fficient tour planning is indispensable in the field service to keep distances short, maximise productivity and always ensure the best possible customer service. In principle, centralised tour planning is always opposed to decentralised tour planning, because both methods are used in practice. But how do the two variants differ and what are their advantages and disadvantages?
CENTRALISED VS. DECENTRALISED TOUR PLANNING – THIS IS HOW THEY DIFFER
Centralised tour planning differs fundamentally from decentralised tour planning.
In the case of centralised planning in the field, the office staff specify the tour and put together the individual stations and orders. Potential clients call a company's call centre, describe their problem or need and ask for an appointment. Alternatively, the office staff can also proactively call customers and make an appointment, for example for an upcoming maintenance. And depending on the type of service, regular fixed tours must be planned, which are processed in a weekly, monthly or quarterly rhythm.
A fundamental characteristic of centralised tour planning is external planning, i.e. not by the field staff themselves, but by an office staff or a call centre, so that the field staff has no possibility to influence the tour or the appointment allocation.
With decentralised tour planning, on the other hand, the tour and appointment planning is done by the field staff themselves. The orders can still be specified by the office staff, but the order in which they are processed is left up to them. Decentralised tour planning is often used by sales representatives who make regular visits to customers. In this case, both the scheduling and the planning of the tour is done by the field staff themselves.
Also useful: when acquiring new customers in the field, decentralised tour planning is a clever and flexible approach.
CENTRALISED VS. DECENTRALISED TOUR PLANNING – THESE ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE VARIANTS
Centralised and decentralised tour planning both have advantages and disadvantages that should be weighed up in advance:
With decentralised tour planning, the field staff can respond at short notice to external circumstances that cannot be planned. For example, if there is a traffic jam on his route, which he can avoid by rescheduling his appointments, the field worker saves himself unnecessary downtime. In addition, time-consuming planning of tours in the office is no longer necessary. This saving of resources lowers costs and optimises the work of the office staff, who can focus on escalation management and customer service.
For the field service, however, the independent planning and processing of orders also means a massive double burden: in addition to processing the appointments and fulfilling the service orders, the employees have to also take over the tour planning and appointment scheduling at the same time.
The lack of time often results in poorly planned tours, which are associated with an additional expenditure of time and kilometres. Without the right software, efficient tour planning for field staff is virtually impossible.
A decisive advantage of central tour planning is that the field service is not burdened with this task. The office staff can fully take care of arranging the appointments and planning the tours. This enables strategic and efficient tour planning, which can save time and costs in the end. However, it is difficult for the office staff to react to short-term circumstances, such as traffic jams or exceeding the appointment time. Only with sufficient staff resources in the office it is possible to consider changes at short notice and adjust the tour accordingly.
CENTRALISED VS. DECENTRALISED TOUR PLANNING – THE ADVANTAGES OF THE RIGHT SOFTWARE
High-quality and flexible software is the be-all and end-all for efficient route planning. With our FLS VISITOUR system, the advantages of centralised and decentralised route planning can be combined.
With FLS VISITOUR, the office staff has the possibility to plan efficient and optimal tours and can still react to changes at short notice thanks to the mobile solution FLS MOBILE in the FLOW EDITION: The field staff can easily communicate on-site delays due to traffic jams or changes in case of missed appointments or appointment cancellations in an uncomplicated way. With a click, the employee's tour is optimised directly on the smartphone through the app's connection to FLS VISITOUR and all relevant instances, such as the customer, other employees and the call centre, are automatically informed.
CONCLUSION – CREATING MAXIMUM CUSTOMER SATISFACTION WITH EFFECTIVE TOUR PLANNING
Customer satisfaction is the most important goal of a service company. The best possible customer care and transparent communication are particularly relevant in this context and must be ensured by clever route planning software.
The FLS VISITOUR solution in combination with FLS MOBILE in the FLOW EDITION, achieves exactly this by combining the advantages of centralised and decentralised route planning.
It is convenient to use for both the office staff and the field staff, an optimal tour is always planned and processed, and communication is always kept transparent for all involved. For the customer, all measures run completely in the background and yet he feels he is being looked after in the best possible way.