Integrating the service process

Integrating the service process – Astea’s software puts Sprint in touch with field technicians

Chris Bucholtz

Sprint is hoping an automated, integrated customer service system recently installed in four Southern states will pave the way for a more efficient method of managing its field personnel.

Sprint is using Dispatch-1 from Horsham, Pa.-based Astea International to manage customer service for its local customers in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, carrier officials announced last week. The system integrates and automates the entire customer interaction process, including sales order and invoice processing, contract management, maintenance spares, job costing, project installation and service dispatching.

Field technicians can use a laptop computer to dial into a central office and download their daily work assignments.

During the day, technicians can use a similar process to record their progress, allowing customer service representatives to update customers on the status of their service orders in near-real time.

“The key to our choice of Dispatch-1 was its tight integration,” said Randy Shaneyfelt, assistant vice president of service operations at Sprint. “Our previous applications didn’t provide an easy mechanism for our employees to have a total view of the customer. Dispatch-1 now offers Sprint a common, integrated solution that will allow our employees to better resolve and satisfy customer issues.”

The Dispatch-1 system is a modular software set that can be implemented as a whole system or in pieces to fill in the blanks in carriers’ operations.

“Sprint has been very aggressive in how it’s implemented the system,” said Sandy Miller, managing consultant for the Sprint implementation at Astea. “They could have gone piece by piece, but instead they elected to take all the modules at once.”

This approach required Sprint to “almost redesign their entire business,” Miller said. “If they were installing it one module at a time, they’d have to look at just one portion of their business. The real challenge now is to train the service managers to use the system because they can now do much more than they were able to do in the past.”

Sprint expects to reap significant savings from the system, Shaneyfelt said. For example, by deploying Dispatch-1’s Remote-1 solution, which provides connectivity and management tools for field-to-field and field-to-office communications, Sprint technicians now have a virtual office on their laptop computers. In addition to improving communications, Sprint field engineers will be able to complete field service activities more quickly.

“This will allow us to more than realize the return on investment by reducing our billing cycle and increasing receivable collections,” Shaneyfelt said.

Sprint plans to continue deploying the system throughout its entire 19-state local operating area, with the next installations coming in April.

COPYRIGHT 1998 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group