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Salesforce Field Service users get generative AI helpers

Salesforce launches Einstein 1 Field Service Edition. Field technicians get a generative AI boost to help navigate through scheduling and technical content.

Salesforce users who deploy field service technicians on the platform now can use generative AI tools for common tasks such as site visit summaries and collecting background information beforehand.

Einstein 1 Field Service Edition, released earlier this month, adds tools commonly needed in vertical industries such as construction, home healthcare, utilities and telecommunications. They include features for customer appointment self-service and truck dispatcher scheduling -- which often changes during the day as routes change, repair time varies and other factors affect a technician's ability to stay on schedule.

Technicians themselves get the most generative AI efficiency tools, including case summaries to get them up to speed going into a call and auto-generated site visit summaries that they previously had to compose themselves. It also offers  Einstein Copilot for Mobile Workers, which enables workers to query enterprise knowledge bases with questions specific to a customer problem or repair job and receive GenAI-summarized answers instead of having to sift through search results while on the job.

While employees in some jobs may feel threatened by generative AI as it becomes more capable for writing tasks, research summarization and reporting, customer service -- and field service, especially -- is not one of those, said Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research. Those fields need all the generative AI integrations with communications platforms such as Slack to query co-workers for advice, and virtual reality to help them complete jobs more efficiently. It may help cut down on multiple site visits, as sending a driver and a truck to a customer site is costly for an enterprise.

[The industry] sets AI expectations for all the white-collar workers out there, but it's the blue-collar guys in the field service trucks that are 20 years ahead of us.
Liz MillerAnalyst, Constellation Research

"[The industry] sets AI expectations for all the white-collar workers out there," Miller said, "but it's the blue-collar guys in the field service trucks that are 20 years ahead of us. They're already in Tom Cruise [Mission Impossible] world."

AI opens unstructured data in the field

The benefit for Salesforce users who buy into Einstein 1 Field Service edition's generative AI tools, in theory, is how it gives technicians the ability to find answers in unstructured data they either didn't have time to do or couldn't do while on-site at a customer's home or place of business, said Taksina Eammano, executive vice president and general manager of field service at Salesforce.

It can also dig deep into unstructured data in other systems such as customer service and sales to help collect more detailed customer background histories for technicians prior to a service call. Improving efficiency is the most important outcome of features built into the platform, she added.

"There is a huge skilled technician shortage, and the retention of talent is a very real concern for most field service organizations," Eammano said. "[At the] moment, it's about arming them with productivity so that you're not sending the technician out twice, three times for the same issue … or not sending someone out at all because you can handle this through a self-service channel."

That very nature of field service, Miller said, will require more work on the part of vendors such as Salesforce to prove the need for generative AI and the accompanying Data Cloud infrastructure to support it. The job is built on actual, not artificial, accumulated intelligence in the technician's head.

Salesforce Einstein 1 Field Service Edition mobile app screen.
Salesforce's Einstein 1 Field Service Edition mobile app interface allows technicians to query content repositories and summarize responses as they are on-site.

"I think a lot of organizations -- especially in field service -- may not necessarily value why they would need something like a Data Cloud to be a central repository for harmonizing the data. They're going to say, 'Well, Bob knows what he needs to track,'" Miller said.

"Bob doesn't know what the customer has been through in the last three service experiences. That becomes the difference with the Data Cloud layer. You can take the customer's experience -- how they bought it, why they wanted to buy it, the experience that they went through at purchase -- and it gives you better insight into why that person is so upset when your truck rolls in."

Salesforce Einstein 1 Field Service costs $600 per user per month for new users, or an additional $380 per user per month for Field Service Plus subscribers.

Don Fluckinger is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial. He covers customer experience, digital experience management and end-user computing. Got a tip? Email him.

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