Transforming Market Research into Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Leveraging Market Research into Customer Satisfaction

Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary defines market research as ”the investigation and analysis of consumer needs and opinions about goods and services”. However, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, market research is defined more as “the gathering and evaluation of data regarding consumers’ preferences for products and services.” Thefreedictionary.com complicates matters by defining it as “research that gathers and analyzes information about the moving of good(s) or services from producer to consumer”.

While the three of these distinguished resources provide different “takes” on what market research really is, we prefer to define it essentially as the sum of all three, taking into consideration each of the implicitly stated nuances, by defining it as: “the data collection, analysis and assessment relating to customer needs, requirements, preferences, expectations and perceptions with respect to the goods and services they acquire and use”. In this way, we believe that market research can always be relied on as a tool to support a service organization’s ability to measure, gauge and assess what it will take to understand its customers – and ultimately keep them satisfied and loyal.

We prefer to define Market Research as the data collection, analysis and assessment relating to customer needs, requirements, preferences, expectations and perceptions with respect to the goods and services they acquire and use.”

Regardless of which of these definitions you prefer, one thing remains perfectly clear – market research is a powerful tool that can be used to:

  • Collect and analyze all of the data and information you need to understand your market better, and make your products and services more appealing to your customer base
  • Assist you in identifying and prioritizing market targets that can be exploited to meet your business development goals
  • Provide a foundation upon which all of your customer-focused activities may be supported, measured and tracked
  • Enable you to define, quantify and articulate specific goals and objectives to all affected parties – internal & external
  • Support your ability to measure, monitor and track your customer relationship management successes (and failures) on an ongoing basis.

Measuring Customer Satisfaction Is Important; But, How Do You Do It?

Many services managers mistakenly use “customer satisfaction” and “customer retention” as interchangeable terms; however, they are two entirely separate and distinct things. Customer satisfaction is, basically, “keeping your customers happy”. However, even satisfied customers may consider switching providers for better prices, greater coverage, or just because “it’s time”, etc. As a result, the best way to define customer retention is essentially as “keeping your customers – customers”.

Among the most commonly used alternative measures, or surrogates, for tracking customer satisfaction are typically things like:

  • Increased sales/account revenues,
  • Increased profitability,
  • Repeat services sales/contract renewals, or
  • Improved levels of customer retention.

However, not all of these measures may be either relevant – or accurate, as:

  • Sales/account revenues may be growing more as a result of inflation and/or increasing services prices, rather than as an indicator of customer satisfaction;
  • Increased profitability may be more a result of improved internal services operations and/or cost-cutting, than anything the organization has done to make its customers happier;
  • Repeat services sales may be more the result of customers feeling “locked in” to existing service contracts, or believing it will be easier to “re-up” with your organization than it will be for them to find a new vendor; and
  • Customers may stay with you longer than they want, simply because it is easier than switching.

As such, the primary goals of a Customer Satisfaction research program should primarily be to:

  • Identify the specific product and service attributes that are proven to be important to customers;
  • Provide baseline measurements of both importance and satisfaction for future trend comparisons;
  • Determine the relative strengths/weaknesses of the organization’s current products, services and support offerings;
  • Identify the critical areas requiring improvement;
  • Collect data that can be used to set targets and goals; and
  • Provide a scientific and statistically valid means for measuring and tracking customer satisfaction over time.

Where Should You Focus Your Market Research Efforts?

In considering launching a new (or refining an existing) customer satisfaction/market research program within your organization, there are essentially four questions that you will first need to answer. They are:

