I bet you can’t answer this question….

Stuart Brunger

Every day on social media it seems we are all intent on proving our inability to answer school grade maths test questions … if one horse plus one horse equals twenty, and two horses plus a cowboy boot equals twenty six, then how much is one chicken, sitting on a horse, wearing a cowboy boot?

It has to be said I somewhat admire the confidently incompetent! Those who feel duty bound to prove to the world that our brains aren’t that good at logic (especially if this is coupled with an extrovert’s poor observational skills!!).

However, real life often presents us with similar challenges.

For example, the person responsible for planning the deployment of field service engineers has to cope with similar logical puzzles, but, unlike those posted online, the variables are constantly changing – and across a potentially expanding time frame. Not only do they need to absorb constantly changing information, but they then have to use that information in a very complex logic puzzle. Fitting in an emergency job today can cause a routine job to be delayed, causing an SLA appointment in two weeks’ time to be missed.

In the past, for the dispatch planner, one saving grace was that nobody was really ‘marking’ the answers – rating just how good (or bad) dispatch ‘guesstimates’ actually were. They certainly weren’t broadcasting them online for all to see!

The advent of telematics changed this. In a lot of instances, it is only when real world data is analysed that it becomes clear that using routing and scheduling tools, like Maxoptra, can dramatically improve planning quality compared with the use of spreadsheets, diaries and fixed rules that are heavily dependent on manual data entry.

Also, having spent 20 years nurturing telematics customers, I realised from the data produced, that for most users the biggest benefits would come through improved planning instead of obsessing over driver behaviour.

Of course, for most field service companies today, the challenge for the operative making job allocation calculations is even more complicated than that faced by grown adults attempting basic algebraic equations.

Now customers want instant answers. They are not happy to leave a message at a call centre and wait for the planning department or territory engineer to call back ‘soon’ with an ETA. As we are all aware, customers now expect to get an answer on precisely when a field service engineer will attend, as soon as they call in with a problem. Good service now means engaging in an attentive conversation with the customer and making them feel valued, while at the same time solving complex job allocation mathematics.

Some might argue this is simple multi-tasking. For such believers, I have news: we can’t multi-task*. It means that when thinking about the scheduling problem, the call taker will not be hearing what the customer might be saying, or focusing on making the customer feel valued. In the same way that most viewers, despite concentrating, do not see how this trick is done:

Asking service desk staff to actively converse with customers while at the same time calculating accurate ETAs is a recipe for customer service failure; it gives the customer the feeling you get when trying to converse with somebody who is also reading Facebook at the same time.

Maxoptra Service is designed to assist service centre personnel in exactly this type of stressful situation. (Yes – Stressful – read more here).

  1. It can suggest the best plans to achieve all preventative maintenance jobs within the terms of an SLA.
  2. It can calculate when ad-hoc emergency jobs can be fitted in – and suggest accurate ETAs to be offered to customers on first contact.
  3. In short – Maxoptra enables service desk personnel to do what they are best at – relationships, showing empathy, being reassuring. Ultimately making customers feel valued while it does what it’s best at – calculations based on real time information.

If you really want your customers to feel valued, invest in the tools your service desk personnel need – Maxoptra.

Stuart Brunger
Head of Business Development
Magenta Technology

PS – I suppose the Gorilla in the video was for a later film!

*For those more interested in the science of ‘why we cannot multi-task well in such situations’ I recommend “The Organised Mind: Thinking Straight in an Age of Information Overload” by Neuroscientist Dr Daniel Levitin. He describes the idea of multi-tasking as a “Diabolical Illusion



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