Reducing Service Cost by Shifting Delivery to the Left

Let’s start by understanding what a shift left really means by taking a look at this high-level process. 

Now, let’s be clear that the details will be unique to every company. However, it’s plain to see that if an issue can be resolved by somebody at a desk, it’s cheaper than having to dispatch a technician. 

Further to the right also takes longer to complete, and all of this can impact customer satisfaction and net promoter score (NPS).

For the purpose of this post, I’ll assume you’ve implemented a field service solution and that you manage assets with sensors pushing data to a data lake.

As we move through this blog, I’ll highlight key opportunities to use this data to take cost out of your service delivery.

Let’s get started!

What’s the cost of a truck roll?

The definition of a truck roll is any situation where a technician is dispatched, in a truck or other vehicle, to solve a problem.

Truck rolls are a necessary part of many customer and field service operations. Common reasons for truck rolls are to install or repair equipment, execute regular maintenance and inspections, or perform any other form of technical service.

When it comes to truck rolls, there’s a disparity in costs. However, in my career, I’ve seen a range from $65/truck roll to $1,500/truck roll on average. 

The true cost of a truck roll takes the following into account:

  • Labor costs – Technician wages, travel time, and administration tasks related to dispatch.
  • Vehicle costs – Fuel, maintenance, insurance, and depreciation of vehicles.
  • Opportunity costs – A technician’s time spent on one task means they’re unavailable for any other billable work.

For the sake of this article and to keep things simple, I’m going to use $500 as the example price of a truck roll. 

Usage-Based Preventative Maintenance

The ARC Advisory Group has conducted extensive research around Enterprise Asset Management and Field Service. 

According to ARC, only 18% of assets have an age-related failure pattern, while a full 82% of asset failures occur randomly. This means 82% of assets are not actually in jeopardy of failure due to age, and the preventive maintenance performed on assets is ineffective. 

Preventative maintenance is based on “typical” usage, but few assets can be classified in this manner. Some will be utilized under the typical amount and hence serviced excessively. Others will be over utilized and not get enough preventative maintenance.

They go on to say that 30% of preventative maintenance is unnecessary and 50% of the cost of service is also unnecessary.

With the Internet of Things (IoT), your machines are able to tell you a great deal about their usage and condition. This facilitates the use of condition-based maintenance (CBM), an approach that bases repair or replacement decisions on need, which is determined through monitoring the condition of those assets. 

A change in condition and/or performance of an asset is the main reason for executing maintenance, rather than something like the age of an asset, which is not in and of itself an indicator of failure.

CBM can be done simply by measuring indicators such as pressure or temperature, or by observing the output of various assets for rate of faults or defects. It also allows you to tie service to the actual usage of the machine, knowing how that usage affects the consumption of fluids or causes wear to parts.


If my company manages 1,000 HVAC machines with a suggested two preventative service calls a year to lubricate, change belts and clean, for example, this means there are 2,000 truck rolls a year that would cost $1,000,000. 

Through IoT we have monitored fan speed, temperature, noise, air throughput, motor and compressor startup and shutdown times. This eliminates 30% of truck rolls. That equates to 600 truck rolls we would avoid and $300,000 we’d save. 

In addition, we’re not consuming belts, fluids, or filters that are perfectly fine and don’t need to be replaced.

Remote Command Repair

A number of years ago I had an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) who serviced critical equipment. Some of the older equipment would start to throw a fault code that could be resolved by resetting the machine and it would go on to function without issue for many weeks.

But, the end customer was paying for a service contract and wanted the OEM to send a technician and perform the reset which consisted of reaching under the machine and pushing the reset button. 

It was reported that 40% of these cases were resolved in this manner. 

Now, imagine if the OEM call center could send the reset command remotely over the IoT connection?

The ability to send commands is limited to a few IoT solutions. Bolt Data Connect is one. 

There’s also reticence about allowing this level of access but some of the numbers I see are:

  • Hardware Issue Resolution: up to 30%, and this aligns with my personal experience.
  • Software Issue Resolution: up to 90%

In the event your customers don’t allow direct remote control of the asset, you can still enable human actioned remote controls. 

In conjunction with the IoT data you can  use a video channel such as SightCall or NativeVideo

With this combination of tools you can “see” what your customer is doing and guide them. Through data you can continue diagnosis and troubleshooting and verify their actions and failure resolution. 

This approach can eliminate up to 80% of issues without the need to roll a truck and reduce resolution time by over 80%!


Imagine a small, 20 engineer service company performs two services a day per technician. 

This works out to:

 20 x 2 x 5 x 50 (work weeks/year) x $500 = $5,000,000

Remote service can add up to $4,000,000 to the company’s bottom line! 

Additionally, your service metrics around resolution time will improve, as well as your customer satisfaction and NPS. You can also incentivize customers to perform remote support.

Maximize Effectiveness of a Truck Roll

Imagine a customer calls with an issue.

You roll a truck, but when the engineer arrives onsite, they log a “No Fault Found.”

Frustrating, right?

I’ve found from my experience this occurs about 10-15% of the time. 

According to the Aberdeen Group Report “Fixing First Time Fix” from 2013, best-in-class organizations indicate that 61% of incoming calls are routed through a triage phase, compared to 50% for all other organizations. Triage pushes first time fix to 86% as opposed to 62% for those with no triage.

First time fix means you have a better idea of the problem before rolling the truck so you can equip it with the right parts, and can send an engineer with the correct skills to resolve the issue. 

IoT data is critical to triage because anecdotal data from the customer can only take you so far. 

Seeing the real-time and/or historical data can give you insights in to events leading up to the incident, not to mention eliminating truck rolls for an unverifiable fault.


Let’s go back to our 20 engineer service company and their 10,000 service calls per year. 

We’ll eliminate 10% for removing “No Fault Found.” 

Of the remaining 9,000, let’s assume we get 24% in first time fix (FTF) due to triage over industry norms. 

That eliminates 2,160 secondary truck rolls which saves over a million dollars. 

The Results

Although the utopian world of your customers paying you to never show up isn’t a plausible reality.

I’m hopeful that for those following along, you’ve realized that all these savings I’ve described add up to over 100% of service costs.

I also hope you can see that these opportunities exist in your organization, and this handy tool helps eliminate the redundancy in the calculations.

Give Your Data the Power to Speak

Steve Feltovich recently stated, “Data rots like produce at a market does! It has a very limited shelf-life if it is not used quickly.” 

Augmenting your Salesforce platform field service solution with Bolt Data Connect helps you shift your service process to the left and can quickly help you realize significant bottom line savings, while increasing customer satisfaction and NPS. 

Your data is immediately available, actionable, and valuable.

Steve further went on to quote Taiichi Ohno, the person credited with the most robust manufacturing process in the world, The Toyota Production System. Ohno shared, “Data is of course important in manufacturing, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.”


Take action on the facts about the assets you manage with a Salesforce based field service solution and Bolt Data Connect.

Contact us today to learn more. 


Written by:
Jonathan Skelding, Vice President of Product Sales
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