Scheduling jobs is one of the most challenging parts of any field service operation. It’s often said, you need to get the right person, with the right tools and skills, to the right job. That mouthful is what dispatchers try and do every day and some are having to do it manually, without the benefits of a job scheduling software.
Job scheduling has an impact across the entire organization. From revenue generated to customer satisfaction, having the ability to plan correctly, schedule, dispatch, and route technicians can have several benefits to any field service business.
If your organization still relies on whiteboards, paper-based work orders, and out-of-date phone systems, the challenge for dispatchers is even more significant. So, let’s look at how dispatchers are taking advantage of job scheduling and dispatch software versus some of the older, manual processes that some organizations are still using today.
Automate the Job Scheduling Process
When a work order comes in, getting the right worker to the job is highly important. As part of any job scheduling process, dispatchers need to arrange schedules for each technician to be the most efficient for the entire service business. Unfortunately, in 2018, 52% of companies were still using outdated methods such as spreadsheets and whiteboards to schedule their technicians. And not much has changed since then.
Going from the start of a work order to completion and beyond is a lot of work through a manual process, and there are plenty of opportunities for errors. Having an automated system in place can help reduce and remove errors when customers request service calls, straight through to how you report on those calls.
When customers call in, call center agents would have to manually input customer information, problem notes, and what parts might be needed but have no visibility into the availability of those parts. With an automated job scheduling system, all that information is at your fingertips, as customer addresses and their location information are in the system. In addition, parts availability is available when integrated with a CRM system, showing how many are in stock.
Using an automated system, inputting service requests is fast and efficient, and less error-prone than spreadsheets, paper-based work orders, or text documents.
Use Job Scheduling Software to See Real-Time Schedules
It seems rather apparent that scheduling is a significant function of job scheduling software. However, many field service businesses can miss the benefits of what a real-time scheduling application can give them versus one that requires manual updating. Many companies use Outlook and Google Calendar to schedule appointments, but it’s challenging to get the full view of all their technicians’ schedules, let alone find the right one.
Dispatchers can perform skill searches on their technicians and only bring up schedules for technicians that meet the criteria. This reduces time in finding the right technician and ensures the right technician is sent. That’s important, because according to Aberdeen Group, 88% “best in class” field service organizations resolve the issue on the first visit, while average companies resolve the issue 80% of the time.
Customers expect the highest quality of service and high first-time fix rates. They don’t want to wait for repair because a dispatcher sent the wrong technician to the job site that didn’t have the skills. With the search for the right technician narrowed by skillset, dispatchers can now see their full live schedule and can find ways to optimize that schedule. For example, reduce idle times by booking technicians’ appointments together, and find more time in their schedule to take on more calls.
Job scheduling software takes the guesswork out of scheduling and dispatching technicians. It removes a large portion of the field service equation of finding the right technician with the right skills, and ensures the proper people are assigned to the right appointments.
Complete Tracking of Jobs Scheduled
One of the most overlooked parts of dispatching is job tracking. It’s not enough to book the appointment and send the technician on their way. The appointment has to be followed through from beginning to end. Tracking jobs gives dispatchers the ability to see the status of each work order and gain visibility into the technician’s entire process.
By empowering technicians with a mobile field service app that feeds the job scheduling software, technicians can accept work orders, even on an ad-hoc basis, assigning themselves a call if they have available time. They can also transmit details to the job scheduling software, informing the dispatcher where they are in the appointment.
Are they just en route or have they arrived at the job site? At what part of the appointment are they currently? Are they working or on a break? These real-time answers can’t be seen when doing things the manual way. It’s a way for dispatchers also to gauge how long it is taking technicians to complete jobs. This allows them to not overbook a technician or move calls around if it looks as if the technician will be running late on that appointment.
Mobility Gives Control to Dispatchers
As mentioned previously, pairing a technician with a mobile app is how dispatchers can find the greatest success with job scheduling software. While the mobile app gives technicians one application to enter all work order information, it offers dispatchers the power of control.
Technicians using a mobile app will follow each job as they are scheduled. But because it’s linked to a job scheduling software, jobs can change as needed without communicating with the technician. So when emergency calls come in, priority contract appointments, or additional hands are needed on a project, dispatchers can change the schedule.
Through the manual process, the dispatcher would need to check the whiteboard or calendar, make the change, and then inform the technician via phone call about the new schedule. If they don’t answer or are en route to the next job, that’s lost time. Whereas with job scheduling software, work orders and appointments can be moved to different times and reflected in real-time on the mobile app for the technician.
No conversations, no missed appointments, and complete control of the schedule by the dispatcher.
Along with greater visibility, technicians can upload work order information, produce invoices, and even take payments from the field. In addition, dispatchers can track progress on a work order and everyone from the field to the back office can have a complete view of the entire process each step of the way.
Think of Job Scheduling Software as End-to-End Software
Dispatchers are such a large part of any organization that they can truly make or break a service department. A good dispatcher is someone you hang onto, and you give them better tools to empower their ability to make better decisions.
Too often, the role of the dispatcher is just seen as the person who schedules. However, they need to be seen as part of the process from end to end. All the historical data collected through work orders, including travel time, work time, parts used, and even how much time a technician spends on the road, can impact the decisions dispatchers make.
To read more about the struggles of dispatchers, read our eBook The Shared Struggles of Field Service Dispatching.