispatcher see if that first choice is stuck in traffic and automatically assign the job to someone who can get to the job site faster. An online map shows the field representative’s progress getting to the job and when they’ve arrived.”

However, Diginomica believed the introduction of the new Lightning component to be generally expected on the basis of scuttlebutt … that a field service play would feature at last year’s Dreamforce after Oracle acquired TOA Technologies and Microsoft snapped up FieldOne”. However, it also believed that the announcement was just “another example of Salesforce’s expanding functional footprint putting it on a collision course with partners in the company’s ecosystem”.

Nonetheless, the analyst firm went on to say that “Salesforce’s angle on partner-clash is simple enough – these are big market sectors and the key is to provide customers with choices. That’s also the line being taken by ServiceMax today.”

In support of their belief, Diginomica provides a quote from Spencer Earp, ServiceMax’s Vice President EMEA, saying that:

  • “Field Service is a very big market – it pretty much keeps the world running in just about every sector you can think of from healthcare to energy to manufacturing – and it’s applicable to companies of all sizes. What’s interesting is that it’s not just the size of the market that’s expanding, but also the potential.
  • So it’s not surprising that as both the market for field service grows and the potential for monetising grows with it, that we’ll see multiple players with different levels of offerings. It’s a multi-billion-dollar market, so there’s plenty room for field service leaders like ServiceMax who operate on the Salesforce1 platform to co-exist with Salesforce in this space – partly because of the sheer size of the market, but also because of the diverse set of customer requirements in a market this big.
  • Some companies will want to simply automate the location and scheduling of their service techs, for example, whilst others will need the richer experience and deep sector expertise that a complete end to end field service management solution like ServiceMax provides.”

Information Week sees Salesforce as having, “enhanced the field service and several other capabilities across its platform, reconfigured its packaging, and raised prices. It has also added Accenture as a cloud CRM customer (i.e., on the same day as the announcement)”. In an interview published soon after the initial announcement, in Information Week, Forrester Research senior analyst, Ian Jacobs, was quoted as saying that Salesforce’s approach to adding field service functionality is “lightweight” and internally developed; that it marked a difference from Salesforce competitors, some of whom have sought to add this field and dispatch functionality to their products through acquisition (e.g., Oracle and Microsoft). He also believed that other large global companies may also follow suit.

However, following Salesforce’s March 15, 2016 press release, Jacobs went on to say that, “There are several reasons for Salesforce to jump into this space. The obvious one: they are in a competitive tit-for-tat with Microsoft and Oracle who have both acquired their way into the market. But there are actual benefits to companies of combining field service and customer service on a single platform: better handoff between contact centers, dispatch, and field workers; connecting field service to cases opened in Service Cloud; and a better ability to create a holistic service process.”

In another interview with Jacobs, Elec Café reported that “The company took the unusual step of releasing the new field service product without a pilot or Beta testing period, instead going straight to market. The lack of a pilot did not escape the notice of Forrester’s Jacobs,” who further elaborated in TechCrunch that “The no pilot or beta was a big surprise to me. But the growth in the subscription model across all sorts of industries (HVAC companies offering cold air as a service, for example) dramatically elevates the importance of field service in the B2B world, and the explosion of home automation and ‘smart’ appliances does the same for the B2C realm.”

Fortune also weighed into the mix by reporting that, “The cloud software giant’s latest application launched Tuesday, called Field Service Lightning, automates the management repair or service calls – everything from dispatch alerts to work order creation to wrap-up reports. As you might expect, the service ties closely to the flagship Salesforce customer relationship app. In theory, that turns service technicians into potential sales representatives. For example, if someone notices that a customer might benefit more from a product update – rather than a repair – the technician will be able to suggest that to the customer and note that in his or her report.”

Overall, the various industry analysts’ reports look very positive thus far.

[Watch for part 4, to be published on our Blogsite shortly.]

Salesforce Poised to Strike with Its Field Service Lightning Solution (Part 2 of 4)

[This is part 2 of a 4-part series on the launch of Salesforce Field Service Lightning. Part 2 focuses on the Salesforce “Take” on the new offering. Parts 3 and 4 will follow over the next couple of weeks.]

Field Service Lightning – The Salesforce Take

In its March 15, 2016 follow-up press release, Salesforce described its Field Service Lightning solution as, “Built on Service Cloud, the world’s #1 customer service platform, Field Service Lightning enables companies to deliver mobile, intelligent customer service from phone to field. With Field Service Lightning, companies can:

  • Connect their entire service workforce: Field Service Lightning connects the entire service organization from call center to the field. Agents, dispatchers and mobile employees in the field are on a single, centralized platform, bringing a new level of transparency and efficiency to customer service. Service agents have a 360-degree view of the customer and can create a work order from any case. Mobile employees in the field now have access to the customer’s full service and purchasing history, empowering them to easily resolve any issue that may arise and possibly upsell the customer on another product. For instance, a homeowner requests a service visit because their Internet connection has gone down. After resolving the issue, the technician sees within the field service app that the homeowner has previously asked about a faster Internet connection. Using this insight, the technician presents new packaging options and the customer upgrades to a faster Internet speed at a discounted rate.
  • Intelligently schedule and dispatch work: At the core of field service is scheduling and dispatching. Leveraging features from ClickSoftware like scheduling and optimization, Field Service Lightning takes dispatching one step further by applying a layer of intelligence. Scheduling is automated based on skills, availability, and location to optimize on-site service. Rules can be put into place to automatically assign senior field employees to complex service issues, and junior field employees to the routine service calls. Because scheduling is automated, dispatchers can focus on the real-time view of service operations and adjust resources accordingly. For example, if the first job of the day ends up taking longer than anticipated, a dispatcher can assign a different field employee to the next job so the customer’s appointment does not get delayed. Or if a mobile employee gets delayed by traffic, a dispatcher could route another field technician to the job.
  • Track and manage jobs in real-time: Customer service moves fast and forward-thinking companies need real-time access to their service data. Field Service Lightning enables all service employees to update work orders, issue change requests and adjust job status, anytime, anywhere and on any device. A staggering 65% of field service workers still print out their service tickets and bring them in their vehicles, slowing down the service process. Now, an employee in the field can see their open work orders on their mobile device, update them throughout the day as they complete jobs, and all the information is seamlessly updated in Salesforce.”

