Automated scheduling and dispatching is a key requirement for field service organizations that want to position themselves as a value provider within the enterprise and meet increasingly stringent customer expectations. While an experienced dispatch team can manually schedule technicians, it requires more than institutional knowledge to get technicians where they need to be in a timely fashion.
"As a company, we focus on finding solutions that improve service for our global customers and their customers"
Scientific Games shifted to an automated dispatch/ scheduling and work order management solution to improve efficiency in the field and to help meet the strict arrival time requirements in its service level agreements (SLAs). The company has deployed a scheduling solution that re-adjusts technician schedules every three minutes, dynamically routing staff based on call priority, location, skill set, and other factors. This has improved customer service and also increased the number of calls each technician completes each day by nearly 70 percent.
Over the last 40 years, Scientific Games has provided lottery and gaming technology, equipment, game content, and marketing services to more than 1,500 customers on six continents. Two recent acquisitions–WMS in 2013 and Bally Technologies in 2014—significantly increased the scale and scope of the field service organization.
The company’s nearly 600 North American certified field service technicians install, repair and maintain gaming and lottery and other types of gaming machines at traditional casinos, tribal casinos, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and other retail locations. They also manage equipment installation, converting, moving, removal and contract-based preventive maintenance. In 2013, the company rolled out the system to its 200 service technicians in the U.K.
Prior to the mobile solution, the company used the BMC Remedy AR service ticket system to manage technicians. When customers called in, a ticket was generated. Dispatchers would then manually dispatch the call to a technician over the phone. Technicians documented their work activities in a paper log and alerted dispatch of their status and location over the phone.
“As a company, we focus on finding solutions that improve service for our global customers and their customers. We did not have a mobile solution with GPS (Global Positioning System), and we were looking for more efficiencies in scheduling technicians based on their location,” says David Douglas, Vice President of Service Management.
The company wanted to increase technician efficiency and drive down its service operations costs. “In the lottery industry, implementing efficient technologies and processes allows us to reduce response time and increase customer satisfaction simultaneously,” Douglas says. “At the time, we completed an average of 3.2 calls per technician, per day. We wanted to utilize our resources better, and do some cost avoidance as well.”
Dynamic Scheduling Prioritizes Calls
“Our industry is not a typical break/fix model,” Douglas says. “Because of our response time requirements for lottery customers, the schedule is very dynamic. We typically push one call to the technician at a time based on the various priorities we have to weigh.”
The Astea tool assigns work based on location, parts availability, drive time and technician skill set, license requirement, (among other factors); then picks what the company refers to as a “winner”: a technician who can arrive on site and complete the work within the service agreement parameters.
Once the technician is identified, the call is pushed to their mobile device. “We shuffle the deck every three minutes,” Douglas says. “The system is looking for every call in the system all the time, looking for the best solution. It does that every three minutes based on the response times and priorities we have in place.”
Scientific Games dubbed the final version of the solution to its Smart Services Management System. Customer calls flow into a National Response Center. Employees ask the customer for information (ID number, terminal type, what the problem is), and tickets.If the problem cannot be resolved over the phone, the ticket is moved to the dispatch console. The dispatch team monitors the tickets, which are prioritized based on the information in the system, and then schedule a technician.
“If the ticket cannot be dispatched at that point, it goes into the unallocated queue, and the dispatchers monitor that queue closely,” Douglas says. “If necessary, they can find a home for it by dragging and dropping it to a certain technician, or escalate it so the field service manager can assign the call.”
Field technicians use mobile devices to acknowledge when they receive the work order, note when they arrive on site, and close the ticket when the work is complete. Customers can use an online portal to track the progress of their work order requests. “We track the entire lifecycle of that ticket and the technician availability during the day,” Douglas says. “Once the technician closes a ticket out, they get a new ticket usually within a minute.”
Faster Field Service
The solution has paid dividends in increased efficiencies, improved productivity and customer satisfaction and better SLA compliance. One of the initial goals for the company was to lower its dispatcher-to-technician ratio. Since the solution has been in place, the company experienced a reduction in incoming and outgoing calls, and the number of completed service calls per technician increased.
“We are not just getting them there faster, but we are prioritizing the tickets,” Douglas says. “We have different response times required for different contracts, and now we can prioritize them more effectively.”
Inventory accuracy has also improved, and Douglas says the company has a much clearer picture of the number of parts in each van and warehouse. With this system in place, the company has expanded its customer base without any new technicians, and overtime has been reduced.
Overall, Douglas says the automated solution has not just reduced costs and made the technicians more efficient; it has also put the company in an advantageous position as the industry continues to consolidate. “Providing value-added services helps customer revenues grow,” Douglas says. “I do not believe that other gaming/lottery industry suppliers have anything like this in place.”