  1. Does your organization already have a formal customer satisfaction measurement and tracking program in place? Is your survey research plan designed to yield the specific types of outcomes that are needed to support the organization’s business development plan?
  • Some organizations have no formal customer satisfaction measuring & tracking program; surveys are performed only on an ad hoc basis – if at all!
  • As a result, customer service improvements are probably not supported in a consistent manner, or with all of the necessary data and information to justify making changes – in fact, some problems may go unnoticed, and realistic priorities may not be easily set.
  • If the research plan is not specifically designed to support the subsequent action plan, then you may end up not collecting adequate information to make key decisions.
  1. Should we conduct our customer surveys internally, or should we use an outside market research/consulting firm to design, conduct and analyze our surveys? Which methodology will yield more actionable results? Which way is better?
  • By conducting your customer surveys internally, you may lose the perception of objectivity and, thus, credibility; plus, you run the risk of administering what may appear to your customers to be either an “unprofessional”, incomplete – or even worse – misdirected survey.
  • An outside market research firm generally has the ability to design, execute and analyze surveys more efficiently than your own organization – and can maintain an entirely objective posture throughout the course of the research (e.g., collecting and analyzing responses, providing customer feedback, etc.).
  • Most internally conducted customer surveys turn out to be little more than exercises in public relations, and generate neither statistically valid nor actionable survey outcomes; especially in cases where your service performance is poor, or major improvements are required, it is generally better to go outside.
  1. What type of survey methodology should we use? In person, telephone, mail, e-mail, or a combination of methodologies? How can we tell what will work best with our particular mix of services offerings and customer base?
  • Alternative survey methodologies may reflect substantially different levels of costs, coverage, response rates, statistical reliability and skewness, effectiveness, usability of outcomes, and applicability to the overall business plan.
  • Accordingly, the methodology you choose will dictate – to some degree – the likelihood of generating actionable survey outcomes.
  • E-mail surveys have become relatively inexpensive to conduct, but may not always be the best way to reach all of the customer base that you want to reach; telephone and mail still represent alternative methodologies for some organizations.
  1. Should we be surveying our existing customers, or should we be focusing more on surveying the market prospects that we hope to convert to customers in the future? Where should we be focusing our market and survey research efforts in the short term?
  • The answer is “yes” – to both!
  • In general, customers always come first – you cannot afford to lose the customers you already have (for any number of reasons).
  • However, you may also want to survey the general market base (i.e., prospects) in terms of their awareness and perceptions of your organization, as well as the likelihood of their buying/acquiring your products and services in the future.
  • As a surrogate, you can also survey “New Wins” and “Lost” Prospects” in combination with existing customers to determine what brought them in – or what drove them away – in addition to what makes them happy.

Regardless of which research methodologies you ultimately choose, there are certain guidelines that must also be followed as you begin to collecting the desired customer data and information:

  • First and foremost, do not abuse your customers. Don’t survey them day-in and day-out; they are not on your payroll!
  • Focus on the “need-to-know”, rather than the “nice-to-know”. “Need-to-know” data will always pay off in the long-term, whereas “nice-to-know” data can be particularly expensive if you ultimately do not get much of a return for the amount of time and money you have invested in the research.
  • Collect as much customer data as you can internally, from as many sources as possible, including service activity reports, call logs, call center metrics, KPIs, etc. However, you must remember that while internally collected data is your “reality”; it will be “perceptions” that are your customers’ “reality”. You will need to carefully reconcile these two often disparate sets of objective and subjective findings.
  • Use complementary methods of data collection wherever possible:
  • Ongoing communications is a two-way street; stop … and listen.
  • Get everyone involved – sales and service reps, CSRs, Managers.
  • Utilize trade shows, seminars, workshops, webinars, users groups.
  • Leverage Blogs, tweets, newsletters, e-mails, Website – all with “real” feedback channels.

Once you get started, the key areas you will need to address as part of the customer satisfaction measurement and tracking process will include:

  • Customer attitudes and perceptions toward the importance of the products, services and support they are using, and the levels of performance they are receiving from your organization.
  • Identification and ratings of the principal selection and evaluation factors customers use to rate those services.
  • Customer needs and requirements for those services in total, as well as by key customer/vertical market segments.
  • Levels of satisfaction with your organization’s performance, identification of areas where improvements are required, and what it would take to become their “Total Services Provider”.

Among the key questions that will need to be answered from the results of the customer survey analysis are:

  • How satisfied are your customers with the organization’s existing portfolio of products, services and support?
  • What additional areas of service and support do they need, want, or expect?
  • What can be done to improve current levels of customer satisfaction?
  • How can your organization become more responsive to the needs of its customers?
  • What areas need to be specifically addressed in order to provide customers with “total service and support”?
  • Who makes the decision to purchase your company’s products and services? What message do they need to hear?
  • What are the primary, secondary and peripheral factors used by customers to evaluate service performance?
  • Are all of your customers’ needs being met? To what degree? What are your specific (and relative) strengths and weaknesses?
  • How vulnerable is the organization to losing customers to the competition? For what reasons? How can this be avoided?

