There is a lot at stake for field service management teams when it comes to scheduling and dispatch. Or rather, effective scheduling and dispatch. When multiple service calls are coming in per day, mixed with recurring maintenance calls, it’s a major challenge. So, it’s important that these businesses have a plan and field service dispatch software to get them through the challenges.
Failing to have a great dispatch system in place can be penalized by customers who decide to go elsewhere. If they get tired of waiting for service because you are overbooked, it gives them the chance to look to someone new. And that person has the chance to win a customer for life with great, on-time service. Over the last 20 years, field service dispatch software has been looked at as the answer. The advanced tools have helped dispatchers make routing, scheduling and dispatch decisions. It has automated the process and become a dynamic part of the business.
However, some field service management businesses still struggle with dispatching. That’s because they don’t have the right tools in place to get the job done. They say to run a great field service management business you need a great dispatcher. So, you should also be giving them a great field service dispatch software to use as well.
Picking the right time slot with Field Service Dispatch Software
One of the challenges a dispatcher faces is booking for emergency service calls. That’s because they aren’t on the map of the dispatcher or technician and require immediate action. But customers can be in a panic, the equipment could be down during a critical time and fast service is needed. So, it’s up to the dispatcher to find them a time slot that works for the customer, as well as with the availability of the technicians.
According to a survey by Blumberg Advisory Group, 59% of field service management organizations offered the first available time slot. Meanwhile, 40% provided the customer with multiple options. However, 49% set appointments five days out or longer. That means half of the businesses surveyed can’t handle same day service. That’s because they don’t have the workforce to handle emergency calls coming in.
For customers, booking five days out isn’t acceptable, especially when equipment is failing. They need service done fast and if their provider can’t get there for five days, they are bound to look elsewhere.
How Field Service Dispatch Software Helps
In order to have time available to handle emergency calls, technicians need more time in their schedule. After all, if they are booked all day, someone is going to miss their appointment to handle an emergency call. With field service dispatch software, resource routing becomes fundamental to the process. With a real-time view of your techs’ movements, dispatch can see who the nearest technician is to an emergency call. They can also see their schedule for the day, which route they are taking and what other technicians are doing. This gives them more information to make decisions with, in the event of an emergency.
Dispatchers can quickly reassign appointments to different technicians to handle the incoming call. They can change routes, find the nearest technician and get someone on-site quickly. With technicians using the mobile field service app, changes in their schedule are done without needing to communicate those changes. The technicians look at their phone, see the next service call and move to the next call. This saves dispatchers time trying to communicate with all the technicians in the field when they need to make changes to schedules.
Deciding who to dispatch
In the Blumberg Advisory Group survey, half of the respondents said they assign technicians based on skill set, availability and location. With field service dispatch software, it’s simple to narrow down your list of technicians based on skill set. Make sure that those who have the proper training, certifications and skills are looked at to schedule a job. This will increase your first-time fix rates by sending someone who can actually complete the job.
Afterwards, dispatchers can see the schedules of those technicians they narrowed their list down to. They can look days ahead to see what they already have, what is available and schedule accordingly. Finally, with resource routing tools, dispatchers can find the location of the nearest tech or scheduled work order to that call. They can add the appointment to the nearest technician’s schedule and optimize the route to include it. By using this method, dispatchers have complete control over the people heading to each job and when they will be there. This ensures the right people are being sent, and that the appointment is placed when it’s most optimal for the entire business.
On the other hand, the other half of businesses said they dispatch the same technician to the same site every time. Or they allow the technician to make their own schedule. This can be a dangerous tactic, as it leaves the scheduling in the technician’s hands. There could be no route optimization, and dispatchers don’t have a clear view of where their techs are in case of emergency calls. That’s why field service dispatch software is taking over scheduling and dispatch. This way, it allows dispatchers to make scheduling and dispatch decisions and technicians can focus on repairs.
Scheduling with Field Service Dispatch Software
Dispatching is one of the most important parts of any field service management business. Getting the right people, with the right skills, with the right parts to the right place is challenging. All while trying to maintain the ability to take on emergency calls and meet the growing demands of your customers. It can be overwhelming for dispatchers who have to control a large workforce. Likewise, even having a smaller workforce can be challenging when faced with a labor shortage in an emergency situation.
The key is to give your dispatchers all the tools and information they need to make decisions. With field service dispatch software, they have real-time data coming from the field. They can assign techs new appointments when needed, change routes, plug in emergency calls and schedule the right people. The use of this software is making field service businesses stronger and more able to handle any situation. If your business is still processing things manually and scheduling with whiteboards and Outlook, you could be missing plenty of opportunities to grow. And more importantly, you could be leading your customers toward other field service teams who can provide faster service.