With this particular lineup of field service capabilities in place (or, more accurately, ready for delivery in Spring/Summer 2016), Salesforce believes that it will now have the capability for “delivering industry-leading field service out of the gate” supported by the “power of the platform combined with Best-in-Class functionality”.

The primary components of Salesforce’s Field Service Lightning may then be divided into two main categories, all contained within the umbrella of Salesforce Customer Success Platform, as follows:

Field Service

  • Scheduling
  • Optimization (i.e., to be available in H2 of FY17)
  • Appointment Booking
  • Dispatcher Console
  • Resource Management
  • Work Orders
  • Asset & Install Base
  • Service Contracts
  • Entitlements & Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
  • Mobile with Offline (i.e., to be available in H2 of FY17)

Service Cloud

  • Console
  • SFX Lightning
  • S1 Mobile
  • Analytics
  • Workflow
  • Cases
  • Knowledge
  • Products & Parts (i.e., to be available in H2 of FY17)
  • Integration Platform
  • Internet of Things (IoT) (i.e., to be available in H2 of FY17)

Built on ClickSoftware’s Field Expert platform (acquired by Salesforce for several million dollars), Salesforce has internally incorporated additional functionality to support its offering, and now bills its new Field Service Lightning platform as featuring:

  • Industry-leading Scheduling and Optimization
  • Robust, integrated Work Order Management
  • Core Field Service Functionality built into our Data Model
  • The #1 Customer Service App built on the leading Customer Success Platform

Salesforce goes on to identify the greatest attributes of its Field Service Lightning platform for each major type of beneficiary, as follows:

The Customer

  • Service for Apps
  • Service for Websites
  • Connected Devices
  • Appointment Booking

The Mobile Worker

  • Offline Mobile App
  • Absence Management
  • Location Tracking
  • Van Stock

The Dispatcher

  • Automatic Scheduling
  • Real-Time Visibility
  • Exception Handling
  • Dashboard

Technical Support

  • Appointment Booking
  • Service Estimated-Time-of-Arrival (ETA)
  • Work Order Management
  • Entitlements

As such, the “new” Salesforce Field Service Lightning platform looks very much like the most current iteration of the prototypical ClickSoftware platform – although, now synergistically linked to each of the other key components of the Salesforce Lightning offerings. Large pieces of future functionality (i.e., optimization) has also been OEM’d from ClickSoftware.

In accordance with the preliminary “roadmap” for the release of each of the major components of Field Service Lightning, Salesforce has announced a staggered timetable ranging from Summer ‘16 (June, 2016); through Winter ’17 (October, 2016); and Spring ’17 (February, 2017). Basic functionality for all Dispatch and Scheduling, Work Orders and Service Contracts, and Mobile Workforce were to have been made available in the Summer ’16 (June, 2016).

Some of the more sophisticated areas of functionality (e.g., Capacity Planning, with Optimization; Optimization Auto Tuning; and Multi-stage Dependencies will not be available until Spring ’17 (February, 2017). However, even some of the FSM solution’s core functionality, such as Preventive Maintenance, Parts and Inventory, and Van Stock will also take until Spring ’17 to “officially” hit the market.

Overall, Mike Milburn, SVP and GM, Service Cloud, Salesforce, sums up the launch of Field Service Lightning by saying that, “We are just beginning to see what customer service can look like in the era of mobile and IoT. Field Service Lightning gives companies the ability to reinvent their approach to service by connecting the phone to the field on a single platform, resulting in an amazing customer experience.”

[Watch for part 3, to be published on our Blogsite shortly.]

Salesforce Poised to Strike with Its Field Service Lightning Solution (Part 1 of 4)

[This is part 1 of a 4-part series on the launch of Salesforce Field Service Lightning. Part 1 focuses on the composition of the new offering, within the context of the overall components that are designed to support Field Service Organizations (FSOs). Parts 2 through 4 will follow over the next few weeks.]

Note to Readers: While this document is primarily focused on the description, assessment and evaluation of the newly-launched Salesforce Field Service Lightning offering, we have attempted to also convey an understanding of the new offering within the overall context of the Salesforce Customer Success Platform, including Sales Cloud Lightning and other key components of the company’s Lightning products.

The rationale behind this decision is that past Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM) research has revealed that many services organizations have historically been using various components of the company’s flagship Customer Success Platform products as tools for running their services organizations prior to the recent announcement and release of its Field Service Lightning solution. As such, it was our goal to adequately explain the potential interactions and synergies between and among the various Salesforce products as they are already being used by a number of Field Services Organizations (FSOs) to assist them in managing their overall business operations.

