“Ask the Expert” Webinar Series: When Are You Ready For Field Service Lightning?

Call us biased, but there’s a reason Salesforce and its integrated approach is the #1 CRM platform out there. No matter your business goals, there’s almost always a Salesforce product available to manage visibility into all of your customer needs, interactions, and touchpoints. So with customer service top of mind, we wanted to address when and/or whether your business is ready for Field Service Lightning (FSL). 

In our latest “Ask the Expert” webinar, our COO Jared Miller sat down with David Longhini, CEO of Empodio, to discuss the ins and outs of FSL to help you meet your customers where they are.

Click here to watch the full panel discussion, or read on for highlights.

What is Field Service Lightning?

Field Service Lightning is useful for any company that has someone that needs to go out into the field and complete work, whether that be field sales or field service. With FSL, Salesforce aims to address everything you need to do to effectively interact with your customers. This can include driving awareness of your brand through marketing, convincing customers that your service is worthwhile and provides value, and ultimately (hopefully) providing the service and delivery they’re looking for. Sometimes this has to happen on-site, which is where Field Service Lightning comes in.

Take, for instance, if you work for a consumer beverage company where you’re going from site to site with your truck, physically selling things off your truck, to a number of customers in a number of different locations. FSL helps you assign the appropriate resources in the most optimized way possible to ensure you’re minimizing travel, meeting customer expectations, operating efficiently, setting appropriate priorities, and making sure the resources you’re using have the right tools and skills to deliver.

If you’re an organization and are sending people out to the field, how do you know if you should start looking at FSL?

Lack of visibility is the #1 pain point that drives companies to adopt FSL. The reality is, companies often have no idea what’s actually going on in the field. For instance, say you’re trying to sell to a customer and you don’t know that your field service team has been out there all week repairing a piece of equipment. Needless to say, this communication breakdown puts a damper on the salesperson trying to sell a new piece of equipment to the same customer. If the customer service team has no idea where the technician is or if one has even been scheduled, how far away they are, what tools they have and their past experiences, etc., that disconnect across different teams makes everyone’s lives more difficult than they need to be and compromises the service you’re ultimately trying to provide. 

If any of this sounds painfully familiar to you, then it may be time to start considering FSL.

Does the size of the organization matter?

In short, no. We’ve seen companies as small as five people, all the way up to tens of thousands of employees use FSL. Regardless of the size of your organization, the visibility FSL provides is worth it. The only aspect that varies is which sets of features you use. Once you’re above an organization of about 30 people, for instance, you should start to consider higher-level optimization features as you have a lot of different paths and variables involved. Ultimately, no organization is too small to find value in FSL.

So how do you know when people are ready to take the next step?

Most people are facing one of two directions: either towards something you want or away from something that’s painful. 

First, there are those who have optimized their field service as much as they can, who are really trying to move forward and minimize travel times, for instance, or get more work done but don’t want to hire more people.

Then, there are those being driven by customer expectations. For instance, David mentions a utility company in Buffalo who went from vaguely telling a customer that they’ll be there “at some point in the day” and completely compromising that person’s schedule, to then being able to confidently tell a customer that they would be there within a two-hour time frame. That company made its customer’s life easier by taking their time into consideration and setting the standard for other businesses to follow suit.

Something that needs to be understood as you consider incorporating FSL into your processes is that in doing so you will be undertaking an entire digital transformation. FSL is designed to extend the flow of Salesforce and so while you may get someone who wants to use it without the rest of Salesforce, the reality is that you’ll need to put sales and service cloud together at least at the most basic level to be able to feed the work that the work order management is going to be able to do with FSL. Needless to say, FSL was not designed to be a stand-alone product. 

Your processes are drastically going to change when you’re moving from a whiteboard to a global optimization system over time. Securing the right tools and having the openness to change business processes to best practices when moving to an electronic age is something people have to be prepared to do. 

