by Alice Dragoon

CUSTOMER SERVICE -Walk a Virtual Mile in the Dispatcher’s Shoes

Aug 01, 20052 mins
Enterprise Applications

Dispatching technicians for service calls—how hard can that be? You send the first technician to the first call, the second to the next and so forth, until everyone’s out in the field. Then you cycle through them again. No sweat.

Well, try playing a round of Service Tycoon, and get a clue. Developed by ClickSoftware, this free online game will convince you that dispatching field techs in that fashion is a surefire way to alienate customers and put you over budget. At first, calls come in at a manageable pace and you can easily dispatch technicians with the appropriate qualifications. But suddenly you find yourself in fire-fighting mode: Everyone’s out on a call and four customers are clamoring for service. The technicians who could handle their problems are far away, and there’s no way you can get anyone there before customers lose patience. Your customer service score drops precipitously, costs rise, and you’re suddenly glad you’re not a dispatcher.

“People don’t really relate to how difficult the problem is,” says David Schapiro, executive vice president of markets and products for ClickSoftware, which sells—no surprise—workforce and service optimization software. So Scha- piro and marketing colleague Amit Bendov hit on the idea of developing a digital game to increase awareness among companies with field service technicians. In less than two months, more than 10,000 people have played the game.

Test your own dispatching skills at And prepare to be humbled.