Also, a reminder that all non-SFGSM research is cited specifically by its source (i.e., published Salesforce documents and press releases, or published materials from other third-party sources). The remaining narrative solely reflects the opinions, perceptions, forecasts and assessments of the author

Salesforce Announces Its Spring/Summer 2016 Product Strategy / Expands Its Service Cloud Footprint to Include Field Service Lightning

On February 2, 2016, Salesforce, the Customer Success Platform and self-billed ”world’s #1 CRM company,” introduced the next generation of its Customer Success Platform, Salesforce Lightning, and previewed its product strategy for the first half of 2016. However, for the Field Services Management (FSM) marketplace, the biggest news, by far, was the company’s extension of its Service Cloud footprint into the Field Service Management (FSM) segment through the introduction of Field Service Lightning – the company’s first formal foray into the multi-billion dollar global FSM market

In a wide-ranging and fairly comprehensive press release made available that day, Salesforce also announced the expansion of its Sales Cloud Lightning and Service Cloud Lightning Editions, along with “new packaging” and pricing models to provide its customers with “more customization and capabilities to accelerate growth. New Salesforce Lightning advancements announced via the press release included, “Salesforce SteelBrick CPQ, SalesforceIQ Inbox and Field Service Lightning. In addition, Salesforce announced new packaging for Sales Cloud Lightning and Service Cloud Lightning.

The official launch of Field Service Lightning was later announced, via a Salesforce press release dated March 15, 2016. This release confirmed the launch of the highly anticipated solution calling it, “a new field service solution built for today’s connected world.” It went on to state that “Harnessing signals from connected devices and customer data from Salesforce, Field Service Lightning is a modern approach to field service that is built for mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT). With Field Service Lightning, companies can now unite customers, connected devices, agents, dispatchers, and employees in the field with one powerful service platform to deliver a seamless customer experience from phone to field.

According to Marc Benioff, chairman and chief executive officer, Salesforce, in the company’s original announcement, “Lightning is a game-changer for Salesforce and our customers. It is fueling an unparalleled level of innovation across our entire Customer Success Platform. No other company is delivering this kind of platform, ecosystem and user experience to enable companies to transform themselves and connect with their customers in entirely new ways.

The overall thrust of the original press release was to define, explain and promote the company’s Salesforce Lightning offering, as “One Platform, One Experience”. To do so, Salesforce led off with the explanation that it “has been on a continuous journey for the last 17 years to completely re-imagine CRM for the digital era. In 2015, the company launched the new Salesforce Platform – Salesforce Lightning, a powerful multi-tenant, next-generation metadata platform that provides a consistent, modern user experience across any device.

“With the Salesforce Lightning App Builder, business users and developers can quickly and easily build apps, and the thriving Lightning Ecosystem provides customers with a broad array of third-party apps and components for everything from financials to human resources, fully integrated with Salesforce. More than 90,000 customers and 55 partner components take advantage of the advanced features of Lightning today.

Sales Cloud Lightning – “Reinvented”

According to Salesforce, the company’s Sales Cloud is used today by “tens of thousands of companies worldwide” and, as such, “has become the world’s leading sales application”. Sales Cloud was the first of the company’s Clouds that was “completely reinvented by Lightning”. The “reinvented” Sales Cloud Lightning now “provides an entirely new experience for sales reps.

New advancements made to Sales Cloud in Spring/Summer, 2016 include

  • Salesforce SteelBrick CPQ – Built on the Salesforce platform and leveraging Lightning, SteelBrick CPQ is now part of Sales Cloud with the February 1, 2016 close of Salesforce’s acquisition of SteelBrick. Now Sales Cloud is the industry’s first comprehensive sales platform that offers everything from lead-to-cash, empowering salespeople to sell faster, smarter and the way they want
  • Lightning Voice – Natively embedded in Sales Cloud Lightning, Lightning Voice will empower reps to connect with prospects faster with click-to-call, auto-logging of calls, and call forwarding to take calls from anywhere
  • SalesforceIQ Inbox – SalesforceIQ Inbox turns employees’ inboxes into a CRM app by bringing the power of Relationship Intelligence to Sales Cloud users directly in their email. The intelligent iOS, Android and Chrome apps combine the power of Sales Cloud data with email and calendar, enabling sales reps to easily manage their email, leads, contacts and opportunities with proactive notifications and smart scheduling
  • Sales Wave App – Optimized for sales, the Sales Wave App delivers data-driven insights to reps on any device and empowers them to take action. With Lightning Actions in Sales Wave, sales reps can collaborate, create and update Sales Cloud records directly within Wave. New dashboards for pipeline trending, performance benchmarking and activity management help reps drive better performance and close more deals
  • Salesforce1 Mobile – Now with full offline capabilities for iOS and Android, Salesforce1 Mobile users can enter information anywhere, anytime and sync it when they are reconnected. With new, enhanced Wave Charts and Dashboards, Salesforce1 Mobile users now have the power of analytics
  • 20 New Lightning Sales Components – Lightning Components are the reusable building blocks of modern apps and can be as simple as single User Interface (UI) elements, or as robust as microservices with embedded data and logic. New Lightning Sales Components include Sales Path, Account Insights and Kanban, all designed to enable reps to sell faster and be more productive

While not necessarily a direct component of Field Service Lightning, the new advancements to Sales Cloud announced on February 2, 2016 are indicative of the various types of improvements that are being included in the company’s “reengineered” and “reimagined” product rollouts for the first half of 2016

Service Cloud Lightning – “Reimagined”

Salesforce goes on to explain that, “Service has changed rapidly over the last decade, expanding beyond customers contacting vendors via call centers to connecting through channels such as social, email, mobile and in-app experiences. Service Cloud Lightning provides companies with a unified service platform and ecosystem to ensure that every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to create a memorable experience

Today, building on Salesforce’s leadership in service, the company is taking a significant step forward with new innovations for every service employee including:

  • Field Service Lightning – Organizations can connect their entire service workforce with tools for agents, dispatchers and mobile employees, giving customers a seamless service experience. Dispatchers can leverage smart scheduling to provide automatic, real-time assignments based on employee skills, availability and location. Service employees in the field are able to create and update work orders, and can also change requests and job status from any device, making them more productive than ever.
  • Omni-Channel Supervisor – Now call center managers have greater insight and visibility into their operations and agents’ workloads, enabling them to allocate resources to provide the best customer experience possible. Capabilities include real-time activity view, operational alerts, filtering and sorting capabilities and dynamic activity tracking and routing to help during high-demand service periods.”

