Chad Lowman, Fike Corp.
At Fike Corporation, we install safety equipment for major corporations around the world. It's a complex business - and our job isn't done after we've tightened the last screw on an installation. Far from it. We're on call to ensure the companies we serve are safe from fire or explosions. Field service is our first line of defense in protecting our customers from industrial accidents - and what shapes our customer's perception of our brand.
Does field service drive revenue? Yes. Customer loyalty? Absolutely. But it goes much deeper. Field service helps us become trusted advisors to our customers, which creates a unique connection between our company and our customers.
That's why for us, field service is the cornerstone of our overall business strategy. Our leadership team and key stakeholders immediately saw its value to our business. They bought into our vision to elevate field service early on.
Here are the four steps we took to solidify the strategic role of field service in our organization - and what others can apply to their own businesses.
1. Connect field service to the broader organization
Four years ago, we asked ourselves how we could work better with our customers. The answer wasn't improving our sales function, like it may be for other companies. It was better enablement of our field service team. We knew we needed to give our team the right technology to streamline work orders and improve first-visit resolutions. We chose Salesforce Field Service because we knew it could provide a central platform to unify service and sales data while providing the infrastructure to scale for our future endeavors. So, we built a business case.
Through that process, we realized that we couldn't accurately realize profit and loss (P&L), calculate the pipeline, or tie work orders to a contract without connecting field service to the broader organization. That's when the realization hit. We didn't just need a field service management solution, we needed to integrate all our field service data into a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. It was the only way to give us a line of sight into every stage of the sales process and each work order, and access to real-time reporting dashboards. Most importantly, it was the key to demonstrating the value of field service to our leadership team.
Getting everyone on the same platform is the best way to get leadership to see the inherent value of field service.
With everything on one platform, our teams track every stage of the product life cycle. This allows us to stay proactive with our customers, from the sale to installation to monitoring performance years on. We can analyze our data with Einstein artificial intelligence to say, 'If this asset's pressure goes above this benchmark, my customer needs to know.' The customer can also log into Salesforce to track their asset status to mitigate potential maintenance issues.
2. Harness your talent on one platform
We realized by working on one platform, we can harness talent under one umbrella, and create common skill sets and specializations. In field service, one group became super adopters of the Salesforce platform. They learned how to solve some of our biggest problems by integrating new workflows and creating new processes.
Here's one benefit of having all stakeholders on one platform - any team member can identify an issue and create a workflow to resolve it. For example, one of our sales reps oversees a case management module. While we always want customers to reach out to our service team first, occasionally customers will connect with their sales rep first to point them in the right direction toward a resolution. It makes sense since our reps are their trusted points of contact at our company. Now, sales reps that receive service-related requests use the platform to direct customers to the right team member to help them resolve their issue.
3. Empower your customers and teams with the best tools
Our field service team has our customers' backs. Remote assistance has been a game changer for us. When a customer calls in, we assess whether the issue requires an on-site visit or we can remotely walk them through a resolution. In the latter case, we send a link to join a video call. For routine issues, like locating a water valve, we can simply walk them through how to find it.
4. Train your field service team to embody your culture
We also use remote assistance to determine if our equipment or a part needs replacement, instead of doing an additional site walk-through. Over the phone, we take an augmented reality (AR) measurement to determine if the asset needs a repair or replacement. From a site perspective, this helps us know the approximate dimensions of the hazards we're protecting. Without even visiting the job site, we can provide an accurate quote in a fraction of the time and cost it would take to do a site visit.
Fike is a family-owned business, and when you talk with us or buy a product from us, you become part of our family. Our field service team, including our contractors, are extensions of that. They are the face of our brand.
However, some technicians, who have been with us for years and have built great relationships with customers, are retiring. New hires naturally have less technical experience and institutional knowledge about our organization. That's why it is critical for us to retain a high degree of knowledge even as more experienced field service personnel leave the company. But how?
We use Trailhead, Salesforce's online learning platform, to get new team members up to speed on the basics of our technology and brand, as well as for ongoing training. For on-the-job training, we use our remote assistance capability to train junior techs in the field via live video. The tech collaborates with a trusted advisor to walk through the step-by-step process of an on-site repair.
My number one recommendation to elevate field service in any organization? Get everyone on the same platform. It's the best way to help leadership see the inherent value of field service and how it creates an ongoing connection with your customers.
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