My original post about ServiceBench was written in 2007. Most of the information and problems that I noted were either outdated or resolved. With that in mind, I would like to provide a bit of feedback about how I use ServiceBench today … specifically focusing on the ‘on the road’ side of things.
This update is in response to a phone call that I received from ServiceBench last week. They were looking for feedback on their program especially regarding some of the points I had mentioned in my old post here. I enjoyed chatting with the rep and providing feedback and look forward to the changes that he mentioned. Great customer service!
Some of the takeaways from that phone call:
1. Rumour of a ServiceBench app for smartphones: confirmed. This is probably the singular best piece of news that I’ve heard or seen from ServiceBench in a long while. I’m not sure what platforms will be involved (Android …. please?), or who will all be able to use the app, but hopefully this is an indication of the direction that ServiceBench is moving. More mobile access is a good thing.
2. New Report Server. Reports have been taking for every and a day to come out lately (4-5 hours for a Dispatch Work Order report.) I assume this is just due to server capacity – so the news of a new Report Server is good. Hopefully the increased capacity will bring reports times down to minutes instead of hours.
There are several different contexts in which ServiceBench is used:
- The supplier/manufacturer side of things
- The business owner or partner aspect
- The in the field or ‘on the road’ user
These 3 areas of focus do overlap in many ways, but they are also very different in many ways. While I do have some opinions on how the Business Partner and Manufacturing contexts could be used better, I would like to focus on the ‘on the road’ side of things.
While I’m in the field I use ServiceBench to do several things. I close dispatches, create invoices, monitor my call availability, access histories and entitlement and most importantly keep notes about each customer in their dispatch.
Closing dispatches and creating invoices is a basic ServiceBench operation that most users use every day. As a ‘best practice’, I have found it best to do complete the dispatches and create the invoices in the field when the information is fresh in my mind. I am also able to run back into customers homes if I’ve recorded an incorrect model or serial number or find that I need some other piece of information to complete my dispatch. For some reason, (this might be a mental thing,) it also seems less work to do each dispatch and invoice in the customers driveway than to do it back in the office after a long day of work. I’m pretty sure it takes approximately the same actual amount of time, but perception wise, it just seems faster to compete the call in the driveway. An additional benefit is that when I drive away from that customer, that unit and repair is completely off my mind. Everything is litrally done – except confirming payment which I do once a week when the Pay report is issued. This frees up my mind to work on the issues and problems ahead of me rather than trying to go back in my mind to remember what I’ve already done – a more efficient use of brain power in my opinion.
I monitor my call availability all day long. Multiple times a day, I review my upcoming calls and make sure that times (AM’s and PM’s) are not overlapping. I also verify that when a long job comes in, that I have the time scheduled to properly complete that call without making me late for other customer (or for supper.) To continually monitor my calls, I have the notification turned on that sends me an email every time an outside user books a call for me. This could be a fresh call, or a reschedule done by the manufacturer. When the email comes in, I usually head over to the dispatch in ServiceBench and verify the information. At this time I will review the information that I’ve been given to make sure that I have the time scheduled to complete the call and that I have all the information that I need to give myself the best chance of completely the call first trip out. Often when calls are scheduled for me by outside users, the information is incomplete. Model or serial numbers are often missing, complaints will be incomplete or useless and purchase information (from which we determine the payment type,) is missing. If I need more information, I will either call the customer right back or send an email to my office telling them the information that I need. To be perfectly honest, all this monitoring of calls is a royal pain, but I’ve found that I can dramatically increase my first call completes doing this, so it is a necessary evil. I really wish some of those fields could be made mandatory on the entry end … as this would force the call center or online users to enter complete information before sending the dispatch off to me.
Having access to product history and warranty information through entitlement is one of those ‘on the road’ features that is most useful and needed while in the customers home. With that in mind, I would like to address one of the current ServiceBench drawbacks for end users in the field: access from mobile devices. Please note, that the upcoming ‘App’ may address this issue. Currently, the ServiceBench website does not work properly on either the iPhone or Android smartphones and tablets. The page display is OK, but scrolling does not work. This means that it is very difficult to access anything below the parts entry section of the dispatch. So history and notes cannot be viewed on my tablet in the customers home. To see this information, I must go out to my truck and view ServiceBench on my laptop – still doable, but certainly not as handy. I currently use a Galaxy Tab (7′) running Gingerbread 2.3.3 which is the latest firmware that I can run on my tablet. This is a PERFECT device for techs on the road and it works perfectly for everything that I do except my work on ServiceBench. I can order parts – reply to emails – answer website chats – plan my route with the GPS – listen to voicemails … it is a one stop shop for all my online work … except ServiceBench. I previously used an iPhone for this but had the same issue. Hopefully, this will be addressed in future updates or with the upcoming ‘app’. (Hey ServiceBench, if you need screenshots or what to see a video of what I referring to here, please email me – would be glad to provide that to you.) OK – back to histories and entitlement. While I do like to know the history of the appliance and the warranty situation sorted before going out, there are always cases where I need this information in the field. Sometimes it is a case of possible limited warranty (ie. longer warranty on washer transmissions, or fridge compressors, etc.) or maybe a case where someone else has been servicing an appliance and I need to know what that tech has done so that I don’t duplicate the work. These scenarios are where the information in ServiceBench is absolutely useful. Take advantage of this information!
…. to be continued – I’ve got to hit the road. lol.