Kristoff is working as a dispatcher in a well-known field service company. He plays a crucial role in ensuring that their field service operations run smoothly. Kristoff is responsible for creating and managing schedules, assigning workers to job sites, and resolving any job scheduling conflicts that may arise.
He was sitting in his office, looking at staff schedules for the day. It was a mess and the overflowing spreadsheets were not helping. He was trying to reschedule a job, but it was an arduous task, and unfortunately not an uncommon one. In his job, Kristoff has to reschedule jobs all the time because either customers change their plans, or field service technicians take an impromptu day off. It was a frustrating experience and he wished there was a way to automate it all, or at least make the process simpler.
He had heard about field service scheduling software that would make quick work of the process, but convincing management that it was a good investment was a challenge all its own. Making Kristoff’s life easier was probably not the best argument to start with. So where to begin? What arguments would make sense to management and what sort of return on investment can they expect?
If you are in the same boat as Kristoff, this article is for you. Below we discuss how scheduling software can help field service businesses streamline their operations—ways that will appeal to management, not just people like Kristoff. Read on to learn more.
1. Automating schedules
One of the most time-consuming tasks for dispatchers is creating staff schedules. This can be particularly daunting if there are a lot of employees or when the company offers 24/7 service. Creating staff schedules manually can be a tedious and time-consuming process, especially if the schedules need to be updated frequently.
Scheduling software applications can make this process much easier. These products can help to ensure that schedules are compliant with labor laws and service level agreements, which while saving the dispatchers time and effort, also protects the company from running afoul of legal and contractual violations they might unknowingly make.
Scheduling software like Zuper can create schedules based on preset criteria, including employee availability; a specific skill or certification. Dispatchers benefit from the time savings from no longer having to do things manually. Companies benefit from a reduction in human error and increased reliability in getting the correct employees scheduled for the right jobs.
2. Viewing all job schedules at a glance
When employees are scheduled manually, using spreadsheets, getting an accurate overview of a given day or week or month can be a difficult prospect. Every job is listed on a separate row, and seeing how that job relates to all the others is challenging, if not impossible. And making sure all the information you need for a job is actually in the spreadsheet? And kept updated? It is overwhelming to even think about.
Dispatchers typically need to include the date, time, location, and the nature of the job. And of course, knowing which technician is assigned and how to contact them is also necessary. Tracking all this information can quickly become unwieldy when relying on simple spreadsheets. Providing dispatchers with field service management software, on the other hand, gives them the ability to view all the calls scheduled for their service team at a glance and in a way that makes sense.
Identifying scheduling conflicts and open time slots becomes much easier. Seeing which techs are currently dispatched, and who is available makes load balancing and job allocation a much smoother process. If a last-minute call comes in, being able to see employee availability is the first step in getting it routed properly—FSM software can help you with this and more.
3. Making it easier to reschedule requests and reassign technicians
Dispatchers know better than anyone that plans change. Something always comes up at the last minute. Whether a customer requests rescheduling an appointment or an employee calls in sick, dispatchers need to be able to reassign workers and reschedule requests quickly and efficiently.
However, when your job schedules are actually just spreadsheets you are already working at a disadvantage. Whenever a job is canceled or rescheduled, dispatchers have to manually update the spreadsheet. It is a time-consuming and error-prone process and let’s hope you don’t have to do it in more than one place—dual entry is a recipe for disaster. But when you invest in getting equipped with technology that helps mitigate these challenges, you are setting yourself up for success.
Staff management and scheduling stop being a bottleneck and become just another part of the workflow. Scheduling software like Zuper’s simplifies task allocation by providing a drag-and-drop scheduling experience to dispatchers. Using a user-friendly interface, appointments can be moved and reassigned in real-time with just a few clicks. Additionally, conflict alerts help to minimize double bookings and streamline the scheduling process.
4. Helping with territory planning
Territory planning in field service can be an arduous process, particularly if it must be manually performed by dispatchers. Efficient and effective route planning requires dispatchers to take a variety of factors into account. Customer location, available personnel, and the type of service required are all considerations when planning optimal routes and job assignments.
Furthermore, manual territory planning is often reliant on outdated information, which can lead to errors and inefficient routes. As a result, many businesses are now turning to automatic territory planning software like Zuper in order to streamline the process and improve routing efficiency.
By inputting data such as customer addresses and zip codes, maps can be created that show which employees are assigned to which territories. This helps ensure that employees aren't traveling too far from job to job and that customers are getting timely service from knowledgeable technicians.
5. Eliminating scheduling overlaps and double bookings
One of the risks associated with manual scheduling is the potential for overscheduling or double booking. This can happen when two or more appointments are scheduled for the same time slot. Overlapping appointments can cause disruptions and delays and may require last-minute rescheduling.
Double booking can also impact customer satisfaction, as it can result in longer waits or inconvenient appointment times. In order to avoid these risks, it is important to carefully review the schedule before booking any appointments. By taking the time to check for conflicts, dispatchers can help ensure that all appointments are scheduled correctly and avoid any potential disruptions.
One of the key benefits of using scheduling software is that it helps prevent double booking. By entering all relevant information into the software, businesses can ensure each appointment is properly accounted for. This eliminates the risk of having two or more customers try to book the same time slot.
Scheduling software offers features that allow businesses to set maximum capacity limits. This ensures that no more appointments are booked than can be reasonably accommodated, further reducing the chances of overbooking. By using scheduling software like Zuper, businesses can minimize scheduling disruptions by identifying potential conflicts when a job is first scheduled.
Scheduling software provides a number of benefits for dispatchers like Kristoff, from automating schedules to eliminating scheduling overlaps. These tools help dispatchers save time while still providing high-quality service to their customers.
Automating schedules not only makes the dispatcher’s job easier but also helps to ensure work orders are completed in a timely manner. If you would like to see how Zuper can help your business run smoother, sign up for a free trial and see for yourself how this software can change the way you do business.