What Are Some of the Potential Outcomes of Conducting Market Research?

The key outcomes of a baseline Customer Satisfaction survey program would be the strategic identification, analysis, assessment and profiling of your organization’s existing customer base, in total, and by principal customer market segments, including:

  • Determination of the principal purchase decision makers
  • Relative importance and “weights” of key services attributes
  • Satisfaction with the quality of your products, services and support
  • Correlations between product and service quality, and their
  • respective impacts on overall service performance satisfaction
  • Satisfaction with your organization’s pricing perceived value
  • Perceptions of customer loyalty to the organization
  • Customer usage/purchasing patterns
  • Other key factors likely to impact customer satisfaction

Other key market/business development factors that can also be examined include:

  • Principal types of products/services being used/planned
  • Plans for future purchases/upgrades/migrations
  • Primary “value-added” features used/required
  • Factors of importance used to select/evaluate vendors
  • Satisfaction with present product/service providers
  • Loyalty to present vendors likelihood to switch
  • Overall awareness/perceptions of the organization’s total portfolio of products, services and support offerings
  • Others, TBD

When conducted on a routine, periodic basis, tracking customer satisfaction over time can provide:

  • A comprehensive benchmark, or baseline, analysis, complemented by regular tracking/trend survey “waves”
  • A series of detailed analyses that explain key patterns, trends and areas requiring improvement over time
  • Executive-level management reports and trendsheets that address key patterns and their strategic implications
  • Identification of specific problem areas and recommendations for improving levels of customer satisfaction
  • The ability to develop both strategic and tactical “fixes”, both in total, and by individual customer/vertical segments

Knowing your customers can be an extremely effective marketing tool. The more you know about your customers, the more responsive you can be to their needs and requirements. In fact, we believe that you can never know too much about your customers. Your customers will tell you when they are satisfied, and when they are not; but you have to ask them directly, as they may not always volunteer to provide this information.

That is why customer survey research is so important – because, if you do not regularly ask your customers about their specific needs and requirements, they may think you are either uninterested or – even worse -– incapable of performing better.

The applications and uses of Customer Satisfaction survey results are multifold, including:

  • To establish a formal input/feedback mechanism to obtain critical data/information directly from customers
  • To use satisfaction trend data to improve, or otherwise modify, existing product, service and support features
  • To use the specific results of the survey as marketing tools (e.g., publish an article in a services trade journal, offer a “white paper” on the Web, integrate results into company marketing collateral, etc.)
  • To use the statistical findings, verbatim quotes or other survey results in promotional materials, handouts or mailings

The following represent just the “tip of the iceberg” with respect to what some of your peers have already been able to accomplish:

  • A Help Desk Software company combined a joint User Needs & Requirements Assessment/Satisfaction Survey with a New “Win”/“Lost” Prospects Survey to identify the differences in the way they support existing customers how they attract “new” ones (and also “lose” some along the way).
  • A High-Tech OEM conducted an in-depth, qualitative survey among its machine operators to identify whether both their key product and technical support issues were being adequately addressed – and coordinated.
  • A CRM Software company established a baseline survey, and then tracked changes in its service delivery performance over a 3-year period until all of its quantitative goals for performance improvement had been met.
  • A Medical Device company conducted concurrent surveys of prospects who chose them their competitors to identify patterns of vendor selection criteria and any potential “kick-out” factors that may have been driving some prospects away.
  • A “Brand Name” Third Party Services company conducted routine competitive intelligence updates used to “spin off” competitive vendor New Service Product Action/Reaction reports to assist its services sales force.
  • A Field Service Management (FSM) solution company conducted vertical market research to identify and prioritize new (to them) verticals to target for future business development.
  • A Print/Publishing OEM surveyed customers of a company they planned to acquire to see whether there was a “match” between the two customer bases in terms of customer needs and requirements for the merged service product offerings.

