Putting work orders to work

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We typically know and use Work Orders in the context of field service assignments, but Work Orders can also be leveraged in a more “traditional” Service Cloud setting. In this blog, we’ll be looking at designing a solution for a common use case involving a front and back office, working to resolve customer tickets.

Salesforce defines the Work Order object as “tasks to be performed on a customer’s product, typically in field service”. With the recent addition of milestones to Work Orders, we can say that they have become tasks “on steroids”. This opens up new scenarios, which are not all restricted to field service. We will be looking at one of those scenarios in more detail in this blog post, namely client-facing customer support, interacting with a back office.

Suppose we have a company with a contact center where the agents handle all the client facing interactions. For resolving some types of tickets, they need assistance from back office employees (e.g. Finance, accounting, order handling). The back office is in charge of some specialized systems, to which the customer support agent does not have access. What would the solution design for such a process look like in Salesforce?

One possibility would be to use tasks in Salesforce, but unfortunately, we cannot assign tasks to a “back office queue”, and they provide limited tracking capabilities. An alternative would be to assign the case ownership to the back office; however, for tracking the performance of the back office, we would need to duplicate existing entitlement definitions to also account for back office milestones. A third alternative that I will focus on includes the use of a Work Order, assigned to the back office. Let’s take a look at how this could be configured in Salesforce.

We can represent this use case with this simplified process diagram (°):


Cases that need assistance from the back office will go through all activities (1 to 6). Cases that can be handled completely by the customer support agent bypass activities 4 and 5. Also note that the time between activities 2-6 can be used as the “external” or client-facing Service Level Agreement (SLA) duration, while the time between activities 4-5 tracks the performance of the back office (“internal” SLA).

(°) Wondering how this diagram was created? Check out this great application ‘Elements.cloud’, and stay tuned for a blog post going into more detail on this great tool.

Let’s dive into some Salesforce configuration and see this solution in action

Don’t worry, it’s all point & click! Our simplified recipe calls for these ingredients: cases, work orders, entitlements, queues and a dash of quick action.

1) We will start by setting up an entitlement process to track our customer support performance. Obviously, this is a process that runs on the Case object:


2) We add some basic milestones with their timings:


3) Next up is the entitlement process for Work Orders, with its own milestones and timings:

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4) In order to quickly create a Work Order from a case, we will configure a new case publisher action and add this to the case feed layout. Using the layout and field options, we can set predefined values (optionally).


5) Add the Work Orders related list to the case layout, and create a queue for Work Orders (for example define a queue for every back office).

6) All set!

How does this work in practice?

Your customer contacts you to have his contract terms updated. A new case is logged in Salesforce and we can track the milestones associated with it:

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Since the customer support agent does not have access (or authorization) to change the contracts, a Work Order will be created and assigned to the finance back office:


This results in a work order assigned to the Finance back office queue, with separate milestones to be tracked. Also, note that these milestones could even account for back office specific business hours!

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After all the actions have been taken by the back office to handle the work order, they change the status to “Completed”.

From the case, the agent can easily see the status of the associated work order, by hovering over the entry in the case feed.


This will trigger the closure of the case, and completes the process for handling this ticket.

Going beyond this simple example, we can use the automation features in Salesforce to improve this process even further:

automatic creation of work order line items, providing more detail in the work order escalation rules for unhandled work orders milestone success, warning and non-compliance actions automatic updates of the case, triggered by the work order

On the reporting side, we now have the ability not only to have insight into cases and their milestones, but also in work orders and their associated object milestones.

Do you have a similar use case in your company? Or do you see other use cases for leveraging Work Orders in your business processes?

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