It's a full-on blizzard over here in New England so I find myself yet again…
1. Salesforce Spring 21 Features – Lightning Sales Cloud, Einstein Sales Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud and Force
5. Salesforce Field Service & Scheduler – Spring 21 Features
We’re 2 weeks away from Spring 21 beginning to hit everyone’s Salesforce instance and we’re down to our last two blog posts about it. This is a pretty monster release and we’re doing more break-outs than we typically do. We’ve already done the main posts around Sales Cloud and Service Cloud and we did break-outs for High Velocity Sales and Service Cloud Voice. For this post, we’re doing a deep dive for Field Service and Lightning Scheduler. It’s a pretty big release for both of them, so we’ll jump right in. As always, the order is basically what I think is the most interesting so it’s a little random. I have some interesting new (for me) music going with a double album from UNKLE that I just discovered. Turns out it’s pretty awesome writing music so I’m all good to go.
Salesforce has officially dropped the Lightning from Field Service Lightning and it’s now just known as Field Service. Mostly I’m just bummed all my FSL acronyms are now meaningless. But life moves on.
- Manage Product Campaigns – This might not be the biggest new feature in Spring 21 but it’s one I really like. Field Service has introduced its own version of Campaigns – called Product Campaigns – that allow you to target customers/assets that are impacted by events. These events could be a recall, a new upgrade that needs to be completed, or maybe an audit that has to be conducted. You can flag customers and assets that are impacted by this event and then track the progress of the Work Orders that are executing on what needs to be done. This will give you much more insight into where you are in executing all of these Work Orders and completing the needed action, but it’ll also give you a way to link all of the Work Orders together for reporting. That’ll allow you to see how long it took to complete this campaign and other costs associated with the Work Order so you can calculate the total cost of the event. It’ll also let you see trends around how many visits were needed, subsequent issues that arose from these appointments and maybe even a list of customers that have refused the action and therefore are now at risk for whatever you were trying to prevent. Super powerful if used correctly. Love this feature.
- Advanced Maintenance Recurrence – The Preventative Maintenance scheduling functionality gets a big upgrade here that allows you to create much more complex rules around your recurring schedules. Simply put, preventative maintenance schedules are not always nice and neat schedules – ex: do this one thing once a quarter to this one asset. A lot of times you wind up with maintenance schedules that overlap, have different time windows, and may even cancel each other out. The enhancements from Spring 21 really ramp up your flexibility to create these more complex rules by giving you multiple new options. First, you get more control over the assets (or lack of assets) in a schedule. You can now create maintenance plans without any assets at all (you might need to inspect the entire building, not a particular asset), multiple assets at a time with the same schedule (you have 10 units that all need to be maintained or inspected monthly) or even multiple assets that have different schedules (all of the pumps are on a monthly schedule, but the tanks are on a quarterly schedule). Coupled with this, you now can also set precedents within these schedules for when they overlap. This is a use case we see all the time. A great example is you have monthly inspections you need to run that are basically the more routine inspection – but then once a year you have an intense annual inspection to get re-certified for the year. In this scenario, when you’re running that annual inspection you don’t need to also run the basic inspection that month because the big intense inspection includes the same activities as the basic and a ton more. The reverse can also be true. Maybe you have those same monthly inspections, but quarterly you have to do a big cleaning to the equipment. While you’re there for the quarterly cleaning, you might as well knock out the quick inspection, instead of having to have two different trips to the site, right? Now you can set up your schedules to handle these scenarios which can reduce truck lifts and minimize any clutter/confusion with unnecessary appointments. Tied to all of this, you get the ability to create Work Order Lines for each piece of work – so you can keep all of these to one Work Order. This is optional, but it’s a great way to keep the work to a single Work Order and have the lines represent each of the tasks that need to be done. If your field team does a lot of scheduled/preventative maintenance work, this is a huge enhancement that will give you the flexibility you need to build out an organized and efficient schedule.
- Expanded Details on Maintenance Plans – Speaking of Maintenance Plans, we get a quick enhancement to them that allows us to provide even more detailed information about the work. Maintenance Plans notes now support rich text, lists, and images. Definitely a handy way to organize those notes and provide more specific feedback for the work being done.
