Technician Scheduling Guide: Challenges, Best Practices and 5 Tips to Improve
The 4 biggest challenges of service technician scheduling for organizations today
Technician scheduling is one of the most crucial factors in the success of any business involving offsite technicians. Despite the fact that it has nothing to do with the quality of the technician’s work on a machine when done right, effective scheduling can drive revenue. Done poorly, scheduling can cause your whole organization to come to a standstill.
Having unproductive gaps in your schedule means you’re not billing as many hours as you could be – which eats into your potential earnings. Service managers and dispatch teams can spend a lot of time trying to assign the right field technician to the right job, and that comes with its fair share of challenges, including:
#1 Scheduling technicians can involve a lot of paperwork
There are many ways to organize service technicians’ schedules, but most involve high manual effort. Think whiteboards, spreadsheets, and even notebooks. But these outdated solutions involve manual bureaucracy and paperwork, which often causes messy results, such as missed appointments and unhappy customers. Not only does manual scheduling tend to cause chaos, but it also requires more time and effort to complete, requiring putting pen to paper to gather and share relevant details of each task.
#2 Assigning the right tech for the right job
Tech availability, customer availability, skill set required, and proximity to customer location – dispatchers trying to schedule technicians need to mix many different variables to make every piece of the puzzle work. Make a mistake in one of them, and you can ruin someone’s day. An error in scheduling can make a simple job overwhelming and lead to imbalanced workloads amongst technicians.
#3 Scheduling conflicts and scheduling gaps
In an ideal world, technicians spend the maximum amount of their time on service calls, with only a minimum gap between them. However, what often ends up happening is that a lack of coordination between technicians and dispatchers leads to an inefficient distribution of work. The outcome of this is unnecessary gaps in schedules or appointments and conflicts that leave customers unhappy.
#4 The bottom line
Front-line techs that are overworked due to inefficient scheduling have a cascading effect in an organization. It can take a hit in revenues, accumulating higher costs, and lowering productivity in operations. The objective of field service management is to find a way that works for your business to coordinate technicians’ service calls, taking into account the skills needed to complete a job in an easy and fast way.
It’s about making the life of both dispatchers and technicians better while improving your bottom-line.
Three best practices to adopt in technician scheduling
Technician scheduling software can help you meet the above challenges head-on to prevent gaps in scheduling and improve efficiency. These three tips will help you adopt the technology and apply it to your business, so you reap the benefits right away.
#1 Create well-defined criteria for prioritizing service tasks
If you want to make technician scheduling as easy and efficient as possible, you need to think about your priorities and plan accordingly. Establish how you’ll rank the importance of each service task that comes in by considering factors such as proximity of location, the urgency of the job, criticality to customer’s operations, etc.
#2 Standardize your scheduling process
Minimize the chance for errors by predefining workflows and processes that determine how each request is scheduled and assigned to a technician. For example, give technicians specific jobs based on their experience and skill set. Skill-based routing especially benefits companies with a large number of technicians and different levels of expertise. Say your technicians specialize in one area of your field; it makes sense to ‘save’ their skills for jobs that require their expertise. Otherwise, you’ll lose out on business when your experts are all booked up with routine maintenance tasks – something that could be handled by a generalist or more junior tech.
#3 Maximize technician availability
Schedule and manage technicians to ensure they reach the customers closest to them and meet the job’s skill requirement. Your customers will be happier if the technician is not only showing up to the appointment on-time but also resolves their problem on that first visit. Scheduling jobs based on location is more efficient than booking work all over town to fill your schedule. That’s because it’s more beneficial to serve a specific area close to the technician than have them drive all over town, spending money on gas and wasting time between assignments.
5 ways of improving technician scheduling
Transforming your workflow to improve technician scheduling doesn’t have to be complicated. Improve your technician scheduling workflow with these five steps.
#1 Have a single view of all technician schedules
Don’t waste time switching from one technician’s schedule to another to see what their day looks like. Instead, optimize service technician assignments by viewing all their plans at a glance. Freshdesk’s intuitive dashboard lets you visualize workloads across teams, schedule appointments, and dispatch field workers– all at once. You can also view and track all your service tasks’ status at once in the shared inbox. You can also view every technician’s schedule on the scheduling dashboard to identify any conflicts or gaps in the calendar.
#2 Automate service task assignment
Automations save you both time and effort by automatically performing repetitive tasks so your dispatch managers and field technicians can focus on providing service to customers wherever they are. In Freshdesk, you can execute automated actions on every service task as soon as it’s created. For example, automatically set a service task priority to Urgent based on the contact or company associated with the service task. Automating these functions will save you time to focus on the tasks that add value to your business, like improving your strategy and dealing with complicated issues. Spend time on what matters by automating repetitive actions with Freshdesk.
#3 Group technicians based on domain & skill set
Based on your industry and the type of service needs, your organization fulfills its good practice to create specialized skill groups based on technician domain knowledge and expertise. For example, if you have certain technicians who deal with electrical equipment and others who deal with plumbing, you can create two different groups to make scheduling easier based on the job. With Freshdesk, you can organize field technicians into service groups. Groups let you easily assign service tasks so you can schedule technicians based on their competence.
#4 Assign the right technician for the right job
A complicated machine repair might need an expert technician’s hand, while a routine checkup can do with a person with less experience. Dispatchers need multiple information points such as the field technician’s current schedule, workload levels, and the customer’s history to identify the best field technician for each job. Assign and schedule jobs from an integrated calendar view with Fresdhesk’s scheduling dashboard through simple drag and drop controls. Having all technician calendars in one place also helps dispatchers easily assign the right person for the right job.
#5 Track job updates in real-time
A last-minute request can derail the entire day’s schedule. Freshdesk lets technicians receive real-time job updates through alerts connected to their mobile phones. Using an intuitive scheduling interface, Freshdesk’s dispatch software lets your dispatcher determine the best technician for the job by sorting by the skill set and the technician’s location, and they can do all of it in real-time.
3 huge benefits of technician scheduling software for businesses
Having gaps in your schedule means you’re missing out on billing customers for work done – which means losing out on potential revenue, plus paying technicians for idle time. The key is to find the right processes and tools that make managing your technician scheduling a breeze. Technician scheduling management tools like Freshdesk simplify the complications, improve logistics, prevent scheduling gaps, and reduce errors. There are other benefits when you use a technician scheduling software:
- Save time and avoid service delays: Make your business operate like clockwork by making sure you’re automatically creating efficient technician schedules. Using technician scheduling software means dispatchers save time responding to service calls and techs get to customer locations on time.
- Drastically improve the customer experience: By assigning the right technicians for every appointment, you improve your first-time-fix rates and provide a consistently reliable experience. On-time service delivery and improved field operations lead to a better customer experience.
- Reduce operational and administrative costs: Disorganized or short-sighted technician schedules can cost you revenue as well as potential customers. Better scheduling means no more repeat site visits, better planning of service, and improving logistical operations while eliminating unnecessary expenses.