Building Your FSM Solution on an IoT-Powered and CRM-based Platform

[Excerpt from our upcoming Feature Article in the March/April 2017 issue of Field Technologies Online.]

According to Gartner, the “IoT is not one thing; it’s the integration of several things,” requiring “advanced integration skills and end-to-end thinking.” As such, Gartner makes it quite clear that the IoT, alone, does not make field service operations work. There are still many other aspects of Field Service Management that must be addressed – although the IoT, as it stands today, is eminently ready to serve as the foundation of the FSM platform.

However, to truly benefit from an IoT-based FSM solution, the organization must also meet some key requirements that reflect its readiness for utilizing the power of the IoT in a connected FSM application. It may also be argued that there could be no servitization without the IoT; and that there could be no complete FSM solution without its integration with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform. Only in this way, could the FSM solution work together – in concert – with each of the other components of the CRM system to manage and run all aspects of the business itself – and not just its services operations.

[Watch for the complete article, including preliminary results from SFG‘s 2017 Field Service Management Benchmark Survey, in the March/April 2017 issue of Field Technologies Online.]

Bill Pollock to Conduct Workshop at the 13th Annual Warranty Chain Management Conference in Tucson AZ, Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bill Pollock, president & principal consulting analyst at Strategies For Growth℠, to conduct Workshop on the topic of “Transforming Warranty Management Into Improved Customer Satisfaction and Revenue Generation”, Tuesday, March 6, at the 2017 WCM Conference in Tucson, AZ

[Reprinted/Edited from the February 16, 2017 issue of Warranty Week]

From March 7 – 9, 2017, warranty professionals will gather in Tucson, Arizona, for the 13th annual Warranty Chain Management Conference. And as always, the opening day is taken up by a series of pre-conference workshops.

Many times, at past conferences, people arrive too late to attend any of the workshops, but wish they had. So while there’s still time for attendees to switch to an earlier flight, we wanted to provide some detail about what’s on offer.

This year, there will be six workshops — three in the morning and three in the afternoon on Tuesday, March 7. They’ll be followed by a welcome reception in the evening, and then the main conference proceeds on Wednesday and Thursday.

What these workshops provide is a deep dive into a single topic, such as transforming effective warranty management into improved customer satisfaction and the bottom line. They’re run by experts in the field, but the attendees are from all levels. And what they all know is the fundamental value of conferences like these: none of this material can be learned from books.

Bill Pollock‘s workshop is one of the three workshops scheduled for 9 AM to 12 noon, MST.

 

Raising Customer Satisfaction Levels

Pollock’s workshop is entitled, “Transforming Warranty Management Into Improved Customer Satisfaction and Revenue Generation“.

Pollock, who is a repeat presenter of WCM workshops, said he’s aiming this year’s presentation at managers and executives who need to improve customer satisfaction, drive revenues, and gain competitive advantage through improved warranty management.

“The perfect attendee would be anyone who deals both internally and externally with customer satisfaction, revenue generation, revenue management, or sales and marketing,” he said. “They’re the people who have the mandate — all their merit increases, their bonuses, are going to be dependent on how efficiently they run their part of the warranty management organization.”

Pollock said companies want to see both a contribution to the bottom line and an improvement in customer satisfaction levels. “But they’re almost diametrically opposed to one another,” he said. Deny more claims and satisfaction drops. Approve more claims and profits drop. So there has to be another way: increase revenue.

“One of the best things you can do to improve your revenue stream and to satisfy customers is to focus on warranty management, contract renewals, and attachment rates,” Pollock said. “You’re going to have increased revenues, and they’re going to be more predictable.”

Once the revenue increases, the money can be invested in automating and improving processes, which will ultimately raise customer satisfaction levels, Pollock explained. The goal is to turn a warranty claim into a more pleasant encounter for the customer, rather than adding insult on top of the injury.

“If you can’t make them feel better virtually immediately, then you’re going to allow a bad situation to get even worse,” he said. “What you need to do is build a warranty management program that can generate increased revenue, then take that revenue and spend it on improving the processes.”

Pollock said his advice is backed up by surveys he’s conducted both recently and in years past. “The first part of the workshop is going to be me presenting what best practices organizations are doing that are different from what the average organization is doing. But we also introduced some new questions into the survey this year,” he said, such as whether your organization has recently upgraded its warranty management solution. “What we’re finding is that there’s a big difference,” he said, in metrics such as claims processing time, service profitability, and supplier recovery rates.

More basically, Pollock said, the companies that recently upgraded their warranty management solutions are better not only at measuring themselves, but also at reporting the improved metrics. “Now, through more automated processes, through the cloud, powered by the Internet of things, you can build algorithms that allow you to more quickly identify than ever before, what’s really making a difference,” he said.

For more information on this workshop, or to register for the 2017 WCM Conference, please visit the conference website at: http://www.warrantyconference.com

Looking forward to seeing you in Tucson!

Bill

Strategies For Growth Announces Launch of Its Third Annual Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update and Workshop Session

Westtown, PA., January 19, 2017 – Bill Pollock, President & Principal Consulting Analyst, Strategies for GrowthSM (SFGSM), the Westtown, Pennsylvania-based research and consulting organization, today announced the launch of the firm’s third annual Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update.

The survey will be running “live” through the third week of February, and a summary of the results will be presented as part of Pollock’s Pre-Conference Workshop Session at the 2017 Warranty Chain Management (WCM) Conference to be held on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, in Tucson, Arizona. The two-day WCM Conference itself will follow on March 8 – 9, 2017.

Pollock’s Workshop Session, entitled “Leveraging Effective Warranty Management into Improved Customer Satisfaction and Profitability”, will share both information and guidance based on insights derived from the data collected from the more than 100 Warranty Services professionals who are expected to take part in SFGSM‘s 2017 Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update.

According to Pollock, who also blogs regularly via his www.PollockOnService.com Blogsite, “Research like this makes for invaluable assets that are foundational to organizational best practices with regard to warranty chain management. In this session we will share findings from our 2017 Warranty Chain Management Benchmark Survey Update that identify the top drivers, strategic actions, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and emerging technologies that are pushing Warranty Management Organizations to aspire to attain higher levels of performance.”

Led by Pollock, the Workshop Session will present fresh insights on the current state of the Warranty Chain Management industry, and how Best Practices services organizations are able to differentiate themselves from all others. The session will also help participants learn:

  • What Services Organizations are doing to attain Best Practices status with respect to Warranty Chain Management
  • What leading Warranty Services Organizations are doing to attain the highest levels of Customer Satisfaction and Service Profitability
  • What is driving the Warranty Services market to aspire to higher levels of performance, and what challenges they are likely to face in doing so
  • How to emulate the strategic and tactical actions presently being taken and/or planned by the leading Warranty Services organizations

To participate in SFGSM‘s 2017 Warranty Management Benchmark Survey Update, respondents may simply click on the following Weblink: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017SFGWCM.

All participants that provide their name, title, company, e-mail address and phone number, will also receive a link to a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary, to be made available shortly following the WCM Conference.

For more information, or to register for Pollock’s Workshop Session, please visit the 2017 WCM Conference website at: www.warrantyconference.com.

Also, please be sure to watch for more information from the SFGSM survey results in upcoming issues of Warranty Week: www.warrantyweek.com.

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.

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.

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.]