Pricing for Field Service Lightning was also announced by Salesforce on March 15, 2016, starting at “US$135 for organizations that have at least one Enterprise Edition or Unlimited Edition Service Cloud License”.

Salesforce Customer Success Platform – Advancements

The company also announced that, “In addition to the innovations coming to Sales Cloud Lightning and Service Cloud Lightning, Salesforce’s Spring and Summer releases include more than 300 advancements across the entire Salesforce Customer Success Platform.”

New capabilities in these releases are to include:

  • App Cloud – The new Process Builder makes it easy for anyone to quickly automate business processes using drag-and-drop criteria and enterprise workflows. Additionally, new services for the Lightning Component framework enable developers and partners to easily build custom components for the Lightning App Builder.
  • Heroku Enterprise – CIOs need the flexibility and control to build, scale and manage the applications that connect brands with their customers. Heroku Enterprise enables developers to create connected apps using network, data and identity services shared across the App Cloud. In addition, new customer-centric big data services like private Postgres, Connect and Redis enable CIOs and their developers to easily harness and deploy the development tools that are essential to building trusted, modern applications.
  • Marketing Cloud – Creating 1-to-1 personalized journeys is how forward-looking companies keep customers engaged with their brand. New email marketing innovations deliver a content management system, updated email creation flow and an email marketing mobile app to help marketers accelerate the delivery of scalable and personalized email programs. Workbenches for Social Studio provide brands with deep social insight to inform marketing strategy, surface trends and uncover opportunities to engage customers. The next generation of Journey Builder will also deliver Predictive Journeys that use data science to learn and score a customer’s likelihood to engage.
  • Community Cloud Lightning – New Lightning Community Templates, Lightning Community Management and Integrated Live Agent enable companies to become smarter and more connected. Lightning Community Templates allow companies to create rich online communities in days, Lightning Community Management empowers the community manager with analytics and tools to foster community growth and Live Agent connects any self-service community directly to the service console to provide seamless customer support.

Overall, the basic premise of Salesforce’s introduction of Field Service Lightning is to ”Transform [the] customer experience with connected field service.” According to Salesforce, the main drivers underlying its entry into the global FSM market are, essentially, that:

  • Customer Expectations Have Changed – that the connected world has shattered expectations for customer service (i.e., through the combined impact of Cloud, mobile, social media, data science and the Internet of Things, or IoT).
  • The IoT is Forcing Customer Organizations to Evolve – that connected devices are redefining customer interactions with service (e.g., that 92% of executives believe they need to adapt their service models in order to keep up with customers’ needs).
  • Current Field Service Solutions Are Disconnected – that 54% of companies are using manual methods to handle field service; 1 in 3 service executives admit that site visits usually require a follow-up visit; and 77% of companies are still using an on-premise field service solution.

These are acknowledged as the main reasons for why the company has decided that the global field services market is one that:

  • Requires a more centralized, accessible and robust FSM solution, and
  • That Salesforce, through its Field Service and related Lightning offerings, can be the one company to deliver it all.

As a result, Salesforce has seen an opportunity to introduce its Field Service Lightning as a “Best-in-class solution to deliver a complete service experience,” built on the following three primary components – all on “the world’s #1 customer service platform”:

  • Connecting the entire workforce – i.e., putting agents, dispatchers and mobile employees on one platform to deliver 360 degree support.
  • Intelligently scheduling and dispatching work – i.e., automating scheduling based on skills, availability and location to optimize on-site service.
  • Tracking and managing jobs in real time – i.e., updating work orders, change requests and job status anytime, anywhere.

[Watch for part 2, to be published on our Blogsite shortly.]

You’re in the Business of Customer Happiness — But Are You Delivering?

[An edited version of this article was originally published in the April 14, 2016 issue of Field Service Digital.]

Customer service has always been important, but never more important than it is in today’s services-oriented environment. More and more companies are measuring customer satisfaction, and the tools for monitoring field service performance are becoming both more sophisticated and more pervasive among the leading businesses in every field.

Undoubtedly, your organization is already measuring, monitoring, and trending customer satisfaction performance on a regular basis. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is actually the field technician that is the principal, if not sole, representative of the company to ever set foot at the customer’s site (after the initial equipment sale) and, as such, each customer’s degree of satisfaction will be largely dependent on its relationship with the field tech – personally. Fair or unfair, this is the case, and the organization’s overall customer satisfaction ratings will ultimately depend on its field technicians’ ability to deliver exactly what will make their customers happy.

Past studies have shown that what really makes customers unhappy is having to deal with someone who does not take ownership of the situation when a problem has occurred. Since, in most cases, the field technician will typically only be called to the customer site after a problem has occurred, the customer will be waiting for him or her to arrive to fix all the problems, make everything work, and leave them much happier than they were when they first arrived on-site.

They will be looking for an informed and well-prepared service technician to arrive on-site – one who can articulate what needs to be done, communicate in a language they can understand, and make the repair as quickly as possible – without disrupting any of the ongoing business operations. Therefore, the more information the field technician has available in advance with respect to the customer profile, the equipment history, and any previous service call activity, the better prepared it will be to deal directly with the key concerns of the customer – and this, in turn, will likely set the stage for able to making the customer happy.

