As more organizations shift to a customer-centric business model, the process of scheduling their mobile, fixed-location, or blended workforces continues to evolve. There are more complexities involved with scheduling the modern mobile workforce than ever before, and the outdated, manual processes of the past just aren’t efficient enough to keep up. In fact, 72% of executives claim that worker productivity is negatively impacted by their existing technology.
Manually scheduling your mobile workers can mean missed appointments, suboptimal allocation, unhappy customers and employees, and lost opportunities. But automating the process can help resolve all of these headaches, resulting in happier customers and a healthier bottom line.
What is Automated Employee Scheduling?
Automated scheduling is an optimization tool that uses artificial intelligence to select the right employee for the job based on skills, certifications, location, and other important factors. Automated scheduling technology can handle a high capacity of incoming requests and generate a schedule that enables an organization to achieve key business outcomes. Whether their priority is to serve as many customers as possible, as soon as possible, or optimize operations for a balanced workload, automated scheduling can help companies reach their objectives.
Organizations that rely on a deskless workforce to deliver services must also rely on proper scheduling to remain competitive and boost revenue. Automated scheduling tools take the guesswork and heavy lifting out of the equation, leaving your mobile workers to do what they do best: serve customers.
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Benefits of Automated Scheduling
There are many perks to using automated scheduling, especially in comparison to outdated, manual processes:
When creating schedules manually, efficiency is nearly impossible. Many unforeseen factors come into play: urgent appointment requests, cancellations, workers who can’t come in for the day. Checking schedules, figuring out which mobile worker is where and when, identifying which worker has the necessary skill sets for the job, and dispatching that worker to the right location—it all involves a great deal of time, resources, and effort. Automated scheduling software alleviates a large burden from busy staff schedulers, increasing efficiency and saving your company time and money.
Reduce Operating Costs
One way to trim operating costs is to decrease back office expenses. Administrative tasks can put a strain on time, money, and resources, especially when it comes to scheduling for a deskless workforce, which requires coordination across many job sites at any given time. When administrative staff don’t have to spend time finding the right worker for the given situation or the closest worker for an urgent job, they can spend more time on tasks that grow the business.
Shift to a Proactive Scheduling Process
When urgent appointments come up, clients cancel at the last minute, workers are suddenly unavailable, or demand for your service increases dramatically, mobile workforces have to react and adapt. The company’s reaction to that situation can have either a positive or negative effect on the brand, the employees, and customers.
If you try to react using manual scheduling processes or outdated communication tools, it’s significantly harder than it needs to be.
By using a tool that delivers the flexibility and visibility to proactively schedule your mobile workforce, teams can adopt a proactive approach. Workers get real-time updates, so everyone always knows what’s happening next, even in the field. Employees have peace of mind that schedules are always accurate, and they can easily plan ahead of time or make changes without chaos. Managers can use detailed reporting to see scheduling trends, such as busy times of day or seasons, allowing you to ramp up your workforce or reassign workers to other jobs as necessary.
Meet (and Exceed!) Customer Expectations
Providing your customers with an excellent customer experience is no longer a “nice to have”—it’s a necessity. How well you meet or exceed your customers’ expectations is what can give you a competitive advantage in the market.
Automated scheduling helps ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. It reduces potential human error, such as double-booking a mobile worker, scheduling a worker with the wrong skill set, or not allowing enough travel time so the worker arrives late. All of these situations can leave customers frustrated and often drives them to your competitors. When you use automated scheduling to find and match the right worker for the right job, customers are met by qualified, prepared workers who get the job done on the first try.
Reduce Employee Turnover
The last thing you want is a scheduling process that leads to rushed, late, or overbooked workers, or that causes employees to show up to a job that’s already been cancelled. It’s inefficient, unprofessional, and frustrating to the worker—which can have a serious impact on the business. Workers who are overworked, underutilized, or not using their unique skill sets often don’t stay with a company for long. That turnover is pricey; it can cost 30 – 100% or more of the departing employee’s salary to find a replacement.
Supporting your employees with automated scheduling helps reduce employee turnover and increase workers’ satisfaction. Satisfied, well-equipped, motivated mobile workers go above and beyond to provide an excellent customer experience and, making you a more attractive employer, a stronger brand, and a more profitable business.
Make Informed Scheduling Decisions
When you have intelligent, automated scheduling software, you have the data at your fingertips to make savvy scheduling decisions. It’s not only about the day-to-day operations of getting the right worker to the right job. Making informed scheduling decisions also involves improving business outcomes, operational efficiency, and customer service. Informed scheduling decisions decrease operating costs, optimize mobile workforce productivity, reduce errors, boost customer service, and increase your bottom line.
Savvy organizations often use management by exception, in which only significant deviations from the norm are brought to managers’ attention. For example, if all appointments should take between 30 and 60 minutes, managers do not need to be notified if the appointment time stays within a 10-minute “tolerance” range on either side (i.e. 20-70 minutes). However, managers should be notified if an appointment takes significantly less time (i.e. 5-10 minutes) or significantly more time (i.e. 80+ minutes) than expected and budgeted for the task at hand.
By introducing automation, companies can set the conditions of an “exception,” e.g. a certain deviation from the tolerance window for arrival time, a certain deviation from the expected cost of replacement parts, or a lack of available workers with expertise in a given area. This way, managers don’t have to respond to every exception—only the ones that truly require human decision-making.
4 Must-Have Features of Automated Scheduling Software
Like many things, not all automated scheduling software is created equal. When looking for a platform that meets your needs, there are four must-have features for any organization with a mobile workforce.
Intelligent Job Matching
In order to provide quality customer service—and get the job done right the first time, every time—the right worker needs to be assigned to the right job. Intelligent job matching takes into account which worker has the right skillset, the location of the worker versus job, work availability, and more.
Not only does intelligent job matching reduce errors that often occur with manual scheduling, but it helps reduce the cost of service, ensure that all resources are used to capacity, and increase customer satisfaction. Furthermore, it increases employee satisfaction, decreasing your employee turnover.
Batch optimization creates schedules for large data sets of work, taking into account job location, routing, worker skill requirements, and other factors for myriad jobs and deskless workers. Schedulers can avoid monotonous scheduling tasks and simply schedule the same optimization query to run at the same time daily, weekly, or monthly to create schedules in advance. You can even create optimization profiles for different business units.
It’s virtually impossible to know the location of every worker, where they’re supposed to be next, who has what skills, and all of the other details that you need at your fingertips when an appointment needs to be booked now: Unless, of course, you have an automated scheduling tool.
Powerful automated scheduling software makes it easy to optimize schedules and ensure efficiency and productivity. Simply input the time, location, skillset, and other inclusion/exclusion criteria, and the software hands you real-time recommendations for which mobile worker is the best fit for the job.
Rule Specification Abilities
With a mobile workforce, you need automated scheduling software that aligns with your business needs, as well as your customers and mobile workforce. It should have the flexibility to let you set parameters, such as job location, worker skillset, and so on, so schedules can be created automatically.
The right software should be dynamic and calibrate results based on real-time business needs. That could mean optimizing the most cost-effective schedule based on available resources, or decreasing mobile workforce travel times. Automated scheduling software should have the rule specification capabilities to meet your needs, whatever they are.
Reap the Rewards of Automated Scheduling
Skedulo’s intelligent automated scheduling software for the mobile workforce offers a plethora of benefits to your customers, employees, and bottom line. It’s a mobile-first platform that delivers intelligent job matching, batch optimization, and many other scheduling features, as well as the analytics and visibility you need to give your deskless workers a leg up on the competition.