Are you making the right appointment?

Are you making the right appointment?

Delivering a service to your customers in an environment where you need to access their property and agree on an appointment slot requires a difficult balancing act of ensuring you are giving your customers a choice of convenient times, whilst ensuring that you can keep these promises, work in the most efficient way and keep costs within budget. Making the right appointment at the first point of contact via a variety of channels is probably the key process for this type of service.
Once an appointment is made you have made a promise to the customer and your scheduling solution should enable you to keep that promise. Your solution should allow you to offer the customer a variety of appointment windows, and these could be different, dependent upon the customer or the job requirement. This should then allow you to be presented with the right window of availability for that customer for that job. The next bit is the tricky bit, we want to ensure that we are now painting each of those windows to show the most efficient slots to offer the customer. This can only be done if your solution is able to provide a real-time global optimisation.

What does this mean? It means your scheduler should be able to, in a split second, calculate the cost of delivering that job to that customer in all of the appointment windows available. In order to do this, it needs to take into account the availability of the relevant resources and the jobs already booked (both appointed and non-appointed) then calculate the cost of introducing this new job.
It should be looking at potentially moving jobs around between relevant resources and pushing and pulling jobs backwards or forwards whilst maintaining all the current customer promises and business constraints.
This type of scheduling is very complex but critical to an appointment-based service and not all schedulers can do this. It’s critical you have this in place because any inefficiency you create at the first point of contact cannot be recovered even if your scheduler is subsequently ‘Optimising’.


Why is it so important for the customer that we stay as efficient as possible? Surely customers don’t care about efficiency - they just want the service to be on time and of good quality?
Well not being efficient means that we lose the ability to offer the right level of service to the customer, any of the points above will mean that appointment leads times could get longer, appointments missed will increase, costs will increase having a knock-on effect on quality and customer satisfaction.
Lastly be sure that if your solution is optimising after you’ve made your appointments it isn’t removing some appointments from the schedule entirely. For some scheduling algorithms the appointment isn’t the key priority so your solution could actually be removing promises making more work for the planners to try to get these back into schedule or even worse letting your customer down.
Have you asked yourself what your scheduler is doing, and is this giving you the right result for both you and ultimately your customers?

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