All told, there are dozens of different customer satisfaction- and retention-related issues that can best be identified, measured and analyzed through a specific market research program. As such, the versatility of market research should never be understated, as it can be as narrowly or broadly defined, as necessary; as formal or informal, as required; as expensive or inexpensive, as the budget permits; and as general or customized, as is required.

Summary

In summary, there is a big difference between merely “keeping your customers satisfied” and “keeping your customers – period!” We believe that only by conducting an appropriate series of market research activities can you keep sufficiently up-to-date with the market’s evolving needs and requirements for service, and their corresponding levels of customer satisfaction with their vendors.

Similarly, only by conducting ongoing competitive intelligence research can you fully understand how your organization is positioned in the overall marketplace, and how it can best compete in an intensifying competitive environment. And, only by conducting periodic customer satisfaction measurement and tracking surveys can you measure your own organization’s performance over time, and make the necessary changes to keep your customers satisfied and loyal.

No services organization ever went bankrupt as a result of investing money in market research that delivered actionable results, and provided a positive return on investment (ROI). It is only those organizations that have wrongly invested a great deal of money in “untested” areas that could have been better served by conducting the appropriate market research first.

Are You Satisfying Your Customers Today? If Not, What Can You Do About it Starting Tomorrow?

Establishing a process for improving and maintaining the ability to satisfy your customers does not have to be a daunting effort. It can actually be quite easy – if you plan accordingly, rally the necessary resources together, execute effectively, and manage the results over time. While conducting a large-scale customer survey may take a few months to develop, implement and analyze, there are still many things you can start tomorrow, to provide you with some actionable customer data in the short-term. Read on to see what you can begin doing tomorrow to improve the way in which you are able to satisfy customers.

Many services organizations have found that by routinely conducting customer satisfaction measurement and tracking surveys, they are continually able to

  • Determine the defining characteristics of service and support that best meet their customers’ total needs;
  • Identify, measure, and track changes in their corresponding levels of customer satisfaction;
  • Determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of their customer support organization;
  • Identify all of the critical areas requiring improvement;
  • Collect data that can be used to set targets or goals for improvement; and
  • Recommend changes to their existing customer support processes and organization.

All of these objectives are admirable, important, easy to implement, and will ultimately lead toward the ability of the organization to “fix the system” (i.e., the business processes, operations, and infrastructure) that will empower it to deliver expected levels of customer service and support. However, while it is working hard to “fix the system”, there is always the risk of losing some of the organization’s most “vulnerable” customers in the interim since systemwide improvements typically take a long time to design, implement, manage, and maintain. For this reason, we believe that the most effective customer survey programs are those that also provide all of the information and guidance needed to “fix the system” – and “fix the customer” – both at the same time!

That is why we have developed a unique survey approach that also generates individual Customer Relationship Case Study Profiles that may be used to supplement the overall survey findings, strategic implications, and general recommendations for moving forward with a systemwide “fix”. In this way, while your organization is spending the time and dollars required to correct its systemwide problems, it can also address the specific problems that are impacting individual customers well before they become “kick-out factors”.

Strategies For GrowthSM‘s (SFGSM) Customer Discovery Survey program is designed to help services organizations identify the root causes of problems and recognize “real” opportunities for customer support improvement that will enhance – or bring back – their desired levels of customer satisfaction and profitability by focusing on the key customer-oriented issues that directly affect the business, including:

  • Customer Needs & Requirements for “Total” Customer Support
  • Customer Perceptions, Preferences and Expectations for Service and Support
  • Product/System Evaluation Factors
  • Service & Support Evaluation Factors
  • Gap Analysis/Unmet Customer Needs
  • Existing/Potential Problem Areas
  • Areas Requiring Improvement
  • Changes in Service Performance Over Time
  • Likelihood of Recommending the Vendor
  • Closing Thoughts/Verbatim Comments

Using a time-tested approach consisting of preliminary client management interviews, questionnaire design, and conventional survey research, each Customer Discovery Survey program is tailored to the organization’s specific needs and situation to achieve the maximum output and return on investment. If your organization is ready, it can typically best be served by implementing a full-scale Customer Satisfaction Measurement, Analysis & Tracking Program that can be used to identify, prioritize, and assess the specific actions required to “fix” systematic problems in its overall customer service and support operations.