- Optimization Insights – This feature came out as Pilot in Winter 21 so we didn’t cover it, but with Spring 21 it goes GA. I love this feature. The optimizer for Field Service is extremely powerful and one of its key features is to let you adjust the weights of the various goals you have. Is your primary goal to perform your service appointments as fast as possible? Is it to execute with the least travel time possible? Maybe it’s ensuring the most qualified technician possible handles it? Obviously, these priorities don’t always line up nicely for you. Maybe the best person for a job in MA is actually in CA. Are you going to incur the cost and travel time to have them dispatched across the country? Well, for a specific Work Order Type the answer might be yes. For others it could be no way – send the person based in NH instead. Depending on the weights you apply to these policies, the optimizer is going to figure out the most optimal schedule for the Service Appointments in a day. Where this feature really kicks in is as you try to tweak those policies over time to get the optimizer right. Maybe customers are starting to complain that their appointments are being scheduled too far out. Well, that might mean you didn’t weight speed high enough, so you tweak the weighting to make it a higher priority. Previously the optimizer would take this and do its magic – but you had no way to really see the impact of what you did! Ideally, the customer complaints quiet down and you just nod your head thinking it must have worked. With Optimization Insights we’re able to get snapshots of these changes and you can see KPIs as they were before your change and what they became after you made the adjustment. This is huge. In the example above, maybe the customer complaints did drop down, but now your travel costs have shot through the roof. You can now see that by watching these insights instead of finding out when the torpedo from your boss hits a month later with the higher bill. An incredibly useful feature for anyone using the optimizer.
- Point to Point Predictive Routing – This is another big feature in Spring 21. You can now get much more accurate predicted travel times between your Service Appointments. Point to Point uses the exact location of the service appointment to figure out the distances between appointments and also takes the time of day into account with the calculations. It’s always tougher cutting across Boston at 9AM than it is at 9PM and your predicted travel time should reflect that. Now it does. This is much more accurate than simply aerial routing (as the crow flies) or street-level routing. New orgs will have this activated by default but existing customers need to turn this on – but there’s really no reason not to (unless you prefer less accurate calculations?). Related to this feature, the Predictive travel feature that was in beta is now being end-of-lifed and replaced with this. If you’re using predictive travel you have until Winter 22 to switch over to this – which is really two more releases. Doesn’t seem to be any reason now to make the switch earlier.
- Shift Enhancements – Shift Management gets a few enhancements with Spring 21 as well. First, you can now create predefined Shift Patterns, which allows you to set up a slew of shifts with a single quick action instead of having to do them one at a time. A shift manager can essentially select a pre-built pattern – like a pattern for a normal work-week, or a pattern for a week with a Monday holiday – and it’ll create all of the shifts in one shot. You can even set these patterns to repeat or lock them into a specific date range. A good way to save some time for your shift managers. Second, you can now designate shifts to certain types of appointments only. So, say you have an emergency shift that’s off-hours. Technically you now have availability during that shift for work – but you obviously don’t want to start scheduling routine work to on-call workers that are just to be used for emergency work. With this new feature, you can set the shift so only appointments for a specific type of work can be associated with it – like emergency work. Very useful. Finally, shifts can now be exposed within Experience Cloud. Especially useful if you have 3rd party contractors that are trying to schedule and view Work Orders from within your Community – now they can see the shifts you set up as well.
- Change Status Quicker from the Mobile App – Changing the Service Appointments Status is probably the most common task a Field Service user performs, so any way you can make this faster and with fewer clicks is a good thing. With this enhancement, we’re now able to launch a Change Status flow from the Quick Action which will save a couple of clicks every time a field user needs to change their status. This is a no brainer to add immediately – but especially if you’re in a higher volume service appointment business.
- Arrival Notifications – Sending notifications to your customers about their Service Appointments has always been a best practice, but with COVID this has only gotten more important. Your customers want a heads up that the technician is on the way – whether they are a business or a consumer – so they can get ready for the visit and the dreaded four-hour service window doesn’t cut it anymore. Now you can trigger an automatic notification to be sent to the Contact on a Service Appointment when the appointment’s status is changed. You can control which status controls this – but it allows your technicians to set the status and have the appointment fire out without the technician needing to remember. It’s a funny coincidence to have this feature in Spring 21 as we have been spending a lot of time at Gears working on Field Service notifications in general. While the above is a good start, surrounding your Field Service processes with a strong messaging platform can be a massive advantage. Even on the above, it’s great that the notification goes out, but what do you do if the customer responds? What if they are trying to tell you they need to re-schedule or cancel? We’ve thought of that and more and have built a platform within Field Service to handle this. Check out our post – Add a Messaging Platform to Salesforce Field Service with Gears OmniAlerts – and see how a messaging platform can be a game-changer – and cost saver – for your field service operations.
