The dispatcher’s role is critical for successful field service
Dispatchers are responsible for accurately and efficiently scheduling field service appointments. They help companies in many industries—equipment installation, system repair, IT, security, transportation, inspection, and more—bridge the gap between customers’ needs and workers’ availability.
Dispatchers’ success depends on how effectively they prioritize jobs and assign the right mobile workers to the right on-site jobs. To do this, they rely on a detailed understanding of their field service workers’ abilities and availability, along with a deep knowledge both of travel routes and of the tools that empower field technicians to deliver service accurately and on-time. They rapidly synthesize information provided by customers to accurately determine the urgency and scope of the requested service. Excellent dispatching requires certain skills, including active listening, organization, prioritization, and customer service.
Because it’s the linchpin of successful field service management, efficient dispatching plays a central part in delivering an excellent customer experience. Dispatchers can ultimately help their company unlock a significant competitive advantage by being the fastest and most accurate in prioritizing jobs and scheduling mobile workers. While every industry has its unique considerations, successful dispatchers ultimately rely on the same foundational best practices to drive everything they do.
Here are five key best practices for improving dispatch efficiency:
1. Prioritize jobs effectively
In order to build an effective schedule, a successful dispatcher needs to understand not only what field workers do, but how they do it.. Dispatchers may ask themselves:
- What specific factors impact workers’ ability to deliver optimal service in the field?
- Are there unique tools or resources that workers need with them on-site?
- What information do workers need before they arrive at the job site?
- What specialized knowledge is unique to certain members of the workforce? What types of jobs require that knowledge?
- Can workers in the area readily respond to ad-hoc service calls, or should a certain portion of each day’s schedule be reserved for last-minute/emergency work so the right technicians are available to respond?
Because factors that influence prioritization vary from company to company, understanding the scope of field workers’ responsibilities at a granular level is key so that the dispatcher’s methodology is appropriately nuanced.
For example, an HVAC dispatcher will want to triage service calls to work sites such as schools or offices with an eye toward their size and potential disruptive impact, along with any contractual obligations, such as same day service. But a dispatcher whose company specializes in a specific type of service call, such as installations only, can rely on a more straightforward first-scheduled, first-served approach.
Improving your company’s dispatch process with better prioritization starts from the top down. Leadership needs to understand the unique considerations impacting their field service management processes so that they can optimally shape their dispatch methodology. Considerations such as job scope, timing, and customer contracts all carry different weight. Automated scheduling software synthesizes complex factors like these and their relevant data, saving critical time and reducing the likelihood of error when it comes to assigning the right job to the right person at the best possible time.
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2. Route field workers efficiently between jobs
It’s not enough to simply consider the shortest distance between points A and B: There are a range of roadblocks that a field worker can encounter in the course of their shift, and an optimal route accounts for all of them. Post-appointment documentation or compliance work, unanticipated detention time for fleet vehicles, traffic delays or road closures, and even difficulty accessing certain job sites are just some of the constraints a technician might face when transitioning from one job to the next.
Designing schedules with appropriate time between appointments prevents mishaps that ultimately impact clients. But starting from scratch each shift or trying to manually modify a template route is a time-consuming process that eats into a dispatcher’s workflow and inhibits how many jobs a company can ultimately complete.
The right mobile workforce management solution can be a dispatcher’s best friend when it comes to better routing. Its technology not only identifies an optimal route based on all potential considerations, but it integrates with a worker’s mobile device so that they don’t have to pivot between tools to get their directions. Taking the manual element out of finalizing logistics means dispatchers have more bandwidth to process and schedule more calls. Most importantly, it keeps workers safer. By streamlining the way that routing information gets communicated, field employees spend less time searching on their phone for the information they need and are freed up to be more focused both en route and on site. (In turn, employees are more productive in the field, and that means more satisfied customers.)
3. Communicate professionally
Understanding what field workers do also gives dispatchers a powerful insight into the best ways of communicating with both service technicians and clients. Because they translate service requests into scheduled assignments, dispatchers have the unique power to influence not only a worker’s experience but the customer’s as well. Clarity and professionalism are essential communication skills for any dispatcher.
While “clear and professional” communication might seem like an obvious best practice, it’s worth noting that the newest generation of field service management technology makes this kind of communication possible in powerful new ways that eliminate error, improve safety, and drive efficiency.
For example, the right field service management platform lets dispatchers communicate with workers immediately within the tools they’re already using, alerting them to new assignments, updates from customers about service requests, and sharing other critical information. Unifying workers and customers around a single source of truth is an immediate way to provide clearer communication more consistently in real-time.
4. Use and optimize technology
As the connection point between customer needs and service solutions, dispatchers are uniquely aware of untapped opportunities to boost efficiency, reduce costs, empower workers, and delight customers. With more industries incorporating deskless workers, field service managers need powerful ways to improve their dispatching process.
Modernized, streamlined workflows for dispatchers and deskless workers boost everyone’s odds of success, and the right technology can have a significant effect on productivity. Some of the advantages of technology are obvious: Dispatchers can leverage real-time GPS data to locate workers and send them to nearby ad-hoc service requests, or they can provide customers with automated, real-time updates on a technician’s ETA.
Dispatchers can also use modern field service management tools to aggregate valuable data from the work they schedule to continuously analyze and improve their efficiency, including KPIs like scheduling speed, response rates, travel time, and more.
Identifying the inefficiencies in your field service management makes it easier to remove duplicative processes and optimize workflows so that you can deliver data-driven improvements to not only your internal teams, but also to your customers.
The outcomes are astounding and measurable: One public safety provider realized an 86% improvement in their scheduling and dispatching efficiency by switching from manual processes to a modern field service solution. A leading building inspector reduced time to dispatch by 50% and cut their manual scheduling processes by 90% after integrating a field service solution with Salesforce.
5. Help dispatchers and field workers learn from each other
Using technology to gather and organize insights won’t improve your dispatch process without the active involvement of key stakeholders. Teamwork is vital to getting maximum ROI from mobile workforce management software: Dispatchers and field service workers are intrinsically dependent on each other to succeed.
Investing the time in understanding each other’s responsibilities can go a long way to improving communication and refining workflows. Dispatchers can benefit tremendously from the opportunity to “ride along” with the field service workers and see firsthand how their methodology directly impacts productivity. In addition to building camaraderie and trust, these interactions can help break down data silos, letting all stakeholders see what information is needed to help field workers complete jobs and fulfill customer expectations consistently.
A more collaborative relationship between dispatchers and field workers makes it easier to successfully implement a modern field service management solution.
Maximize dispatch efficiency with Skedulo
Mobile workers now account for nearly 75% of the American workforce. And every year, more industries leverage field service solutions to provide on-site support to clients, patients, and customers. This means that long-time industry benchmarks like employee utilization and windshield time are no longer enough to gauge the true effectiveness of your dispatch and scheduling processes. As the market evolves and more competitors emerge, more sophisticated insights are necessary to provide the kind of customer experience that can secure your company’s place as a leader.
Field service providers need detailed visibility into how customer expectations are being met, how scheduling and administrative work is processed, how overhead is impacting revenue, and how performance and processes are trending over time in alignment with business objectives. And once they’ve gathered all of this nuanced data, they need a way to immediately incorporate it into daily operations so that they can yield the benefit of those competitive insights.
The ideal field service management tool can do both. With the Skedulo Deskless Productivity Cloud, you can equip your dispatchers and field managers with cloud-based tools to manage, engage, and analyze every element of your mobile workforce.
Check out the Deskless Productivity Cloud today to see how automated scheduling, data syncing, communication, and route optimization can improve your dispatch efficiency.