Most companies look for a variety of character traits, skills, and experience when they are hiring for customer service and support-related positions (especially for field technicians). These typically include:

  • Problem solving ability
  • Skill in handling tense, stressful, and multi-task situations
  • Strong sense of responsibility and accountability
  • Good communication skills
  • Business writing skills
  • Knowledge of relevant processes
  • “People skills” with both customers and co-workers
  • Compassionate, customer-oriented attitude
  • Strong desire to help customers
  • Computer skills or aptitude
  • Data entry, processing and other diagnostic skills
  • Vocational training degrees are desirable and oftentimes required
  • Technical and/or Services-related certifications

If the field technicians already have all of these character traits, skills, and experience – plus a strong commitment to providing customers with “total solutions” for their service and support needs – they will find themselves in a good position to deliver exactly what their customers want to make them happy.

However, being able to deliver what will make customers happy also requires having the proper frame of mind for doing so. For example, if the field technician is personally not happy when it arrives at the customer site, then chances are it will also be unable to make its customer happy. While no one can be expected to be in a good frame of mind all of the time, it is more a matter of putting on your “game face” whenever there is contact with customers, than trying to hide anything from them.

There have been many studies conducted to measure the degree to which a service technician’s attitude influences the customer’s satisfaction – or dissatisfaction. This is commonly referred to as the “transference of satisfaction”. What this basically means is that an unhappy service technician is more likely to make his or her customers unhappy, whereas a happy service technician will be more likely to garner higher levels of satisfaction from customers.

Of course, making the customer happy is not exclusively dependent on the service technician’s frame of mind; however, this is always likely to have at least some impact on the situation – and usually not in a good way. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the service technician, as the principal on-site “ambassador” for the company, to make sure that its interactions with customers are always cordial, constructive, informative, and resulting in the main task at hand – namely, fixing the equipment, and letting the customer get back to business as usual.

[For more articles on similar topics, and for a wealth of field service-related information, please be sure to visit Field Service Digital.

Going For The “Gold” Is An Olympic Event — Especially for Services Organizations!

In light of the current proceedings of the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, I thought this piece would be relevant to all those Services Organizations striving to be “World Class” (i.e., “going for the Gold”)

Even Gold May Have a Silver Lining

For Field Services Organizations, “going for the gold” may mean very different things. For some, it may mean nothing more than struggling to generate increased service revenue (i.e. “gold”). For others, it may mean attempting to upsell existing service level agreement (SLA) accounts from “bronze” to “silver” to “gold” levels (is anyone out there still offering “platinum”-level services?). However, another good way to define “gold” levels of service performance is to compare your organization to the athletes striving for their own version of “gold” — an Olympic gold medal!

The Olympic and the services communities share many things in common, ranging from striving to attain perfection to generating a profit after the scheduled event is over. However, they also share another very important attribute in that both communities typically go into an event (e.g. a 200-meter freestyle or an on-site service call, etc.) with some pre-event expectations.

For example, Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecki are, arguably, the world’s best male and female swimmers and, as such, went into the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro with extremely high expectations. However, it was never a certainty that each would win Gold medals in all of the competitions for which they were qualified to compete. Nonetheless, the expectations were high for each swimmer — even before they arrived in Rio.

While Michael Phelps ultimately ended up winning five Gold and one Silver medal; and Katie Ledecki won four Gold and one Silver medal, each are still acknowledged as the best of the best in their respective fields.

The same situation also exists for services organizations. If your organization is one of the larger ones in the field or has won numerous performance awards in the past, the community will expect it to perform like a world-class provider (i.e. one that is able to meet its customers’ total service needs while delivering world-class levels of performance). By performing reasonably well in the past, the marketplace will also expect you to also perform well — and even better — in the future. The bar is constantly being raised.

For Michael Phelps, the defending champion in the previous two Summer Olympiads, the prospect of not winning several gold medals was unthinkable – although he did not seem to be all that phased that he had to share his Silver medal with two other swimmers. He has won both Gold and Silver medals before, and performed about the same in his most current Olympics.

For Katie Ledecki, for whom this was her first (and, possibly, last) Olympics competition, the bar has been raised again for all female swimmers who will ultimately enter the Olympics in her wake. World class does not necessarily mean “perfect”! There can still be a Silver lining wrapped around your Gold standard.

By the time this Blog post is published, it is also certain that other gymnasts — from the U.S., and around the world — will excel in their competitions as well. However, merely having the goods does not assure Gold in the Olympics — and it is exactly the same for services organizations. You still need to execute — and strive to be as close to perfect as you can.

The Role Of Social Media In Service

Finally, in this year’s Olympics, social media will be expected to take on an even more prominent role than in the past. Virtually all of the Olympic events will be accessible to viewers all around the globe through various forms of Cable and Broadcast TV, Social Media and other types of digital transmissions. As a result, Twitter, FaceBook, and independent blogs will, once again, take up the slack on presenting (and editorializing) all of these Olympics-related events — all in real time! Again, the similarities between the Olympics and the services community abound.

Just as many Olympians are encouraged by their trainers to communicate often — in real time — with their supporters and fans, so must the services community adapt to the practical uses and applications of the available social media. It is truly time to recognize that social media is not merely an acquired taste, but a way of life — especially when it comes to communicating about service.

The 2016 Summer Olympics are nearly over, but already, athletes from all over the world are preparing for the next summer games just four years away. All of the medalists for these upcoming games will ultimately win their respective races by first choosing a field, then acquiring the necessary resources and skills, preparing for the race, and aggressively moving forward.

This is also how most services organizations have historically approached service, especially with respect to meeting — and exceeding — customer requirements. However, you won’t necessarily need to have a medal draped around your neck to be recognized for good service — you simply need to perform at a level of performance that is higher than an ever-raising bar, and let your customers place their perceptual medals around your neck.