Lastly, it’s important to have team member buy-in when it comes to FSL. If someone doesn’t agree with you or you have a field service manager stuck in their own ways (for example, whether they don’t have a smartphone or are unwilling to embrace new technology) you’re going to struggle with user adoption. For effective change management, you’ll need buy-in from every member of your ecosystem.  

How many companies do you see where they are going from whiteboard to FSL versus another system to FSL?

Most are going from whiteboard to FSL as it’s really difficult to go from another system to FSL. If they are trying to move over from a robust system, it’s still very difficult. The biggest problem you’ll see is that people coming over from other technologies are moving from a different set of assumptions of how field service works. Field Service Lightning operates with “truth-based appointment booking.” When we book an appointment at any time, we note that field service rep is available, they have the right skillset, the drive times line up, etc. Ultimately, bad habits are going to have to be broken between these two systems.

It sounds like there is a lot more involvement from the client’s end.

This is true. While you may have a client who comes to you and says, “We just want to go to Field Service Lightning,” it’s important to push back and say there is no easy way to lift and shift. You can’t take a whiteboard and turn it into Field Service Lightning automatically. Chances are there are things you are doing in your organization that accommodated your paper or Excel-based capabilities that will need to be redesigned or thought about in new ways. 

An analogy I like to use is that of a driverless car. While you may have individuals who know how to ride a bicycle really fast, it’s human-powered. So when it comes to teaching that person how to operate a driverless car, you first need to teach them the mechanics and basic capabilities of a car before anything else. It won’t work to take someone who knows how to ride a bicycle and assume they know how to drive a car, as it’s different capabilities.

Is the implementation of FSL an all or nothing? Are you going from whiteboard to automated appointments? Can it be phased in?

I never recommend a “big bang” approach to FSL as it’s too many business process changes at once. Going back to the car analogy, if I take someone and move them from operating a bicycle to a driverless car, I’m going to start by teaching them to just drive a car, giving them the ability to tap the brake, tap the gas, and then they get to decide how fast they go, where they’re going, how they’re going, where to turn and how to adjust that. Once they know the basics, then we can start implementing customizations. 

Who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in implementing FSL?

Anyone who interacts in the process; from the moment someone says “I need to go out to the field” to the point in which that is completed. When you are doing field service, in order to get it all the way through, you’re touching most areas of the business. You have a sales team that needs to send someone out, you have the people who are sending them out to do the work, the sales or customer service component that needs to be involved because they’re going to communicate with the customer, then you have the operations team and the field service team (director of operations, field service managers who are training the teams, dispatch team, etc), and so forth. 

Forgotten parts of this can include those involved with inventory, whether it’s something you’re installing, maintaining, or repairing. Don’t operate in a bubble and only consider the field service portions of the equation but try to look at the larger picture. 

Say you’re on the path of FSL implementation, what are some additional customizations that people could consider?

The simpler the better.

Say that you have an installer who doesn’t have a smartphone and/or they aren’t necessarily tech-savvy. The very first phase is getting them a smartphone and then making sure that the mobile resources they are having to utilize to do their jobs are as simple as possible. Oftentimes we aren’t dealing with Gen Z types who can click around a hundred times to make something happen. These people will get frustrated the more complicated something is, so reduce the number of clicks as much as possible in your implementation.

In addition to the installer, keep the dispatcher in mind and activate the same mentality when it comes to designing their system. Make it as simple as possible. The dispatcher ideally should never have to leave their dispatcher council. 

What are some of your favorite functionality in FSL?

Optimization fascinates me. I feel on the leading edge of what click software and Salesforce has been able to do together out of that optimization engine. You are getting into machine learning –  it’s one of the most robust optimization capabilities and what’s going on in the background when you’re using global optimization. The hardest aspect of FSL is getting the foundation right with the tools that allow optimization to work. Without this foundation, when you try to go up the chain to use optimization, you’re going to have broken it. It’s like when you’re using that driverless car and don’t plan for needing an exhaust while driving it.

To hear more of the discussion, we encourage you to watch the full panel discussion below.

Sign up to receive Salesforce-related news