One of the questions I get asked all the time by clients and customers is, “Why can’t my CSR also be the Dispatcher?”
Answer: They can and often do especially if you’re a small company. But if I ask more questions, usually I discover they’re struggling to be really good with one or the other. Maybe even struggling just to be okay.
The reason for this is that being a customer service rep and being able to do dispatching are two totally different skills sets, and the best people to fill each of those roles have different personalities. In fact, every time I’ve separated the CSR and Dispatcher roles, clients always report there is more money and more profit coming in.
Why is that?
Here’s why: the CSR needs to be like the happy hostess in a restaurant. Their job is to make you feel good that you called, not like you interrupted their day. They have to be good listeners who prove that they’re listening so the customer feels they’re being heard. They need to proactively help with the customer’s expectations by doing things like telling them that when “Al” the great tech shows up, life is going to be good again. They have to explain how the process is going to work from the beginning.
Example: Explaining what forms of payment the company accepts and finding out what type of payment they wish to use at the time of service.
CSRs are NOT to get baited into quoting prices over the phone or diagnosing the job. That paints the Tech into the corner when they arrive, and if it’s anything different there’s a problem to overcome. All of this takes their knowing the CSR Manual and the scripts in it by heart so they can be authentic and empathetic. The CSR gets the customer’s job on the schedule and explains that if something changes, the dispatch team will be in touch and keep them in the loop. Their job is to set the tone and book the call.
The Dispatcher’s job is to work closely with the Service Manager so they can maximize billable hours. Based on my Box Org Chart and how I help my clients either redesign their office or build their new office, the Dispatcher and Service Manager sit in close proximity. Together, they’re figuring out how to maximize billable hours and how to handle the workload constantly in the best way possible.
This is always important but especially important when the “Truth Comes Home Hour” (normally at 2 p.m.). They need to know objectively how to handle these 3 things:
- Who has to love you?
- Who has to like you?
- And who not so much, and what are you going to do about it?
A Dispatcher needs to be free to proactively schedule work with techs. One big problem that occurs is that the dispatcher thinks they’re the boss of the Techs, the Tech’s think they are the boss of the Dispatcher—and they are both wrong. That’s why my box org chart shows that they both report to the Service Manager!
The Dispatcher’s job is to report any issues they’re having with the Techs to the Service Manager, and the Techs job is to report any issues they’re having with the Dispatcher to the Service Manager:
Example 1: Every day at 3 p.m. Al the tech complains he wants to go home and never stays on to help out.
Example 2: The Dispatcher is being rude or not attending to workflow or proactively getting all the information desired and required to get to the Techs about the call.
Note: The Service Manager will then get the people in a room and get it fixed.
Another question I get is, “Does a dispatcher ever answer calls?” Answer: Yes.
The way that it should work is that the CSR is primarily following CSR manual and focuses on just taking calls in until the Service Manager tells them they’re overloaded and to shift to the better screening section in the manual so they can be sure to triage and run the right calls.
The CSR is also cross-trained to the Dispatcher manual so they can sit in that chair and do a good job when the Dispatcher has to go to lunch, is sick, etc. You can (and should) also cross-train the Dispatcher on the CSR manual so that if the phones are overloaded the Dispatcher can stop and flip into the CSR role and be really good at it.
Another objection I hear is, “What if my company is too small to have a separate CSR and Dispatcher?”
Again, the quicker you can get to the point where there is a separate person in that role, the more money you will make. But if you only have one person, here’s what to do:
That person needs to be trained that when they answer a call that’s the ONLY role they’re filling is the CSR role. And when they’re acting as a CSR, they follow the CSR manual and scripts until they hang up.
Once that call is booked, that is the time they amazingly switch to the dispatcher role and follow all the things laid out in the Dispatcher manual. Both manuals are (or should be) integrated with the Technician manual, so everyone is already on the same page, which today is digital.
Key: They have a priority section that is the same for all three roles (CSR/Dispatcher/Tech) and so what to do is no longer someone’s opinion—it’s all objective.
When it’s all clicking, here’s how it should work:
The CSR starts the relay race by gathering the right information, managing expectations, and booking the call. The Dispatcher then takes the baton and gets all the info out to the Techs per the manuals. They know what they have to give the Tech to run the call and keep tabs on what the tech is up to and what information they need back from them so the baton does not get dropped.
That’s why I call the three roles, CSR-Dispatcher-Tech, “The Triangle of Communication.” Having these three roles communicating back and forth seamlessly is the key to happy customers, more referrals, and more profit. Making sure that customers feel seen and taken care of from the time they pick up the phone to the time the tech leaves is essential. The coordination of these roles is how you achieve customer satisfaction.
Remember, “Customers will forgive a high price, but they won’t forgive being forgotten.”