Knowing How and When to Cross-Sell Your Company’s Products and Services

It is important to understand the difference between cross-selling and up-selling. Cross-selling is basically the art of selling additional items to existing customers on a “horizontal” basis. For example, if any of your company’s salespersons were to sell additional parts, consumables, software, or peripherals/attachments to an existing customer, that would be considered as “cross-selling”. Similarly, selling additional units or devices to the same customer would also be considered as “cross-selling”.

Other examples of services cross-selling may include:

  • Selling a preventive maintenance contract to an existing T&M or service agreement customer
  • Selling training or consulting services to an existing services customer
  • Selling software updates to an existing product customer
  • Selling telephone hotline support to a customer who has historically only been using on-site field support (or vice versa)
  • Adding other customer facilities (on other floors, or other buildings) to an existing service level agreement
  • Selling service agreements for additional installed equipment at the customer site as a “package” with the existing covered equipment

Of course, there are numerous other examples of services cross-selling that would also apply; but it will ultimately be up to the onsite services technician (i.e., in many cases) to identify these opportunities on the basis of his or her direct experience in supporting both the customer and its installed base of equipment.

Cross-selling does not only apply within the product-only and services-only segments; in fact, some of the strongest cross-selling actually occurs between these two segments – going both ways. For example, if the service technician’s observations and experience suggest that a customer may have outgrown the capacity and capabilities of one of its units, then they may suggest that the customer considers acquiring a second, or third, unit. If this is the case, then it would be considered as cross-selling; however, if the most effective solution is to upgrade to a new machine, then that would be considered as “up-selling” (more on this later).

Examples of cross-selling between product and service may include:

  • Selling any existing customer a service level agreement of any kind
  • Selling any existing customer a preventive maintenance agreement
  • Selling any existing customer advanced or remedial training, consulting, or engineering services
  • Selling any existing customer any other types of services or support of any kind

Examples of cross-selling between service and product may include:

  • Selling any existing services customer a product of any kind
  • Selling any existing services customer parts, consumables, or other physical items
  • Selling any existing services customer product and service “bundles”, or packages, of any kind

In addition to these various types of cross-selling, there are also many opportunities for simple, direct product-to-product and service-to service sales as well.

There is never really a bad time to cross-sell your customers. Chances are, if they’ve already got one of your company’s products, they are already using some of its services. If they are not using all of them, however, it may be either because (1) they don’t feel they need anything else from you in support of the equipment; (2) they are already acquiring these services from another vendor, or performing them themselves; or (3) they were unaware that your company offers them at all.

In the first two cases, it is simply a matter of your providing them with the relevant information for the first time; finding out whether or not they are interested in acquiring these services from your company; and, if not, simply making a note of your conversation for use at a later time. As situations change, the service technician may want to bring up the matter with them again in the future.

However, in the third case, it will be up to the technician to let them know that the company does, in fact, offer additional services; find out in which areas they may require additional support; and then match the company’s services offerings to the customer’s specific needs in the most effective manner. This methodology works well in both product-to-product and service-to-service sales, as well as across each of the two segments.

Some of the more opportune times to consider cross-selling the company’s products or services would be at the following:

  • Leading up to, and within 90 days of, a service level agreement expiration
  • When an existing unit’s warranty coverage is about to expire
  • After one or more occurrences of equipment failure due to significantly increased volume, throughput, or overuse
  • When a customer’s business is about to merge, or has just acquired, another business
  • When a customer is about to relocate, consolidate, or expand its existing department or facility

Other times when cross-selling opportunities may abound include at the beginning of the customer’s annual business planning cycle (i.e., this is different for individual companies, but typically in the fourth quarter, or just after Labor Day), or at the end of a financial quarter or the company’s fiscal year. However, the service technician will need to check with each individual customer on a case-by-case basis to see what their respective financial planning cycles are before they can get a good feel for the proper timing for these potential opportunities.

Cross-selling is an integral component of any business’s sales and marketing program. It is generally embraced by most businesses, as the relative cost for doing so is typically quite low.

The benefit to the service technicians, however, regardless of whether the company currently has a cross-selling incentive program in place, is that they can assist in consolidating the installed base of the equipment that they will be servicing and supporting in the future by playing a part in the “clustering” of the respective installed bases of some of their customers, and this will probably result in less travel time required to support the same customer installed base. In any case, both the customer and the technician, and your company, win in any “cross-selling” scenario.

Companion Piece to Field Technologies Online’s August, 2016 Technology Update on the Impact of Introducing Millennials into the Retiring Service Technician Workforce

[This companion piece to Field Technologies Online‘s August, 2016 Technology Update focuses on the impact of introducing “new” Millennials into the existing service technician workforce. It contains the full text of Bill Pollock’s submitted responses to the seven questions originally posed by Brian Albright, contributing editor, Field Technologies magazine. As is the case in the magazine’s multi-analysts interviews, most of these responses are not included in the published article. As such, please consider this Blog as a more detailed companion piece that provides additional “between the lines” thoughts and opinions.]

BA:  What are some of the key staffing issues field service companies face when it comes to replacing retiring technicians?

BP: Historically, the replacement of a retiring field technician was nothing more than the “changing of the guard”, that is, hiring a new, typically younger, individual to serve in his place (i.e., given that, historically, most field technicians were male). This would require the presence of a sound and professional Human Resources (HR) operation and, once the new hire was selected, a full round of training, certification and company orientation classes to ensure that the replacement technician could move into his predecessor’s slot without any major disruption either to the quality and consistency of service delivery, or to the customers’ ongoing business operations.