However, if you are not quite ready to address systemwide change, you can still benefit by identifying the specific areas that will allow you to “fix” specific customers through a Customer Discovery Survey program. In either case, you will still be able to benefit from a detailed analysis and management report that tells you what needs to be fixed, how vulnerable you are to losing customers in the interim, and what timeframes for resolution will likely be required.

In general, SFGSM‘s Customer Discovery Surveys seem to work best for organizations with either a relatively finite customer base, or where a small number of customers represents an important component of the total customer base. Some clients prefer to survey their most valuable and/or “vulnerable” customers as a way of stopping major problems “dead in their tracks”, or preventing minor problems from growing larger. The general rule of thumb is that in cases where there is a large enough sample of the customer base (e.g., let’s say 25 to 30 or more customers), we can prepare both:

  • A detailed analysis of the total respondent sample, thereby providing the organization with a general customer base overview, as well as
  • A set of individual, case-by-case, customer-respondent profiles – thus, providing the ability to “fix” the customers while you’re “fixing” the system!

Many of our clients like the way these individual profiles present detailed, case-specific information that may be used to “fix” customers on a one-by-one basis, as they move forward with the systematic “fixes” that are otherwise recommended by the strategic findings of the survey. In fact, many clients use this information on a prioritized, case-by-case basis as they move forward – concurrently – with their systemwide improvement initiatives.

Basically, each profile presents the key findings from a single customer interview, including side-by-side comparisons of perceived importance vs. vendor performance for all of the performance attributes tested. As such, these profiles are enormously helpful toward gaining a better understanding of exactly how your services offerings (or your dealers’ offerings) are being perceived by individual customers, and where particular points of vulnerability, disconnect, or other potential problem areas may be occurring.

Through these Customer Relationship Case Study Profiles, we can also identify and “flag” areas of moderate, significant or severe customer “vulnerability”, as well as the root causes for why these problems may exist in the first place. Potential “kick-out” factors can also be easily identified. Ultimately, these individual case study profiles afford our clients a unique opportunity to utilize a customer-centric database that allows them to focus on the specific concerns of each interviewed customer, as well as from the results of the analysis of an aggregate, or representative, survey base.

Customer Discovery Surveys are a cost-effective way to determine the current levels of satisfaction – and vulnerability – of your most important (or representative) customers without having to engage in a full-scale customer survey effort. This program allows you to put your major concerns to bed quickly, while giving you a better understanding of where you need to focus – immediately – to get your systemwide support organization running more effectively.

SFGSM’s Customer Discovery Survey program is offered at a fixed price and can be completed in usually in less then one-to-two months, so you can get fast results and know exactly where you stand without incurring any major delays or expenditures. Results are presented in terms of executable actions accompanied by a set of case-specific Customer Relationship Management Profiles that can help you to better understand – and “fix” – each targeted customer.

For more information on SFGSM’s Customer Discovery Survey program, or Customer Needs & Requirements/Satisfaction Surveys, please visit our Blogsite at: http://wp.me/P3Q70i-3o

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

[This is part 4 of a 4-part series on the launch of Salesforce Field Service Lightning. Part 4 focuses on SFGSM’s “Take” on the new offering.]

Field Service Lightning – SFGSM’s Analysts Take

With the introduction of Salesforce’s Field Service Lightning, the FSM market has now witnessed, in the space of only two years or so, a trifecta of large, established, ubiquitous, global companies – each historically known for their respective other business platforms and solutions – entering the FSM market in a “big way” (i.e., in terms of market posturing, press releases, promises of FSM market dominance, etc.). The largest – and potentially, most promising of these – include:

  • Oracle, acquiring TOA Technologies in 2014;
  • Microsoft acquiring FieldOne in 2015; and, now
  • Salesforce announcing Field Service Lightning (FSL) for market launch in Spring/Summer 2016 (i.e., no acquisition made; platform includes ClickSoftware technology).

However, of these “big three”, only Salesforce has elected (i.e., at least, so far) to build its FSL functionality, albeit, with help from ClickSoftware for schedule optimization, while the remaining two have each elected to “buy” their way into the segment.