- Briefcase Builder – If you’re a Field Service customer that has their technicians in offline mode quite a bit, this is definitely an enhancement you’re going to want to dig into – even though it’s just a beta. Essentially, Briefcase Builder is a new way to set up the offline data experience for your users. As an admin, you can build briefcase profiles that specify what data – objects & records – you want your users to be able to have available offline. You can create multiple briefcase profiles if you have groups of users that have different offline needs, which makes this very flexible. Nothing is worse for a technician than to be offline and then realize they don’t have the data they need to complete a Work Order. This looks like it’ll help you prevent that from happening with targeted briefcases. As I mentioned, this is a beta, so I’d try this with a few technicians before rolling it out broadly.
- Work Order Support for Entitlements – Another great feature. Entitlements have allowed service departments to limit and track the number of Cases a customer is entitled to as part of their support contract. This is a pretty standard practice when you charge for support. Well, the same concept applies when you have maintenance contracts that require physical visits to a customer. With Spring 21 we can now also set how many Work Orders are allowed by entitlement and track the Work Orders against the entitlement record for a customer. You’ll be able to link Work Orders to the entitlement record and then report on how many Work Orders they are entitled to, how many they’ve consumed and how many remain.
- Expanded Data on Products Consumed – A quick but nice enhancement to the Product Consumed process. Now you can see and view the list price, subtotal, discount, and total price of the product consumed records. Very useful if you’re billing this back to a customer – now you can make sure that information is accurate or apply discounts if needed.
- Time Zones – Ah, time zones. So cute, but without a doubt they are the bane of any company that needs to schedule nationally. Your resources could be in different time zones than your customer – how do you present that properly to your customer so they don’t show up an hour later or early than expected? With Spring 21 we get a bunch of enhancements targeted at improving this experience. First, external users can now view and select appointment slots in the time zone they prefer. You now have an option to set a “Show Time Zone Pick List” attribute and when that’s set to true, the appointment time slot page will show a list of all your supported time zones. This should definitely help reduce some confusion with users. Coupled with this, the Review Appointment page now shows the scheduled appointment in the same time zone that was selected from the appointment time slot page. This sounds painfully obvious (as a child of the 80’s, I was trying to figure out the modern equivalent of “well, duh” but failed) but normally you’d show time to external users based on their timezone. This is a subtle but important difference that can cause a ton of confusion. If you have someone in CA, trying to schedule a visit in NY and they want it at 1:00, normal Salesforce will see them in PST and show them 10AM which gets really confusing. This fixes that problem and will show it at 1:00EST because that was the timezone the appointment was set – regardless of where the external user is. Finally, to help all of this, we get the ability to set a default time zone based on a service resource, service territory, customer, or browser time zone. A ton of flexibility here to make sure the time zone is presented in the most intelligent way for your self-scheduling needs. All of these a terrific enhancements and really eliminate a major headache for businesses.
- Embed Lightning Scheduler Flows within Other Flows – Lightning Scheduler Flows now support subflows so you can call other Lightning Scheduler flows from within your Lightning Scheduler flow. From an admin stand-point, this is a big deal as you can now build out a series of subflows that are reusable and embedded within different flows instead of needing to have multiple single flows and repeating the same steps and logic.
- Changes from the Dreaded Back Arrow – For any flow, it can all break down on you when a customer goes back and starts trying to change info on previous pages. Especially when your flow is dynamic and you’re trying to control the next set of questions/pages based on the information provided, it’s always tough when they suddenly change that key info. Well, Lightning Scheduler wasn’t immune to this issue, but with Spring 21 that is now fixed. Users will no longer have to cancel their scheduling flow and start over, they can go back to a previous page, make changes, and continue on. You can enable this by flipping a setting for “revisited screen values” to refresh inputs to incorporate changes elsewhere in the flow. So, it’s up to you to turn this on, but it’s definitely a better customer experience to enable this. Great to see.
- Service Resource Filtering – You can now apply service resource filters within your Lightning Scheduler Flows. This allows you to ensure only suitable resources are being presented within the flow. You literally do this by adding in the resource IDs that you want to be presented into a new Filter by Resource IDs attribute within the flow.
Well, that’s it for Field Service and Lightning Scheduler – but this is a lot. Field Service in particular has some really big updates in Spring 21. When you combine these changes with the slew of changes in Service Cloud Voice and all of the core Service Cloud enhancements too, this is a monster release for customer service. Very exciting. Next up we’ll be digging into the Collaboration features focusing on Experience Cloud (Communities), Chatter, Salesforce Anywhere (Quip), and maybe even a little bit about the massive Slack acquisition. As always, if you have any questions or want some help implementing some of these features – or if you want some information about extending Field Service with a messaging platform – reach out anytime and one of our Solution Architects will get right back to you. Thanks for reading!