In general, the only area where the replacement technician would not be up-to-speed from the get-go would be with respect to the retiring individual’s accumulated knowledge and familiarity with the installed base of equipment, company policies and procedures, and – most importantly – with the experiential knowledge of the individual customer interactions that had taken place in the past. The retiring technician would have undoubtedly learned all the “tricks of the trade” and “secret sauces” for managing his customer, obtaining parts, making quick fixes and otherwise taking care of the installed base of equipment.

However, he would also have an accumulated knowledge of the customers themselves, in terms of their names and nicknames, their requirements and expectations for service, their position and roles within the company, how involved their supervisors would normally get with respect to service calls, etc. They probably also knew the names of their family members, their favorite sports teams and, generally, what it would take to make them happy.

It is typically in these “softer” areas of customer service where the new hires would find themselves to be most disadvantaged. This would not necessarily be the end of the world for them and, for those individuals who are basically user-friendly to begin with, would not represent a particularly long-term problem. Of course, this may not apply to all of the millennials just now entering the services workforce.

In the past, the accumulated knowledge of each individual technician was generally quite extensive (i.e., both from a technical aspect, as well as from a customer relationship vantage point); also, the technician training and certifications undertaken were typically routine (if not boilerplate) and easy enough to apply to the next generation of hires.

However, in today’s world, instead of sending new hires to the same types of training classes and certification exams as their predecessors, there is a much more fragmented set of alternative training scenarios available (e.g., on-site, distance learning, self-administered PC training, etc.). Further, with the growing use of Augmented Reality (AR) in support of field technicians, some organizations are likely to cut back even further on training, since the Internet and/or AR could be used as impromptu “on the job” instant training, whenever the case warrants.

Still, there will always be numerous geographic, skill set, personal interest and training considerations that will need to be addressed whenever new hires are brought into the mix. This will not likely change over time. However, a proficiency for utilizing new technology will separate the “good” new hires from the “bad”; but there will always remain the question of chemistry – both with respect to dealing with their peers, as well as with their customers.

BA: How are incoming techs (who are often much younger) different from the technicians they are replacing? How can field service organizations prepare for this new generation of millennials?

BP: It’s not so much how the services organizations will be able to deal with the new generation of millennials; but, rather how the new generation of millennials will be able to deal with the services organizations – many of which are likely to be firmly entrenched in somewhat old and archaic, not yet fully automated (if at all) service delivery processes; and outdated policies, procedures and guidelines for assisting them in doing their respective jobs.

Most millennials will already be proficient with today’s (and tomorrow’s) technology and will be poised to fully utilize AR, Virtual Reality (VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to assist them in doing their job. However, if the organization they work for does not utilize a commensurate level of technology as an integral part of their service delivery model, the millennial technicians may find themselves effectively disengaged. Even a simple matter of millennial technicians favoring an Apple platform for personal use, but finding themselves saddled with a company-deployed PC-based or Android device may serve as a potential disconnect. In other words, they may end up loving their technology more than they love their new jobs – and this, too, could lead to a potential disconnect.

As the technology of AR progresses and is more deeply integrated into the normal course of performing field service, those millennials who had previously believed they were merely “slacking off” when playing their favorite VR and/or AR-based games, may now, instead, revel in the idea that are going to be paid to use the same technologies in their new jobs – how good is that!

The older generation of field technicians may also be different than the newer generation that will be replacing them in a number of other areas as well. For example, the older generation may be more amenable to taking orders or directives from their supervisors, even when they believe they are wrong in their guidance or decisions. However, millennials will probably be less likely to follow orders without raising a fuss every once and a while.

The older technicians will also likely to be more politically correct than their millennial replacements. To what degree this will impact their relationships with customers will ultimately depend on the specific individuals that are hired as replacements, and will not likely constitute a major problem. What this does suggest, however, is that the screening process for hiring new field technicians will need to be particularly on point!

Longer-tenured technicians may also have more annually accrued vacation days, and may need to utilize more sick days than new hires; but the new hires will likely require more time off for maternity/paternity leave, etc. They will also not have the same mentality with respect to considering this job as the one they will hope to keep for their entire working days. However, this is nothing more than reflective of the changing characteristics of a changing society, and should easily be handled as a matter of course by HR – and not necessarily by you!

BA: How can companies attract and retain these new technicians?

BP: The best way to attract and retain these new technicians is the same way that has always been used by services organizations – give them what they want! Historically, technicians wanted job security, a steady paycheck, a sound pension, ample vacation time, some respect within the organization, and a fair degree of freedom as to how they can relate to their customers. They also wanted support from the organization in terms of tools, training, documentation, product schematics, repair guidelines, call histories and the ability to control their own destiny with respect to ordering parts, checking in on the status of a work order, and an open input/feedback channel with management.

The new generation of technicians want the same things – but with a few omissions, and a bit of reordering. For example, most millennials probably do not believe there is such a thing as job security anymore – maybe not even a steady paycheck or a financially sound pension. Since most of them will have already been fairly immersed in various new technologies, they will likely want to be able to use the same technologies that they have been familiar with to be a part of their new job. This is where BYOD (i.e., Bring Your Own Device) may be somewhat more important today than it was years ago. Through these devices, the newer generation of field technicians will be able to more easily access all of the traditional tools for training, documentation, product schematics, etc. and, as a result, these resources will most likely be made available to them on a more flexible and less formal basis than in the past.

The best prospects for retaining new hires will be for the organization to keep pace with respect to assuring that the technology used at work is at a commensurate level with the technology used at home (i.e., for personal use, shopping, gaming, etc.). In the past, many of the “older” technicians were technology-averse; however, at present (and in the future), technology will be an added incentive for keeping the millennial generation happy.

BA: What knowledge transfer challenges do these companies face during this transition?