Whether it makes a difference to potential FSM solution users as to whether their vendors have acquired their way into the business, or have built a home-grown model is unknown at this point in time. However, past research conducted by Strategies For GrowthSM (SFGSM) would indicate that it will most likely not be a major selection or evaluation factor for most potential solution acquirers. In fact, it will probably end up being a non-issue for most.

Other smaller – but typically faster-growing – FSM solution providers may have brought their respective solutions to market much earlier than Salesforce, although Field Service Lightning still has certain advantages that these other relatively new entries to the global FSM market are not as likely to have. Further, the introduction of Salesforce into the global FSM through its Field Service Lightning offering now provides an added level of competition to the competitive landscape – a level that ServiceMax and its peers have not seen in recent years (i.e., save for the emergence of the acquired “newbies”, such as Oracle/TOA, IFS/Metrix and Microsoft/FieldOne, etc.).

For example, ServiceMax – which is essentially built on the Salesforce platform, itself – had virtually dominated the recent FSM user market in terms of familiarity/awareness, marketing and promotion, and user consideration and adoption in recent years. However, the May, 2015 announcement of the company’s strategic partnership with PTC “to provide [a] comprehensive and connected Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) solution offering” (i.e., where ServiceMax provides the SLM support, powered by PTC’s ThingWorx IoT-based platform) positions it, in some minds, as just another one of the industry’s “new” and/or reengineered SLM vendors, among other like vendors.

All-in-all, the entry of Salesforce into the FSM market does not simply represent the addition of a single “new” competitor to the overall landscape – but, rather the introduction of a “new” synergistic “mix” of traditional FSM functionality (i.e., built on the platform of one of the most popular and well-respected vendors, ClickSoftware), but seamlessly integrated into the overall Customer Experience, CSM and Sales Management suites offered by the “world’s #1 CRM company”. As such, potential users have the opportunity to not only choose a “new” FSM solution provider – but a “new” type of integrated FSM vendor, with a “new” (i.e., to the FSM market) corporate culture and philosophy for providing “cradle-to-grave” pre-sales, sales, after-sales service and perpetual customer support to an ever-evolving and demanding customer base.

In any event, the introduction of Field Service Lightning reflects Salesforce’s continuing “push” to enter this expanding global market segment on at least an “at par” basis with the other major players currently comprising the “new” FSM market entrants. However, while its entry into the market may initially seem like something “new” for Salesforce, it is not necessarily a “new” idea to the many services organizations that could realistically be thought of as potential Salesforce FSM customers – actually, many have already been using Salesforce to assist in running their respective services organizations for some time now.

For example, the results of SFGSM’s previous two Field Service Management Benchmark Surveys, conducted in 2011 and 2014/15, respectively, reveal the following about Salesforce’s historical positive image and reputation within the global FSM community – even before it had formally entered the market this year with its Field Service Lightning offering. The following data is derived directly from these two SFGSM FSM Benchmark surveys:

In SFGSM’s 2011 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey, respondents were asked to answer a number of questions relating to their familiarity with each of 48 individually listed FSM solution providers. The specific question asked was:

  • “For each of the solution vendors listed below, please indicate the ones with whom you are currently familiar in terms of their Field Service Management

For the 2011 survey, Salesforce was not included among the 48 pre-selected FSM vendors listed in the questionnaire; however, based on new information obtained during SFGSM’s one-on-one telephone interviews conducted as part of the 2014/15 survey Discovery Phase, Salesforce had been mentioned enough times to be included as the 49th FSM vendor – although, it still did not technically offer an FSM solution at that time!

Therefore, in 2011, the most cited FSM solution providers, listed in terms of their respective familiarity among the respondent base, specifically as a “Field Service Management solution provider”, were as follows:

2011 SFGSM FSM Survey Results (percent familiarity as an FSM solution provider):

  • #1 @ 39%; SAP
  • #2 @ 33%; Oracle
  • #3 @ 29%; ServiceMax
  • #4 @ 26%; ClickSoftware
  • #5 @ 24%; Astea
  • #6 @ 18%; Servigistics
  • #7 @ 17%; Metrix
  • #8 @ 15%; Microsoft Dynamics

The 2011 survey results reaffirmed the #1 & #2 standings of SAP and Oracle from earlier FSM surveys, and reflected the growth of ServiceMax which, for the first time, had surpassed ClickSoftware in this historical series of surveys. Further, although Microsoft also did not yet offer an FSM solution in 2011 (i.e., the company did not enter the FSM solution market until July, 2015, via its acquisition of FieldOne), it was still listed as #8 (i.e., at 15% familiarity) by the respondents to the survey. It is noted that two other of the highest cited vendors have since been acquired by larger organizations (i.e., Metrix, by IFS in May, 2012; and Servigistics, by PTC in October, 2012.)

