Optimizing your dispatching and route planning process can boost your field service business’ efficiency, profitability, and overall growth. An efficient and organized dispatch process reduces long wait times and delays and also enables you to meet emergency service requests, propelling your business ahead of other competing field service providers.
By AKHIL RAJAN
The Role of a Dispatcher
The role of a dispatcher is to schedule field service appointments effectively. They form a bridge between customers’ needs and field workers’ availability. A successful dispatcher can effectively assign the right jobs to the right field workers. They rely on their detailed understanding of their workers’ availability and abilities, plus a deep knowledge of travel routes and tools that can help field workers deliver accurate service on time.
Dispatching is the linchpin of successful field service management and hence plays a vital role in delivering enhanced customer experience. Although every industry has its own unique considerations for successful dispatching, they eventually have to rely on these 8 best practices to drive excellence.
1. Prioritizing jobs effectively
Factors that influence prioritization vary from company to company. In order for the dispatcher to prioritize jobs effectively, they need to understand the scope of field workers’ responsibilities at a granular level. They need to know what the field workers do and also how they do it. Moreover, better prioritization starts from the top down. It’s important that leadership understands the unique factors that impact their field service management processes so that the dispatch methodology is optimally shaped.
2. Communicating professionally
Dispatchers have a unique power of influencing the worker’s experience as well as that of a customer. Therefore, it’s important the dispatcher displays clarity and professionalism when interacting with both the worker and the customer.
3. Promoting teamwork
Dispatchers and field service workers are intrinsically dependent on each other to succeed. Therefore, investing time in understanding each other’s responsibilities helps in improving communication and refining workflows.
4. Improving response time
Customers don’t like to wait for service. If the service isn’t prompt and reliable, they will complain. If you want to improve customer experience, you need to work on improving your response time. Improving response times may include logically scheduling your field workers’ jobs, optimizing routes, and keeping up with local traffic and weather.
5. Collecting data and analyzing it
Data gives you valuable insights into your business. Collecting data such as a number of returning customers, miles put on each vehicle, and the average time taken to reach each job location goes a long way in improving your field service business. This data also gives you insights into industry standards, how well you perform on them, and where you stand compared to other field service companies.
6. Optimizing Routes
Routing is not simple as getting a technician from job site A to job site B. It’s complex because driving from A to B is an expense. Routing has to be done in such a way that it minimizes travel time, reduces drive times, and doesn’t negatively impact the bottom line. Optimizing the route also frees up technicians to take up additional service calls.
7. Performing a dispatch debrief
Once the appointment is set up, it’s important to perform a dispatch brief. This is an important step to ensure that the appointment is a success and if the next one has to be scheduled. To ensure a high first-time fix rate, dispatchers need to go over the dispatch history to see where they can improve.
8. Managing inventory
Ensuring that your field technicians have the right tools and equipment to do their jobs is one of the biggest challenges in field service businesses. If you want to manage inventory effectively, you need to have an integrated system where everything – right from scheduling, route planning, and inventory – is updated automatically and in real-time.
Improving your dispatch efficiency doesn’t have to be difficult. Get started on the above 8 best practices, improve customer experience, and increase profits. If the manual process of improving dispatch efficiency overwhelms you, remember there are easier ways to get it done. Rely on technology and field service management software that can help.
Akhil Rajan is a Customer Success Specialist at Zuper, an intelligent workforce management platform for service-oriented businesses. Working with customers on a daily basis, he has a deep understanding of their needs and pain points and so he is able to contribute to the marketing strategies for Zuper with the content he writes. He writes on topics like how to increase workforce utilization, how to reduce the service turnaround time and increase workforce efficiency, customer adoption, cost reduction strategies, etc – to name a few. He is often found buried in books or playing chess in his free time.