Field service dispatch management is oddly enough, much like a circus. The dispatch manager basically has to be the ringmaster while doubling as a juggler on a tightrope. While satisfying expectations of the audience (i.e., customers), they must handle many tasks in parallel without breaking a sweat. As they orchestrate one complex scenario after the other, they must do so with a smile on their face. Just for fun, a circus mate (i.e., technician) might throw something unanticipated into the mix. One wrong step, and the whole act can come crashing down—to the chagrin of all concerned.
So how can dispatch managers find the perfect equilibrium in satisfying their customers and technicians without losing their balance—or their minds? In addition to the ability to optimize routes and work with the latest technology, they must deftly handle a range of personalities and decisions with aplomb.
Command a Presence
A circus is made up of a wide range of people from different backgrounds, with different talents, who come together to put on a show. In much the same way, field service operations revolve around a set of different personalities with different skills and abilities, all working together to achieve a common goal. The best ringmasters lead their colleagues—and their varied audiences —through a show with a commanding presence and positive energy. In much the same way, the best dispatch managers oversee their technicians and customer issues with charisma and confidence.
Be the Reliable Master of Ceremonies
It’s easy to think of a ringmaster’s job as about displaying consummate showmanship. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. While performers are between acts, and equipment and props are being set up, the ringmaster is tasked with keeping the show moving. Similarly, a dispatch manager needs to keep track of many elements—work requests, work in process, technicians, job details, and more—and maintain the flow of operations. At its essence, a dispatcher’s job is to coordinate many moving parts—or direct the action, just as a circus ringmaster does. The best do this without missing a beat—or tripping up.
Keep the Show Moving
If there’s one thing circus ringmasters and dispatch managers can expect, it’s the unexpected. A circus ringmaster might learn at the last minute that a star performer is injured, or that a key piece of equipment cannot be fixed in time for the show. Whether it’s a change in a technician’s availability, shifting customer priorities, or a sudden flood of customer complaints, dispatch managers must also respond appropriately in real time. In other words, the show must go on! Such scenarios make it essential that dispatch managers are quick thinkers who can confidently make decisions at a moment’s notice.
Maintain a Balancing Act
Just as ringmasters must keep the audience entertained during lulls in the action, dispatchers must take care of customers when scheduling issues impact timely resolution. Dispatchers must be able to calm upset customers while keeping their heads about them. They serve as a punching bag of sorts, and need to know how to absorb the blow while rolling with the punches. In other words, they can’t take complaints personally or let customer distress throw them off. The most effective dispatchers excel at talking customers down and assuring them that their issue will be resolved. They keep moving forward, even when faced with tough obstacles. And more often than not, they do so with a smile on their face.
Dispatch managers are the glue holding together field service operations. Those with the right skills and approach can make every performance a crowd pleaser.
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