However, SFGSM’s 2014/15 FSM Benchmark Survey update (i.e., with the expansion of the list of potential FSM solution vendors to include Salesforce, for the first time) reveals a largely altered ranking of the most familiar FSM solution providers, as follows:

2014/15 SFGSM FSM Survey Results (percent familiarity as an FSM solution provider):

  • #1   @ 56%; Salesforce
  • #2   @ 50%; SAP
  • #3   @ 35%; ClickSoftware
  • #4   @ 32%; Oracle
  • #5   @ 28%; ServiceMax
  • #6T @ 25%; Astea
  • #6T @ 25%; Kronos
  • #8   @ 21%; AT&T Advanced Mobility Solutions
  • #9   @ 21%; Microsoft Dynamics

In 2014/15, while SAP actually increased its FSM market familiarity to 50% (i.e., from 39% in 2011), and Oracle dropped a mere one percentage point to 32%, Salesforce, the “new” entry to the list of vendors, was cited by 56% of survey respondents as one of the FSM vendors with which they were currently familiar – again, however, without actually offering an FSM solution at the time.

Thus, the key takeaways revealed by trending the two most recent SFGSM FSM Benchmark Surveys, are the following:

  • In 2014/15, Salesforce had already been recognized as a potential FSM solution provider by a majority (i.e., 56%) of the field services marketplace – despite the fact that it did not actually offer an FSM solution at that time.
  • Microsoft, through its CRM Dynamics platform, had also risen in familiarity as a potential FSM solution provider, growing from 15% familiarity in 2011, to 21% in 2014/15 – despite not formally entering the FSM market until July, 2015.
  • The historical leaders in terms of FSM solution familiarity (i.e., SAP and Oracle) have, as a result, since been relegated to the #2 and #4 positions, respectively, trailing far behind Salesforce.

We have seen these types of familiarity rating anomalies in the past; however, what the trend data clearly reflects is that many field services organizations have already been using (arguably, mis-using?) either the Salesforce and/or Microsoft platforms for more than just sales management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, respectively. And, that this is apparently not limited only to Small/Medium Businesses (SMBs), but also to small-to-medium-sized divisions of larger services enterprises, as well. In many cases, Salesforce (and/or Microsoft CRM) serve double duty within the organization with respect to their use in managing some of the key components of FSM. In fact, in 2014/15, 7% of respondents also reported that Salesforce was their “primary FSM solution provider.”

What this all means is actually good news for Salesforce – and especially for the services organizations that have historically been relying on the company’s platform to support their field service operations, in that, with the introduction of Field Service Lightning, they will now be afforded with much greater FSM functionality – however, this time from a solution that is specifically designed for use in running a services organization.

While other companies, all with fairly deep pockets, have either tried to buy their way into FSM, grow an FSM capability organically, or some combination of the two, not all have had either the resolve – or inclination – to strive to dominate the FSM market. However, with respect to Salesforce, the combination of a corporate mentality that looks to dominate in each of the markets they serve, with a documented history of key players in the FSM community having already been using (i.e., or mis-using) their CRM platform to assist in running their respective services organizations, the prospects for Salesforce actually becoming a dominant leader in the FSM marketplace may be a somewhat safer bet.

Nonetheless, it must still be stated that, so far, Salesforce has only announced a very small portion of field service capability (i.e., key components including contract management, parts management, etc. are still missing) and, as a result, the jury will continue to be remain “out” until more of the company’s Field Service Lightning offering actually hits the market – in full – and in sync with the market’s expectations.

The Impact of a Changing FSM Competitive Landscape Is Revealed from SFG℠’s 2016 Field Service Management Tracking Survey

[If you haven’t already taken SFG℠’s 2016 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Tracking Survey, simply click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFG-PollockOnService.]

