The tow operator and dispatcher have a unique relationship. Whether that relationship is based on mutual understanding and respect or on assumptions and misinformation will determine the dynamics of your team, the number of calls you can respond to, the satisfaction of your customers, your reputation among incident commanders and, ultimately, your business success. Here’s how you can create the strongest relationship possible.
If service delivery was a wheel, the dispatcher and the tow operator would—working together—be its hub. Drivers and dispatchers share the responsibility of the timeliness of the service delivery and the dispatch of proper equipment and personnel, and they rely heavily on one another to communicate the information necessary to achieve service delivery success.
Technology, such as GPS and mobile data terminals, allows dispatch centers with a high volume of calls to automatically route incoming calls by location, problem and priority. Some systems will communicate with the customer with arrival times and in the event there is an unexpected delay in the service delivery time originally promised. The goal is to create the most efficient, effective and economical emergency road service delivery process possible.
But technology can’t make up for the game of broken telephone that can happen when operators and dispatchers don’t communicate effectively with each other.
A routine exchange—one that happens dozens of times per shift—may be filled with industry terminology, technical jargon, geographical information, landmarks and directions, not to mention information on the customer and the casualty. And—let’s not forget—this can all be punctuated by a series of 10-codes and letters and numbers if your team uses two-way radios.
Miscommunication and misunderstanding may mean improper equipment and unqualified personnel are sent to incorrect locations. This directly hurts your bottom line, as well as your reputation with customers and law enforcement agencies.
In visits to hundreds of call centers, dispatch centers and tow businesses, I’ve learned that what separates a good team from a great team is knowing the roles and responsibilities of your fellow team members. That means drivers know what their dispatchers expect and are familiar with geographical information and customer service, and dispatchers understand the issues drivers are often faced with, including equipment capabilities, industry terminology and casualty construction. This true team environment leads to efficiencies by eliminating the need for constant, drawn-out question and answer exchanges.
Cross-training of dispatchers and operators, which explicitly teaches team members the ins and outs of their co-workers’ jobs, is critical to service delivery success. There are several ways to cross-train your team.
Send dispatchers to ride along with drivers on calls. Have operators sit with dispatchers or telephone counselors. This exposure gives each team member a better sense of their co-workers’ responsibilities.
Hire a trainer
Professional trainers can come to your shop to cross-train your team.
Offer in-house cross-training
Training manuals and videos can help, here.
A cross-trained team will dramatically improve your business through reduced call and dispatch error, increased productivity, improved employee relations and overall improved customer service, all of which directly affect your bottom line.