John Adkerson and Michael Sellers, both Emergency Communications Center Operators, field Tinker’s 911 calls and dispatch emergency crews to action wherever they are needed. Their office staffs eight dispatchers total and two dispatchers are on-duty at all times and work 60-hour work weeks. They are all trained in emergency medical and fire dispatching, as well as CPR and hazardous material awareness. (Air Force photo by Kelly White)
Picture this: you’re running a successful service business with three full-time technicians, each averaging about 5 customer visits per day, all without any type of scheduling software. They come into the office first thing every morning to punch a time card, pick up their 5 paper work orders, and set off. You have little to no contact with your techs throughout the day, until they’re returning to punch out.
At the end of each day, you review completed work orders for any notes, like special services or equipment that is needed. You also look over today’s phone records as you write out 15 new work orders for the next day, being extra careful to write addresses properly. Hopefully you’ve planned ahead in your files for equipment needing inspection or additional maintenance so you can add that into the schedule, too. You consult a map as you build tomorrow’s routes, working one or two new customers in, making sure to number each work order according to optimal route.
You may think this sounds like the daily grind for a service company in the early 1990s, before cell phones, computers, and the Internet simplified the day-to-day tasks of running a business. But even in 2020, fewer than half of field service companies use any sort of field service management software to simplify job scheduling.
If you’re part of the group that is still using manual processes, consider the ways in which automating them could save you time and money. We’re taking a look here at how moving from paper to scheduling software can benefit your business.
These scenarios are frustrating and can be limiting – they eat away at your ability to be efficient, to improve your customer experience, and to grow your business. If you’ve found yourself dealing with these headaches, it is probably time to start exploring your field service management software options.
No More Losing Information
Though we used a small service company in our example above, the pitfalls of relying on manual scheduling can, and do, affect field service companies of all types and sizes.
Leading the pack of unreliability is paper, which can easily get lost, destroyed, or thrown away. With white boards, you can lose key information with a single bad eraser swipe. And, while spreadsheets might seem like the answer, they too are only as reliable as the last time you hit the save button. Anyone who has ever had their computer freeze or crash before they could save their work knows this all too well.
Hand-written schedules also present the additional challenge of being just that – hand written. We’ve all heard jokes about doctors having notoriously bad handwriting. But consider being a field service technician about to head to their next job, trying to make out an address that was hastily scribbled down by an office manager from a phone call six days ago. You call the office for help, but no one is answering; what do you do?
One of the biggest benefits to scheduling software is perhaps the simplest. The electronic schedule in field service management software can’t be lost or thrown away, and your changes are saved as you make them. Key information like addresses and phone numbers are not only clearly presented, but are also often built into efficient routes (more on that later).
Everyone Has the Whole Story
More than 70 percent of respondents in a recent Microsoft report said they expect businesses to already know who they are, what they’ve purchased, and have insight into their previous engagements. Translated, if you’re a field service company relying on paper scheduling, you are already at a customer experience deficit before you even arrive at more than 70 percent of your daily appointments.
Imagine that you’ve gotten a call from an existing customer who is experiencing a few different problems that could be originating from a number of different places. Equally as important as communicating the issues themselves to your technician is providing them with other valuable information at their fingertips that may help to diagnose the causes.
Scheduling software, as part of a field services management platform, arms your mobile workforce with background information they need to provide the best service. Without it, you’re left to dig through files, write down equipment brands and model numbers, and make notes on work orders about service history. Alternatively, comprehensive field service management software stores all of that relevant data, making it easy for you to quickly pull it into each scheduled appointment with a few simple clicks. Technicians are able to be more productive while on site, accessing all the information they need, when they need it, via their mobile device.
Optimized Routing and Dispatching
Another benefit to scheduling software is tightening up efficiency through optimized routing and dispatching.
As a service business, when was the last time you took a call from a customer with a problem that needed addressing sometime in the next three to four weeks? More than likely, when there’s a problem, it needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. This requires you to stop what you’re doing to call each of your technicians and assess their current locations and job status. Then comes the painstaking process of reorganizing schedules and routes to fit the new appointment in as soon as possible.
Conversely, field service scheduling software allows you to be nimble in dispatching for urgent requests. Real-time visibility into where your technicians are, their current job status, and where they’re headed next saves you the effort. The ability to see, with the click of your mouse, who is closest to a new job and send it to that technician via a mobile app makes dispatching faster. The software also optimizes routes for you, which takes on even greater significance when you’re dynamically adding and/or changing jobs.
What’s in It for You?
What business wouldn’t benefit from increased productivity in the office and in the field? Who doesn’t want an improved customer experience that comes from better communication between the office and technicians? Most importantly, who wants to continue turning down jobs because of time inefficiency? In other words, let scheduling software put time back in your day and money in your pocket.
Want to see field service scheduling software in action? Let’s connect!
Find out how your business can benefit from using scheduling software and stepping away from outdated paper schedules!