We’ve all heard the expressions, “Everything old is new again”, and “Back to the basics”. However, while these expressions may still be somewhat reflective of the global services community, we have finally begun to see an uptick in the degree of market consolidation, as well as the impact of the many mergers, acquisitions and partnerships that seem to be re-defining the competitive landscape on a virtual daily basis.

For example, just a couple or few years ago, there was no real (i.e., dedicated) presence in the global services community by companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, PTC and Salesforce (although many services organizations, mainly among the smaller-sized companies, had already started using Microsoft Dynamics and/or Salesforce to, at least, piggy-back their Field Service Management (FSM) operations onto their existing CRM, ERP or Business Management platforms).

Other vendors, such as IFS, Oracle and SAP had, years earlier, embedded some form of FSM into their general offerings, but not everyone was necessarily buying. Of course, there was always ClickSoftware and ServiceMax generally breaking out of the pack to gain some robust market share, leaving most of the tried-and-true traditional vendors as proud purveyors of their respective Best-of-Breed FSM solutions (e.g., Astea, Metrix, ServicePower, ViryaNet, Wennsoft and many others).

However, fast forward to today: Where are all of these vendors now? PTC acquired Servigistics (including MCA Solutions), ThingWorx, Axeda Systems and other technology firms; Oracle acquired TOA Technologies; IFS acquired Metrix; and Microsoft acquired FieldOne, all major software players “buying” their way into the FSM market through a series of blockbuster deals.

Salesforce, which had historically either been used (and/or mis-used) in its ability to manage field service operations, decided earlier this year to build its own Field Service Lightning module – but, built primarily on ClickSoftware’s Field Service Expert platform. ClickSoftware went private (i.e., after years of speculation that it would, one day, be acquired by SAP) and may have lost some of its historical luster in the marketplace (i.e., in terms of “Who are they now – really!). Another long-time vendor, ViryaNet, was acquired, first, by Verisae (i.e., taking its name), and now, by Accruent; and Wennsoft is now known as Key2Act.

In other words, the FSM competitive landscape has probably changed more in the past two years than in the dozen years before, in terms of structure, presence, influence and use. However, we would be burying our collective heads in the sand if we thought that this recent spate of market consolidation is now over – it’s not – and there are likely to be further surprises in the short term, rather than in the longer-term future.

So, … what does the future hold for the global FSM marketplace? Much will depend on how the market itself (i.e., the current and prospective FSM solution users) believes it should evolve.

That’s why Strategies For Growth has launched its 2016 Field Service Management Benchmark Tracking Survey after an approximate two-year hiatus. The times have changed; the competitive landscape has changed; and user needs and requirements, perceptions, expectations and preferences for FSM solutions have changed.

In fact, it may be because of the latter that many of these mergers/acquisitions were “forced” to take place. In many cases (i.e., too many cases) the existing FSM solution providers did not, or could not, evolve as quickly as the market’s needs and, as a result, either lost their traction, their “mojo”, their market preference, or any combination thereof.

It is frustrating to not be able to present some of the key preliminary findings from our current (i.e., 2016) FSM Survey – but that could likely influence the responses of some of the individuals who have not yet taken the survey.

So, … here’s our suggestion: First, take the survey, and we guarantee that you will, at the very least, learn something more about the global services community merely by reviewing the questions and answer sets, and thinking about what your top-of-head responses should be.

Second, after taking the survey, be sure to continue to watch our Blogsite, www.PollockOnService.com, for frequent updates and posts on key survey findings; Third, watch for our various published articles in Field Service DigitalField Service News and Field Technologies Online, and any of the other client-sponsored White Papers and Webcasts; and, Fourth, we will be happy to e-mail you a special, not otherwise published, Executive Summary, following the close of the survey later in the mid-to-late November timeframe.

In any case, we’ve got you covered – with the market data and information that you can use to compare the challenges, drivers, technology adoption and strategic actions taken by your organization compared against all others. All it takes is about 15 minutes of your time, for timeless information about your field – Field Services.

To take SFG’s 2016 Field Service Management (FSM) Benchmark Tracking Survey, simply click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SFG-PollockOnService.

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.]