Besides creating the above-discussed ZoneScheduler as a system to assist in the coordination of scheduling by other companies (or more effectively accommodate extremely large volumes of appointments internally), we’ve created a couple of related utilities (each installed as small, stand-alone programs) that are quite revolutionary in terms of the integration provided.
For context, consider that if you have outside companies that are dispensing dispatch requests to you (whether pre-scheduled on your behalf or not), there ought to be a more efficient means of receiving the dispatch information—rather than by having someone from the institution call your office with the request. In fact, for a few years many institutional dispatchers (such as manufacturers seeking OEM warranty service, extended warranty companies, home warranty companies, and so on) have been employing methods such as fax or email for the purpose. But even here, it’s less efficient than it should be, for though the information arrives at your office with reasonable ease, there’s still a terrible inefficiency since a human being must read the received text, and then re-type it into your own software system. That’s kind of stupid, frankly, when much better can be done.
With ServiceDesk, we do indeed offer much better. Specifically, we have two stand-alone utilities that facilitate the dispatch process in an automaticfashion. Say that Whirlpool or American Home Shield want to dispatch a job to you? Do you have to answer your phone? Do you have to check your fax? Do you have to check your email? Do you have to log into a website and check? Not when equipped with these ServiceDesk utilities. You don’t have to do anything of the sort. Instead, within moments of the when Whirlpool or AHS generates a dispatch, you’ll see all the relevant information pop into a new Callsheet on your ServiceDesk screen. No effort required on your part. No reading of the information from elsewhere and re-typing it into the system. It’s all done for you.
We have two different utilities in this regard; one is called the Web-based Dispatch Enabler, the other the Email-based Dispatch Enabler. Each is structured to work as their names imply. Specifically, some institutional vendors of dispatch requests (such as AHS) have structured their systems to dispatch via email. Others, such as ServiceBench (and the manufacturers that work through ServiceBench) have setup to do so via the Internet. For whichever type, you’d simply install and run the utility that corresponds. With that utility running, you’ll get the dispatches automatically.
And that’s not all!
As mentioned when discussing the ZoneScheduler system (see preceding section), some of these institutional vendors want to do more than simply leave it to you to call the homeowner and schedule in response to the dispatch request. Some would prefer to do the scheduling for you, up front. But of course, it’s not practical for them to do so this unless they know when you’re available for scheduling. For this reason (as also mentioned in that previous discussion), some operations (including especially, as of June 2003, ServiceBench and P.C. Richard) have a means by which you can keep them informed of how many “slots” you have available for scheduling. For this reason, besides receiving dispatches, these two utilities also have the means to automatically inform such institutions of your scheduling availability.
In regard to ServiceBench and the WebBasedDispatchEnabler, it’s all done via the one, unitary utility. In regard to the EmailBasedDispatchEnabler, it’s done via a separate utility, which is nevertheless packaged with the main one. Regardless, either system will look at your ZonePlanner to see how many jobs you’ve allocated for each zone and/or time segment, compare such allocations to what’s presently scheduled, and transmit the resulting number of available slots to the relevant institution. It will do this virtually in real-time, so the institution is constantly informed of precisely how many slots are remaining as available to them for each day, each zone and each time segment as you’ve allotted.
Aha, we do live in a modern age!
Each of these utilities is available, essentially as an accessory to ServiceDesk (a more complete discussion of the WebBasedDispatchEnabler is in the Appendix at page 318). Just contact us for current pricing if you’re interested.