BP: Knowledge transfer between the retiring generation and the new generation of field technicians is likely to be somewhat problematic in that the older generation is more likely to be categorized as “analog” with respect to their accumulated knowledge, experiential interactions (i.e., both with products and people), work-related notes, diaries, etc., while the newer generation is more likely to be defined as “digital”.

The retiring technicians may each have years of experiential knowledge that it would take years (or, at least, months) for their replacements to match in terms of breadth, depth and content. They may also have scores of notes taken on yellow pads, post-it notes and scraps of paper, as well as numerous documents constructed and printed out in a Word or Notes file. However, the millennials are more likely to use electronic means for capturing notes through a variety of iPad, iPhone and/or Android devices.

In the former cases, the transfer of information may be difficult due to the analog nature of the recording means used. However, in the latter cases, it may simply be a matter of transferring digital files from one technician’s devices to another’s.

The outgoing technicians may also have more of a propensity for collecting – and using – personal notes on each of their customer accounts than the incoming crew. Historically, most field technicians have had a full appreciation of how to “manage” their customers – even before the advent of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). To many, it made good sense to work just as hard to “fix the customer” while they were “fixing their equipment”. However, this may not be as prevalent among the new crew of incoming field technicians. It’s not that kind of world anymore!

BA: How can technology help make this transfer and transition easier?

BP: Technology will be the key to an easier transference of knowledge between the retiring technicians and their replacements – but the process should be started well in advance of the technicians’ retirement dates. For example, it will most likely serve the organization well to move to an environment where their field technicians are gradually (or, in some cases, more quickly) brought up-to-speed with respect to the new technologies and mobile tools that are generally available to them.

Providing them with the mobile tools (e.g., iPads, Tablets, etc.) that will make it easier for them to record their activities, check on the status of work orders, post notes and reminders, etc. will serve to migrate them from an analog to a more digital world. This, in turn, will allow for an easier transfer of data and information from one technician to another – not necessarily an easier transfer of knowledge, but at least enabling the transfer of the data and information that will ultimately become knowledge once in the hands of the newer technicians.

Another way that some organizations have been able to transition through the “changing of the guard” with respect to field technicians has been by retaining some of their top technicians beyond their retirement from the field, and appointing them as trainers, mentors and/or advisors to the incoming crew of millennials. In the absence of more formal training programs (e.g., off-site classes, distance learning, self-study programs, and the like), these more personal, one-on-one, resources have been used by many organizations to fill a void that may otherwise surface during a period of transition.

Having a veteran (or two, or three, or more) accessible to mentor new hires is not new to the world of business – or sports! For example, it is quite likely that a professional sports team will have one or more veterans on their roster who can still play the game, while also serving as role models and mentors in the team clubhouse in support of the incoming batch of “rookies”. In fact, using this model will likely lead to an ongoing process where today’s rookies will become tomorrow’s mentors as they move through their careers, and accumulating their own experiential knowledge over time.

BA: How can the presence of younger workers affect mobile and other technology deployments?

BP: Simply by their nature, younger workers are typically more mobile than the existing service force – both physically and with respect to their use of technology. In the past, many of the traditional field technicians have been somewhat resistant to change with “Technology” representing the “T” word. However, millennials, by and large, are technology-friendly and well-prepared to utilize the state-of-the-art technology that is made available to them – both at work, as well as in their personal lives.

The use of mobile tools such as Augmented Reality (AR) in performing their service calls will be more natural to the incoming crew of technicians than it ever was for the technicians they are about to replace. However, there is more to the introduction of younger workers into the organization’s technician force than just technology – there is also the matter of chemistry!

In most cases, where a mentoring approach is utilized, the mix of younger and older technicians is not likely to present a problem; however, in some cases, the mix may look more like a dysfunctional Father-Son or Mother-Daughter family situation where there is often an underlying tension leading to periodic explosions of emotions! It will ultimately be up to the Services Manager and HR to work together to monitor and/or supervise such situations where the chemistry looks more like a dysfunctional family than a “band of brothers (or sisters)” all working together toward the same goals.

Overall, the presence of younger workers will almost certainly help in the deployment of new tools and technologies – but it will also require the presence of some of the older, more seasoned technicians to assure that the incoming crew has the same level of respect for the way things were done in the past with regard to customer interactions and other customer-facing situations. It’s not all just about the technology!

BA: What other comments about this topic do you have that our readers should be aware of?

BP: The transitioning from a more mature, traditional (and fairly analog) service force to one that is more technologically-advanced is nothing new. We’ve all been through it before when, for example, we migrated from handwritten notes to Word Processing; from pen and ink spreadsheets to Excel spreadsheets; from telephone reminders to e-mails and texts; from printouts to electronic files; and so on.

Not only will we be able to get through this transition process again – but, it will be even easier than ever before as, for the most part, data, information and knowledge collected via yesterday’s technologies can fairly easily be leveraged into today’s (and tomorrow’s) technological world – simply via the clicks of a mouse and the use of memory sticks (or the Cloud). However, once again, the transition from analog to digital must be started sooner, rather than later, in order for the transition to be as seamless and smooth as possible. It no longer takes a generation for an existing team of field technicians to find themselves behind the technology curve – in fact, it may only take a few years, or less!

As a result, services organizations will continue to find themselves in situations where they are faced with the need to transition data, information and knowledge from a retiring team to the next generation’s millennials – on a virtually continuous basis! It is for this reason that services organizations must put into place a sound process for enabling these transitions over time, including an increased focus on the automation of all service processes; the introduction of new mobile tools and technologies, such as Augmented Reality (AR); the introduction of an internal mentoring program that encourages interaction between the outgoing and the incoming technicians; and the recognition that this will be an ongoing process over time.

[To access the published Technology Update Article, please visit the Field Technologies Online website at]