Eliminating Conflict between Technicians and Dispatchers
By Brandi Loudermilk, CSR Coach at Service Excellence Training
The ongoing conflict between field staff and office staff is not new. It has been a pain point for business owners for years. It is like siblings bickering over who gets to sit in the front seat of the car for the short drive to the grocery store.
This does not only does this conflict annoy leaders, managers, and owners. It can also negatively impact business. Depending on the severity of the conflict, everything from the quality of customer service to revenue may suffer from the fallout. Another huge side effect of this conflict is employee turnover.
So, what causes this costly and time-consuming conflict? If you ask the technicians, they will say the dispatchers are at fault. And if you ask your dispatchers, they will say the technicians are at fault. However, the truth is, there is fault on both sides.
In core training that Service Excellence Training provides to CSR’s and dispatchers, there are always four major pain points that escalate the ongoing conflict between office and field workers. These four points are universal, and any company can fall victim to the consequences of these issues.
- Misaligned Goals
The dispatcher has a goal to keep the schedule moving on time. The technician has a goal of diligently working through their calls, making money, and getting home to their family at a decent time.
The Fix: Get their goals aligned and communicate those goals to everyone.
- Dispatch the correct technician to the correct call. ServExtra recommends dispatching based on performance and communication style of both the client and the technician.
- Provide exceptional client transformations on every call. If goal one is accomplished, this one should fall into place.
- Create an environment where everyone wins. The client wins with a great service experience, the technician wins by getting to the right calls, and the dispatcher wins by having a clear protocol to follow. The company also wins because everyone is working together.
- Lack of Appreciation for Teammates
The root of this conflict point is the “us” vs “them” mentality. It is vital to help team members understand the importance and challenges of different roles in the company.
- Have your dispatcher ride along on calls with a technician. This will give the dispatcher a deeper appreciation for the process that technicians do, the challenges they face, and the discomfort they deal with.
- Have your technician sit with the dispatcher, and not during a slow time! Let the technician see the game of “Tetris” that dispatchers play every day. Make sure the technician understands that when they do not communicate delays or hiccups with the office, the level of service to the client decreases and the job of a dispatcher is much more difficult.
- The Ever-Changing Schedule
When a technician sees their whole schedule and then sees it change for any number of reasons, they feel like they are being slighted. As any dispatcher knows, schedule changes happen all the time. It is important for the whole team to understand that until they are actually dispatched to a call, the schedule is tentative.
The Fix: Only show the technician one call at a time. That way, they are not aware of changes. They can also focus on the call they are on and not the other calls on their schedule.
This is by far the biggest hurdle in ending the conflict between dispatchers and technicians. The reason is, dispatchers always want more communication and technicians do not want to feel micromanaged. It leads to a lot of animosity between the two groups.
The Fix: Set up non-threatening communication channels. For example, have the dispatcher text the technicians 30 minutes or so before their next scheduled call asking, “How much longer do you need on this call?”
This is a very non-threatening message. It is not putting pressure on the technician to finish faster, it is not interrupting them like a phone call would, and it gives the technician a reminder in case they need to notify the office that they need more time.
It is also important to reinforce the need for communication both to the dispatcher and the technician. Dispatchers need to know if a call is going to take longer than anticipated so they can notify the next client in line. No one likes to show up to a call where the client is already angry. The technician may just need to understand the ‘why’ behind the communication requests. This will help them feel supported instead of micromanaged.
The conflict between the office and the field does not have to happen at your company. By eliminating this conflict, your company can continue to grow, provide amazing client transformation, and retain quality employees. It all starts with a culture that supports team members and does not pit them against each other.
If you would like more information on how you can help your CSRs and dispatchers improve their communication skills with your technicians, you can contact me at Brandy@ServExTra.com.
Brandy Loudermilk is a CSR coach at Service Excellence Training. She teaches call takers to close more calls, increase client satisfaction, and outbound for season leveling.
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